News

Discovering the Function of Ultra-Conserved “Poison Exons” Through a CRISPR-Based Tool

8 January 2020

Scientists at Seattle’s Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Centre have used a CRISPR-based tool to identify the role of ultra-conserved elements in DNA in blocking the growth of tumour cells and keeping healthy cells growing. Published in Nature Genetics, the research found the importance of these ultra-conserved elements that have remained identical between species, such as humans and mice, over millions of years and showed how essential they are in maintaining a healthy cell.

7 January 2020

Knocking Out HIV in Newborns with a Single Dose of Antibodies

New research on nonhuman primates has found that a single dose of antibody-based treatment can prevent HIV transmission from mother to baby. Published in Nature Communications, this research is the first to find that a single dose of broadly neutralising antibodies given after viral exposure can prevent SHIV infection in nonhuman primate new-borns.

7 January 2020

A Potential Pathway to Reverse the Genetic Expansion Causing Friedreich’s Ataxia Discovered

Researchers at Tufts University, USA have discovered a mechanism that could be used to develop therapeutic strategies to reverse the genetic expansion causing Friedreich’s ataxia. Published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the researchers report that the triplet expansion of DNA that causes the disease could potentially be reversed by targeting the process of DNA replication that naturally contracts the expansion in living tissue.

6 January 2020

Saving the Red Squirrels from the Greys with Gene Editing

Researchers at the Roslin Institute who cloned Dolly the sheep in 1996 are looking to create gene-edited squirrels for eventual release into the wild. This decision comes as an aim to save UK native red squirrels from North American native grey squirrels, which have seen a decrease in number since the grey’s arrival.

6 January 2020

Researchers Discover How to Silence Pain Through Epigenetics

Scientists at Navega Therapeutics in San Diego, California have discovered a way to target DNA to stop pain signals being sent and eliminate pain. In an article published by Pharmafile, the treatment could be available in five years to help sufferers of chronic pain or with long-term pain problems.

3 January 2020

Protist Genome Project Launched by Chinese Scientists

A program to analyse the diverse genome of 10,000 protists, some of which can cause diseases such as malaria and sleeping sickness, has been launched by six Chinese research institutions to establish a large-scale database of protists genetic resources.

3 January 2020

Illumina and Pacific Biosciences Announce Termination of their $1.2 billion Merger Deal

Illumina, Inc. (Illumina) and Pacific Biosciences of California, Inc. (PacBio) announced that they have mutually agreed to terminate their merger agreement. The merger was first proposed in November 2018 that Illumina would be acquiring PacBio at a fully diluted enterprise value of ~$1.2 billion. Now with the merger terminated, Illumina will have to pay a termination fee of $98 million to PacBio.

3 January 2020

How the New NHS Genomic Medicine Service Sets to Provide a Diagnosis in Just Days

Genetic and genomic testing has been a hot topic in the healthcare industry in recent years. The NHS has introduced a Genomic Medicine Service (GMS) in an aim to ensure equitable access to genetic and genomic testing and integrate this into routine NHS care by 2025, driving more personalised treatments for patients in the process.

2 January 2020

A New Way to Predict the Progression of Alzheimer’s Disease

Researchers have investigated the use of PET imaging to see whether beta-amyloid and tau can predict subsequent brain atrophy in Alzheimer’s disease. Published in Science Translational Medicine, the findings showed that tau tangles could be used to predict how much shrinkage will occur and where, which was particularly strong in younger patients.

2 January 2020

He Jiankui Sentenced to Three Years in Prison & a Third CRISPR Baby Confirmed

Earlier this week, He Jiankui, the scientist behind the world’s first gene-edited twin babies, was sentenced to three years in prison and fined three million yuan (£327,000) for “illegal medical practice”. In late 2018, He Jiankui along with his team carried out CRISPR gene editing on twin girls, dubbed Lulu and Nana, to provide immunity against HIV.

23 December 2019

Liver Fat Leaks Linked to Type 2 Diabetes

Researchers at Newcastle University, UK have been the first to confirm that fat over-spills from the liver into the pancreas can trigger Type 2 diabetes. Published in Cell Metabolism, the researchers observed the link between excess fat within both the liver and pancreas and the development of Type 2 diabetes, and how this condition can be reversed.

23 December 2019

Detecting Leukaemia with Artificial Intelligence

Researchers at the German Centre for Neurodegenerative Diseases (DZNE) and the University of Bonn have investigated the use of artificial intelligence to detect one of the most common forms of blood cancer – acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) – with high reliability. Published in iScience, the technique was used to analyse the expression of certain genes in cells of the blood.

20 December 2019

Predicting Breast Cancer Recurrence After 10-Years with MRI Scans

Researchers at Penn Medicine have developed an imaging technique that can provide a non-invasive characterisation of tumour heterogeneity. They used Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) and radiomics – an emerging field of medicine that uses algorithms to extract large amounts of features from medical images

20 December 2019

The New Genetic Risk Score for Ischaemic Stroke

Scientists have developed a new genetic risk score that is similarly or more predictive than commonly known risk factors for stroke. They developed this meta-scoring approach model to identify individuals at a 3-fold increased risk of developing ischaemic stroke – one of the leading causes of disability and death world-wide