The US government has ended medical research funding for scientists using foetal tissue, and cancelled a multi million-dollar contract for a laboratory at the University of California at San Francisco, which required the material to test new HIV therapies. According to a White House spokesperson, the decision was taken by President Trump himself.
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.
There could be another universe right next to our own: a mirror universe that goes a long way to explaining many of the inconsistencies and questions we’ve found in our own. Scientists are working towards finding this hidden space which could contain mirror atoms, molecules and whole planets to our own.
Researchers have genetically modified stem cells inside the bodies of mice for the first time, in a study that could lead eventually to new potential for stem cell therapies. The study also shows potential for studying genetically-edited stem cells within the body, rather than in the lab.
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.”
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.
Scientists from John Hopkins University have created DNA nanostructures which self-heal in serum, avoiding damage to such nanostructures which has historically occurred when added to cellular environments.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.