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Genomics week in brief: Week ending 26th September

A lot of research can happen in a week and with everything going on at the moment, it can be hard to keep up with it all. Here at Front Line Genomics, we have made it easy for you by summarising the ‘need-to-know’ updates from the past week.

Top stories from the past week

  • Researchers at the Max Planck Institute have sequenced Y chromosomes of Neanderthals and Denisovans. This work provides a new insight into the relationships and population histories of archaic and modern humans. (Petr et al, 2020)
  • Scientists have observed that shortly after fertilisation, as cells begin dividing, some cells start to stick together. This triggers a cascade of molecular events that initiate placental development. This study highlights the importance of a healthy placenta during development. It also provides an insight into how to improve IVF success rates. (Gerri et al, 2020)
  • A potential drug candidate against enterovirus 71, a common cause of hand, foot and mouth disease, has been identified. This novel candidate is a small molecule that binds to RNA and changes its 3D shape. Thereby, preventing the virus from replicating. (Tolbert et al, 2020)
  • Researchers at IMBA have developed a method that can map contact points between replicated DNA molecules. This new method will allow researchers to study the molecular machinery regulating sister chromatid confirmation. As a result, this will provide an insight into DNA repair, gene expression and chromosome segregation. (Gerlich et al, 2020)
  • Researchers have sequenced Alexander Fleming’s original Penicillium. By comparing the genomes of Fleming’s strain with two other strains, the team found several key differences in the genes coding for penicillin-producing enzymes. (Barraclough et al, 2020)
  • Using single-cell technology, machine learning and imaging techniques, a team of researchers have created a highly detailed map of the human heart. This human cardiac cell atlas develops our understanding of the human heart and could be used as a health reference for future studies. (Teichmann et al, 2020)
  • The T2T consortium have released their v1.0 of a complete human genome. The team report that only five rDNA arrays are left to be completed. (Phillippy, 2020)

In other news

  • Timothy Ray Brown, also known as the ‘Berlin patient’, has been reported to be terminally ill from a recurrence of the cancer that prompted his historic treatment 12 years ago.
  • The UK Government has released a strategy that sets out how the genomics community will work together to harness the latest advances in research and technology for the benefit of patients. Their vision is to create the most advanced genomic healthcare ecosystem in the world. This will involve the Government, the NHS, research organisations and technology providers working together. (UK Government, 2020)


  • Join us for ‘Liquid Biopsy ONLINE’ – a virtual four-part series where we explore the technology that is about to transform cancer care. The first webinar will take place on Thursday 1st October – 3pm BST/ 4pm CET/ 10am EST.
  • In our recent webinar, researchers from the University of Lübeck discussed how their team assembled and annotated the world’s first comprehensive North African reference genome. Catch up on the webinar here.