The Latest Advancements In Gene Research

Posted: Mar 23 2017, 8:35am CDT | by , in News | Latest Science News

The Latest Advancements in Gene Research
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All the latest in Genetic Research

Genetic Research is a field of investigative sciences perpetuated for the purpose of understanding and identifying genes and their functions in all living beings.

In humans genetic research is mainly directed towards the expression and treatment of genetic disorders. Techniques involved in genetic research mainly include gene mapping and gene therapy.

First Gene Mutation in Humans Found

Scientists studied genetic mutations in the earliest human cells. The zygote with its cellular division was studied on an intensive basis. The results showed that the first, second and third cells of the human egg had effects that showed up later on. Especially the first two cells seemed to show an impact on further developments in the adult organism. One of the cells had a dominant role and affected 70% of the tissues. The other one had a minor role and affected 30% of the tissues. These mechanisms were seen in the expression of cancer later on in life. Also the earlier the genes became prone to mutation, the more the impact on the mature form of the human organism.

New Gene Test can Tell Alzheimer’s Risk

A gene test will tell whether someone has Alzheimer’s or not. This novel test was compiled after a database of 70,000 individuals with the disease was made for comparison purposes. Alzheimer’s destroys the connections between the neurons thereby leading to a gradual shutdown of cognitive function and memory loss. The afflicted individual suffers cognitively, linguistically and as far as the carrying out of daily tasks is concerned. The only drawback of this gene test is that it is meant for Europeans. Other ethnicities cannot use the test for prediction purposes as fas as their incidence of Alzheimer’s is concerned. The test could tell whether someone will contract Alzheimer’s early or not. It all depends on the score on this novel gene test.

Genes Identified Which Help Prevent Prostate and Other Cancers

Cancers such as those of the breast, skin and prostate are caused by certain genes. The suppression of the tumors involved in these cancers result from PTEN genes. PTEN genes are the reason behind gene regulation and cell division. When DNA in mice in a lab is converted into a mobile type called transposon, the result is that PTEN can be used to suppress cancer formation.

Five genes were found that worked along the cancer suppression pathways. One of these was called Wac. While one of the gene copies, when it was removed, led to larger prostate tumors, when both copies were removed, the tumors were suppressed. This is paradoxical indeed. Such research may lead to a cure for various cancers in the future.

New Gene Editing Technique Kills Cancer Cells

Gene editing leads to mutations. While these mutations may cause cancers, some of them also weaken cancer cells. This may work in the future towards allowing for cancer medication that will switch off the genes responsible for cancer. Termed synthetic lethality, this technique has only one problem with it right now. This is that we do not know which genes are responsible for the cancer and which ones cause the suppression of cancer.

The use of CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing technology may come in handy in the future here. By introducing a guide RNA, the cancer gene may be switched off. Experiments by researchers in the lab show that many synthetic lethality examples exist. To snip off the DNA and allow the cell to repair it thereby switching the gene off is how this technology works. In the future cancer may well be kissed goodbye, thanks to this gene editing technology.

Aggressive Prostate Cancer Gene Found

An aggressive form of prostate cancer is apparently caused due to certain genes present among the sample of prostate cancer patients. The incidence of this gene is 6% to 14%. While prostate cancer can be treated by various therapies, the aggressive form of the disease will not respond to these nostrums.

For this wild type of prostate cancer, other alternatives or revolutionary remedies will have to be arranged. Therefore the study of the genes which cause this type of indolent prostate cancer must be categorized. This is so that standard treatment with its nasty side effects not be administered to this special class of patients who hardly respond to it.

New Gene Silencer Injections Halves Cholesterol Level

A new drug by the name of inclisiran may help slash cholesterol levels by upto 50%. This drug is part of a therapy known as RNA interference. It involves turning off a gene that causes cholesterol levels to shoot up. The drug can be taken with or without statins. Statins do wonders too but they sometimes need to be taken in large doses. Also their effect wears off after awhile. Inclisiran is ideal since its administration is easy, flexible and safe. In the study, patients were given inclisiran and their cholesterol levels were more than halved. Also the LDL levels remained stable for upto eight months.

Genes Identified That Helped Early Humans Thrive in Harsh Environments

When primitive man moved out of Africa, the circumstances were such that a change of diet had to be adapted to. For this the genes that allowed for fat metabolism allowed our predecessors to digest the foods in the harshest of circumstances. Termed FADS1 and FADS2, these genes helped in fatty acid digestion.

Those who didn’t possess these genes simply died out. The move from Africa to other regions across the globe were marked by the move from a hunting gathering lifestyle to an agricultural existence. The Inuit are different though since they still eat marine animals with lots of blubber. As for Europeans, they are still adapting to a grain-based diet.

Gene Discovered That Makes Your Brain 12 Years Older

Scientists have found a gene known as TMEM106B which causes changes in the frontal cortex of the human brain. These changes lead to several neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s.

The gene is activated from 65 years of age onwards. Since many of the seniors studied showed differences in their aging rates, this gene and a few other genetic components were responsible for the aging process.

Apolipoprotein E (APOE) was also responsible for Alzheimer’s. Then there is another gene known as progranulin which causes aging to take place at a faster rate. This research may come in handy in the conquest of neurological disorders in future times.

Researchers Discover Gene Responsible for Opitz C Syndrome

Opitz C syndrome was described for the first time in 1969. It involves several disabilities and has been found to occur due to genetic and molecular defects. While there is no cure, it is thought that with a little effort, the scientists can find a way to ameliorate its symptoms in the near future. This is where genetic engineering comes to the rescue.

The disease is a minority ailment and it is very rare. Only three people have it in Catalonia and a total of 60 people have it on a worldwide level. It shares certain genetic components with Prader-Willi syndrome and Schaaf-Yang syndrome. Learning disabilities, trigonocephaly and psychomotor issues are some of the nasty symptoms of this disease. The genetic bases that lead to this disease have been isolated by the lab researchers. More research will yield ways of making the quality of life of patients with this disease better in the long run.

Researchers Develop New Gene Tech to Curb Chronic Pain

Engineers at the University of Utah have used CRISPR gene-editing technology to cure chronic pain patients of their debilitating and miserable condition. Usually they suffer from, among other things, arthritis. The inflammation and degeneration causes the immune system to react and especially in case of chronic pain patients, things go from bad to worse and there is a life that feels like hell on earth.

Normally CRISPR technology is used to delete or replace certain genes. Yet here it was used to alter the expression of the genes by switching them “on” or “off”. The patients underwent a calming down of their agony thanks to this procedure. It therefore holds great promise for the future.

Read more about this new gene technology.

3D Mapping of Genome

For instance scientists at the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine in the Helmholtz Association have developed a way to map the entire genome in 3D mode. Cells inside the human body contain genes which are several meter-long threads. These threads are packed within the cell nucleus however this packing produces spatial interactions, which are relations between the genes and the cells.

The genes tell the cell to carry out various functions based on these interactions, which are also termed as switches. The configurations of these switches are responsible for maintaining human health and various anomalies in these switches can lead to the formation of diseases. These switches are activated when the body needs to produce RNAs and proteins and then the switches are turned off.

The findings of this study got published in the journal Nature.

For a long time scientists have been baffled by the mechanism of how cells decide which genes they need to activate in order to carry out the requisite function. Every gene needs to be matched to the control sequence in cells. Scientists have been trying to study this mechanism for a long time however DNA strands are too thin to be visible under the microscope.

These are colonies of mouse embryonic stem cells, where cell nuclei are stained in blue. The DNA from the nuclei is sequenced to infer the relative positions of genes and their switches. Credit: C. Ferrai, MDC

In order to better understand the interactions between cells and genes scientists have developed a new technique of three-dimensional geography. This technique can effectively map the entire human genome in 3D. The technique is called Genome Architecture Mapping or GAM.

In this technique tissues or cells are subjected to flash-freezing after which individual nuclei are cut into slices. The various ‘hotspots’; regions of increased interaction between cells and gene strands, are then subjected to a mathematical model. The frequencies with which these spots appear in the strand determine their relevance which is then amplified to 3D resolution.

Read more details here.

Researchers Find Sudden Death Gene

In another turn of events a research coalition containing researchers from Canada, South Africa and Italy have identified the gene responsible for the baffling phenomenon of sudden death.

The syndrome occurs in young people and athletes. According to the scientists the gene is called CDH2, and mutations in this gene are responsible for causing arrhythmogenic right ventricle cardiomyopathy (ARVC) or in simpler terms cardiac arrest.

The coalition took 15 years to recognize the CDH2 gene which can lead to unexpected death. The new discovery, published today in Circulation: Cardiovascular Genetics, can pave the way for preventive and counter measures in people with a risk of certain cardiac arrest.

The gene CDH2 produces a protein called Cadherin 2 or N-Cadherin which is necessary for normal adhesion between cardiac cells. When this protein is absent it can lead to defects in cardiac pathology.

Read more details about the Sudden Death Gene.

Gene Responsible for Social Phobia Identified

Genetic research is not only crucial for biochemical diseases but also play a big role in the manifestation of psychological disorders. Researchers at the University of Bonn have found out even problems such as social phobias have a genetic basis. According to the researchers a gene may be responsible for causing anxiety disorder which currently affects 1 in 10 individuals.

The gene is responsible for suppressing feelings of anxiety and depressiveness by encoding a serotonin transporter in the human brain. The results will be published in the journal Psychiatric Genetics.

Social phobia can be identified with symptoms such as heart palpitations, trembling, short breathes etc. when a person is surrounded by other people. the current research found the serotonin transporter gene SLC6A4 is involved in causing social phobia.

Read more details about Social Phobia Gene.

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<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/20" rel="author">Sumayah Aamir</a>
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