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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

Booster Push

New data shows a decline in SARS-CoV-2 vaccine efficacy over time, which the New York Times says Pfizer is using to argue its case for a booster, even as the lower efficacy remains high.

With Help from Mr. Fluffington, PurrhD

Cats could make good study animals for genetic research, the University of Missouri's Leslie Lyons tells the Atlantic.

Man Charged With Threatening to Harm Fauci, Collins

The Hill reports that Thomas Patrick Connally, Jr., was charged with making threats against federal officials.

Nature Papers Present Approach to Find Natural Products, Method to ID Cancer Driver Mutations, More

In Nature this week: combination of cryogenic electron microscopy with genome mining helps uncover natural products, driver mutations in cancer, and more.