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PLOS Papers Describe Point-of-Care Leptospirosis Test, Genes Affecting Regeneration After Radiation Exposure, More

A team of researchers in Thailand has developed a point-of-care testing approach to quickly diagnose leptospirosis. Leptospirosis, which affects about 1 million people a year, can be difficult to distinguish from diseases like dengue, sepsis, and malaria. King Chulalongkorn Memorial Hospital's Nattachai Srisawat and colleagues developed an RPA-CRISPR/Cas12 assay that targets the lipL32 gene found in pathogenic Leptospira. As they report in PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases, the researchers found that their test has 85.2 percent sensitivity, 100 percent specificity, and 92.7 percent accuracy and had a better performance than the commercially available rapid test. They further combined their assay into a lateral flow detection assay that they said could make their approach easier to use and interpret. "It is suitable for use in the field, especially in rural hospitals with limited resources since it is practical, portable, rapid, and simple to use," Srisawat and colleagues write.

A Colorado-based team of researchers has uncovered genes whose expression affects the ability of cells to regenerate following ionizing radiation exposure. Ionizing radiation is used to treat cancer patients but is not always effective as some cells may grow back. Researchers from the University of Colorado and Colorado State University examined a set of Drosophila cells that help in regeneration after radiation exposure. Through a genome-wide transcriptome analysis, they homed in on six genes that affect cell fate plasticity following radiation damage, including two hinge cell determinants Zfh2 and Wg and four ribosome biogenesis factors, RpI135, Rs1, Tsr1 and Myc. "These results help us understand how tissues regenerate after IR damage and will aid in designing better therapies that involve radiation," the researchers write in their PLOS Genetics paper.

Finally, a trio from the University of Nevada in Las Vegas has explored what marketers and consumers say about direct-to-consumer genetic tests for pets. The team evaluated both the websites of companies offering pet genetic testing and publicly available consumer reviews of such services. As they report in PLOS One, the researchers found that the companies largely advertised their products and offered purchasing information on their websites but also that they emphasized that "pets and 'pet parents'" would benefit from testing by better knowing their pets, suggesting the services would lead to a longer, happier lives for pets. Meanwhile, Amazon product reviews were broadly positive and some reviewers said they informed their vet of the results. "Our objectives were to obtain a more holistic understanding of what pet genetic companies are marketing and what experiences consumers are sharing," the researchers wrote, add that they can now "move past theoretical considerations DTC-GT may have on the human-animal bond and begin empirical investigations."