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Genomics Week in Brief: Week ending 21st October

Looking for a summary of the latest news in the genomics space? You’re in the right place! Welcome back to Week in Brief, where we explore recent advances in the genomics world and beyond.

New immunology research could transform the treatment landscape of various conditions…

  • Using cryoEM, researchers have elucidated the mechanisms of various receptors involved in the complement cascade. The findings have implications for a number of immune-related conditions (Cell).
  • Exposing cancer cells to carcinogens can prevent the development of immunosuppressive tumour microenvironments. This could make immunotherapy more effective (Journal of Clinical Investigation).

The microbiome has been implicated in a number of aspects of human health…

  • A study has linked the gut microbiota to Alzheimer’s symptoms. The work also shows that transferring microbiota from Alzheimer’s patients to healthy animals leads to the emergence of symptoms (Brain).
  • Researchers have identified changes in the gut microbiome linked to pre-cancerous colonic lesions, a finding that could transform the detection of colorectal cancer (UEG Week 2023).
  • An early-stage clinical trial has investigated the use of potato starch as a dietary supplement to regulate the microbiome in bone marrow transplant patients. This intervention could potentially prevent graft-versus-host disease (Nature Medicine).
  • The gut microbiome has also been implicated in PTSD this week, with those eating a Mediterranean diet suffering less from the condition (Nature Mental Health).

Speaking of diet, how do your genes impact your food intake, and vice versa?

  • Researchers have identified an underlying biological mechanism that makes flavourful and sugar-filled foods more appealing to some individuals, according to a recent study in C. elegans (eLife).
  • Reducing calorie intake leads to the activation of genes and pathways involved in healthy aging (Aging Cell).

There have been updates in the mental health sphere…

  • In a GWAS meta-analysis, researchers have confirmed that post-partum depression is significantly heritable. The large-scale study could lead to new treatment pathways for those suffering from the devastating disorder (American Journal of Psychiatry).
  • Individuals with a genetic predisposition to sleep less have a higher risk of developing depression, indicating that a lack of sleep contributes to the illness (Translational Psychiatry).

What has been going on elsewhere?

  • What makes a good parent? A recent study has revealed that imprinted genes in mouse neurons influence the animal’s parenting behaviours (PLOS Genetics).
  • An analysis of Neanderthal-derived DNA in humans revealed information about the history of both Neanderthals and Homo sapiens (Science Advances).
  • A study claims that polygenic risk scores are not useful for predicting a number of common illnesses, and result in a large number of false positives (BMJ Medicine).
  • Using CRISPR to knock-out gene expression, researchers have elucidated the role of over 20 genes linked to type 2 diabetes (Cell Metabolism).

Check out last week’s Week in Brief here!