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Genomics Week in Brief: Week ending 31st December

Happy New Year and welcome back to Week in Brief! Let’s take a look at the genomics news from the holiday period.

There have been updates from the neuroscience world over the last two weeks…

  • A multi-ancestry genome-wide association meta-analysis of Parkinson’s disease identified several genetic loci associated with the condition (Nature Genetics).
  • An investigation into young-onset dementia risk has revealed new modifiable and non-modifiable risk factors for the disease (Jama Neurology).
  • Using a mouse model of prodromal Alzheimer’s disease, scientists have investigated the impact of long-term use of heated tobacco products, as an alternative to cigarettes, on the central nervous system (Scientific Reports).

The cancer research landscape has seen significant developments recently…

  • Researchers have used an organoid drug-screening platform to identify a KRASG12D inhibitor that can kill pancreatic cancer organoids (Cell Stem Cell).
  • Scientists have developed a method to assess cell-free RNA and identify transcriptomic changes for early cancer detection (Nature Communications).
  • A zinc finger protein (ZNF689) deficiency has been seen to promote intratumor heterogeneity in triple-negative breast cancer. This is associated with immunotherapy resistance and poor prognosis (Cell Research).

New breakthroughs have been made regarding various human diseases…

  • The US Food and Drug Administration has approved the first test that will use an individual’s DNA to assess their risk of opioid use disorder, prior to the prescription of oral opioid pain medication (FDA).
  • The composition of the gut microbiome could play a role in the immunological response to COVID-19 vaccination. This finding could be used to improve the response in those with conditions such as HIV (npj Biofilms and Microbiomes).
  • Additionally, a new study has shown that the gut microbiota could play a role in social anxiety disorder. When gut bacteria from patients were transplanted into otherwise healthy mice, they displayed increased social fear (PNAS).
  • Scientists have developed a new tool for the characterisation of tandem repeats, which are notoriously difficult to sequence (Nature Biotechnology).

What else has gone on over the holiday season?

  • DNA analysis has revealed that a Roman-era man, whose remains were found in Cambridgeshire in 2017, was actually born thousands of miles away and travelled to the UK between 126-228 AD (The Francis Crick Institute).
  • Researchers have developed a tool, CellHint, which uses machine learning to unify single-cell datasets to drive forward human health research (Cell).
  • Finally, widespread implementation of RSV vaccines could significantly decrease infant hospitalisations, according to a recent study (NEJM).

Check out last week’s Week in Brief here.