News

George Church Robustly Defends his “DNA Dating App”

17 December 2019

George Church of Harvard University has been under heavy scrutiny after news broke out of a new “DNA Dating App” he has been involved in developing, during a recent interview with 60 minutes. The news has led to a significant backlash from some quarters, including from some within the genomics community, that the app is unethical and represents a form of eugenics.

17 December 2019

Shareable Science: 18,000-year-old Puppy Could help Explain how Wolves Became Dogs

Scientists are all about new discoveries. As it turns out, we get especially excited when those “new discoveries” are thousands of years old. Researchers in Russia recently unveiled an 18,000-year-old puppy that was preserved in permafrost. The animal is somewhere between a wolf and a dog, and that ambiguity speaks to the oft-pondered mystery of how the two species diverged.

16 December 2019

Peanut Allergy Severity – Blame the Genome

Novel genes associated with the peanut allergy severity and the way the genes interact together have been identified by researchers at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. The findings from this study could lead to the development of better treatments and approaches to identify biomarkers that can predict the severity of a peanut allergy before exposure.

16 December 2019

Chemotherapy Resistance Could be Due to Mitochondrial Stress

Researchers at the Salk institute have discovered a way in which some cancers resist chemotherapy. Published in Nature Metabolism, they showed that mitochondria can signal to the rest of the cell when there is stress or chemicals that can damage DNA, such as chemotherapy.

13 December 2019

The First SNP Identified to Determine Disease Progression in Multiple Sclerosis

Researchers at Kuwait University and Amri Hospital, Kuwait have been the first to study the risk of the FTO allele rs9939609 on disability progression in patients with multiple sclerosis (MS). This allele has been thoroughly studied in its link with obesity, however no study has linked the FTO gene to MS

13 December 2019

The Saliva Test to Detect Mouth and Throat Cancer

A new non-invasive method to detect the presence of human papilloma virus (HPV)-16 in saliva has been successfully used in a collaboration between Duke University, UCLA, and University of Birmingham. HPV-16 is a high-risk virus known to be an etiologic agent for the development of head and neck cancers, specifically with oropharyngeal caners (OPCs).

13 December 2019

Over 100 Variants Found to Influence Psychiatric Disorders

Scientists at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and the Psychiatric Genomics Consortium have discovered that many distinct psychiatric diseases share a common genetic basis. More than 100 genetic variants were found to play a role in determining risk levels for different mental health conditions.

12 December 2019

Blame Double XX for Autoimmune Issues

Researchers from the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) have discovered a possible explanation for why autoimmune disease are more common in females. The research based on mouse models showed that the extra X chromosome in females may be to blame.

12 December 2019

Interview with Chris Wigley & Sir Mark Caulfield, Genomics England

We met with Chris Wigley, CEO and Sir Mark Caulfield, Chief Scientist at Genomics England, at the first Genomics England Research conference taking place in November 2019 in London. We started by asking them how Genomics England is getting on with their objectives.

11 December 2019

Deep Learning Technology Used to Decode Gene Interactions

Computer scientists at the Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh have developed a digital method to transform massive amounts of gene expression data into something more image-like. Published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, the scientists utilised an incredibly powerful deep learning method that has revolutionised methods such as facial recognition in recent years.

11 December 2019

Shorter Telomeres & Obesity Association Found in Children

A study published in Scientific Reports examined nearly 1,400 mother-child pairs from a multi-centre European birth cohort and found that childhood obesity was associated with shorter telomeres. Telomere length is a useful biomarker of biological ageing, as shorter telomeres are associated with a wide range of diseases. These encompass cancer, premature ageing, and obesity.

10 December 2019

Blinatumomab – Improving Outcomes for Children with Relapsed Leukaemia

The immunotherapy drug Blinatumomab has shown to be an effective treatment for children and young adults with relapsed B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukaemia in a clinical trial led by the Children’s Oncology Group, part of the National Cancer Institute USA, and presented at the annual meeting at the American Society of Haematology.

10 December 2019

Interview with Arianne Shahvisi, Senior Lecturer in Ethics

Arianne Shahvisi is a Senior Lecturer in Ethics at the Brighton and Sussex Medical School. We managed to have a chat with Arianne ahead of her speaking at the Festival in Genomics, to get her take on the ‘coloniality’ of health and how the much-hyped advent of Whole Genome Sequencing might play a role in exasperating social injustices.

10 December 2019

Treating Autism and Tourette’s with Ketamine: A Potential Treatment?

Researchers at Lancaster University have been the first to discover a genetic alteration that increases the risk of developing Autism Spectrum Disorder and Tourette Syndrome, as published in the journal Cerebral Cortex. Their findings suggest that ketamine, or related drugs, may be a useful treatment for both disorders.