Science

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.

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.

Researchers Identify Potential New Metastasis Biomarker

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 Could Heal Cells After Heart Attack

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.

Protein and Receptor Combination Slows Metastasis in Mouse Models

Swiss scientists have found a potential new way to block metastasis, with promising results demonstrated in mice. The researchers have found a “barrier”, built by the Activin B protein and a receptor called ALK7, the combo of which prevents tumours from spreading through the body.

New Cancer Pathway Opens Up New Treatment Possibilities

When the MDM2 gene acts with a specific protein found in cancer cells’ mitochondria, it can lead to cancer cell death. The study which discovered this fact, published by Mount Sinai researchers in Molecular Cell journal, could open new treatment opportunities for cancer patients in the future.

Molecules Discovered to Better Control CRISPR Edits

Two molecules which switch off CRISPR could be used to make gene editing therapies safer in the future. Harvard University’s Amit Choudhary and his colleagues said the molecules could stop CRISPR making unintended changes to DNA, potentially harming the individual.