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Genomics Week in Brief: Week ending 2nd September

Welcome to your new style Week in Brief – where we take a look at the latest news from the genomics world and beyond!

First, let’s take a look at what’s been happening in infectious disease research…

  • Two mutations have been identified in E. coli that make the bacteria highly sensitive to a certain antibiotic. The finding could inform treatment approaches against the pathogen (Nature).
  • A long-non-coding RNA has been identified as having a crucial role in the lifecycle of the malaria-causing parasite, P. falciparum. The RNA could be used as a treatment target going forward (Nature Communications).
  • A new study has revealed how Omicron variants of SARS-CoV-2 can spread more rapidly and evade immune responses (Nature).

Elsewhere, cancer scientists have made discoveries that could shape future treatments…

  • Researchers have successfully transformed sarcoma cells into regular, healthy cells following years of work. This approach could potentially be applied to other cancer types in the future (PNAS).
  • Brain tumour metastasis may cause cognitive decline due to cancer cells disrupting normal neuronal communication (Cancer Cell).
  • Scientists have elucidated the role of a key protein in the ‘alternative lengthening of telomeres’ (ALT) pathway, which promotes the survival of a significant number of tumours. This protein could be used as a potential drug target (Nature Communications).

Curious about epigenetics? Let’s see what went on in the field this week…

  • A study has revealed that males who smoke at a young age risk passing harmful epigenetic alterations to their offspring, which could lead to an increased risk of various diseases including asthma (Clinical Epigenetics).
  • A blood test to determine methylation patterns could predict which women are at risk of developing preeclampsia in the later stages of pregnancy (Nature Medicine).

There has been some notable gene therapy research published in the last seven days…

  • Clinical trial results have revealed that a CRISPR-Cas9 approach could potentially be used to treat sickle cell disease (NEJM).
  • In a study of a mouse model of Norrie disease, a genetic form of blindness and deafness, gene therapy successfully prevented the death of vital cochlear cells, which in turn prevented the progression of hearing loss (EMBO Molecular Medicine).
  • It has been revealed that, in a phase 3 clinical trial, a patient has undergone experimental gene therapy to treat wet age-related macular degeneration (

And we’ve seen progress in Alzheimer’s research…

  • A large-scale analysis of diverse populations has identified a protective variant for both Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease (PNAS).
  • Researchers have discovered that higher educational attainment may lessen the impact of harmful risk variants for Alzheimer’s disease (Nature Communications).

What else has gone on in the scientific world this week?

  • A study has revealed that careful consideration of the language used is vital when communicating genomics research, especially to those from underrepresented communities (Human Genetics and Genomics Advances).
  • A large-scale analysis of patient records suggested that patients treated by female surgeons generally have better outcomes (The Guardian).
  • Finally, a genetic analysis has revealed a number of new species of ‘walking leaf’ insects. These creepy crawlies are capable of successfully camouflaging into their environment by mimicking trees and leaves (ZooKeys).