Genetics

102 Genes Linked to Autism Found in Largest-Ever Study

The largest study on autism spectrum disorders (ASD) to date has identified 102 genes involved in the disorder, including 37 new genes that had not been recognised before. Published in Cell, the findings help researchers better understand the causes of the disorder, and could possible help in developing new drug therapies for children with severe impairments.

New Genetic Test Predicts Glaucoma-Related Blindness

Researchers at QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute and Flinders University, Australia have identified 107 genes associated with increased risk of developing glaucoma. The researchers also developed a genetic test to screen those who are at risk of developing the condition, in the hopes of intervening before symptoms of the disease, such as vision loss, occur.

Blood Test That Can Predict Tuberculosis Before Symptoms Develop

A new blood test that could predict the onset of tuberculosis (TB) three to six months before people become sick has been discovered by researchers at University College London. The researchers identified gene expression signatures present in the blood of people with early, asymptomatic TB infection that could predict the disease before symptoms arise.

Non-Cancer Drugs Identified to Kill Cancer Cells

Scientists at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute have found that drugs used for inflammation, diabetes, alcoholism, and arthritis also have anti-cancer properties. Published in Nature Cancer, this is the first study to screen an entire collection of mostly non-cancer drugs to see if they can kill cancer cells.

Soybean Oil Can Cause Genetic Changes in the Brain

New research from the University of California, Riverside has shown that America’s most widely consumed oil – Soybean oil – can affect neurological conditions such as anxiety, depression, autism, and Alzheimer’s disease. The work builds upon previous studies that have identified a number of health risks associated with the oil, such as obesity and diabetes.

Interview with Dr Alfredo Iacoangeli, Principal Investigator, King’s College London

Dr Alfredo Iacoangeli is a post-doctoral researcher at King’s College London whose aim is the development of a high throughput gene, environment and epigenetics database and analysis system for international ALS research. We managed to have a chat with Alfredo ahead of him speaking at the Festival of Genomics about his work, and why he’s excited to be a part of the festival this year.

New Archaeal Organism Found Gives Insights into Early Complex Life

A new discovery by a Japanese team has identified a type of microorganism called an Asgard archaeon, which could shed light on how early eukaryotic cells evolved. The project took 12 years after finding the cells in deep-sea mud. The findings of the closest Archaeal relative to eukaryotes cultures so far will allow further detailed cellular and metabolic investigation and find out more about the origins of complex life.

Poor Quality Egg Cells are Threatened by Jumping Genes

Researchers at Carnegie Institution for Science, USA have discovered a mechanism in which the body tries to eliminate egg cells of the poorest quality. The findings indicate that this elimination during foetal development is related to a transposable element, or “jumping gene”, called LINE-1 that promotes the survival of eggs with more “jumping gene” activity.

Six Loci Identified in Association with High Alcohol Intake

A team of international researchers have conducted a genome-wide association study (GWAS) to identify genes responsible for high population-levels of alcohol consumption. They used genomic data from the UK Biobank and a US study to pinpoint the genes responsible, identifying six loci that could be associated with alcohol use disorder (AUD).

Successfully Deleting Disease by Opening up DNA

Bioengineers based in the US have designed a “DNA-binding editorial assistant” that will allow gene-editing technology, like CRISPR, to access previously inaccessible genes of interest. The new protein design can be used to open up areas of the DNA that are obscured by chromatin, which would improve CRISPR efficiency and aid in developing more precise gene-editing techniques to combat disease.

Leukaemia Cells are Addicted to Vitamin B6

Researchers from the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) and Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSK) have discovered that Acute Myeloid Leukaemia (AML) grows by taking advantage of the B6 vitamin to accelerate cell division. The findings could pave the way for a treatment that can stop cancer growth by manipulating the enzyme that pushes B6 to make proteins essential for cell division.