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New Data from Dusty Shelves

With advances in molecular biology and genomics, researchers can draw more and more information out of old, preserved samples, says The Washington Post. While some researchers focus on very old samples — like those from Neanderthals — other researchers are looking at the more recent past. The US National Institutes of Health's Jeffery Taubenberger has been studying the 1918 pandemic flu virus — the eight genes of which were reconstructed from a number of preserved tissues — and an earlier, springtime version of the virus that wasn't as devastating. Other researchers, like the University of Arizona's Michael Worobey, are tracing the lineage of HIV to determine when it first entered the human population — Worobey found HIV genes in tissue samples taken from a woman in the Congo in 1960.

Of course, the samples are limited and, thus, precious. "We could easily burn up all the material just trying to find out what subtype [of flu] we have," Taubenberger tells the Post. "I have been very reluctant to just dive in. We have waited 110 years, and we can wait a little longer."

The Scan

Genetic Risk Factors for Hypertension Can Help Identify Those at Risk for Cardiovascular Disease

Genetically predicted high blood pressure risk is also associated with increased cardiovascular disease risk, a new JAMA Cardiology study says.

Circulating Tumor DNA Linked to Post-Treatment Relapse in Breast Cancer

Post-treatment detection of circulating tumor DNA may identify breast cancer patients who are more likely to relapse, a new JCO Precision Oncology study finds.

Genetics Influence Level of Depression Tied to Trauma Exposure, Study Finds

Researchers examine the interplay of trauma, genetics, and major depressive disorder in JAMA Psychiatry.

UCLA Team Reports Cost-Effective Liquid Biopsy Approach for Cancer Detection

The researchers report in Nature Communications that their liquid biopsy approach has high specificity in detecting all- and early-stage cancers.