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Using Systems Biology to Beat Cancer

Merrimack Pharmaceuticals CEO Robert Mulroy says the traditional approach to cancer — making drugs that go after certain proteins — is "fundamentally flawed," according to the Forbes' Treatments blog's Robert Langreth. Merrimack is now working with Sanofi-Aventis to develop cancer drugs using the principles of systems biology. Instead of working with one gene at a time, researchers from the two companies are using differential equations, computer simulations and good old-fashioned bench work to understand how molecular circuits go wrong in cancer patients, Langreth says. "The goal is to try to find the best place to intervene with a drug, rather than just going after whatever tumor gene mutation happened to be discovered most recently," he adds. Mulroy says it's important to understand the underlying logic of molecular circuitry in order to understand how cancer cells grow, and that the circuits are too complex to be understood by studying one gene at a time.

The Scan

Booster for At-Risk

The New York Times reports that the US Food and Drug Administration has authorized a third dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech SARS-CoV-2 vaccine for people 65 and older or at increased risk.

Preprints OK to Mention Again

Nature News reports the Australian Research Council has changed its new policy and now allows preprints to be cited in grant applications.

Hundreds of Millions More to Share

The US plans to purchase and donate 500 million additional SARS-CoV-2 vaccine doses, according to the Washington Post.

Nature Papers Examine Molecular Program Differences Influencing Neural Cells, Population History of Polynesia

In Nature this week: changes in molecular program during embryonic development leads to different neural cell types, and more.