Genetics

Anti-Starvation Mechanism Behind Obesity Epidemic

An evolutionary survival mechanism that helped early humans avoid starvation could be behind the obesity epidemic in society today. Starvation puts considerable stress on cells. The body responds with a mechanism that blocks fat from burning when the body is starving, injured or cold. This enables energy to be conserved so people can survive longer, […]

Biobank 2019 — An Interview with Professor Joshua Denny, Vanderbilt University Medical Center

The UK Biobank’s 2019 scientific conference concluded this month, showcasing fantastic speakers on topics ranging from use of the UK Biobank, to using genomics to understand individual risk. Among them was Professor Josh Denny, Vanderbilt University. FLG spoke to him about his talk on phenome-wide association studies (PheWAS): a research technique used to understand what disease associations can be made with a given gene.

RNA Key to Anti-Ageing Skincare

Scientists have found that RNA production is behind the regenerative affects of laser skincare treatments. Laser treatments are a widespread cosmetic procedure to make skin appear younger and healthier. The laser slightly damages the skin cells, forcing them to repair themselves. After the repair process, the skin looks younger, but until recently the mechanism to […]

Study Suggests Genetic Basis for Anorexia

A new genetic study has revealed anorexia, previously thought to be solely a psychiatric disease, is influenced by metabolic factors. Anorexia is an eating disorder and a serious mental health condition. Sufferers try to keep their weight as low as possible by eating as little as possible or exercising as much as they can. Sufferers […]

Genomic Barcode Identifies Immune Cells that Can Tackle Cancer

Researchers have developed a new technique to pinpoint immune cells in cancer patients that are reactive against their disease. This research could lead to more targeted immune-based therapies for cancer patients. Immunotherapy is a relatively new field of cancer treatment which works by promoting the patient’s immune system to fight against the cancer. Although immune […]

Healthy Lifestyle can Reduce Genetic Risk for Dementia

A study has shown that you can reduce your risk of getting dementia by adapting a healthy lifestyle, regardless of your genetic pre-disposition. Genetic factors can increase a person’s likelihood of getting dementia, but until now it was not known if making lifestyle changes could reduce this risk. 196,383 individuals above 60 years of age […]

Malnourished Children Recover Better with Microbiome Repairing Food

A new treatment for malnourished children, using food that promotes a healthy microbiome, has been found to aid recovery better than current alternatives. Malnourished children often struggle to recover and find gaining weight again extremely difficult, even with sufficient food. Scientists have long suspected this is due to the role of the gut microbiome. Gut […]

New Gene Linked to Healthy Ageing in Worms

A gene has been identified in worms that improves their health, but not their lifespan, as they age. Maintaining quality of life is becoming a focus in healthcare for the elderly, as people that live to the same age do not necessarily have the same quality of life. Some maintain both their movement and cognitive […]

Science of Gender-Swapping Fish Revealed

New research has explored the dynamic genetic changes taking place during the bluehead wrasse’s sex change. The bluehead wrasse social group consists of one dominant blue male fish and a harem of yellow females. However, when the dominant male is removed from the group the largest female immediately undergoes a full sex change and becomes […]

Changes to Genetic Risk Factors Not Always Reported to Patients

Patients are not being informed about changes to their genetic risk factors for cancer, a new study shows. If an individual has a family history of a type of cancer, they can get a genetic test to identify their own cancer risk. Identifying a genetic risk means that person can get regular check-ups and be […]

Why do Humans Procrastinate?

A genetic variant has been found to increase an individual’s tendency to procrastinate, the act of delaying an essential task in favour of easier and less vital ones. Procrastination can harm productivity in both the workplace and everyday life. It can also negatively affect physical and mental health. However, if you are getting frustrated at […]

Plant Mitochondrial DNA Genetically Engineered for the First Time

Scientists have genetically engineered plant mitochondrial DNA for the first time. This advancement could enable a more secure food supply for the future. Low mitochondrial diversity in plants leaves whole species vulnerable to diseases. If all plants are genetically similar, very few individuals will have resistance to certain diseases, which will give a low survival […]

Species Lifespan Predicted by Rate of Telomere Shortening

New research has indicated that a species’ lifespan can be predicted by the rate of telomere shortening but not by the initial telomere length, as previously thought. Telomeres are repetitive sequences of DNA nucleotides found at the end of chromosomes. They protect the chromosome from degradation during cell division. As species age, the length of […]

Genetic Changes that Cause Coral Bleaching Identified

Researchers have identified the genetic changes that cause corals to bleach when ocean temperatures increase. This insight gives researchers the possibility to genetically engineer corals to make them more resistant to bleaching.  At normal temperatures, corals form a symbiotic relationship with microalgae, known as dinoflagellates. The algae provide their photosynthetic products to the coral so […]