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Genomics Week in Brief: Week ending 15th December

Want to catch up with all the latest news from the genomics world? Then Week in Brief is the place for you!

Welcome back to Week in Brief, your summary of the latest updates from every facet of the genomics world!

This week, single-cell and spatial technologies have been a hot topic in the news…

  • 10 papers published in Nature collectively describe the first complete atlas of a mammalian brain at the single-cell level. This feat was achieved by researchers from the BRAIN Initiative Cell Census Network (BICCN), who used single-cell and spatial genomics technologies to investigate cell types in the mouse brain (Nature).
  • Scientists have developed a technique, Slide-tags, that can barcode cells to preserve spatial information at single-cell resolution (Nature).
  • Researchers have used single-cell technologies to build a comprehensive immune cell atlas of the developing lung, which could assist in the treatment of respiratory conditions (Science Immunology).

New research could advance the treatment of various human conditions…

  • A new study supports previous work that suggests epigenetic alterations can cause type 2 diabetes. This finding could contribute to new methods for predicting who is at risk of the condition (Nature Communications).
  • Researchers have implicated a dysregulated calcium channel in a form of childhood epilepsy, which could act as a therapeutic target (Nature Communications).
  • Scientists from Johns Hopkins Medicine have used single-nucleus RNA-seq to assess thousands of biopsy samples from acute kidney injury patients. The findings of this large-scale study could inform diagnosis and treatment (Science Translational Medicine).

There have been developments in vaccine research this week…

  • Research has suggested that the efficacy of COVID-19 vaccination could be increased if delivered directly to the respiratory tract, as shown in a study in non-human primates (Nature).
  • An international research collaboration has revealed that blood group could be used to predict an individual’s likelihood of stroke in response to COVID-19 vaccination (The Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine).
  • Stepping away from COVID-19, an investigation into HIV vaccines has identified ways to improve efficacy and highlighted the importance of a strong CD8+ T cell response (Science).

Artificial intelligence has been at the forefront of new research…

  • Researchers have developed a new machine learning tool to predict pathogenic gain- and loss-of-function variants across the genome (Genome Medicine).
  • A combination of AI and chromatin imaging has been shown to effectively identify tumour-associated biomarkers in liquid biopsy samples. (npj Precision Oncology).

And, unsurprisingly, we have had new updates in the cancer field…

  • A new mechanism has been uncovered that could be used to re-sensitise cells to a promising cancer treatment. The death receptor ligand TRAIL has shown potential as a therapeutic target, but is yet to make it out of clinical trials due to acquired treatment resistance (Cell Death & Disease).
  • Researchers have successfully tested immunotherapies in mice with humanized immune systems, presenting an effective new model (Frontiers in Immunology).
  • Finally, scientists have identified a novel biomarker for immune checkpoint inhibitors in cancer cells. This finding could improve the efficacy of immunotherapies (Journal for ImmunoTherapy of Cancer).

Check out last week’s Week in Brief here.