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This Week in Science: Oct 5, 2018

In this week's Science, a University of California, Los Angeles-led team publishes a study showing that small cell neuroendocrine carcinomas (SCNCs) — highly lethal tumors that can arise from the "reprogramming" of different types of epithelial cancer, often in patients resistant to targeted therapies — have common molecular drivers. By reprogramming epithelial cells from normal human lung and prostate tissues, and performing a series of cellular, transcriptional, and epigenetic analyses, the scientists identify transcription factors that initiate and maintain SCNCs, regardless of the tissue of origin. "These data may help inform efforts to identify novel therapeutic approaches for preventing the emergence of SCNCs and for treating them once they arise," the researchers conclude.

And in Science Translational Medicine, investigators from industry and academia report on an antisense-based treatment for Huntington's disease that appears to improve cognitive and psychiatric deficits — not just motor function declines — in animal models. The RNA-binding drug is designed to suppress expression of the mutant forms of the protein huntingtin that characterizes the disease, and was found to reduce cognitive and behavioral impairments in mice. Further, weekly doses of the drug in non-human primates had a robust effect throughout the cortex and limbic system — areas of the brain implicated in cognition and psychiatric function.