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Pain Targeted

Researchers are hoping to harness the gene mutations that some individuals have that enable them to not feel pain to treat people who do, MIT's Technology Review reports.

Researchers led by the University of California, San Diego's Ana Moreno reported in a preprint posted to bioRxiv last month that they used the CRISPR-Cas9 machinery and zinc fingers to epigenetically repress the sodium voltage gated channel gene SCN9A, as loss-of-function mutations in that gene lead to congenital insensitivity to pain. They report that they were able to use this approach to manage pain in three different mouse models.

Now, Tech Review reports that Morelo and others have formed a company, Navega Therapeutics, to pursue a CRISPR-based pain treatment. It notes, though, that other firms have previously tried targeting this gene through more conventional means, with mixed outcomes. It also adds that there could be downsides to targeting pain — people who have this mutation naturally also have a limited sense of smell and have hurt themselves because they can't feel it.

The Scan

Could Mix It Up

The US Food and Drug Administration is considering a plan that would allow for the mixing-and-matching of SARS-CoV-2 vaccines and boosters, the New York Times says.

Closest to the Dog

New Scientist reports that extinct Japanese wolf appears to be the closest known wild relative of dogs.

Offer to Come Back

The Knoxville News Sentinel reports that the University of Tennessee is offering Anming Hu, a professor who was acquitted of charges that he hid ties to China, his position back.

PNAS Papers on Myeloid Differentiation MicroRNAs, Urinary Exosomes, Maize Domestication

In PNAS this week: role of microRNAs in myeloid differentiation, exosomes in urine, and more.