Skip to main content
Premium Trial:

Request an Annual Quote

This Week in Nature: Jan 19, 2017

In this week's Nature Communications, a research team from Uppsala University reports the development of a mobile phone attachment that can detect cancer-related DNA mutations, opening the door for in-field cancer diagnosis. The 3D-printed device is essentially a multi-modal microscope capable of detecting cancer-specific DNA sequences using fluorescently labeled probes. The investigators view the device as a cost-effective means for molecular diagnosis in remote or resource-limited settings, and note that the technology may be adapted for other applications such pathogen detection. GenomeWeb has more on this, here.

And in Nature Genetics, a group led by scientists from Ulm University and the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute report on a study that suggests that the use of large genomic databases in clinical decision making can both improve patients' quality of life and lower healthcare costs. The investigators analyzed a knowledge bank of matched genomic-clinical data for 1,540 patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML) to develop a predictive algorithm for patient survival. They then used the algorithm to predict whether the individual patients would benefit from blood stem cell transplantation — a procedure that can boost survival but also carries a high risk of treatment-related death. They found that by using the knowledge base they could potentially increase survival by 1.3 percent and decrease the use of transplants in patients with AML by 20 percent to 25 percent, all while maintaining the same overall rate of survival. Despite the findings, the study's authors note that knowledge banks are expensive to maintain and it is not yet clear whether their benefits outweigh their costs.