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Genomics week in brief: Week ending 3rd December

Check out the latest Genomics Week in Brief – full of intriguing news and research from the genomics space!

Top stories from the past week:

  • Researchers have developed a data-driven approach to assign mechanisms of action to natural products. The platform, which integrates phenotypic and metabolomic data, could speed up the drug discovery process (PNAS).
  • A study has shown that oncogenic Ras activation triggers crosstalk between cancer stem cells and the tumour microenvironment, driving the progression of squamous cell carcinomas (Nature).
  • Transposable elements called “Introners” may be responsible for the evolution of introns in eukaryotic DNA (PNAS).
  • Scientists from Rockefeller University have described the mechanisms by which Fanconi anaemia patients are predisposed to head and neck cancers. Fanconi anaemia patients are prone to disease-causing copy-number mutations, and the team have proposed that similar mechanisms are at play in smoking and alcohol related cancers (Nature).
  • Glioblastoma cells have been seen to retain molecular and genetic properties from their parent cells, enhancing our understanding of their ability to evade treatment (Cell).
  • Analysis of ancient DNA has revealed more information about the origins of the Ashkenazi Jewish population (Cell).
  • Cancer cells have been seen to exploit the DNA repair enzyme polymerase theta when they are unable to perform homologous recombination. Inhibition of the enzyme led to cancer cell death (Molecular Cell).
  • A large metagenomic study using data from over 100 countries has uncovered information about the genetics underpinning antimicrobial resistance (Nature).
  • The consequences of a high-sugar diet at a young age have been linked to changes in gene expression later in life due to chromatin remodelling (Nature).
  • Scientists have used lab grown organoids to model gastroesophageal junction cancer. The study uncovered mechanisms at play in early tumorigenesis and potential therapeutic interventions (Science).
  • A mutation in the α-synuclein protein that is known to cause Parkinson’s disease prevents the formation of the misshapen protein that causes Multiple System Atrophy, protecting against the disease (PLOS).
  • Genetic variation found in children with birth defects has been linked to an increased risk of childhood cancer (Biomarker Research).
  • A mutation in a gene responsible for the degradation of plaque build-up in the brain has been linked to the onset of Alzheimer’s disease (Alzheimer’s and Dementia).

In other news:

  • The results of a trial using the antibody drug lecanemab have been described as “momentous.” The drug degraded amyloid plaques in the brains of early Alzheimer’s patients and slowed progression of the disease (BBC).
  • Analysis of a meteorite found two years ago has revealed minerals never before seen on Earth (BBC).
  • The British Transplant Games 2023 campaign has been launched this week. The event, taking place in July 2023, will see over 1,000 athletes taking part to increase awareness of organ transplants.
  • The Welsh Government has announced its Genomics Delivery Plan for Wales 2022-2025 (GOV.Wales).