DNA

2021 Warren Alpert Prize Awarded to Two Scientists for RNA Discoveries

The 2021 Warren Alpert Foundation Prize has been awarded to scientists Lynne Maquat and Joan Steitz for seminal discoveries in the biology and function of RNA, the workhorse molecule of cells. Their discoveries have reshaped the understanding of RNA’s myriad roles in healthy cell function and in disease-causing dysfunction and have informed the conceptualization and design of RNA-based therapies in various stages of development.

Researchers Develop New Method for Identifying Mutational Signatures in Cancer

Researchers at the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center used machine learning techniques to detect mutational signatures in cancer patients. Their algorithm outperformed the current standard of analysis and revealed new mutational signatures associated with obesity, which is believed by cancer prevention experts to be becoming the most significant lifestyle factor contributing to cancer in the U.S. and most of the Western world.

Researchers watch anti-cancer drug release from DNA nanostructures in real time

A team of researchers from Finland and Germany have found a way to study the endonuclease-driven digestion of drug-loaded DNA nanostructures in real time. As the team investigated the binding of anti-cancer drug doxorubicin (Dox) to the DNA structures in great detail, they discovered that the majority of previous studies have vastly overestimated the Dox loading capacity of DNA origami.

DNA Origami Enables Fabricating Superconducting Nanowires

In AIP Advances, researchers describe how to exploit DNA origami as a platform to build superconducting nanoarchitectures. The structures they built are addressable with nanometric precision that can be used as a template for 3D architectures that are not possible today via conventional fabrication techniques. Inspired by previous works using the DNA molecule as a template for superconducting nanowires, the group took advantage of a recent bioengineering advance known as DNA origami to fold DNA into arbitrary shapes.

UCI researchers use deep learning to identify gene regulation at single-cell level

Irvine, Calif., Jan. 5, 2021 — Scientists at the University of California, Irvine have developed a new deep-learning framework that predicts gene regulation at the single-cell level. Deep learning, a family of machine-learning methods based on artificial neural networks, has revolutionized applications such as image interpretation, natural language processing and autonomous driving.

Discovery: How Colorado Potato Beetles Beat Pesticides

New research shows that pesticide alter how Colorado potato beetles manage their DNA. These changes were passed down two generations suggesting that rapid resistance to pesticides may not require beetles to evolve their genetic code. Instead they may simply use existing genes to tolerate toxins already found in potatoes. The scientists were surprised that these epigenetic changes, triggered by a single tiny dose of pesticide, were maintained through multiple rounds of sexual reproduction.

Errant DNA Boosts Immunotherapy Effectiveness

DALLAS – Dec. 17, 2020 – DNA that ends up where it doesn’t belong in cancer cells can unleash an immune response that makes tumors more susceptible to immunotherapy, the results of two UT Southwestern studies indicate. The findings, published online today in Cancer Cell, suggest that delivering radiation – which triggers DNA release from cells – before immunotherapy could be an effective way to fight cancers that are challenging to treat.

UNLV Immunologist on the Differences Between Two Leading COVID-19 Vaccine Candidates

Millions around the world have waited for news about a COVID-19 vaccine, regarding it as the beginning of the end for the global pandemic and a herald for the eventual return to “normal life.” Recent announcements from pharmaceutical companies Pfizer and Moderna that their respective late-stage vaccine trials have shown a 90% or better effectiveness rate have received international applause, excitement furthered with estimates that doses could be ready as early as December.

Genetic Code Evolution and Darwin’s Evolution Theory Should Consider DNA an ‘Energy Code’

Darwin’s theory of evolution should be expanded to include consideration of a DNA stability “energy code” – so-called “molecular Darwinism” – to further account for the long-term survival of species’ characteristics on Earth, according to Rutgers scientists. The iconic genetic code can be viewed as an “energy code” that evolved by following the laws of thermodynamics (flow of energy), causing its evolution to culminate in a nearly singular code for all living species, according to the Rutgers co-authored study in the journal Quarterly Review of Biophysics.

ORNL researcher studies individualized isotopes’ impact by targeting cancer

A radioisotope researcher in the Radioisotope Science and Technology Division at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Davern is focusing on ways to use nanoparticles — particles 100 nanometers or smaller that can have special properties — to contain those radioisotopes and deliver them directly to cancer cells, where they can decay into different isotopes that irradiate those cells.

Researchers Show How Mutations in DNA Packaging Machines Cause Cancer

DALLAS – Sept. 7, 2020 – Like wrenches made of Legos, SWI/SNF chromatin remodeling complexes tighten or loosen DNA in our cells to control how genes are turned on and made into proteins. When assembled correctly, these complexes play a crucial role in the development of normal tissues, and when broken, they can lead to the development of cancer. These complexes are commonly disrupted by mutations in the genes that encode them – but how this leads to cancer is poorly understood.

September Edition of SLAS Discovery Highlights “Applications of Functional Genomics for Drug Discovery”

September’s edition of SLAS Discovery features the cover article, “Applications of Functional Genomics for Drug Discovery” by Ami M. Kabadi, Ph.D., (Element Genomics), Eoin McDonnell, Ph.D. (Element Genomics), Christopher L. Frank, Ph.D., (Element Genomics), and Lauren Drowley, Ph.D., (UCB Biosciences). The article reviews how functional genomic tools are better able to understand the biological interplay between genes, improving disease modeling and identifying novel drug targets.

Hackensack Meridian CDI Scientists Uncover Signposts in DNA that Pinpoint Risks for Cancers and other Diseases

The most strongly disease-relevant genetic variants can be hard to localize in widespread scanning of the genome – but by zooming in on key genetic locations associated with these DNA methylation imbalances in multiple normal and cancer tissues, the scientists report they have uncovered promising new leads beneath the broader statistical signals.

FDA Approves First At-Home Saliva Collection Test for Coronavirus

Rutgers’ RUCDR Infinite Biologics received an amended emergency use authorization from the FDA late Thursday for the first SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus test that will allow people to collect their own saliva at home and send to a lab for results. The decision follows the FDA’s recent emergency approval to RUCDR Infinite Biologics for the first saliva-based test, which involves health care workers collecting saliva from individuals at testing sites.

Scientists Have Discovered the Origins of the Building Blocks of Life

Rutgers researchers have discovered the origins of the protein structures responsible for metabolism: simple molecules that powered early life on Earth and serve as chemical signals that NASA could use to search for life on other planets. Their study, which predicts what the earliest proteins looked like 3.5 billion to 2.5 billion years ago, is published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.