Reports

Disruptive science can have a significant impact outside of our own domains of research and into our personal lives. Keeping abreast of these developments can help prepare and inspire.

International Study Finds 11 New Epilepsy Genes

Eleven new genes associated with epilepsy have been discovered by an international team of scientists, advancing knowledge of the underlying causes of the condition and potentially helping in the development of new treatments.

Reprogrammed Skin Cells Shrink Mouse Tumours

Personalised tumour-detecting cells from adult skin cells have been used to shrink brain tumours in mice by up to 5%, scientists have revealed. While the strategy has not yet been fully tested in people, it could in the future give doctors the ability to develop a custom treatment for certain cancer types.

Amgen and Entera Collaborate on Serious Illness Treatment Program

Amgen and Entera Bio are partnering up to develop new treatments for inflammatory disease and certain other serious illnesses using the Entera drug discovery program. The platform will be used to develop oral formulations for one preclinical large molecule program which Amgen has selected. Entera’s CEO said the collaboration would be an important validation test of the platform technology.

CRISPR Babies Could Face Unintended Consequences of Editing

The CCR5 gene has been researched by scientists since the 1990s, and has a number of roles which have not yet properly been uncovered. Loss of the gene’s function is known, however, to increase the risk of potentially fatal reactions to some diseases, and has shown an ability to enhance learning in mice.

Genetic Heart Test Used to Identify Risk of Severe Cardiomyopathy

Scientists from the University of Pennsylvania have created a test using gene-editing tools such as CRISPR to identify a gene variant responsible for severe hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (SHC). SHC is an often-familial disease which thickens heart walls and is linked to a variant in the TNNT2 gene.

CEPI Provides $8.4 Million Grant to Fight “Disease X”

A new deal created by the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) will use $8.4m to facilitate development of a vaccine platform to fight unknown pathogens. Under the deal, Imperial College London will work to create a self-amplifying RNA vaccine platform, which can then be made to rapidly develop anti-pathogen vaccines.

CRUK and AstraZeneca to Launch New Genomics Centre in UK

AstraZeneca and Cancer Research UK (CRUK) have announced that they will work together to open a new research centre in the UK, applying CRISPR and other functional genomics technologies to develop new cancer drugs. Specifically, the centre will study how genes and proteins interact with each other in cancer cells, and create disease models using genome-altering technologies based on this.

SeraCare Acquired by LGC

Manufacturer of quality control materials SeraCare Life Sciences has been acquired by LGC, an international life sciences measurement and testing company, strengthening its position in the clinical quality control tools market.

UCB to Invest £1 Billion in UK R&D

Multinational biopharmaceutical company UCB has agreed to invest £1 billion in UK research and development (R&D), the government has announced in its latest Life Sciences Sector Deal. In the deal, £75 million will be invested into the development of new AI driven diagnostic tests while £50 million will be invested in digital pathology programmes and £37.5 million into regional digital innovation hubs.

WHO to Create Gene Editing Expert Panel

The World Health Organization is establishing an expert panel to set guidelines and standards on the ethical and safety issues of gene editing, the body has announced. This follows the recent revelation that a scientist in China claimed he had edited the genes of twin babies to make them HIV resistant.

Genetic Causes of Neurodegeneration Determined by Scientists

Certain genetic processes of neurodegeneration, as seen in dementia, have been identified by a research team led by UCLA scientists. Two major groups of genes which create over-productions of the tau protein, which is integral to loss of neurons seen in major dementia forms, were found using mouse models of dementia, although the researchers performed additional experiments which determined the same processes occur in human brains.

Global Study Finds First Genetic Risk Variants of ADHD

There is a large genetic component to attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), a study published recently in Nature Genetics has confirmed. The study assessed 20,183 individuals diagnosed with ADHD and 35,191 controls, finding variants in 12 independent loci which all contribute to ADHD.

CRISPR-Edited Twins Allegedly Born in China

Twin girls in China have allegedly been born after having their embryonic genetic code modified using CRISPR. Chinese researcher He Jiankui, from the Southern University of Science and Technology, claims to have turned off a gene called CCR5 to offer total protection against HIV, as well as smallpox and cholera.