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The Big Ones of 2016

It's been a whirlwind year, and Wired rounds up what it has deemed the biggest biology stories of 2016.

Zika tops its list, as the virus appeared in the US in travelers and then among mosquitos in southern Florida. While this led to public health efforts to keep mosquitos in check as well as counsel pregnant women about the effects of the virus, it also led researchers to explore whether mosquitos' genes could be modified to decrease its population size or whether male mosquitos could be infected with Wolbachia to render them sterile.

The gene-editing approach CRISPR also made headlines this year as a flood of studies appeared showing that it could help treat lung cancer, sickle cell anemia, and edit human embryos.

According to Wired, other biology stories of the year include an HIV vaccine that was successful in monkeys, the reemergence of diseases like yellow fever, and astronaut Scott Kelly and his Earth-bound twin brother Mark being examined to see how space affects the human body as part of the NASA Twins Study. NASA sent an Oxford Nanopore MinIon sequencer to space for that study, as GenomeWeb reported.

"The results showed that sequencing in microgravity on the space station works just as well as it would on Earth. The nanopores work quite happily in zero gravity in processing DNA through the pores," Christopher Mason from Weill Cornell Medicine told GenomeWeb earlier this year. "And this really opens up a new era of diagnostics on the space station and for future space missions, for everything from genetics to epigenetics to exobiology. It's really the dawn of a new era in space genomics."