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Control Over T Cells, Synthetically, Though

MIT's Technology Review reports on a study, published in PNAS, in which researchers were able to show that putting an RNA-based toggle mechanism in human T cells would allow specific drugs to determine cell growth. Technology Review's Emily Singer says the researchers are ultimately aiming to integrate the technology into T cell therapeutics currently in clinical testing. In 2007, Stanford University bioengineer Christina Smolke developed the RNA switch using synthetic biology tools, Singer writes, and it is designed to turn on the expression of a certain gene in response to certain chemicals. Now, Smolke and her collaborators are introducing the switch into T cells. The switch's RNA sensor responds to asthma drug theophylline and triggers production of an immune molecule responsible to T cell growth, Singer adds. Because the switch is made from RNA, and not proteins, it could avoid triggering an attack from the immune system, an existing problem with modified T cells.

The Scan

Fertility Fraud Found

Consumer genetic testing has uncovered cases of fertility fraud that are leading to lawsuits, according to USA Today.

Ties Between Vigorous Exercise, ALS in Genetically At-Risk People

Regular strenuous exercise could contribute to motor neuron disease development among those already at genetic risk, Sky News reports.

Test Warning

The Guardian writes that the US regulators have warned against using a rapid COVID-19 test that is a key part of mass testing in the UK.

Science Papers Examine Feedback Mechanism Affecting Xist, Continuous Health Monitoring for Precision Medicine

In Science this week: analysis of cis confinement of the X-inactive specific transcript, and more.