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Cancer

An Achilles heel for kidney cancer

Switching off gene slows tumour growth in mice.

A new target for fighting the most common form of kidney cancer has been identified.

Clear cell renal cell carcinoma is associated with mutations in the tumour suppressor gene VHL, which increase levels of the HIF transcription factor protein. HIF activates genes including several that help to remove methyl-group chemical tags from the histone proteins around which DNA coils.

William Kaelin of Harvard Medical School in Boston, Massachusetts, and his colleagues found that this increase in HIF makes tumour cells more dependent on a counterbalancing gene called EZH1, which transfers methyl groups to histones.

Inactivating EZH1 using CRISPR gene editing or a drug preferentially inhibited the growth of cancer cells that lacked VHL. Drugs targeting EZH1 also slowed the growth of clear cell renal carcinomas in mice. EZH1 could be a target for drugs against this form of kidney cancer, the authors say.

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Camera-trap image of Dendrohyrax interfluvialis

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Zoology

A bark in the dark reveals a hidden hyrax

Its neighbours scream, but a new species of tree hyrax — a cousin of the elephant — unleashes a rattling bark.
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Plastic detritus from snacks and meals floats in the Red Sea. Marine sampling shows that food waste accounts for nearly 90% of plastic pollution at some locales. Credit: Andrey Nekrasov/Barcroft Media/Getty

Ocean sciences

Humanity’s fast-food habit is filling the ocean with plastic

Food bags, drink bottles and similar items account for the biggest share of plastic waste near the shore.
Conceptual artwork of a pair of entangled quantum particles.

An artist’s impression of ‘entangled’ particles, which share properties even at a distance. Entangled photons can be used to help secure a multi-party video meeting. Credit: Mark Garlick/Science Photo Library

Quantum information

Quantum keys dial up tamper-proof conference calls

A new experiment efficiently distributes the highly secure keys to four parties instead of the typical two.
Farmers harvest pineapples in a field.

Workers harvest pineapples in Lingao County, China. Less than one-third of the money spent on food eaten at home reaches farmers. Credit: Yuan Chen/VCG/Getty

Economics

Poor harvest: farmers earn a pitiful fraction of the money spent on food

The bulk of consumer food spending around the world ends up in the coffers of distributors, processors and other parties beyond the farm gate.
A woman wearing a protective face mask splashes her hands in a jet of water

A pedestrian seeks relief from searing temperatures in Spain, where a high proportion of heat-related deaths have been linked to climate change. Credit: SALAS/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

Climate change

More than one-third of heat deaths blamed on climate change

Warming resulting from human activities accounts for a high percentage of heat-related deaths, especially in southern Asia and South America.
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