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Going Back to Go Forward

At the University of Oregon, researcher Joe Thornton and his colleagues are busy "raising the dead," says Nature News' Helen Pearson. Thornton analyzes proteins that are hundreds of millions of years old in an attempt to better understand how organisms evolved. "Thornton is a leader in a movement to do for proteins what the scientists in Jurassic Park did for dinosaurs: bring ancient forms back to life, so that they can be studied in the flesh," Pearson says. He started his current line of research in 2003 when he tracked the genes for steroid hormone receptors from several living organisms back through their evolutionary trees to determine the most likely common ancestor. "Instead of stopping there, as most evolutionary biologists would have done, he then built the gene and inserted it into cells that could manufacture the ancient protein," Pearson says. Thornton tells her that the resurrection step allowed him "to experimentally test hypotheses about evolution that would otherwise be just speculation."

The Scan

Gone, But Now Reconstructed SARS-CoV-2 Genomes

In a preprint, a researcher describes his recovery of viral sequences that had been removed from a common database.

Rare Heart Inflammation Warning

The Food and Drug Administration is adding a warning about links between a rare inflammatory heart condition and two SARS-CoV-2 vaccines, Reuters reports.

Sandwich Sampling

The New York Times sent tuna sandwiches for PCR analysis.

Nature Papers Describe Gut Viruses, New Format for Storing Quantitative Genomic Data, More

In Nature this week: catalog of DNA viruses of the human gut microbiome, new dense depth data dump format to store quantitative genomic data, and more.