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Paul de Kruif Would Be Proud

With outbreaks of E. coli sickening people in Germany, cholera in Haiti, and other infections in local areas, researchers are turning to sequencing to understand these microbes, reports Gina Kolata in The New York Times. She draws on the example of a patient who died in Houston from what looked like anthrax. By sequencing the bacteria, James Musser and his colleagues determined it was Bacillus cereus, not Bacillus anthracis. There are other cases in which researchers are turning to sequencing, Kolata notes, pointing to a separate article in the Times . Hendrik Poinar from McMaster University in Ontario and his colleagues turned to sequencing to determine whether Yersinia pestis was behind the Black Death. As they report in PNAS, they gathered bones and other samples from a cemetery created for London plague victims as well as from non-plague victims to find that it indeed was.

The Scan

Renewed Gain-of-Function Worries

The New York Times writes that the pandemic is renewing concerns about gain-of-function research.

Who's Getting the Patents?

A trio of researchers has analyzed gender trends in biomedical patents issued between 1976 and 2010 in the US, New Scientist reports.

Other Uses

CBS Sunday Morning looks at how mRNA vaccine technology could be applied beyond SARS-CoV-2.

PLOS Papers Present Analysis of Cervicovaginal Microbiome, Glycosylation in Model Archaea, More

In PLOS this week: functional potential of the cervicovaginal microbiome, glycosylation patterns in model archaea, and more.