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This Week in Science: Nov 14, 2014

In Science this week, a team led by Massachusetts General Hospital researchers report how the genetic analysis of cancer cell culture models enabled them to identify drug combinations effective against resistant tumors. The researchers collected tumor samples from lung cancer patients whose tumors had become resistant to treatment and used those samples to establish cell lines in the laboratory. By studying genetic mutations within those cells and screening them against different drug combos, they were able to find treatments that stopped cancer growth. With optimization, the approach could offer a platform for tailoring therapies to patients based on the biology of their tumors.

Also in Science, researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology describe an approach that uses DNA in living cells as a sort of "tape recorder" to keep track of long-term cellular event histories. Called SCRIBE — Synthetic Cellular Recorders Integrating Biological Events — the approach involves generating single-stranded DNA in vivo in response to arbitrary transcriptional signals. When co-expressed with a recombinase, these intracellularly expressed DNA strands target specific genomic DNA sites, triggering precise mutations that accumulate in cell populations as a function of the magnitude and duration of the inputs. The researchers expect their system could be used to build synthetic circuits that can control specific biological processes.

Finally, an international team of scientists report in Science on a series of high-resolution maps of meiotic DNA double-strand breaks in individual human genomes, providing new insights into the regulation of meiotic recombination and its impact on genome function.

The Scan

Positive Framing of Genetic Studies Can Spark Mistrust Among Underrepresented Groups

Researchers in Human Genetics and Genomics Advances report that how researchers describe genomic studies may alienate potential participants.

Small Study of Gene Editing to Treat Sickle Cell Disease

In a Novartis-sponsored study in the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers found that a CRISPR-Cas9-based treatment targeting promoters of genes encoding fetal hemoglobin could reduce disease symptoms.

Gut Microbiome Changes Appear in Infants Before They Develop Eczema, Study Finds

Researchers report in mSystems that infants experienced an enrichment in Clostridium sensu stricto 1 and Finegoldia and a depletion of Bacteroides before developing eczema.

Acute Myeloid Leukemia Treatment Specificity Enhanced With Stem Cell Editing

A study in Nature suggests epitope editing in donor stem cells prior to bone marrow transplants can stave off toxicity when targeting acute myeloid leukemia with immunotherapy.