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Diagnostics Screening and monitoring, Precision medicine, COVID-19, Oncology

Research Review

The demand for rapid COVID-19 screening is ravenous – especially in settings without the necessary equipment and resources to conduct metagenomic next-generation sequencing or RT-PCR. To address this gap, researchers have developed a new test that uses CRISPR technology to provide rapid, sensitive COVID-19 diagnosis (1).

Antibody Answers
New research reveals distinct differences in the anti-gluten antibodies of patients with celiac disease and those with non-celiac gluten sensitivity (2). Whereas the former experience a strong, sustained primary B cell response, the latter evidence similar antibody levels, but less inflammation.


A Boon for Blood
After donation, blood may be stored for weeks prior to transfusion. During that time, it undergoes continuous degradation. Laboratorians are responsible for the difficult and time-consuming task of assessing viability – but now, a deep learning network that can recognize red blood cell degradation can help (3).

Radiotherapy Revealed
Radiotherapy is not typically the province of the pathologist – but, with the discovery of genes that may predict treatment success, that may change. Mutations in the ERCC6L2 gene correlate with better survival in radiotherapy-treated patients (4), suggesting its potential use as a biomarker for the likelihood of response.

A Look at Interleukin
Triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) – a diagnosis known for its poor prognosis and lack of response to standard treatments. Now, though, new research has revealed a new prognostic biomarker and potential therapeutic target in one: interleukin-34 (5). The cytokine is highly expressed in TNBC and correlates with lower survival rates.

An Ocean of Diversity
You’ve heard of forensic pathology, veterinary pathology… now coral pathology? A new genotyping assay for corals allows marine biologists to evaluate the genetic diversity of reefs and thus their health (6). In addition, it enables the identification of symbiotic algae that inhabit the coral cells.

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  1. T Hou et al., PLoS Pathog, 16, e1008705 (2020). PMID: 32853291.
  2. M Uhde et al., Gastroenterology, [Epub ahead of print] (2020). PMID: 32702369.
  3. M Doan et al., Proc Natl Acad Sci USA, [Epub ahead of print] (2020). PMID: 32839303.
  4. P Francica et al., Cell Rep, 32, 108068 (2020). PMID: 32846126.
  5. N Kajihara et al., Breast Cancer, [Epub ahead of print] (2020). PMID: 32578004.
  6. SA Kitchen et al., Sci Rep, 10, 12488 (2020). PMID: 32719467.
About the Author
Michael Schubert

While obtaining degrees in biology from the University of Alberta and biochemistry from Penn State College of Medicine, I worked as a freelance science and medical writer. I was able to hone my skills in research, presentation and scientific writing by assembling grants and journal articles, speaking at international conferences, and consulting on topics ranging from medical education to comic book science. As much as I’ve enjoyed designing new bacteria and plausible superheroes, though, I’m more pleased than ever to be at Texere, using my writing and editing skills to create great content for a professional audience.

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