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Such a Threat

Steven Salzberg at the University of Maryland has developed a computational screen for mutations in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes and has made the software freely available. In this proof-of-concept paper in Genome Biology, Salzberg and his colleague Mihaela Pertea write that the screen tests for 68 known mutations in those genes and the researchers demonstrate it on three publicly available DNA sequences. Salzberg and Pertea say that "we believe that any individual should be allowed to interrogate his or her genome for all mutations of interest, regardless of whether a private company claims to 'own' the rights to particular gene mutations." They add that the software can be adapted to other genes. At Forbes' Treatment blog, Robert Langreth writes that Salzberg's test is a "threat" to companies like Myriad and "is sure to inflame doctors and genetic counselors." Langreth adds that " maybe gene tests should be treated a little like more like financial planning for retirement: It is a complicated matter and it may make sense want to get paid advice from an expert ... but you don't have to if you don't want to."

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.