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This Week in Science: Mar 13, 2015

In this week's Science, a Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center-led team reports new insights into the genomic determinants of immune checkpoint inhibitors, a new class of drugs that use a patient's own T cells to attack cancer. Using whole-exome sequencing of non-small cell lung cancers treated with the antibody pembrolizumab, the researcher found higher nonsynonymous mutation burden in tumors was associated with better responses to treatment. Efficacy also correlated with the molecular smoking signature, higher neoantigen burden, and DNA repair pathway mutations; and all these factors were associated with mutation burden. The findings suggest that the genomic makeup of lung cancers influences response to this kind of therapy.

Meanwhile, in Science Translational Medicine, a pair of cancer experts from the MD Anderson Cancer Center and the University of Washington argue for better integration of cancer prevention and early detection strategies, and say such integration should be tailored to a region’s healthcare resources and cancer demographics to reduce the global burden of cancer. Meanwhile, as advances in genomics and molecular epidemiology "usher in a new era of prevention and early-detection strategies," policymakers should work to prevent a divide between prevention and early detection in cancer care prioritization, the researchers say.

The Scan

Rise of B.1.617.2 in the UK

According to the Guardian, UK officials expect the B.1.617.2 variant to soon be the dominant version of SARS-CoV-2 there.

Anne Schuchat to Retire

Anne Schuchat is retiring after more than 30 years at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Politico reports.

US to Share More Vaccines

CNN reports that the US will share 20 million doses of the Moderna, Pfizer, and Johnson & Johnson SARS-CoV-2 vaccines with other countries.

PNAS Papers on Gene Therapy Platform, Aspergillus Metabolome, Undernutrition Model Microbiome

In PNAS this week: approach to deliver protein-based treatments to cells, pan-secondary metabolome of Aspergillus, and more.