In Science this week, a team of Chinese scientists report the single-cell multi-omics sequencing of human colorectal cancer primary tumors and metastases from 10 patients, providing new insights into the genetics of the disease. Among the findings were consistent genome-wide DNA demethylation patterns of cancer cells in all patients, as well as a correlation of DNA methylation degrees with the densities of the heterochromatin-associated histone modification H3K9me3 of normal tissue and those of repetitive element long interspersed nuclear element 1. The study, the authors write, "demonstrates the feasibility of reconstructing genetic lineages and tracing their epigenomic and transcriptomic dynamics with single-cell multiomics sequencing."
And in last week's Science, Vanderbilt University researchers discuss the establishment of a universal forensic DNA database for law enforcement use. They argue that such a resource would be not only be a powerful tool for solving crimes, but would also overcome the biases inherent in current forensic databases, which are largely based on samples from young, non-white individuals previously arrested or convicted of a crime. A universal database could also be constructed so it contains only a limited amount of an individual's genetic markers and not sensitive medical information. "A universal database would not be cheap," the authors note. However, the societal and economic benefits for such a system could overset the cost by "increasing the efficiency, accuracy, and success rate of ongoing criminal investigations and by deterring would-be criminals."