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Study Shows Potential for XNAzymes to Knock Down Viruses

XNAzymes, artificial enzymes that can precisely cut long RNA molecules, could be harnessed to quickly develop antiviral therapies, a new study appearing in Nature Communications says. A University of Cambridge team designed site-specific RNA endonuclease XNAzymes that target different parts of the SARS-CoV-2 RNA genome. The team reports that they were able to design, synthesis, and screen a number of RNA endonuclease XNAzymes targeting five SARS-CoV-2 sites in about a week. Three of these XNAzymes were further active under physiological conditions and could knockdown the SARS-CoV-2 RNA genome both in vitro and in vivo, showing a proof-of-concept of their approach. "It's really encouraging that for the first time – and this has been a big goal of the field – we actually have them working as enzymes inside cells, and inhibiting replication of live virus," first author Pehuén Pereyra Gerber from Cambridge says in a statement. The researchers add that the next step is to optimize the intracellular activity and pharmacokinetic activity of the XNAzymes.

The Scan

Open Pediatric Brain Tumor Atlas Team Introduces Genomic Data Collection, Analytical Tools

A study in Cell Genomics outlines open-source methods being used to analyze and translate whole-genome, exome, and RNA sequence data from the Pediatric Brain Tumor Atlas.

Neurological Outcomes Linked to Innate Immune Features After Cardiac Arrest

Researchers reporting in Med dig into immune features found a few hours after cardiac arrest that correspond with neurological outcomes.

Mouse Study Finds Circadian Rhythm-Related Gene Expression Changes Linked to Sleep Apnea

A paper in PLOS Biology reveals tissue-specific circadian rhythm and gene expression patterns in an intermittent hypoxia-based mouse model of obstructive sleep apnea.

Polygenic Risk Score to Predict Preeclampsia, Gestational Hypertension in Pregnant Women

Researchers in Nature Medicine provide new mechanistic insights into the development of hypertensive disorders of pregnancy, which may help develop therapeutics.