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Genomics Week in Brief: Week ending 9th September

Welcome back to Week in Brief, where we explore the latest news from the genomics world and beyond!

There has been an exciting update to science policy this week…

  • The UK has secured a deal to associate with the Horizon Europe programme, the world’s largest research collaboration programme. Through this deal, UK researchers can apply for new grants and funding (UK Government).

New research shows that it’s not just your DNA sequence that matters…

  • Researchers have discovered a key mechanism underpinning the epigenetic process known as genomic imprinting. This is when one parent’s copy of a gene is silenced in their offspring (Science Advances).
  • A new study has highlighted the importance of epigenetic transmission during cell division in embryonic stem cells. The inheritance of epigenetic markers is key in ensuring proper cellular function and identity (Nature Genetics).

Curious about what’s going on in your brain? Let’s take a look at some neuroscience news…

  • A new type of brain cell has been identified. The cells, a subgroup of astrocytes that share characteristics with both glial cells and neurons, aid in many important processes, including memory (Nature).
  • Variation in a gene that plays a crucial role in the brain’s immune response has been linked to Alzheimer’s disease (Immunity).
  • Research has revealed that, contrary to previous belief, SARS-CoV-2 is in fact capable of infecting sensory neurons, causing subsequent neuropathy (iScience).

Kidney disease research has found itself in the spotlight this week…

  • Males may be more susceptible to kidney disease than females because of the differential expression of sex hormones. Treatments that target testosterone could potentially be explored to minimise this impact (Developmental Cell).
  • Researchers have uncovered a gene that has a protective function against the development of kidney disease (American Journal of Pathology).

As ever, we have a number of updates in the cancer research sphere…

  • Scientists have elucidated the role of ‘super-enhancers’ in pancreatic cancer growth, identifying potential drug targets (Nature Communications).
  • A microRNA therapy has successfully prevented tumour growth in mouse models (Oncogene).
  • Researchers have successfully used nanoparticles to deliver short-interfering-RNAs to ovarian tumours in mice in a bid to tackle cisplatin resistance (Cancer Gene Therapy).

What else have you missed?

  • A study of ancient human specimens has revealed novel variants of Clostridium tetani – the bacterium that is responsible for tetanus disease. One of these ancient variants was seen to induce tetanus-related muscle paralysis in mice (Nature Communications).
  • The first peer-reviewed publication describing the development of so-called ‘lab-grown’ embryos has been published in Nature this week. The development could bring to light new knowledge about early pregnancy, infertility and more, but raises new ethical questions around the use of embryonic stem cells in research (Nature).
  • A large GWAS meta-analysis has revealed targets for the personalised treatment of type II diabetes and confirms that lung disorders are a further complication of the disease (Nature Genetics).
  • An early-stage human kidney has been grown in a pig for the first time. The news brings hope to those waiting for transplants (Science).

Check out last week’s Week in Brief here!