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PLOS Papers on Orofacial Cleft Genetics, BRCA1/2 in Prostate Cancer in Morocco, More

In PLOS Genetics, a Johns Hopkins University-led team investigates genetic contributors to orofacial cleft (OFC) conditions, including cleft lip with cleft palate, cleft lip without cleft palate, and cleft palate alone. With genotyping profiles for nearly 1,800 parent-child trios affected by cleft lip with or without cleft palate (CL/P) and more than 600 trios of children with cleft palate alone and their unaffected parents, the researchers narrowed in on half a dozen overlapping loci in CL/P and cleft palate, along with several novel loci and loci linked to specific pairs of OFC subtypes. "In summary," they report, "we found suggestive evidence for new genetic regions and confirmed some recognized OFC genes either exerting shared risk or with opposite effects on risk to OFC subtypes."

Researchers from Morocco look at the frequency of risky germline mutations in BRCA1 or BRCA2 in prostate cancer patients from that country for a paper appearing in PLOS One. The team did targeted BRCA1/2 exon and intron sequencing to search for pathogenic BRCA1/2 mutations in 30 individuals with familial forms of prostate cancer, focusing in on one BRCA1 mutation and two BRCA2 mutations that were found in four unrelated patients. The analysis also unearthed dozens of unclassified variants or polymorphisms. "[A]lthough our results are considered preliminary due to the small sample size, they underline the importance of BRCA1 and BRCA2 genetic screening in hereditary [prostate cancer]," the authors write, adding that "early identification of germline mutations in BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes may be relevant for management of patients with [prostate cancer] and also for preventing future cancers in their relatives."

For another paper in PLOS One, a team from the Affiliated Hospital of Southwest Medical University in China presents findings linking circulating tumor cell (CTC) features to disease outcomes in individuals with bladder cancer. With their meta-analysis of CTC profiles and clinical data for more than 1,000 bladder cancer patients assessed in 11 previous studies, the researchers uncovered apparent ties between the presence of CTCs and shorter-than-usual overall survival and disease-free survival times. "Our meta-analysis results strongly indicated that the presence of CTCs in the bloodstream was a clinically promising prognostic biomarker of disease survival and progression for patients with [bladder cancer]," the authors conclude, noting that "higher-quality cohort studies are needed to confirm our conclusions."

The Scan

Just Breathing

A new analysis suggests that most Mycobacterium tuberculosis is spread by aerosols from breathing, rather than by coughing, the New York Times reports.

Just Like This One

NPR reports that the World Health Organization has hired a South African biotech company to recreate mRNA vaccine for SARS-CoV-2 that is similar to the one developed by Moderna.

Slow Start

The Wall Street Journal reports that Biogen's Alzheimer's disease treatment had revenues for July through September that totaled $300,000.

Genome Research Papers on Cancer Chromatin, Splicing in the Thymus, Circular RNAs in Cancer

In Genome Research this week: analysis of bivalent chromatin sites, RBFOX splicing factors' role in thymic epithelial cells, and more.