Also: American man cured of sickle cell, and explosion threatens smallpox storage facility

Explosion and fire break out at Russian lab known for housing deadly smallpox virus

(Helen Regan, CNN, 9/17/19)

A facility that holds viruses for smallpox, Ebola, swine flu, and other infectious diseases suffered an explosion on Monday during repair work. The site, which is in Novosibirsk, Siberia, hosts research on several viruses for vaccination, treatment, and diagnosis. One worker was injured, but officials say that no biohazard material was compromised.

Alabama Man Free of Sickle Cell After Gene Therapy

(Lindsay Kalter, WebMD, 9/17/19)

29-year-old Lynndrick Holmes of Mobile, Alabama has been declared sickle-cell free after undergoing a two-year clinical trial to treat his disease. If he remains stable for five years, he will be declared cured. The experimental gene therapy involves modifying stem cells from Holmes’ own bone marrow to alter the gene that causes sickle cell disease.

Cancer cells have ‘unsettling’ ability to hijack the brain’s nerves

(Heidi Ledford, Nature, 9/18/19)

Three studies recently published in Nature describe how the nervous system comes into play during cancer growth. Researchers found some cancer cells that behave like neurons, which can help the tumor infiltrate the brain. They found this system in brain tumors, or gliomas, as well as in some breast cancers. While the results were surprising for the researchers, they may also open new treatment opportunities for oncologists.

—Stories compiled by Senior Scientific Writer Mary Parker