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Cancer anti-inflammatory drug has potential to treat severe COVID-19
March 31, 2021 -- A new study provides evidence that an inexpensive clinical-grade inhibitor that's already approved to treat cancer, called topotecan, can be used to treat severe COVID-19, even in the late stages of the disease. The findings were published in Cell on March 30. Read More
Prime editing creates desired gene mutations without collateral damage
March 30, 2021 -- A new gene editing tool called prime editing was demonstrated to efficiently create cell-specific knockout mice compared to traditional gene editing techniques. While both platforms successfully created mutations, prime editing did so without measurable on-target indels or off-targeting events, according to a study published in Genome Biology on March 16. Read More
Machine-learning system ranks most effective cancer drugs
March 29, 2021 -- Scientists successfully trained an ensemble of machine-learning (ML) algorithms to rank clinically relevant cancer drugs based on the drugs' predicted efficacy in reducing cancer cell growth. The study, reported in Nature Communications on March 25, suggests that ML may soon be widely used to predict the most appropriate treatment for individual patients with cancer. Read More
Breakthrough photochemistry method opens doors to new drugs
March 26, 2021 -- Medicinal chemists have succeeded in converting several classes of flat nitrogen-containing molecules into 3D structures that could form the basis for new drug candidates. The methods, published in Science on March 26, detail over 100 examples of the broad applicability of overcoming the conversion barrier through light-mediated energy transfer. Read More
Scientists connect gene to cancer metastasis for the first time
March 25, 2021 -- Researchers have identified new functionality of a previously underappreciated gene, leucine-rich repeat neuronal 4 C-terminal like (LRRN4CL), which is overexpressed in melanoma cells. They believe LRRN4CL plays an important role in cancer metastasis to the lungs and describe their findings in Communications Biology on March 23. Read More
Hydrogen maps of SARS-CoV-2 main protease point to effective repurposed drugs
March 24, 2021 -- Scientists have used atomic maps of hydrogen atoms to determine that the SARS-CoV-2 main protease acts in unexpected ways when it comes into contact with a drug inhibitor. The research, published in the Journal of Medicinal Chemistry on March 23, provides key insights for efforts to repurpose existing drugs to develop candidates for treating COVID-19. Read More
Scientists develop ultraspecific CAR T cells that kill only cancer cells
March 23, 2021 -- Scientists have devised a two-step engineering circuit that precisely targets solid tumors with chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cells. The engineering feat could be the next step in treating solid tumors using therapeutic T cells, a treatment that has remained out of reach for many cancer patients. The new method was detailed in a Science article on March 12. Read More
Gene therapy based on transcription factors could be effective against Alzheimer's
March 22, 2021 -- A type of gene therapy using transcription factors to target DNA has been shown to dramatically reduce levels of the harmful protein tau in preclinical mouse models of Alzheimer's disease. The findings, published in Science Advances on March 19, suggest that the therapy could easily translate to the clinic and be effective in humans. Read More
What pregnant women need to know about COVID vaccines
March 22, 2021 -- Addressing questions about COVID-19 vaccines for pregnant and postpartum women, a leading maternal-fetal medicine specialist explained that it's likely best to get vaccinated as soon as they are eligible. Read More
Scientists uncover secrets to controlling gene expression
March 19, 2021 -- Bioengineers have demonstrated that simultaneous control over transcription and translation in cells can achieve the most stringent control of gene expression to date. The findings, published in Nature Communications on March 19, will open new avenues for improved biotechnologies and synthetic biology applications. Read More
Stable spike protein makes main SARS-CoV-2 variant more infectious
March 18, 2021 -- A new study finds that the enhanced infectivity of the dominant G614 variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus largely results from the increased stability of its spike protein. Findings from the study were published in Science on March 16. Read More
SARS-CoV-2 PLpro enzyme may be an effective COVID-19 drug target
March 17, 2021 -- A coronavirus enzyme called papain-like protease (PLpro) that's capable of blocking host innate immune responses during infection may be an attractive COVID-19 target for therapy drug candidates, according to a new study published March 16 in Nature Microbiology. Read More
New intestine chips promote precision in preclinical models
March 16, 2021 -- A new intestine-on-a-chip platform enables researchers to model host-microbiome relationships to gain new insights into the mechanisms of infectious disease in the body, according to a new study published in Frontiers in Cellular and Infectious Microbiology on March 12. Read More
SARS-CoV-2 has changed very little since jumping from bats
March 15, 2021 -- The SARS-CoV-2 virus has required little to no significant adaptation to humans since its jump from bats in late 2019, according to a new study published in PLOS Biology on March 12. The evolutionary analysis of coronaviruses in bats and humans reveals that the infectivity of SARS-CoV-2 is derived from adaptation in bats, not humans. Read More
RNA editing enzyme ADAR1 helps cancer cells proliferate
March 12, 2021 -- Researchers have discovered that an isoform of the RNA editing enzyme adenosine deaminase acting on RNA 1 (ADAR1) is responsible for regulating genome stability of telomeres at chromosomal ends. The findings, published in Nature Communications on March 12, suggest that the enzyme is required for the proliferation of cancer cells and may be a potential therapeutic target for some cancers. Read More
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