Melanoma sequencing identifies new druggable targets

Next-generation sequencing technologies are enabling unbiased searches for new cancer genes at an unprecedented scale. In 2011, a flurry of cancer exome and whole-genome papers have been published in high-impact journals, with more in the pipeline. The first genes to be targeted for personalized treatment will be ones harboring recurrent mutations at a high frequency and those with already known inhibitors/modulators. The delivery of personalized therapies in cancer will no longer be bottlenecked by a lack of targets; the development of effective therapies will require new insights into how cancers become resistant to drugs and hopefully, therapeutic interventions that bypass acquired resistance.  Read more

Chimpanzees are selfish, but children are kind

I pose an age-old question: what is it that makes us human? I think it depends who you ask. Ask a cognitive neuroscientist and they may say it’s our theory of mind, which is a fancy way of saying humans have empathy. Ask an evolutionary biologist and they will likely point out all the morphological traits that distinguish us from other primates, such as the large size of our cranial vaults or our opposable thumbs. Ask a psychologist and they may cite our conscience or our ability to use symbolism. But no matter who you ask, most would likely agree that our capacity for sharing resources and the social rules that regulate sharing are specific to human culture.  Read more