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Working on mRNA Therapies

Moderna Therapeutics operated for its first years in secrecy, but has recently begun to open up, Wired reports, noting that the startup is still years away from having commercial products.

It's working on tailoring mRNA-based therapeutics to individual cancer patients. As Wired notes, Moderna's process starts by comparing a patient's tumor and normal DNA to suss out cancer-causing mutations and determine which proteins would prod the patient's immune system to attack the tumor based on those mutations. It then designs an mRNA therapeutic, it adds.

Moderna has partnered with Merck on a clinical trial treating solid tumors, and one of its teams is about to publish on engineering an "off-switch" into their mRNAs, Wired reports.

"We're going to be able to make medicines that address diseases in different people in very different ways as a result of mostly removing humans from the process," Steven Hoge, the company's president told Wired this year. "It's not something that is like 'oh, this is the right color for you,' it's actually, "no, we invented this color for you.'"

But as Wired notes, "[t]he proof will be in the publishing."

The Scan

Foxtail Millet Pangenome, Graph-Based Reference Genome

Researchers in Nature Genetics described their generation of a foxtail millet pangenome, which they say can help in crop trait improvement.

Protein Length Distribution Consistent Across Species

An analysis in Genome Biology compares the lengths of proteins across more than 2,300 species, finding similar length distributions.

Novel Genetic Loci Linked to Insulin Resistance in New Study

A team reports in Nature Genetics that it used glucose challenge test data to home in on candidate genes involved in GLUT4 expression or trafficking.

RNA Editing in Octopuses Seems to Help Acclimation to Shifts in Water Temperature

A paper in Cell reports that octopuses use RNA editing to help them adjust to different water temperatures.