an artist s illustration of artificial intelligence ai this image depicts how ai could assist in genomic studies and its applications it was created by artist nidia dias as part of the

DAILY DOSE: New form of CRISPR heads for clinical trials; Saving an ancient hunter-gatherer tribe.


Base editing, an advanced form of CRISPR genome editing, has entered US clinical trials, targeting more sophisticated genome modifications. The initial trial treated a participant with immune cells edited to better combat tumors, aiming to address a challenging leukemia variant and heralding more intricate future edits. While traditional CRISPR-Cas9 editing can be unpredictable, base editing offers more precision by editing just one DNA strand. Beam Therapeutics is improving CAR-T-cell cancer therapy with this technique, and their method extends the activity of the engineered cells. However, safety remains a concern, as base editing can cause unintended DNA alterations. Research is ongoing to refine and expand the potential of base-editing technology. (Nature)


In 1988, health organizations aimed to eradicate polio by 2000. However, despite reducing polio cases by 99%, the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) hasn’t achieved total eradication. A critical report from an independent board in September suggests GPEI may miss upcoming deadlines due to overly positive projections. While only Afghanistan and Pakistan report paralysis from wild poliovirus (seven cases this year), the bigger threat now comes from circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus (cVDPV), which resulted in 246 paralysis cases this year, mainly in Africa. The oral polio vaccine (OPV) used since the 1960s is cheaper and spreads immunity in communities but can, on rare occasions, revert to virulence. Efforts to adapt the vaccine have occurred, but the report suggests political instability, COVID-19, and rigid strategies hinder progress. Tom Frieden, former CDC head, emphasized that better vaccination rates and improved technologies can combat the outbreaks. Despite challenges, the mission remains vital for global public health. (Science)

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A study indicates that adults over 60 years old who spend over 10 hours daily in sedentary activities, like watching TV, might have an increased risk of developing dementia. Published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, the research highlights that dementia risk intensifies beyond 10 hours of sedentary behavior daily, regardless of how that time is spread throughout the day. Importantly, sedentary times under 10 hours didn’t show an increased risk, offering relief to office workers. Data from the UK Biobank, including accelerometer readings from around 50,000 adults, was used to investigate the link between sedentary behavior and dementia risk. After a six-year follow-up, 414 dementia cases were identified. Adjustments were made for various factors like demographics and lifestyle. Although the study offers significant insights, further research is needed to confirm causality and understand if physical activity can counteract the risk. (Futurity)


Upside Foods, a leading cultivated meat startup, has implied it can produce whole cuts of chicken meat at scale using large bioreactors. However, former and current employees allege the company’s chicken served recently at a Michelin-starred restaurant was actually painstakingly grown by hand in small plastic flasks. They claim Upside’s custom bioreactors frequently fail to produce usable meat sheets at scale. The small flask method is expensive, produces tiny yields, and generates plastic waste. Upside’s FDA approval only covers this method, not cheaper suspension cell approaches suited to mass production. Despite touting its ability to make 50,000 pounds annually, Upside can only produce around 16 ounces monthly for the restaurant. While some see Upside’s whole-cut focus as generating hype and investment, it faces technical struggles in solving this harder problem over more viable ground meat products. The revelations raise questions about cultivated meat’s progress and viability. (Wired)

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Gediz Vallis Ridge on Mars, believed to be the result of ancient debris flows from 3 billion years ago, has been a target for NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover. After three failed attempts, hampered by sharp rocks and steep inclines, Curiosity successfully reached the ridge on August 14. Ashwin Vasavada, the rover’s project scientist, expressed excitement over touching rocks from regions of Mount Sharp the rover will never visit. Since 2014, Curiosity has been climbing the 3-mile-high Mount Sharp, uncovering signs of ancient water bodies. Different mountain layers reveal distinct periods of Martian history, with Gediz Vallis Ridge being among the youngest features. The rover studied the ridge for 11 days, examining dark rocks from higher up Mount Sharp. These rocks offer insights into the mountain’s upper material. Scientists also observed an eroded debris flow fan, a formation common to both Earth and Mars. The rover captured a 360-degree view of the area on August 19. Curiosity’s next mission is to explore water channels above the ridge. (NASA)


The Punan Batu are a nomadic hunter-gatherer group in the rainforests of Borneo who were thought to have vanished until being rediscovered in 2018. Their isolation sparked doubts, but new genetic research confirms they split from mainland groups over 7,000 years ago. The Punan Batu traded forest goods with a Sultanate for centuries but remained secluded in caves. After colonial rule, the government forced settlement and stripped their ancestral lands. Anthropologist Stephen Lansing made contact with around 30 Punan Batu families in 2018, finding they still foraged and sheltered in caves. He recorded their unique song language and distinctive DNA shows long isolation. Critics alleged they were not truly isolated or native to Borneo. But the new genetic study, showing limited diversity over 20+ generations, refutes these claims and the view they were imported slaves. It resolves a century-old debate about Punan origins, with implications for forest rights. Their nomadism appears endangered as palm oil and logging encroach. One Punan Batu man has built a permanent home and farm, although still plans to hunt. While transitioning to settled life, the Punan Batu hope research will aid recognition of their land rights and traditional lifestyle before the forest vanishes. (New York Times)


A 300,000-year-old fossilized jawbone found in Hualongdong cave, eastern China, exhibits a combination of ancient and modern characteristics. This discovery, highlighted in the Journal of Human Evolution, suggests the bone might be from an unknown archaic human species. From the same cave, scientists had previously unearthed 16 other remains dating back to the same period. The newly found jawbone, possibly from a 12-to-13-year-old, blends features typical of both Homo erectus and Homo sapiens. The mandible’s characteristics make it distinct from other hominins of the Middle Pleistocene epoch. Although the oldest H. sapiens fossils are from Ethiopia, dating back to 230,000 years ago, the exact origins of modern humans remain disputed. East Asia’s Pleistocene-era human history is muddled, and it’s uncertain whether any discovered species could be our direct ancestors. The Hualongdong jawbone’s features bear similarities to remains from Jebel Irhoud, Morocco, which might belong to early H. sapiens lineage members. Further studies and fossils are needed to determine the Hualongdong people’s exact position in human evolution. (Nature)

Thanks for reading. Let’s be careful out there.

WORDS: The Biology Guy.

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