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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.
Promising molecular diagnostic approach to endometriosis

Promising molecular diagnostic approach to endometriosis

Researchers at UC San Francisco have identified patterns of genetic activity that can be used to diagnose endometriosis and its severity, a finding that may offer millions of women an alternative to surgery through a simple noninvasive procedure. [More]
Researchers discover new method to deliver drugs into aggressive tumors

Researchers discover new method to deliver drugs into aggressive tumors

A multi-disciplinary team of Yale Cancer Center researchers has discovered a promising new method for delivering drugs into aggressive tumors by exploiting a unique feature of tumors themselves. [More]
SRY protein alters specific gender-related tissue in males before birth

SRY protein alters specific gender-related tissue in males before birth

Case Western Reserve researchers have identified a protein mutation that alters specific gender-related tissue in males before birth and can contribute to the development of cancer as well as other less life-threatening challenges. [More]
Protein complex plays key role in detecting tumor cells, promotes anti-tumor response

Protein complex plays key role in detecting tumor cells, promotes anti-tumor response

A recently discovered protein complex known as STING plays a crucial role in detecting the presence of tumor cells and promoting an aggressive anti-tumor response by the body's innate immune system, according to two separate studies published in the Nov. 20 issue of the journal Immunity. [More]
Personalized dietary advice based on person's genetic makeup improves eating habits

Personalized dietary advice based on person's genetic makeup improves eating habits

Personalized dietary advice based on a person's genetic makeup improves eating habits compared to current "one-size-fits-all" dietary recommendations, says a University of Toronto researcher. [More]
Researchers identify genetic signatures in melanoma tumors that predict response to immunotherapy

Researchers identify genetic signatures in melanoma tumors that predict response to immunotherapy

A team led by Ludwig and Memorial Sloan Kettering (MSK) researchers has published a landmark study on the genetic basis of response to a powerful cancer therapy known as immune checkpoint blockade. [More]
Gene therapy transforms life for men with severe form of hemophilia B

Gene therapy transforms life for men with severe form of hemophilia B

Gene therapy developed at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, University College London and the Royal Free Hospital has transformed life for men with a severe form of hemophilia B by providing a safe, reliable source of the blood clotting protein Factor IX that has allowed some to adopt a more active lifestyle, researchers reported. [More]
Biomarker-directed chemotherapy detrimental in NSCLC

Biomarker-directed chemotherapy detrimental in NSCLC

Treating non-small-cell lung cancer patients with chemotherapy customised according to expression of BRCA1 and receptor-associated protein 80 does not improve progression-free survival compared with nonselected, cisplatin-based chemotherapy, show study findings. [More]
Scientists identify how ADAR1 gene mutation can lead to diseases

Scientists identify how ADAR1 gene mutation can lead to diseases

Scientists have discovered how a gene mutation can lead to diseases that occur when the immune system attacks the body by mistake. [More]
Study identifies new gene for progressive form of epilepsy

Study identifies new gene for progressive form of epilepsy

A study led by researchers at University of Helsinki, Finland and Universities of Melbourne and South Australia has identified a new gene for a progressive form of epilepsy. The findings of this international collaborative effort have been published today, 17 November 2014, in Nature Genetics. [More]
Study shows how phthalates linked with complications of pregnancy

Study shows how phthalates linked with complications of pregnancy

In recent years, scientists have linked chemicals known as phthalates with complications of pregnancy and fetal development. [More]
UMMS scientists awarded $9.5 million grant to study Fragile X syndrome

UMMS scientists awarded $9.5 million grant to study Fragile X syndrome

The National Institutes of Health has awarded a $9.5 million grant to investigators at the University of Massachusetts Medical School to establish a Center for Collaborative Research in Fragile X, one of three centers designated by the NIH. [More]
Prostate cancer patients with hereditary BRCA mutations respond less well to conventional treatment

Prostate cancer patients with hereditary BRCA mutations respond less well to conventional treatment

Prostate cancer patients carrying inherited mutations in the BRCA genes respond less well to conventional treatment, including surgery and/or radiotherapy - and they also have a lower survival rate than those who are non-carriers of these genetic mutations. Data from the study, which has been published in the journal European Urology, points to the need for new clinical trials aimed at targeting these mutations in order to tailor treatment for these patients. [More]
Cancer Research UK scientists find over 400 'blind spots' in DNA

Cancer Research UK scientists find over 400 'blind spots' in DNA

Cancer Research UK scientists have found more than 400 'blind spots' in DNA which could hide cancer-causing gene faults, according to research published today (Friday) in Cancer Research. [More]
New test can detect bloodstream infection with unprecedented speed, sensitivity

New test can detect bloodstream infection with unprecedented speed, sensitivity

A new bloodstream infection test created by UC Irvine researchers can speed up diagnosis times with unprecedented accuracy, allowing physicians to treat patients with potentially deadly ailments more promptly and effectively. [More]
UNC researchers develop new approach to block KRAS oncogene

UNC researchers develop new approach to block KRAS oncogene

Researchers from the UNC School of Medicine and colleagues at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center have developed a new approach to block the KRAS oncogene, one of the most frequently mutated genes in human cancer. [More]
Isis Pharmaceuticals, AstraZeneca partner to develop new delivery methods for antisense oligonucleotides

Isis Pharmaceuticals, AstraZeneca partner to develop new delivery methods for antisense oligonucleotides

AstraZeneca and Isis Pharmaceuticals Inc. today announced a strategic alliance to discover and develop novel delivery methods for antisense oligonucleotides. [More]
Scientists use Rapid Heme Panel test to identify right treatment for leukemia, other blood cancers

Scientists use Rapid Heme Panel test to identify right treatment for leukemia, other blood cancers

For patients with aggressive types of leukemia and other blood cancers, quickly identifying and starting the right treatment can make all the difference. [More]
Researchers develop genetic test to predict prostate cancer recurrence

Researchers develop genetic test to predict prostate cancer recurrence

Prostate cancer researchers have developed a genetic test to identify which men are at highest risk for their prostate cancer to come back after localized treatment with surgery or radiotherapy. [More]
Study identifies genetic alterations that contribute to growth and recurrence of Ewing sarcoma

Study identifies genetic alterations that contribute to growth and recurrence of Ewing sarcoma

An international collaboration has identified frequent mutations in two genes that often occur together in Ewing sarcoma (EWS) and that define a subtype of the cancer associated with reduced survival. [More]