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DNA, or deoxyribonucleic acid, is the hereditary material in humans and almost all other organisms. Nearly every cell in a person’s body has the same DNA. Most DNA is located in the cell nucleus (where it is called nuclear DNA), but a small amount of DNA can also be found in the mitochondria (where it is called mitochondrial DNA or mtDNA).

The information in DNA is stored as a code made up of four chemical bases: adenine (A), guanine (G), cytosine (C), and thymine (T). Human DNA consists of about 3 billion bases, and more than 99 percent of those bases are the same in all people. The order, or sequence, of these bases determines the information available for building and maintaining an organism, similar to the way in which letters of the alphabet appear in a certain order to form words and sentences.

DNA bases pair up with each other, A with T and C with G, to form units called base pairs. Each base is also attached to a sugar molecule and a phosphate molecule. Together, a base, sugar, and phosphate are called a nucleotide. Nucleotides are arranged in two long strands that form a spiral called a double helix. The structure of the double helix is somewhat like a ladder, with the base pairs forming the ladder’s rungs and the sugar and phosphate molecules forming the vertical sidepieces of the ladder.

An important property of DNA is that it can replicate, or make copies of itself. Each strand of DNA in the double helix can serve as a pattern for duplicating the sequence of bases. This is critical when cells divide because each new cell needs to have an exact copy of the DNA present in the old cell.
MIT researchers develop new way to model effects of cancer-causing genetic mutations

MIT researchers develop new way to model effects of cancer-causing genetic mutations

Sequencing the genomes of tumor cells has revealed thousands of genetic mutations linked with cancer. However, sifting through this deluge of information to figure out which of these mutations actually drive cancer growth has proven to be a tedious, time-consuming process. [More]
Scientists use innovative exome sequencing strategy to identify new gene associated with ALS

Scientists use innovative exome sequencing strategy to identify new gene associated with ALS

Using an innovative exome sequencing strategy, a team of international scientists led by John Landers, PhD, at the University of Massachusetts Medical School has shown that TUBA4A, the gene encoding the Tubulin Alpha 4A protein, is associated with familial amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a fatal neurological disorder also known as Lou Gehrig's Disease. [More]
Novel 'designer' nanodevice could improve cancer diagnostics, treatment

Novel 'designer' nanodevice could improve cancer diagnostics, treatment

Cancer diagnostics and treatment options could be drastically improved with the creation of a 'designer' nanodevice being developed by researchers from the UK, Italy, the US and Argentina. [More]
Next generation sequencing applications automated through partnership between Beckman Coulter Life Sciences and New England Biolabs

Next generation sequencing applications automated through partnership between Beckman Coulter Life Sciences and New England Biolabs

Beckman Coulter Life Sciences, through a partnership with New England Biolabs®, Inc. (NEB®), offers automated methods to improve processes and throughput in next generation sequencing (NGS) sample preparation. Under the agreement, Beckman Coulter will use its extensive experience in automated NGS sample prep to develop, distribute and support automation for NEB’s NEBNext® sample preparation reagent kits. NEB will provide technical expertise on the reagents, chemistry and protocols. [More]
Early access program for human chromosome mapping analytical service announced by Hitachi High-Technologies Corporation and OpGen

Early access program for human chromosome mapping analytical service announced by Hitachi High-Technologies Corporation and OpGen

Hitachi High-Technologies Corporation and OpGen, Inc., a leading genetic analysis company, announced the introduction of an Early Access Program for its upcoming Human Chromosome ExplorerSM, human chromosome mapping analytical service for clinical research and life science research applications. [More]
Identifying infections rapidly: an interview with Dr. David J. Ecker

Identifying infections rapidly: an interview with Dr. David J. Ecker

Current methods for diagnosing infectious diseases are based on the 150-year-old culture method, where physicians collect a sample of a patient’s tissue, such as blood, mucus or urine, and transfer it onto media bottle to allow the pathogens to grow. [More]
Van Andel Research Institute commits $7.5M to support epigenetic therapy in cancer treatment

Van Andel Research Institute commits $7.5M to support epigenetic therapy in cancer treatment

The work of one of the Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C) inaugural Dream Teams, launched in 2009 to focus on epigenetic therapy in cancer treatment, will continue with the commitment of $7.5 million from Van Andel Research Institute (VARI). [More]
Directed Genomics, New England Biolabs to develop new technologies for NGS

Directed Genomics, New England Biolabs to develop new technologies for NGS

New England Biolabs (NEB®) and Directed Genomics together announce that they have established a partnership to develop a suite of new technologies for next generation sequencing (NGS), including target enrichment. [More]
GENALICE launches all-in-one NGS data processing software solution, GENALICE MAP

GENALICE launches all-in-one NGS data processing software solution, GENALICE MAP

Today, Dutch biomedical big data company GENALICE officially launched its all-in-one appliance for Next-Gen Sequencing (NGS) data processing, the GENALICE VAULT, at the annual conference of the American Society of Human Genetics. [More]
Newborns of mothers who smoke during pregnancy have altered stress hormones, DNA

Newborns of mothers who smoke during pregnancy have altered stress hormones, DNA

Researchers from The Miriam Hospital have studied the effects of smoking during pregnancy and its impact on the stress response in newborn babies. Their research indicates that newborns of mothers who smoke cigarettes during pregnancy show lower levels of stress hormones, lowered stress response, and alterations in DNA for a gene that regulates passage of stress hormones from mother to fetus. [More]
Researchers identify genetic variant in Latina women that protects against breast cancer

Researchers identify genetic variant in Latina women that protects against breast cancer

An international research collaboration led by UC San Francisco researchers has identified a genetic variant common in Latina women that protects against breast cancer. [More]
Whole exome sequencing can assist in early diagnosis of various disorders

Whole exome sequencing can assist in early diagnosis of various disorders

Approximately one-fourth of the 3,386 patients whose DNA was submitted for clinical whole exome testing received a diagnosis related to a known genetic disease, often ending a long search for answers for them and their parents, said researchers from the Baylor College of Medicine departments of molecular and human genetics and pediatrics and the Baylor Human Genome Sequencing Center and the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston. [More]
Research: Ageing and depression are associated with epigenetic changes

Research: Ageing and depression are associated with epigenetic changes

Psychological stress and stress-related psychiatric disorders are associated with increased risk for aging-related diseases, but the molecular mechanisms underlying this relation are unknown. [More]
Genetic changes in blood cells of older people linked to lymphoma, leukemia

Genetic changes in blood cells of older people linked to lymphoma, leukemia

At least 2 percent of people over age 40 and 5 percent of people over 70 have mutations linked to leukemia and lymphoma in their blood cells, according to new research at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. [More]
Scientists map DNA replication process at the most fundamental level

Scientists map DNA replication process at the most fundamental level

The proteins that drive DNA replication—the force behind cellular growth and reproduction—are some of the most complex machines on Earth. [More]
Researchers identify novel method to develop personalized vaccines for ovarian cancer

Researchers identify novel method to develop personalized vaccines for ovarian cancer

Researchers at the University of Connecticut have found a new way to identify protein mutations in cancer cells. The novel method is being used to develop personalized vaccines to treat patients with ovarian cancer. [More]
SOFIE BIOSCIENCES awarded NCI Phase II SBIR contract to develop [18F]FAC PET

SOFIE BIOSCIENCES awarded NCI Phase II SBIR contract to develop [18F]FAC PET

SOFIE BIOSCIENCES, a leader in the field of Positron Emission Tomography (PET) imaging, including probes, scanners, and chemistry systems, announced today that the National Cancer Institute has awarded the company a Phase II Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) contract for approximately $1.5M over two years. [More]
Research on zebrafish helps identify cause of unknown genetic disorder

Research on zebrafish helps identify cause of unknown genetic disorder

Research in zebrafish has helped identify the cause of an unknown genetic disorder affecting a boy and two of his uncles, scientists report in an article published October 14 in the journal GENETICS. [More]
SIRT6 protein inhibits liver and colon cancers, but promotes skin cancer caused by ultraviolet light

SIRT6 protein inhibits liver and colon cancers, but promotes skin cancer caused by ultraviolet light

A new study published in Cancer Research shows SIRT6—a protein known to inhibit the growth of liver and colon cancers—can promote the development of skin cancers by turning on an enzyme that increases inflammation, proliferation and survival of sun-damaged skin cells. [More]
Penn Medicine announces recipients of new Basser External Research Grant Program

Penn Medicine announces recipients of new Basser External Research Grant Program

The University of Pennsylvania's Basser Research Center for BRCA has announced $6.9 million to research teams both at Penn and at five other institutions across the United States, aimed at advancing the care of patients living with BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations through multi-disciplinary collaboration. [More]