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A Look at Chemical Biology

In the Pipeline's Derek Lowe takes a look at chemical biology, and says that the combination of organic chemistry and molecular biology is "one of the most interesting and productive research frontiers." While biologists have been looking at genes and their proteins, mutating and manipulating them in living systems, chemists have been working with enzymes as a way of controlling molecules. "These are the catalysts that we really want: fast, efficient, selective, working at room temperature under benign conditions," Lowe says. "If you want molecular-level nanotechnology (not quite down to atomic!), then enzymes are it." But while they've tried making synthetic enzymes, none have really approached the level of biological enzymes, so chemists have turned to modifying existing enzymes for their own purposes, Lowe adds. Chemists are also looking into other "biological frontiers," such as DNA manipulation and activity-based proteomics, which, he says, has a number of applications for chemistry.

The Scan

Missed Early Cases

A retrospective analysis of blood samples suggests early SARS-CoV-2 infections may have been missed in the US, the New York Times reports.

Limited Journal Editor Diversity

A survey finds low diversity among scientific and medical journal editors, according to The Scientist.

How Much of a Threat?

Science writes that need for a provision aimed at shoring up genomic data security within a new US bill is being questioned.

PNAS Papers on Historic Helicobacter Spread, Brain Development, C. difficile RNAs

In PNAS this week: Helicobacter genetic diversity gives insight into human migrations, gene expression patterns of brain development, and more.