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Milestone study probes cancer origin

Milestone study probes cancer origin
14 August 2013Last updated at 13:01 ET By James Gallagher Health and science reporter, BBC News New images show cancer close-up, as David Shukman reports Scientists are reporting a significant milestone for cancer research after charting 21 major mutations behind the vast majority of tumours. The disruptive changes to the genetic code, reported in Nature, accounted for 97% of the 30 most common cancers. Finding out what causes the mutations could lead to new treatments. Cancer Research UK said it was a fascinating and important study. A tumour starts when one of the building blocks of bodies, a cell, goes wrong. Cancer origins The international team of researchers was looking for the causes of those mutations as part of the largest-ever analysis of cancer genomes. Continue reading the main story “Start Quote Hidden within the cancer genome are these patterns, these signatures, which tell us what is actually causing cancer in the first place - that's a major insight to have.” Mysteries Related:  Biotech

New research suggests women can make sperm, and men can make eggs It would be worse than inbreeding, as even sibling and paternal relationships are only partially identical genetics. Reproducing with yourself would be far worse. This would generally be worse than inbreeding. In any breeding situation, there is a chance that both parents are carriers of recessive disorders like cystic fibrosis or sickle cell anemia. I figured as much. BUT if you are already doing all that, why not repair the genes... and you are good to go.

Down's syndrome cells 'fixed' in first step towards chromosome therapy | Science Scientists have corrected the genetic fault that causes Down's syndrome – albeit in isolated cells – raising the prospect of a radical therapy for the disorder. In an elegant series of experiments, US researchers took cells from people with DS and silenced the extra chromosome that causes the condition. A treatment based on the work remains a distant hope, but scientists in the field said the feat was the first major step towards a "chromosome therapy" for Down's syndrome. "This is a real technical breakthrough. It opens up whole new avenues of research," said Elizabeth Fisher, professor of neurogenetics at UCL, who was not involved in the study. Around 750 babies are born with DS in Britain each year while globally between one in a 1000 and one in 1100 births are DS babies. Despite advances in medical care that allow most to live well into middle age, those who have the disorder are at risk of heart defects, bowel and blood disorders, and thyroid problems.

Scientists observe your body's own self-assembling nanomachines in action Thanks for linking that, utterly amazing. Isn't it though? What I think is amazing about that simulation is that the machine the transcribes a gene to a length of RNA is able to only accept the molecules that make RNA and it filters and discards all the extraneous molecules in the broth it's traveling through. Very, very quickly. That's a very effective part sorting mechanism flying though the chemical equivalent of cloudy, turbid storm of hurtling molecules of all kinds. It's the inevitability of it all that really blows my mind. This is interesting, because we usually think of entropy as the great destroyer, but clearly that is not always the case. "This is interesting, because we usually think of entropy as the great destroyer, but clearly that is not always the case." In a open system, which the Earth is as long as the Sun shines on it and it's core remains molten and active, entropy doesn't win and lots of interesting things happen.

Biologists Discover New Method for Discovering Antibiotics Methicillin-resistant Staphlyococcus aureus, or MRSA, is one of a growing number of drug resistant bacteria. Credit: NIAID Biologists at the University of California, San Diego have developed a revolutionary new method for identifying and characterizing antibiotics, an advance that could lead to the discovery of new antibiotics to treat antibiotic resistant bacteria. The researchers, who published their findings in this week’s early online edition of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, made their discovery by developing a way to perform the equivalent of an autopsy on bacterial cells. “This will provide a powerful new tool for identifying compounds that kill bacteria and determining how they work,” said Joseph Pogliano, a professor of biology at UC San Diego who headed the research team. “Some bacteria have evolved resistance to every known class of antibiotic and, when these multi-drug resistant bacteria cause an infection, they are nearly impossible to treat.

How HIV infects cells In a long-awaited finding, an international team of scientists using high-brightness x-rays from the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science's Advanced Photon Source at Argonne National Laboratory has determined the high-resolution atomic structure of a cell-surface receptor that most strains of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) use to gain entry to human immune cells. The researchers also showed where maraviroc, an HIV drug, attaches to cells and blocks HIV's entry. "These structural details should help us understand more precisely how HIV infects cells, and how we can do better at blocking that process with next-generation drugs," said Beili Wu, professor at the Shanghai Institute of Materia Medica (SIMM), Chinese Academy of Sciences. Wu was the senior investigator for the study, which was published online in Science Express and in the September 20, 2013, issue of Science. The CCR5 receptor is one of the most sought-after targets for new anti-HIV drugs.

Designer Baby-Making System Patent Stirs Controversy The Silicon Valley personal genetics company 23andMe has created a wave of controversy about “designer babies,” following its recent receipt of a patent for a system through which prospective parents could select sperm or egg donors most likely to give them children with specific characteristics, such as blue eyes or low risk of heart disease. The patent application describes a system by which would-be gamete buyers can choose the traits that they want their children to have or not to have. The results return a list of donors ranked by the odds that their DNA, mixed with the other parent’s, will produce the desired characteristics. Anne Wojcicki 23andMe, founded in 2007 by Anne Wojcicki, the now-estranged wife of Google co-founder Sergey Brin, said it has no intent to use the patent, for which it first filed in late 2008. But with questions remaining about whether 23andMe will license the method for others to use, the company and the U.S. They also raised questions about how the U.S.

Supreme Court Nixes Patenting Human Genes The Justices have decided that isolated sequences of human DNA are not eligible for patent protection, but rules that artificial sequences can be patented. The United States Supreme Court has today (June 13) unanimously ruled that isolated human genes cannot be patented, but the Justices also ruled that synthetic DNA sequences—known as complimentary DNA (cDNA)—are eligible for protection. “A naturally occurring DNA segment is a product of nature and not patent eligible merely because it has been isolated,” wrote Justice Clarence Thomas, “but cDNA is patent eligible because it is not naturally occurring.” The decision throws out patents held by Utah-based Myriad Genetics on 2 genes—BRCA1 and BRCA2—that when mutated cause breast and other types of cancer. “The Court struck down a major barrier to patient care and medical innovation,” Sandra Park, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union Women’s Rights Project, told USA Today.

Next Generation Sequencing Ion Torrent™ Technology directly translates chemically encoded information (A, C, G, T) into digital information (0, 1) on a semiconductor chip. This approach marries simple chemistry to proprietary semiconductor technology-its Watson meets Moore. The result is a sequencing technology that is simpler, faster, more cost effective and scalable than any other next generation sequencing technology available. SOLiD® Next-Generation Sequencing >> For Research Use Only.

DNA Sequencing: New directions, and potential implications to healthcare - Wired Science Thoughts on a Smarter Planet is a special blogger series in partnership with leading IBM experts. Join the conversation as these experts discuss the innovations in science, business and systems like transportation that are helping build a Smarter Planet. About this program. Credit: Maggie Bartlett, NHGRI DNA sequencing technology has continued to advance since the Human Genome Project, a task that took over a decade, hundreds of person years, at a cost of $3 billion. Several advances are currently being pursued to reduce cost and improve throughput of DNA sequencing. At least two technical roadblocks have to be overcome to implement DNA nanopore sequencing: 1) a reliable approach to control the translocation of DNA through the nanopore; 2) sufficiently small sensors that will reliably detect individual nucleotides in a nanopore. Researchers at IBM and 454 Life Sciences are pursuing an exciting idea to tackle both these technical roadblocks. Ratcheting DNA through a nanopore

RNA interference in cancer. [Biomol Eng. 2006 Russian scientists revive an ice age flower A plant that was frozen in Siberian permafrost for about 30,000 years has been revived by a team of Russian scientists — and borne fruit, to boot. Using tissue from immature fruits buried in fossil squirrel burrows some 90 feet below the surface, researchers from the Russian Academy of Sciences in Pushchino managed to coax the frozen remains of a Silene stenophylla specimen into full flower, producing delicate white blooms and then fruit. The findings, published this week in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, describe what is a record for reviving presumably dead plant tissue — and may provide clues as to what makes some plants hardier and longer-lived than others. "I'm absolutely thrilled with the result," said Grant Zazula, a paleontologist with the Yukon government in Canada who reviewed the study for the journal. "I've always been excited for the potential of something like this being successful." amina.khan@latimes.com

DNA Sequencing Is Moving to the Cloud As DNA sequencing has become more affordable and a more bustling area of medical research, a growing number of researchers have dived into questions that require lots of computer power to answer. The next step is obvious: Startups offering cloud services customized for genomic (or even “multi-omic”) research. In October, an ambitious, collaborative genetic research program based at Baylor University became the largest such project to date, by its own account. As part of Cohorts for Heart and Aging Research in Genomic Epidemiology, or CHARGE, the sequencing endeavored to link the risk of particular diseases, with a specific focus on heart disease, with particular genetic variants — a task that checks off two variables that mean big data: population research and whole genome sequencing. “Having access to this much data was unique. “It’s largely an infrastructure and agility issue for genomics. That’s the hypothesis behind DNAnexus, which launched its cloud-based service in 2010.

No Hope For Jurassic Park? Scientists Say DNA Is Too Fragile A new study that estimates the rate of DNA degradation in fossils casts serious doubt on our chances of ever having a real life Jurassic Park. The researchers looked at DNA extracted from the bones of an extinct bird between 600 and 8,000 years old and calculated the rate at which the fossilized DNA degraded. They concluded that, even under the best conditions, a DNA molecule wouldn’t survive past 7 million years, making us just shy of 60 million years too late in resurrecting T. Rex. Previous reports of dinosaur DNA lasting tens of million of years have been met with skepticism. Many of these samples were found to contain more recent DNA mixed in with the life blueprints of long extinct species. The team used 158 leg bones belonging to three different species of moa, giant birds native to New Zealand who were driven to extinction around 1,400 AD from over hunting. Morten Alentoft from the University of Copenhagen, extracting samples from the extinct bird, moa.

How to Build an Artificial Womb The societal effects could be interesting. I could definitely see these being used a lot by women who want biological children, but either don't want pregnancy (because of work, maybe a few vanity cases as well) or would suffer too many health problems in a pregnancy. It could definitely be a godsend to folks who are all excited for their upcoming baby, but then find out that continuing the pregnancy or going to labor would kill the mother. And there are a lot of women and couples who want kids, but said woman is somewhat reluctant because a pregnancy would require a lot of personal sacrifice for her. I've thought about the abortion thing in terms of an artificial womb. HOWEVER, if abortion becomes illegal as a result of artificial wombs, there would be other side effects to deal with.

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