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Genomics week in brief: Week ending 17th December

Check out the latest Genomics Week in Brief – full of intriguing news and research from the genomics space!

Top stories from the past week:

  • Loss of the Y chromosome in some immune cells may explain why men are at higher risk of severe COVID-19 infection than women (Genome Medicine).
  • Scientists have developed a new precise form of gene therapy to repair damaged tissue using regulatory enhancer sequences from zebrafish. This mechanism senses damage and switches on genes involved in tissue repair, switching them off when it is healed (Cell).
  • Researchers have used single-cell technology to identify cell types associated with treatment resistance and disease progression in prostate cancer (eLife).
  • A genome-wide analysis has uncovered four genes associated with suicidal tendencies. The four genes have previously been linked to multiple psychiatric disorders and behaviours such as substance abuse (JAMA Psychiatry).
  • A new tool, Bact-Builder, has been developed to perform de novo sequencing of bacterial genomes. It has been used to sequence Mycobacterium tuberculosis, resulting in the most accurate tuberculosis reference genome so far (Nature).
  • Epigenetic modifications, particularly DNA methylation, may contribute to behavioural traits in dogs such as fearfulness (Frontiers in Psychology).
  • A tandem repeat expansion in an intronic region of the FGF14 gene has been linked to Late-Onset Cerebellar Ataxia, a neurological condition that is currently difficult to diagnose and treat (NEJM).
  • Individuals with Down’s syndrome suffer from amyloid plaque formation at a similar rate to individuals genetically predisposed to Alzheimer’s disease. Therefore, they may benefit from inclusion in clinical trials aimed at targeting this build-up (The Lancet).
  • Researchers have used single-molecule RNA fluorescence in situ hybridization (smRNA-FISH) to track viral RNA and discover more about how the SARS-CoV-2 virus replicates in infected cells (bioRxiv).
  • Scientists have mapped the evolution of antibiotic resistance in E. coli by analysing bacterial phenotypes, contributing to our understanding of how resistance spreads through the population (PLOS).
  • A newly developed DNA vaccine has been successful in protecting mice from COVID-19 infection (Biomaterials).
  • A new target gene has been implicated in the onset and progression of pancreatic cancer. Identification of this target could inform treatment for the disease, which remains one of the most deadly forms of cancer (Wiley).

In other news:

  • A teenage leukaemia patient has been successfully treated using base-editing technology. T-cells from a healthy donor were genetically altered to destroy the patient’s cancerous cells (BBC).
  • The UK Government has announced £175 million in funding for genomics research. The funding is part of a 3-year plan to better integrate genomics into healthcare and will be used to improve newborn screening and cancer diagnosis (UK Government).
  • And finally, NASA’s Orion capsule has returned to earth this week. The capsule has been orbiting the moon for 25 days as part of the revolutionary Artemis mission (Guardian).