In Science this week, researchers from Peking University report that they've genetically modifying a live influenza virus so that it was capable of stimulating an immune response, but unable to replicate in healthy cells. Specifically, the team expanded the virus' genome to include a premature termination codon, giving it full infectivity, but making it unable to replicate in conventional cells. A vaccine based on the modified virus was found to be highly effective against several different strains of the flu in guinea pigs and ferrets, opening the door to a new approach for generating live virus vaccines against almost any virus.
And in Science Translational Medicine, a Tufts University-led team describes the use of a non-invasive microscopy technique to detect skin cancer. The researchers used multi-photon microscopy to observe changes in mitochondrial organization by monitoring fluorescence produced by a mitochondrial metabolic enzyme called NADH. They found that the mitochondrial patterning of normal skin is disrupted by basal cell carcinoma and melanoma, and suggest that using their method for monitoring mitochondrial dynamics may have applications for in vivo cancer diagnosis.