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Diagnostics Biochemistry and molecular biology, Digital and computational pathology, Hematology, Oncology

Quick Hits

Testing for TB
Next-generation sequencing of urine cfDNA has been found to be a valid biomarker of tuberculosis (TB) (1). The study found that TB cfDNA was significantly shorter than human genomic cfDNA, which could inform the development of improved assays for diagnosing TB from urine cfDNA.

Saliva Screening
Despite rising rates of human papillomavirus (HPV)-driven head and neck cancers, biomarkers are limited. However, high-risk HPV DNA has been successfully detected in 72 percent of HPV-driven oropharyngeal cancer patients’ saliva and tumor p16 overexpression was observed in 89 percent (2). At a five-year follow-up, salivary HR-HPV-positive patients had a survival advantage over HR-HPV-negative patients.

Stress Test
A novel microfluidic assay for testing the effects of cyclic hypoxia on red blood cell (RBC) biomechanics has found that cyclic hypoxia alone can lead to mechanical degradation of the RBC membrane (3). RBCs affected by sickle cell disease are also less deformable and exhibit less fatigue resistance to cyclic hypoxia than normal RBCs.

Deep Learning Development
Using routine histopathology images, a new deep learning model, “DeepGrade,” has shown independent prognostic value for risk stratification of breast cancer patients into the Nottingham histological grade 2 group (4). The method could provide a cost-effective alternative to molecular profiling.

Chain of Command
Patients with light chain-predominant multiple myeloma face a significantly higher mortality rate, which may be associated with renal damage caused by excess free immunoglobulin light chains (5). Researchers suggest early aggressive chemotherapy, plasmapheresis, and dialysis could help reduce renal damage, but further investigation is needed.

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  1. A Oreskovic et al., Int J Infect Dis [Online ahead of print] (2021). PMID: 34562627.
  2. C Ekanayake et al., J Mol Diagn, [Online ahead of print] (2021). PMID: 34325059.
  3. Y Qiang et al., Lab Chip, 21, 3458 (2021). PMID: 3437862.
  4. Y Wang et al., Ann Oncol, [Online ahead of print].
  5. G Singh et al., Lab Med, [Online ahead of print] (2021). PMID: 34388245.
About the Author
Olivia Gaskill

During my undergraduate degree in psychology and Master’s in neuroimaging for clinical and cognitive neuroscience, I realized the tasks my classmates found tedious – writing essays, editing, proofreading – were the ones that gave me the greatest satisfaction. I quickly gathered that rambling on about science in the bar wasn’t exactly riveting for my non-scientist friends, so my thoughts turned to a career in science writing. At Texere, I get to craft science into stories, interact with international experts, and engage with readers who love science just as much as I do.

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