Mobile Menu

Genomics week in brief: Week ending 8th January

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

Top stories from the past week:

  • Almost 300 ancient Scandinavian genomes have been analysed, uncovering information about immigration and gene flow as far back as the Roman Iron Age (Cell).
  • The results of weight-loss programmes differ depending on an individual’s genetic makeup, according to a study of obese patients at the Galway University Hospital (MDPI).
  • A new drug has been developed that may cure the genetic liver disease known as Alagille syndrome. The drug acts by increasing Notch signalling which triggers regeneration of bile ducts (PNAS).
  • A large study of children with leukaemia has revealed that different genetic subtypes of the disease exhibit distinct responses to treatment. It is hoped that this information can be used to create a “blueprint” for personalised medicine (Nature Medicine).
  • An analysis of genomes from 62 animal species has revealed that humans retain the genetic information that encodes for a full body of hair. Somewhere during human evolution these genes have been switched off, leaving us (mostly) hairless (eLife).
  • Researchers have discovered how liver cancer cells hijack circadian clock proteins to aid in disease progression. Inhibition of these proteins can prevent cancer cell proliferation (PNAS).
  • Organoids have been used to elucidate the biological mechanisms underlying polycystic kidney disease, a deadly genetic disorder. It is hoped that the findings can inform better diagnostics and treatment options (Nature Communications).
  • A gene that encodes a platelet derived growth factor has been linked to increased risk of both COVID-19 and age-related macular degeneration, explaining a previously identified link between the two diseases (Journal of Clinical Medicine).
  • Non-canonical DNA structures have been implicated as key drivers of genome evolution. These structures are vital in the genome and play a role in process such as replication and transcription (Trends in Genetics).
  • Scientists have developed a potential anti-cancer vaccine using genetically engineered tumour cells. These were injected into mice to kill diseased cells and trigger immune responses, showing promising results (Science Translational Medicine).
  • Researchers have identified a two-nucleotide substitution that may explain the virulence and transmissibility of the new COVID-19 variant, Omicron XBB.1.5. The mutation is thought to contribute to immune evasion and ACE2 binding (bioRxiv).
  • A study from the National Institutes of Health has revealed that using a “genotype-first” approach in research can reveal genetic disease associations not found via traditional phenotype-first methods (AJHG).

In other news:

  • An ambitious plan to develop and deliver cancer mRNA vaccines has been announced. The aim is to provide 100,000 people with a personalised vaccine by 2030 and trials could begin as early as this year (BBC).
  • A new surgical knife has been developed that can “smell” tumours and can reliably diagnose endometrial cancer (Cancers).

More on these topics

Ancient DNA / Cancer / Gene Therapy / Genomics / Obesity