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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

Tens of Millions Saved

The Associated Press writes that vaccines against COVID-19 saved an estimated 20 million lives in their first year.

Supersized Bacterium

NPR reports that researchers have found and characterized a bacterium that is visible to the naked eye.

Also Subvariants

Moderna says its bivalent SARS-CoV-2 vaccine leads to a strong immune response against Omicron subvariants, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Science Papers Present Gene-Edited Mouse Models of Liver Cancer, Hürthle Cell Carcinoma Analysis

In Science this week: a collection of mouse models of primary liver cancer, and more.