News of Note—CRISPR allows same-sex mouse couples to give birth; predicting breast cancer relapse

brown mouse
Mouse pups from two female parents were healthy and went on to have their own babies, Chinese researchers reported. (Alexandra/München)

Gene editing allows same-sex mouse couples to conceive

Researchers in China used stem cells and CRISPR gene editing to produce mouse babies from same-sex parents. They started with haploid embryonic stem cells from either sperm or egg cells. For the female mouse pairs, they used CRISPR to snip out three regions of DNA, then transferred the stem cells into immature eggs, one member of the team told National Geographic. For males, they removed seven regions, then injected both the altered stem cell and the sperm into an egg and fostered embryo growth in the lab. They then injected the developing embryo into the uterus of a surrogate mouse. Both methods produced live babies, though only the pups from the all-female pair survived and went on to bear their own youngsters, they reported in the journal Cell Stem Cell. (Article/Study)

A new way to predict breast cancer metastasis

Even when breast cancer is successfully treated, dormant cancer cells can hide in the body and spark a recurrence of the disease, often many years later. Now researchers led by the Mount Sinai School of Medicine have identified a protein in cancer cells that may help oncologists predict which patients are most likely to suffer relapses of metastatic breast cancer. A high concentration of the protein NR2F1 in breast cancer cells that metastasized to bone marrow rendered the cells dormant, the researchers discovered. Patients with low concentrations of NR2F1, by contrast, developed lethal metastases. The researchers concluded that physicians should use bone marrow testing to monitor breast cancer patients and consider trying drugs in those patients that have recently been shown to promote dormancy in cancer cells. They published their findings in the journal Breast Cancer Research. (Release)

Inovio-funded DNA vaccine protects against Ebola in non-human primates

A DNA vaccine created by scientists at the Wistar Institute Vaccine & Immunotherapy Center and being developed with funding from Inovio has prompted a strong immune response against Ebola virus in macaques. Unlike traditional vaccines, which use the actual infectious agent to activate an immune attack, DNA vaccines use a genetic sequence that encodes an antigen, which in turn creates the desired immune response. The animals that received Wistar’s DNA vaccine showed strong immune responses against Ebola one year after receiving the final dose, the researchers reported in the Journal of Infectious Diseases. They also detected higher levels of antibodies in the animals than what’s been reported for other Ebola vaccines in development, they said. (Release/Study)