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Better Than a Sketch Artist?

According to The Vancouver Sun, researchers are "on [the] verge of describing crooks' looks" based on DNA derived from crime scene blood samples. To back its claim, the Sun refers to what it calls "the latest breakthrough in" forensic phenotyping — researchers at the Netherlands' Erasmus MC University Medical Center Rotterdam describe in a November 2010 Current Biology paper a PCR-based method that "is expected to provide investigative leads in criminal cases by allowing an accurate estimation of the generation age of unknown individuals from minute blood stains." Using RT-qPCR to interrogate T-cell DNA rearrangements, the Rotterdam team says it can estimate a person's age based on a blood sample to within approximately nine years. The Sun adds that "that same group has previously said it can also predict eye color using similar methods. Hair color is next up on the research agenda." Penn State University's Mark Shriver tells the Sun that DNA sequences also contain clues as to one's ancestry, skin pigmentation, and facial geometry. However, Paul Wilson at Canada's Trent University says sample degradation is a technical issue that remains to be resolved. "My first inclination is to ask: What are the technical limitations? Can you generate false results?" Wilson tells the Sun.

The Scan

Another Resignation

According to the Wall Street Journal, a third advisory panel member has resigned following the US Food and Drug Administration's approval of an Alzheimer's disease drug.

Novavax Finds Its Vaccine Effective

Reuters reports Novavax's SARS-CoV-2 vaccine is more than 90 percent effective in preventing COVID-19.

Can't Be Used

The US Food and Drug Administration says millions of vaccine doses made at an embattled manufacturing facility cannot be used, the New York Times reports.

PLOS Papers on Frozen Shoulder GWAS, Epstein-Barr Effects on Immune Cell Epigenetics, More

In PLOS this week: genome-wide association study of frozen shoulder, epigenetic patterns of Epstein-Barr-infected B lymphocyte cells, and more.