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This Week in Science: Oct 28, 2016

In Science this week, a multi-institute team of researchers reports the results of a whole-genome analysis of chimpanzees and bonobos, revealing that the two ape species likely interbred hundreds of thousands of years ago. The investigators specifically analyzed the genomes of 10 bonobos and 65 chimps from various regions in Africa, and observed clear evidence of gene flow between the two species — which are known to mate in captivity — occurring between 200,000 years and 550,000 years ago. Central, eastern, and Nigeria-Cameroon chimpanzees were found to share significantly more genetic information with bonobos than western chimpanzees. Additionally, some background bonobo genetic information was found to have been deleted in the chimpanzee genome, suggesting that some bonobo genes may have been disadvantageous for chimpanzees. GenomeWeb has more on this study here.

And in Science Translational Medicine, investigators from the National Cancer Institute, AstraZeneca, and the UK institute of Cancer Research discuss the importance of understanding drugs' mechanisms of action, focusing on PARP inhibitors, a class of cancer drugs that target the DNA damage response. Understanding how these drugs work is key to guiding treatment strategies and can inform other areas of cancer care. "Insights into drug mechanisms of action are not just something that is nice to have," they write. "They are fundamental for determining how a drug should be given to a patient in terms of dose and schedule, for patient selection, and for understanding mechanisms of resistance."