Research

CRISPR Twins’ Lives Could Be Shortened by Two Years

He Jiankui, the Chinese scientist who created the first gene-edited twin children last year, could have unknowingly shortened their lives by more than 1.9 years. A study into the DNA and death records of 400,000 volunteers in the UK Biobank found the genetic mutations to gene CCR5 were “of quite strong effect.”

Fungus Genetically Modified to Wipe Out Malaria-Carrying Mosquitoes

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.

Autism-Causing Variations Found in “Junk” DNA

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.

Gold Nanoparticles Improves CRISPR Cell Delivery

Researchers at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center have proposed gold nanoparticles as a new way to deliver CRISPR Cas-12a to cells. These nanoparticles can be filled with the necessary CRISPR components to edit genes cleanly, with between 10% and 20% of targeted cells successfully edited during lab studies. No toxic side effects were found from the process.

Genetic Mutations Linked to Lupus Found

Researchers from the Australian National University have discovered two rare genetic mutations linked to Lupus, the first time a cause of the disease has been determined. Before this study, it was believed the two mutations, BLK and BANK1, had little role in human autoimmunity and related diseases.

Following the Recent Raid, Could uBiome Become Theranos 2.0?

uBiome, a Silicon Valley startup providing tests focussing on the microbiome and its importance to health, is under investigation after an FBI raid on its offices over how it was allegedly billing its customers. The company has received significant criticism recently for handling of the cofounders’ relationship and alleged corner-cutting during its scientific work.

New Clinical Trial Greatly Improves Genetic Rickets

A drug developed in part by Indiana University School of Medicine to alleviate the symptoms of X-linked hypophosphatemia (XLH), a disease which softens bones, has proven significantly more effective than conventional therapies.

CRISPR Study of Cancer Gene Fusion Regions Finds Potential New Drug Targets

In potentially the first large-scale systematic analysis of thousands of cancer gene fusions, UK scientists have announced that one of the fusions could be a novel drug target for a number of cancers. CRISR editing was used to determine the most important gene fusions for cancer cell survival, before anticancer compounds were tested on them to see which might be repurposed to specifically target the fusions.

First Lifeform Created with Fully Redesigned DNA

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.

Unlocking the Promise of DNA Sequencers: An Interview with Ben Langmead

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.