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This Week in Science: Mar 31, 2017

In Science this week, a multi-institute research team publishes new details about origins of gliomas, offering insights that may help in characterizing and treating these tumors. A subset of gliomas can be identified by mutations in a gene called IDH, but these tumors can further been divided into two classes: astrocytoma and oligodendroglioma. To better understand the differences between these, the scientists analyzed 14,226 single-cell RNA sequencing profiles of 165 glioma samples from 16 patients. They found that many of the expression differences between astrocytomas and oligodendrogliomas are likely due to the tumor microenvironment. They further discovered that undifferentiated cells from these tumor types exhibited similar gene expression profiles, pointing to a common origin. The study's authors suggest that inducing cellular differentiation may be an option to slow the growth of these types of tumors. GenomeWeb has more on this, here.

And in Science Translational Medicine, a team of US and British scientists reports a list of potentially new targets for existing drugs based on genomic data. They compiled a list of nearly 4,500 druggable genes using data from the most recent assembly of the human genome sequence, databases of predicted protein structures, and an updated list of FDA-approved therapies. They then mapped thousands of DNA mutations previously associated with diseases involving these genes, and matched targets to indications to identify 144 cases where an existing drug could be repurposed. Notably, the investigators developed a genotyping test that — at $56 per sample — can identify druggable targets more cheaply than other approaches.