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This Week in Science: Jan 19, 2018

In this week's Science, a multi-institute research team describes the development of CancerSEEK, a blood test for the early detection of eight common cancer types based on levels of circulating proteins and mutations in cell-free DNA. They used the test on 1,005 patients with various non-metastatic, clinically detected cancers, and showed that CancerSEEK results were positive in a median of 70 percent of the cancer types. For five cancer types for which there are no screening tests available, CancerSEEK's sensitivities ranged from 69 percent to 98 percent. Meanwhile, specificity was greater than 99 percent. Though the findings are encouraging, additional studies in larger patient populations are required, the authors say. 360Dx has more on this study, here

And in Science Signaling, a Washington State University-led group describes a new high-throughput sequencing bioinformatics strategy — called differential enrichment scan or DEScan — for analyzing epigenomic experiments. They applied the method to study how learning alters chromatin accessibility in the mouse hippocampus, and found that learning increases chromatin accessibility genome-wide. Notably, substantial numbers of learning-regulated regions were located in close proximity to known autism-associated genes, suggesting that DEScan may be useful in identifying regulatory regions relevant to brain disorders.