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Genomics Week in Brief: Week ending 23rd September

Welcome to the latest Week in Brief, where we provide a summary of cutting-edge research from the last seven days!

Scientists have been hard at work developing new treatment approaches for cancer…

  • Results of a phase I trial have revealed that combining adoptive T-cell therapy with personalised cancer vaccines leads to a positive response in patients with aggressive ovarian cancer (Nature Cancer).
  • Researchers have developed a surgical robot that is capable of steering a needle safely through live lung tissue to locate and biopsy tumours (Science Robotics).
  • Altering electron flow in mitochondria has been seen to impair growth of melanoma and further enhance the immune response (Science).
  • Scientists have identified 11 novel genetic variants associated with aggressive prostate cancer, highlighting potential therapeutic and diagnostic avenues (JAMA).

We’ve gained new insights into the proteomics world this week…

  • Researchers developed a way to transport proteins through nanopores, which could lead to easier methods for protein sequencing (Nature Biotechnology).
  • Using AI, scientists have identified nearly 300 new protein families and even discovered a never-before-seen protein structure (Nature).
  • In another AI achievement, 71 million missense mutations have been characterised in a proteome-wide assessment by DeepMind’s ‘AlphaMissense’ model (Science).

And mental health research has found itself in the spotlight…

  • Researchers have discovered a biomarker in the brain that is indicative of treatment response in those who are undergoing deep-brain stimulation for severe depression (Nature).
  • A key region of the brain has been implicated in the response to psychological loss. This points to new targets to address the mental impacts of loss (Molecular Psychiatry).

What else has gone on this week?

  • New work has shed light on the reasons why mitochondrial DNA is only passed down from the mother. The study shows that whilst sperm do contain a small amount of mitochondria, these organelles contain no mtDNA (Nature Genetics).
  • Researchers have identified one of the driving mechanisms behind craniosynostosis (premature skull fusion). They discovered that one of the most commonly associated mutations leads to overexpression of a bone-related stem cell (Nature).
  • Scientists have identified an enzyme biomarker that could be used to predict the severity of a food allergy. (Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology).
  • Using spatial transcriptomics, researchers have honed in on the effects of Zika virus in the placenta and used microRNA to rescue the associated phenotypes in mice (American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology).
  • And finally, a young girl has become the first person in the UK to receive a kidney transplant without an ongoing need to take immunosuppressive drugs, thanks to a stem cell transplant that reprogrammed her immune system and allowed her body to accept the kidney (BBC).

Check out last week’s Week in Brief here!