A compilation of images, including a dog, a blind mole rat, and cell micrographs
Our Favorite Cancer Stories of 2021
This year revealed just how much scientists have learned about the disease, from how animals become naturally cancer-resistant to how tumor cells harness extracellular DNA to develop rapid drug resistance.
ABOVE: NEIL POLLOCK, MEDICAL DETECTION DOGS; © MURPHYSCIENCEART.COM; KRISTEN TURNER; UNIVERSITY OF ROCHESTER; O. SAYDAM ET AL., FRONT CELL DEV BIOL, 2021.
Our Favorite Cancer Stories of 2021
Our Favorite Cancer Stories of 2021

This year revealed just how much scientists have learned about the disease, from how animals become naturally cancer-resistant to how tumor cells harness extracellular DNA to develop rapid drug resistance.

This year revealed just how much scientists have learned about the disease, from how animals become naturally cancer-resistant to how tumor cells harness extracellular DNA to develop rapid drug resistance.

ABOVE: NEIL POLLOCK, MEDICAL DETECTION DOGS; © MURPHYSCIENCEART.COM; KRISTEN TURNER; UNIVERSITY OF ROCHESTER; O. SAYDAM ET AL., FRONT CELL DEV BIOL, 2021.

jumping genes

blind mole rat
Blind Mole Rats Use Junk DNA to Combat Cancer
Ruth Williams | Sep 30, 2021
Activation of retrotransposons in the animals’ cancerous cells sets off an innate immune response that triggers cell death.
close-up of a retina showing blood vessels and a damaged spot
DNA in Cell Cytoplasm Implicated in Age-Related Blindness
Katarina Zimmer | Sep 29, 2021
A new study suggests that DNA synthesized in the cell cytoplasm drives retinal cell death in an advanced form of age-related macular degeneration, a leading cause of blindness.
silhouette of a chimpanzee swinging against a blue sky
Alu Leap May Explain Why Apes Don’t Have Tails
Annie Melchor | Sep 23, 2021
A transposable element that jumped into the TBXT gene, which is linked to tail morphology, appears to be to blame for our missing appendage.
Transposons Identified as Likely Cause of Undiagnosed Diseases
Jef Akst | Jan 13, 2020
A tool for identifying jumping gene insertions in DNA sequencing data turns up possible explanations for four patients’ rare developmental disorders.
Jumping Genes Inactivated with CRISPR in Pigs
Shawna Williams | Aug 10, 2017
The study could pave the way for transplanting porcine organs to humans without the risk of reigniting endogenous retroviruses.
RNA Protects “Naked” Genomes from Retrotransposons
Shawna Williams | Jun 30, 2017
Transfer RNA fragments prevent jumping genes from hopping around in the mouse embryo, when histone methylation can’t do the job.
Gene Behind Black Peppered Moth’s Color Change Identified
Tanya Lewis | Jun 6, 2016
A transposon underlies this classic story of evolutionary adaptation.
Before the Genes Jumped, 1930s
Sabrina Richards | Jan 1, 2012
How Nobel Laureate Barbara McClintock nearly gave up genetics for meteorology