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Genomics Week in Brief: Week Ending 22nd March

Welcome back to Week in Brief, our digest of the latest news from the genomics world and beyond!

This week marks four years since the first lockdown in the UK, but COVID-19 research is still ongoing…

AI can assess lung ultrasound images and detect COVID-19 infection, according to a new study. The work is a step forward for non-invasive detection and tracking of various illnesses that impact the lungs (Communications Medicine).

Scientists have revealed that SARS-CoV-2-associated acute respiratory distress syndrome causes systemic inflammation that impacts heart health (Circulation).

Researchers have identified a mechanism in mice that leads to ‘brain fog’ after COVID-19 infection. They also identified a gene therapy that could potentially treat this neurological problem (Brain).

New research has shown how external factors can impact our risk of disease…

A new study has revealed that a combination of host genetics, diet and gut microbiome composition contributes to the risk of inflammatory bowel diseases. Specifically, fibre-free diets lead to increased inflammation (Cell Host & Microbe).

An assessment of cells from e-cigarette users shows that these individuals exhibit similar epigenetic changes as tobacco smokers (Cancer Research).

There has been updates in the field of aging research…

Scientists have discovered a gene that plays a crucial role in the development of chronic kidney disease, opening up new therapeutic avenues to treat the condition (JASN).

An analysis of whole genome sequencing data has revealed 17 genetic variants significantly associated with Alzheimer’s disease (Alzheimer’s & Dementia).

What about cancer research?

A spatial study has revealed the existence of immune cell ‘hubs’ that are linked to immunotherapy outcomes in lung cancer (Nature Immunology).

Researchers have developed an AI-based mobile app that can analyse skin lesions and accurately detect melanoma, according to a recent study (British Journal of Dermatology).

What else have we discovered about human health this week?

Researchers from the Broad Institute have developed mRNAs that have multiple ‘tails’, which makes them more effective and longer lasting as drugs. This opens up new therapeutic avenues for a range of diseases (Nature Biotechnology).

Scientists have developed a new way to calculate polygenic risk scores, which harnesses more diverse data in order to improve accuracy. The new approach takes the use of these calculations one step closer to the clinic (Cell Genomics).

A recent opinion piece has suggested that systemic aging is due to decreased transcription of ‘long genes’ over time, rather than the roles of specific aging-related genes (Trends in Genetics).

Finally, results of a clinical trial have shown that an experimental gene therapy for giant axonal neuropathy has therapeutic benefit (NEJM).

Check out last week’s Week in Brief here.