University of Maryland scientists have genetically modified a fungus to produce a toxin fatal to mosquitoes, in order to reduce the malaria death toll they currently cause. An out-of-lab trial destroyed a mosquito population almost entirely within 45 days, leading some to criticise the work as “too dangerous” for the real world.
Genomics will change what patients expect from their provider, as well as change how physicians treat them. Before this happens, education on both sides is needed. This month we look at some of the big talking points.
Princeton University researchers have used AI techniques to uncover junk DNA mutations which can lead to autism. The findings are the first to link functionally link mutations in regulatory DNA with a disease like autism, and possibly prove that the changes affect how genes are expressed in the brain.
The FDA has cleared the most expensive drug yet, Novartis’ gene therapy drug Zolgensma, for introduction to the market. Zolgensma, created to combat spinal muscular atrophy, has been priced at $2.125 million, or $425,000 annually over five years.
GEDMatch, the DNA database which made news recently for its instrumental role in solving cold criminal cases in the US, has blocked law enforcement from accessing information for the millions of people on its system.
Cambridge University scientists have created the first living organism with fully synthetic DNA radically altered from its original state. The strain of E coli was given a smaller set of genetic instructions than its counterparts, proving life can continue with such a restricted code.
UK Biobank has released a vast tranche of genetic data to health researchers around the world, offering an unprecedented resource to enhance understanding of human biology and aid in therapeutic discovery. This follows a brief exclusive research period for Regeneron and GSK. Additional tranches of data will be released over the next two years.
Dr Ben Langmead is a computational biologist and assistant professor in the Computer Science Department at Johns Hopkins University, most famous for his creation of the Bowtie and Bowtie 2 sequence alignment algorithms, used to improve sequencing alignment quality. FLG spoke to Dr Langmead about his lab, his recent work using the Stampede2 supercomputer cluster to optimise sequencing data analysis software, and the future for DNA sequencers as a whole.
Yale University researchers have discovered a potential new biomarker for identifying individuals with increased risk of prostate cancer metastasis. The findings announced that mitochondrial protein syntaphilin is vital in determining the balance between tumour cell proliferation and tumour cell invasion, and is expressed significantly at the invasive tumour edge in prostate cancer.
Gene therapy can make heart cells regenerate after a heart attack, King’s College London researchers have found. The study, published in Nature, stated that a small piece of genetic material called microRNA-199 delivered into a pig’s heart after myocardial infarction resulted in almost total cardiac recovery a month later.
The ATDC gene has been identified as necessary for the development of pancreatic cancer. Deleting the gene in pancreatic cells led to “one of the most profound blocks of tumour formation ever observed in a well-known mice model engineered to develop pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma”.
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.
A new polygenic risk score tested data from 300,000 people to forecast risk of obesity. The study found that 10% of adults with the highest genetic risk were 25 times more likely to become severely obese than the 10% whose genes were most likely to keep them slim.
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.
Front Line Genomics’ “Biodata Analysis and Management – Genome Analytics, Interoperability, and Data Life Cycle” report isn’t just an update of our old Genomic Data 101 guides: packed with new information on AI and machine learning,. data discoverability and data interoperability, it is much much more.
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.