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.

Link Between Enhancers and Gene Activation Fleshed Out

The rules that cells use to determine which genes they must activate and under what conditions have been further uncovered by scientists at New York University. The findings develop the understanding around how gene variants affect phenotypic traits.

CRISPR Identifies Cancer Drug Targets

A team from the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute and Broad Institute have used CRISPR-Cas9 to identify key genes required for cancer survival. Over 18,000 genes from 30 different cancer types were screened, a computational framework then developed to prioritise the 600 most promising drug development targets.

New “Allelic” Gene Drive Replaces Faulty Genes with Preferred Versions

Scientists at the University of California San Diego have created a new version of a gene drive which could lead to spreading specific, favourably genetic variants through a population. This “allelic drive” uses a guide RNA to direct CRISPR to cut undesired gene variants and replace them with better versions of the gene.

Amazon Alexa Now HIPAA-Compliant Thanks to Tool Kits

Amazon has announced that new software for its Alexa virtual assistant will allow healthcare companies to build tools which can safely send private information to patients. The announcement was accompanied by the launch of six voice programs created by health companies including Boston Children’s Hospital and digital health company Livongo.

Effects of Poverty Make Their Mark on 1,500 Genes in the Body

A study conducted by Northwestern University researchers has found that long-term poverty can be “embedded” across the genome. Lower socioeconomic status was found to be associated with levels of DNA methylation, a key epigenetic mark that can influence expression, across more than 1,500 genes.

Depression Not Caused by Genetics Alone, Study Finds

A new large-scale study of depression, analysing more than 620,000 individuals, has found that there is no single gene for the disorder, rewriting years of hypotheses and striking a blow to clinical agencies who hoped to create diagnostic tools and treatments for the faulty genes.

New Sequencing Test for Huntington’s Could Cut Short Results Waiting Time by Weeks

A collaboration between Viapath, NIHR Guy’s and St Thomas’ Biomedical Research Centre has created the world’s first nanopore-based genetic sequencing test for Huntington’s disease, now available at Guy’s and St Thomas’ hospitals. If successful, the test could cut waiting time for complicated Huntington’s cases, and could have big ramifications for other disorders in the future.

Heating Solid Tumours Increases CAR-T Therapy Success Rate

Heating solid tumours during CAR-T cell therapy could increase change of success, researchers from the UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center have found. Combining a heating technique called photothermal ablation with the infusion of CAR-T cells suppressed melanoma tumor growth for up to 20 days in mice.

nQ Medical Wins “Most Innovative Breakthrough” Prize at D4 Conference

Out of a whole host of engaging and enjoyable moments at Front Line Genomics’ recent Data Driven Drug Development (D4) conference, held in Boston on 20-21 March, one of the most memorable was definitely the triumph of nQ Medical in our innovation showcase, beating out three other contenders for the claim to be “most innovative” of the technologies on display.

More Than 13,000 Genetic Edits Made to Single Cell

Harvard College researchers have announced that more than 13,000 genetic alterations have been made to a single cell using CRISPR technology. This work is designed to edit genomes at a much larger scale than currently possible.