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Grand Ideas

On its list of 10 ideas from the past year that have "the potential to make what may now seem impossible possible," Scientific American includes a number of genomics-related items.

At the beginning of its list of "world-changing ideas" are xeno nucleic acids, or XNAs, which could be used to develop synthetic life. "The goal is to create chemically controlled systems that behave like biological systems, without being biological systems," Steven Benner, a fellow at the Foundation for Applied Molecular Evolution, tells Scientific American. "We believe whatever you can draw on a page, you can make."

Also on the list is the recent realization that the full genome of a fetus can be determined from a blood sample from the mother, possibly allowing a number of genetic disorders to be identified early on. "The new noninvasive approach would give mothers unprecedented detail about their child without endangering their pregnancy. It could also reach more women worldwide because the procedure does not require a trained obstetrician," Scientific American writes.

The Scan

Pfizer-BioNTech Seek Full Vaccine Approval

According to the New York Times, Pfizer and BioNTech are seeking full US Food and Drug Administration approval for their SARS-CoV-2 vaccine.

Viral Integration Study Critiqued

Science writes that a paper reporting that SARS-CoV-2 can occasionally integrate into the host genome is drawing criticism.

Giraffe Species Debate

The Scientist reports that a new analysis aiming to end the discussion of how many giraffe species there are has only continued it.

Science Papers Examine Factors Shaping SARS-CoV-2 Spread, Give Insight Into Bacterial Evolution

In Science this week: genomic analysis points to role of human behavior in SARS-CoV-2 spread, and more.