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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.
Long-term use of herbal remedies may not guarantee safety

Long-term use of herbal remedies may not guarantee safety

Millions of people around the world use herbal health remedies, following a tradition that began millennia ago. Many believe that herbs are safe because they have been used for many years, but researchers from Baylor College of Medicine and Stony Brook University are raising awareness that long-term use of herbal remedies is no guarantee of their safety. The invited commentary appears in EMBO reports. [More]
Combination of two diagnostic tests can decrease chance of missing tumors by sevenfold

Combination of two diagnostic tests can decrease chance of missing tumors by sevenfold

Cytopathology researchers at Houston Methodist Hospital recently found that combining two diagnostic tests, Pap and high-risk human papillomavirus (hrHPV), dramatically decreased the chance of missing tumors and high-grade lesions by sevenfold. [More]
Total cessation of GnRH production by hypothalamic neurons can lead to infertility

Total cessation of GnRH production by hypothalamic neurons can lead to infertility

Individual small RNAs are responsible for controlling the expression of gonadoliberin or GnRH (Gonadotropin-Releasing Hormone), a neurohormone that controls sexual maturation, the appearance of puberty, and fertility in adults. [More]
Combination of existing chemotherapy drugs can reduce breast cancer stem cells, improve survival

Combination of existing chemotherapy drugs can reduce breast cancer stem cells, improve survival

Two existing chemotherapy drugs appear to be a powerful pair in targeting errant stem cells that are making breast cancer and enabling its spread and recurrence, scientists report. [More]
Researchers discover new function of genes in Fanconi anemia pathway

Researchers discover new function of genes in Fanconi anemia pathway

Researchers from UT Southwestern Medical Center have identified an important new function of genes in the Fanconi anemia pathway - a finding that could have implications for development of new therapies to treat this disorder and some cancers. [More]
Scientists discover genetic switches linked to increased lifespan in mammals

Scientists discover genetic switches linked to increased lifespan in mammals

Newly discovered genetic switches that increase lifespan and boost fitness in worms are also linked to increased lifespan in mammals, offering hope that drugs to flip these switches could improve human metabolic function and increase longevity. [More]
Advances in BioAFM: an interview with Dr. Thomas Mueller

Advances in BioAFM: an interview with Dr. Thomas Mueller

BioScope Resolve has enabled the first AFM images resolving individual microvilli on live cells. This is remarkable in that atomic force microscopy has been widely used to image live cells, and microvilli are often present. Yet the surface of those cells had remained featureless in AFM images. [More]
Hsp90 inhibitors could be effective in treating drug-resistant prostate cancers

Hsp90 inhibitors could be effective in treating drug-resistant prostate cancers

Men with aggressive prostate cancer that has stopped responding to conventional treatment could potentially benefit from a new class of cancer drug designed to overcome drug resistance, a new study suggests. [More]
Researchers one step closer to understanding disease origin

Researchers one step closer to understanding disease origin

Researchers are one step closer to understanding the genetic and biological basis of diseases like cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer's and rheumatoid arthritis - and identifying new drug targets and therapies - thanks to work by three computational biology research teams from the University of Arizona Health Sciences, University of Pennsylvania and Vanderbilt University. [More]
Study provides new avenues for improving quality, stability of embryonic stem cells

Study provides new avenues for improving quality, stability of embryonic stem cells

Research led by the Babraham Institute with collaborators in the UK, Canada and Japan has revealed a new understanding of how an open genome structure supports the long-term and unrestricted developmental potential in embryonic stem cells. This insight provides new avenues for improving the quality and stability of embryonic stem cells - an essential requirement to fulfil their promise in regenerative medicine. [More]
Exposure to fine particulate matter in air can increase risk of cancer-specific mortality

Exposure to fine particulate matter in air can increase risk of cancer-specific mortality

In 2015, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) published a series of monographs on the evaluation of various carcinogenic risks. In a monograph on air pollution, the organization pointed out the difficulty of assessing the effects of pollution on multiple types of cancers, given their different etiologies, risk factors and variability in the composition of air pollutants in space and time. However, the IARC identified certain key components of air pollution, including particulates. [More]
Pioneering gene therapy may lead to potential cure for common causes of vision loss

Pioneering gene therapy may lead to potential cure for common causes of vision loss

Pioneering gene therapy has restored some vision to patients with a rare form of genetic blindness for as long as four years, raising hopes it could be used to cure common causes of vision loss, new University of Oxford research published today shows. [More]
Discovery of shared biological properties among DNA variants may help identify new therapeutic targets

Discovery of shared biological properties among DNA variants may help identify new therapeutic targets

The discovery of shared biological properties among independent variants of DNA sequences offers the opportunity to broaden understanding of the biological basis of disease and identify new therapeutic targets, according to a collaboration between the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Arizona Health Sciences, and Vanderbilt University. The group published their findings this month in npj Genomic Medicine. [More]
Gut bacteria linked to risk of bloodstream infections after chemotherapy

Gut bacteria linked to risk of bloodstream infections after chemotherapy

A new study led by researchers at the University of Minnesota and Nantes University Hospital in France shows that the bacteria in people's gut may predict their risk of life-threatening blood infections following high-dose chemotherapy. [More]
Key gene changes reveal four previously unknown conditions within schizophrenia

Key gene changes reveal four previously unknown conditions within schizophrenia

Changes in key genes clearly define four previously unknown conditions within the umbrella diagnosis of schizophrenia, according to a study led by researchers from NYU Langone Medical Center published online April 28 in EBioMedicine, a Lancet journal. Cases associated with changes in each of the four genes were different from each other in terms of symptoms, intelligence level and other disease features. [More]
Study links age-related changes in human pancreas to diabetes development

Study links age-related changes in human pancreas to diabetes development

A Stanford-led national collaboration to procure and analyze human pancreatic tissue from deceased donors illustrates how the organ's function changes as we age, and could point the way toward new diabetes treatments. [More]
New class of cancer-driver gene may serve as unique therapeutic targets, biomarkers in TNBC

New class of cancer-driver gene may serve as unique therapeutic targets, biomarkers in TNBC

The discovery of long non-coding RNA (lncRNA) has dramatically changed the understanding of the biology of diseases such as cancer. The human genome contains about 20,000 protein-coding genes - less than 2 percent of the total - but 70 percent of the genome is made into non-gene-encoding RNA. [More]
Experimental therapy has over 90% remission rate for advanced leukemia patients

Experimental therapy has over 90% remission rate for advanced leukemia patients

Twenty-seven of 29 patients with an advanced type of leukemia that had proved resistant to multiple other forms of therapy went into remission after their T cells (disease-fighting immune cells) were genetically engineered to fight their cancers. [More]
Musashi-2 protein regulates function, development of blood stem cells

Musashi-2 protein regulates function, development of blood stem cells

Researchers at McMaster University's Stem Cell and Cancer Research Institute have made significant steps forward in understanding the stem cells of the human blood system after discovering how a key protein allows for better control and regeneration of these cells. [More]
HBcrAg may predict HCC development

HBcrAg may predict HCC development

Research suggests a role for hepatitis B core-related antigen in the prediction of hepatocellular carcinoma development in nucleos(t)ide analogue treatment-naïve patients with chronic hepatitis B virus infection. [More]
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