Clinical genomics

Efficiently translating genomic research into the clinic is one of the most important steps in the development of the field. The clinic is where we will see things come to fruition.

Protein and Receptor Combination Slows Metastasis in Mouse Models

Swiss scientists have found a potential new way to block metastasis, with promising results demonstrated in mice. The researchers have found a “barrier”, built by the Activin B protein and a receptor called ALK7, the combo of which prevents tumours from spreading through the body.

New Cancer Pathway Opens Up New Treatment Possibilities

When the MDM2 gene acts with a specific protein found in cancer cells’ mitochondria, it can lead to cancer cell death. The study which discovered this fact, published by Mount Sinai researchers in Molecular Cell journal, could open new treatment opportunities for cancer patients in the future.

Better Data on Gene Interactions Could Improve Cancer Treatments

Network algorithms can improve cancer treatment effectiveness by better determining how genes interact, researchers from the University of Sussex have found. The algorithm built by the scientists, Slant, uses current data to find patterns associated with being part of a synthetic lethal interaction.

Genomic Innovations Will Bring Increased Legal Action

Questions around legality, protecting privacy and ensuring quality of data in DNA sequencing all need answering, a symposium recently held at the University of Minnesota has announced. LawSeq, a $2 million project looking to solve the issue of privacy and legality in sequencing, is exploring how to ensure the legal world catches up with current science.

The Rise of Population-scale Genomic Projects for Pharma R&D Investments

Genetic research is a big data problem without researchers generally having access to this “big” genomic and medical data. Not only has it been nearly impossible to access enough relevant data to support research, but analysing the data has been slow and challenging due to its sheer volume. To counter this, in recent years a number of pharmaceutical companies have announced large-scale collaborations around genomic data to uncover novel drug targets, validate existing drug pipelines, predict response, and expand therapeutics use. We discuss some of the biggest and most recent.

Patients with Rare Diseases Identified Through Genomics England’s Discovery Forum

Two companies with access to data from the 100,000 Genomes Project have identified patients with previously undiscovered life-threatening kidney and neurological diseases. The companies, Alexion and BioMarin, were part of Genomic England’s Discovery Forum, which grants certain industry research proposals access to data from the project after vetting.

DNA Mutation “Fingerprint Database” Identifies Cancer Causes

Cambridge and London researchers have created a database of DNA mutation “fingerprints” which can be used to determine the environmental factors contributing to a patient’s tumour. The study, published in Cell journal, can determine 41 different environmental agents linked to cancer, including the traces left in lung tumours by chemicals linked particularly to tobacco smoke.

Link Between Enhancers and Gene Activation Fleshed Out

The rules that cells use to determine which genes they must activate and under what conditions have been further uncovered by scientists at New York University. The findings develop the understanding around how gene variants affect phenotypic traits.

CRISPR Identifies Cancer Drug Targets

A team from the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute and Broad Institute have used CRISPR-Cas9 to identify key genes required for cancer survival. Over 18,000 genes from 30 different cancer types were screened, a computational framework then developed to prioritise the 600 most promising drug development targets.

Effects of Poverty Make Their Mark on 1,500 Genes in the Body

A study conducted by Northwestern University researchers has found that long-term poverty can be “embedded” across the genome. Lower socioeconomic status was found to be associated with levels of DNA methylation, a key epigenetic mark that can influence expression, across more than 1,500 genes.

More Than 13,000 Genetic Edits Made to Single Cell

Harvard College researchers have announced that more than 13,000 genetic alterations have been made to a single cell using CRISPR technology. This work is designed to edit genomes at a much larger scale than currently possible.

Biogen’s Lead Alzheimer’s Drug Falls Down at Phase Three Trials

Pharma giant Biogen and its Japanese partner Eisai have made the decision to halt two phase 3 trials of aducanumab, a drug created to slow Alzheimer’s by targeting brain-destroying beta-amyloid fragments. An independent monitoring committee decided that the drug was unlikely to benefit patients compared with a placebo.