News Archive - 2015

News Archive - 2015

“Darwin’s puddle” shows how new species can emerge without geographic separation

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“Darwin’s puddle” shows how new species can emerge without geographic separation

Cichlid fish from a tiny volcanic crater have been caught in the act of sympatric speciation

Can new species really evolve if there is no physical boundary to drive genetic separation? Physical and genomic evidence from the 700-metre wide volcanic crater Lake Massoko appears to have caught the process in the act

Sperm mutation rate varies between fathers

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Sperm mutation rate varies between fathers

Risk of having two children with the same genetic disorder is determined by mutation timing

Researchers compared mutation rates in sperm and eggs for multi-sibling families, confirming that fathers contribute more mutations to their children than mothers. They revealed for the first time that the rate at which mutations in sperm accumulate with age varies from father to father.

Periodic table of protein complexes

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Periodic table of protein complexes

New tool helps to visualise, understand and predict how proteins combine to drive biological processes

A new ‘periodic table’ of protein complexes has been developed that provides a unified way to classify and visualise protein complexes, providing a valuable tool for biotechnology and the engineering of novel complexes. This study also provides insights into evolutionary distribution of different types of existing protein complexes.

Target Validation Platform launches

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Target Validation Platform launches

A web interface to help researchers find therapeutic targets for new and repurposed medicines is launched by the Centre for Therapeutic Target Validation (CTTV)

Establishing the validity of an association between a disease and biological target for a drug can be extremely challenging and expensive. To address this challenge, the CTTV, a collaboration between GSK, the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute and the European Bioinformatics Institute (EMBL-EBI), has created a web-based platform (www.targetvalidation.org) that draws on public data resources to help drug discovery. This state-of-the-art web interface will allow researchers to access thousands of target profiles summarising the evidence for the involvement of a specific gene product with a disease.

Skin cells play ‘dice games’

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Skin cells play ‘dice games’

Movies of cell growth explain skin graft success and may help understand cancer

Sanger Institute scientists have found that all dividing skin cells can flip between two probability game modes and so have the potential to both maintain and heal skin, challenging the view that only rare stem cells matter. Understanding the rules of the games not only explains how skin maintains itself and heals wounds, but also shows how skin grafts work and suggests how changes to the rules could lead to cancer.

Molecular clocks control mutation rate in human cells

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Molecular clocks control mutation rate in human cells

Cancer and ageing could be predetermined by the speed of molecular clocks

A theory that our cells have molecular clock processes ticking inside them, that damage DNA by generating mutations continuously throughout life, has just been proven. These clock-like mutational processes could ultimately be responsible for a large proportion of human cancer and contribute to human ageing. Two clock-like mutational processes have been found in human cells and the rates at which the two clocks tick in different human cell types have been determined.

Targeted therapy for gastric cancer possible

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Targeted therapy for gastric cancer possible

Genomic fingerprint can highlight which breast, ovarian, pancreatic and gastric cancers are likely to respond to treatment

Gastric cancer, otherwise known as stomach cancer, does not respond well to existing treatments and it is currently the third leading cause of cancer death in the world (after lung and liver cancer). Researchers have discovered that certain drugs, currently used to treat breast, ovarian and pancreatic cancers, could also be used to treat certain gastric cancers with a particular pattern of mutations (genomic molecular fingerprint).

CRISPR/Cas9 used for rapid functional study of cancer-causing genes

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CRISPR/Cas9 used for rapid functional study of cancer-causing genes

Novel high-throughput approach finds combinations of genes that induce cancer

In a novel use of the CRISPR/Cas9 system, which can be deployed to switch genes off, researchers from Germany, the UK and Spain have developed a multiplexed screening approach to study and model cancer development in mice. The scientists mutated genes in the adult mouse liver uncovering their cancer-causing roles and determining which combinations of genes cooperate to cause liver cancer.

Location, location, location: Site of inflammatory bowel disease crucial

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Location, location, location: Site of inflammatory bowel disease crucial

Genetic similarity suggests Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis form a continuum of subtypes in the bowel

A new understanding of inflammatory bowel diseases has been prompted by the analysis of genetic and clinical data from more than 30,000 patients. This study reveals that genetic factors affect the location of the inflammation in the gut, with implications for diagnosis and treatment of patients.

1000 genomes for mankind

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1000 genomes for mankind

Completed project creates largest catalogue of global genomic diversity

The 1000 Genomes Project has analysed the genomes of 2,504 individuals from around the world, creating the largest catalogue of global human genomic differences to date. This database of genetic diversity will help scientists understand the patterns of genetic variation in humans and support researchers who are using genetic methods to study why some people are susceptible to various diseases.

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