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Advancing oncology – Scientists reveal the most extensive genetic map of cancers ever made | Science and technology



Feb eighth 2020

PERHAPS MORE than some other, most cancers is seen as a illness of genes gone incorrect. So, as genetic-sequencing know-how has develop into cheaper and sooner, most cancers scientists are utilizing it to verify which modifications to genes trigger tumours to unfold.

The newest insights from one group, the worldwide Pan-Most cancers Evaluation of Complete Genomes (PCAWG), are revealed this week in Nature. In an evaluation of the complete genomes of two,658 samples of 38 forms of tumour taken from the bladder to the mind, the researchers give a blow-by-blow account of how a sequence of genetic mutations can flip regular cells into runaway clones. It gives probably the most complete evaluation but of the place to seek out this damaging disruption to DNA and, by unpicking the genetics of what makes most cancers tick, simply how arduous it is going to be to tame.

For every of the most cancers samples, the staff produced a read-out of the tumour genome—the 3bn or so particular person DNA letters—and in contrast it with the genome sequences of wholesome cells taken from the identical sufferers. On this method they may search for the genetic signatures of the most cancers cells, the place particular mutations had warped the genetic info.

Most mutations within the genome are innocent. However driver mutations, the place genetic modifications trigger a cell to multiply extra simply and sooner than different cells, can set off tumour progress. Many driver mutations have been discovered over the previous decade and a handful have been translated into new medicines. In a fifth of breast cancers (pictured), for instance, a driver mutation within the gene HER2 makes cells produce extra of a protein on their floor that encourages them to develop and divide uncontrolled. A sequence of medication, together with Herceptin, goal this protein, and result in considerably improved survival charges. The identical HER2 mutation additionally seems in some lung cancers, elevating hopes that comparable therapies may work towards that illness.

The issue is that almost all cancers have a number of driver mutations. Certainly, the PCAWG work discovered that on common every most cancers genome carried 4 or 5. And with some intelligent genetic archaeology in addition they discovered that some driver mutations can happen years earlier than signs seem.

To find this, researchers used a brand new idea referred to as “molecular time” to reconstruct the mobile evolution of tumour cells. By evaluating the DNA of cells inside tumours, the researchers may place mutations in chronological order based mostly on what number of cells they appeared in. Earlier mutations happen extra incessantly. For instance, driver mutations in a gene referred to as TP53 had been discovered to have originated at the least 15 years earlier than prognosis in forms of ovarian most cancers, and at the least 5 years earlier than in forms of colorectal and pancreatic most cancers. Driver mutations in a gene referred to as CDKN2A had been discovered to have occurred in some lung cancers greater than 5 years earlier than prognosis. In principle, that gives a window through which to seek out individuals susceptible to growing these ailments, and maybe stop the most cancers ever showing.

The brand new research closes down discuss that important numbers of unknown driver mutations may lurk within the comparatively unexplored areas of the human genome. One such driver mutation in non-coding DNA was present in 2013—a mutation within the TERT gene throughout many alternative most cancers sorts. To verify for extra like this, the consortium sequenced and analysed all of the DNA letters of those non-coding areas (which account for 98% of human DNA) for the primary time. They discovered that non-TERT driver mutations occurred at a fee of lower than one per 100 tumours in these areas.

Peter Campbell of the Wellcome Sanger Institute in Cambridge, Britain, and a member of the PCAWG consortium, says an necessary contribution of the research is that by sequencing so many tumours it has raised the variety of sufferers in whom a genetic contribution to their most cancers may be recognized from lower than 70% to 95%. The objective, he says, is for genome sequencing of tumours to develop into routine. Efforts to introduce this are underneath method in some nations, together with Britain, the Netherlands and South Korea, he provides.

Outcomes, outcomes, outcomes

Insights are all very properly, however what about chilly, arduous medical progress? Turning genome sequences into significant predictors of most cancers would require comparisons between samples from tens of hundreds of sufferers, say the researchers, together with information on their therapies and survival charges. Processing this may be past the attain of any single organisation. As an alternative, a follow-up undertaking is deliberate that features nationwide funding companies, charities and company companions from greater than a dozen nations all over the world. It goals to hyperlink full sequences of 200,000 most cancers sufferers to their medical information by 2025.

This text appeared within the Science and know-how part of the print version underneath the headline “Scientists reveal probably the most intensive genetic map of cancers ever made”

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Solar Orbiter’s launch – A new spacecraft will examine the sun close up | Science and technology



Feb 13th 2020

THE SUN is without doubt one of the most-studied objects within the sky, however loads of mysteries stay. On February 10th a rocket blasted off from Florida carrying Photo voltaic Orbiter, a European area probe designed to resolve a few of them. This craft will spend the following two years performing fly-bys of Venus and Earth, utilizing the gravity of each planets to kick itself into an uncommon orbit that may take it effectively above the ecliptic, the airplane during which all the solar’s planets orbit.

From that vantage Photo voltaic Orbiter will peer on the solar’s poles, one thing no spacecraft has managed earlier than, and achieve this from shut up. At its nearest, it will likely be simply 42m km from the solar—nearer than Mercury, the innermost planet, will get. Considered one of its options is, due to this fact, a warmth defend coated with charcoal created from cooked animal bone and designed to endure temperatures as much as 500°C. Tiny home windows inside this may illuminate the probe’s varied devices.

These devices are designed to shed mild, because it had been, on a number of questions. One issues the photo voltaic wind, a move of charged particles that streams from the solar at a charge of greater than 1m tonnes a second. The photo voltaic wind blows at a mean velocity of 400km a second, however physicists have no idea precisely what accelerates these particles to such a velocity. One other thriller is the solar’s magnetic area. Each 11 years or so, for causes solely partly understood, this flips its north and south poles round. Photo voltaic Orbiter’s masters hope their cost will observe such a reversal, which is predicted to occur inside the subsequent few years.

In addition they hope that Photo voltaic Orbiter will advance the nascent science of solar-weather forecasting. The whole photo voltaic system is bathed within the photo voltaic wind, which implies that what occurs on the solar can have an effect on situations across the planets. Photo voltaic flares—sudden spikes within the solar’s brightness—increase radiation ranges within the neighbourhood of Earth, which might intrude with satellites’ electronics, alter their orbits and pose well being dangers to astronauts. Coronal mass ejections (CMEs), that are occasional burps of superheated plasma that the solar releases into area, can disrupt radio communications and induce massive, doubtlessly damaging electrical currents in energy grids, communication traces and the like.

These dangers are usually not hypothetical. In 1859 an enormous CME brought about auroras as far south because the Caribbean and broken telegraph programs throughout America and Europe. One other, in 1989, brought about nine-hour blackouts throughout massive elements of north-eastern Canada. Britain’s authorities lists a direct hit from an enormous CME on its Nationwide Danger Register of potential disasters, alongside floods, pandemic illnesses and large terrorist assaults. Early warning of such space-going storms would assist resist their results.

Photo voltaic Orbiter isn’t the one craft quickly to endure a detailed encounter with the solar. In 2018 NASA, America’s area company, launched the Parker Photo voltaic Probe. This may orbit even nearer, at a distance of simply 6.2m km. Researchers see the missions as complementary. Parker will fly by the corona, a tenuous ambiance that stretches far out from the solar’s luminous sphere, permitting it to pattern the gasoline there straight. However that’s a lot too shut for any sort of direct optical commentary, says Richard Harrison, chief scientist on the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in Britain, and certainly one of Photo voltaic Orbiter’s designers. Parker, in different phrases, suffers from the identical limitation as Earthbound human astronomers: it can not look straight on the blinding mild emitted by the item it’s learning.

This text appeared within the Science and know-how part of the print version beneath the headline “Sizzling matters”

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U.S. Weighs New Move to Limit China’s Access to Chip Technology



The Trump administration is weighing new commerce restrictions on China that may restrict the usage of American chip-making gear, because it seeks to chop off Chinese language entry to key semiconductor expertise, in accordance with folks accustomed to the plan.

The Commerce Division is drafting modifications to the so-called overseas direct product rule, which restricts overseas firms’ use of U.S. expertise for navy or national-security merchandise. The modifications may permit the company to require chip factories world-wide to get licenses in the event that they…

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Lots of Rich Men Tweet Like the President Now



Twitter was based in 2006. Fourteen years later, and maybe due to the influential instance of President Trump, the masters of the universe have apparently discovered to publish to it.

This week alone, a plethora of influential politicians and enterprise leaders have a minimum of tried to make use of the social media platform with the identical air of informal authenticity coupled with severity that characterizes a lot of Mr. Trump’s tweets.

On Thursday, Mike Bloomberg responded to a taunting tweet from Mr. Trump — pitting him towards his rival for the Democratic candidacy, Senator Bernie Sanders — by telling Mr. Trump that their mutual connections had nothing however contempt for him.

“We all know most of the similar folks in NY. Behind your again they chuckle at you & name you a carnival barking clown,” he mentioned. “They know you inherited a fortune & squandered it with silly offers and incompetence.”

Mr. Bloomberg is, amongst different issues, competing with Mr. Trump on his personal phrases on social media — and has spent no scarcity of cash in doing so. However he was not alone final week in bluntly expressing himself on social media.

Lloyd Blankfein, the senior chairman of Goldman Sachs who’s 65 and really, very wealthy, tweeted late on Tuesday about the potential of Senator Sanders turning into the Democratic nominee for president.

“If Dems go on to appoint Sanders, the Russians must rethink who to work for to greatest screw up the US. Sanders is simply as polarizing as Trump AND he’ll wreck our financial system and doesn’t care about our navy. If I’m Russian, I’m going with Sanders this time round,” Mr. Blankfein tweeted.

Mr. Blankfein’s tweet got here solely a day after a collection of tweets from Jay Carney, the previous White Home Press Secretary and senior vp for world company affairs at Amazon. Mr. Carney lashed out at critics of an op-ed he wrote in The New York Occasions (additionally about Mr. Sanders), criticizing their phrase selection and suggesting that one may be a bot.

Mr. Carney’s sudden spate of surprising and aggressive tweets is sensible within the context of a much less non-public Amazon ecosystem. His boss, Jeff Bezos, lately set Twitter alight along with his personal publish, the purpose of which seemed to be that Mr. Bezos had met Lizzo on the Tremendous Bowl.

Traditionally, Goldman Sachs and Amazon are identified for very cautious and policed company messaging. However in 2020, the instance of the tweeter-in-chief (and, clearly, the specter of Senator Sanders competing within the basic election) appears to have loosened their Twitter fingers.

Elon Musk, one other wealthy and highly effective man, has lengthy been identified for boisterous on-line habits — in 2018, the U.S. Securities and Trade Fee charged with him with securities fraud for what it referred to as “a collection of false and deceptive tweets a couple of potential transaction to take Tesla non-public.” However even he made a minor stir this month when he launched a music referred to as “Don’t Doubt ur Vibe,” after which highlighted that it had turn into the eighth hottest music on SoundCloud. (Early Wednesday morning, Mr. Musk additionally tweeted about Mr. Sanders.)

Jon Meacham, a presidential historian, mentioned that the enterprise leaders of the USA have lengthy taken cues about the best way to behave in public from the staging of the presidency. At shareholder occasions, for instance, he mentioned, every little thing from the rostrum to the branded backdrop is commonly staged to look “like a spot the place a president of the USA might plausibly give a chat.”

“Previous to Trump there was a visible vernacular of dignity and gravitas that company America borrowed from the presidency,” Mr. Meacham mentioned. “And now, because the president has turn into a Hobbesian bully on-line, they’re borrowing that. As a result of a minimum of of their minds, that’s the place persons are at.”

This week’s tweets are supposed to affect voters, and Mr. Trump has modeled a singular technique of affect in that regard. Rebecca Katz, who has labored as a communications adviser to Mayor Invoice de Blasio and Cynthia Nixon, attributed this week’s tweets to the more and more blurry strains between politics, enterprise, media and movie star.

“Whereas few enterprise leaders would in all probability admit it, Trump’s rise has made them suppose that they will do what he’s achieved,” Ms. Katz mentioned. “Trump’s proven them that the way in which to make information and command consideration isn’t by being revered. It’s by being outrageous.”

Jack Grieve, a fellow on the College of Birmingham and one of many authors of a paper about linguistic variation on Mr. Trump’s Twitter account, mentioned in an interview that the type of the president’s posts was not arbitrary.

“The stylistic variation you see on Trump’s twitter account is much from some random dumpster hearth,” he mentioned. “It’s very systematic.”

For example, he mentioned, Mr. Trump’s Twitter language grew to become notably extra formal as soon as he grew to become the Republican nominee for president in 2016. Nevertheless it then reverted to informality after the discharge of the “Entry Hollywood” tape. Because the president was inaugurated, Mr. Grieve mentioned, the informality of his language had crept up once more. (Mr. Grieve’s evaluation spanned from 2009 to early 2018 and didn’t embrace the impeachment course of.)

That informality was characterised by brief sentences, an abundance of pronouns, contractions, questions and direct interactions with different customers on the location, Mr. Grieve mentioned.

“The truth that persons are imitating him is additional proof that it’s not simply random,” Mr. Grieve mentioned. “It’s been appreciated by individuals who aren’t simply political pundits or who aren’t simply journalists however who’re actually in there attempting to do that. They’ve appreciated that there’s an artwork to what he’s doing.”

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