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This Week in Nature: Dec 18, 2014

In Nature Biotechnology this week, a team from Boston Children's Hospital describes a new genome-wide method for detecting DNA double-strand breaks generated by engineered nucleases. By combining high-throughput, genome-wide translocation sequencing with different CRISPR/Cas9 and TALEN gene-editing nucleases, the researchers identified off-target hotspot numbers for the given nucleases and extended the number of known off-targets for certain previously characterized nucleases. They also identified translocations between bona fide nuclease targets on homologous chromosomes, an undesirable collateral effect not previously described.

Meanwhile, in Nature Genetics, a multi-institute team reports the results of its pan-cancer analysis of mutated genetic networks in nearly 4,000 samples from 12 cancer types from The Cancer Genome Atlas. Using a new algorithm designed to find mutated subnetworks more efficiently than existing single-gene pathway and network approaches, the investigators identified 16 significantly mutated subnetworks that comprise well-known cancer signaling pathways, as well as subnetworks with less characterized roles in cancer. Many of the subnetworks exhibit co-occurring mutations across samples and contain genes with rare somatic mutations across multiple cancer types. GenomeWeb has more on this here.

The Scan

Pfizer-BioNTech Seek Full Vaccine Approval

According to the New York Times, Pfizer and BioNTech are seeking full US Food and Drug Administration approval for their SARS-CoV-2 vaccine.

Viral Integration Study Critiqued

Science writes that a paper reporting that SARS-CoV-2 can occasionally integrate into the host genome is drawing criticism.

Giraffe Species Debate

The Scientist reports that a new analysis aiming to end the discussion of how many giraffe species there are has only continued it.

Science Papers Examine Factors Shaping SARS-CoV-2 Spread, Give Insight Into Bacterial Evolution

In Science this week: genomic analysis points to role of human behavior in SARS-CoV-2 spread, and more.