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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.
Gene fusions in esophageal adenocarcinomas offer new molecular insights into lethal cancer

Gene fusions in esophageal adenocarcinomas offer new molecular insights into lethal cancer

Despite years of research, cellular mechanisms contributing to cancers like esophageal adenocarcinoma have remained elusive. [More]
Breakthrough in cancer cell screening advances personalised treatment of childhood leukaemia

Breakthrough in cancer cell screening advances personalised treatment of childhood leukaemia

Researchers at Newcastle University have been able to accurately predict how children whose cancer returns after treatment for leukaemia are likely to respond to further treatment. [More]
New study looks to saliva of humans and primates to gain insights into evolution

New study looks to saliva of humans and primates to gain insights into evolution

There's no need to reinvent the genetic wheel. That's one lesson of a new study that looks to the saliva of humans, gorillas, orangutans, macaques and African green monkeys for insights into evolution. [More]
Research suggests drive to drink coffee may be embedded in our genes

Research suggests drive to drink coffee may be embedded in our genes

Researchers have identified a gene that appears to curb coffee consumption. [More]
Protein complex could play key role in natural development of stem cells into healthy blood cells

Protein complex could play key role in natural development of stem cells into healthy blood cells

A group of proteins best known for helping to activate all mammalian genes has been found to play a particularly commanding role in the natural development of specialized stem cells into healthy blood cells, a process known as hematopoiesis. [More]
Stem cells contribute to origin of cancer in different organs of mice

Stem cells contribute to origin of cancer in different organs of mice

The idea that stem cells - special cells that divide to repair and generate tissues - might be the major determinant of cancer risk has provoked great debate in the scientific community. [More]
Large infant faeces study investigates how bacterial community changes in baby's gut

Large infant faeces study investigates how bacterial community changes in baby's gut

Daily samples of baby poo taken throughout a full year will reveal how the bacterial community changes in the gut of infants. [More]
Raising brain protein alleviates symptoms of Alzheimer's disease in mouse model

Raising brain protein alleviates symptoms of Alzheimer's disease in mouse model

Boosting levels of a specific protein in the brain alleviates hallmark features of Alzheimer's disease in a mouse model of the disorder, according to new research published online August 25, 2016 in Scientific Reports. [More]
Advances in brain research since patient HM: an interview with Dr Jacopo Annese

Advances in brain research since patient HM: an interview with Dr Jacopo Annese

Jacopo Annese, President and CEO of the Institute for Brain and Society, a non-profit organization dedicated to democratizing neuroscience and making neuroscience tools and knowledge about the brain more available to the public, discusses his work on the Human Brain Library. [More]
NIBIB researchers develop nanovaccine to enhance cancer immunotherapy

NIBIB researchers develop nanovaccine to enhance cancer immunotherapy

NIBIB researchers have created a nanovaccine that could make a current approach to cancer immunotherapy more effective while also reducing side effects. [More]
People with psychosis engage in low levels of physical activity, study reveals

People with psychosis engage in low levels of physical activity, study reveals

A large international study of more than 200,000 people in nearly 50 countries has revealed that people with psychosis engage in low levels of physical activity, and men with psychosis are over two times more likely to miss global activity targets compared to people without the illness. [More]
Assigning barcode to stem cells makes it possible to monitor large blood cell populations

Assigning barcode to stem cells makes it possible to monitor large blood cell populations

By assigning a barcode to stem cells, researchers at Lund University in Sweden have made it possible to monitor large blood cell populations as well as individual blood cells, and study the changes over time. [More]
Study shows Latinos age more slowly at molecular level than other ethnic groups

Study shows Latinos age more slowly at molecular level than other ethnic groups

A new paper co-authored by a UC Santa Barbara researcher reveals that Latinos age at a slower rate than other ethnic groups. The findings, published in the current issue of Genome Biology, may one day help scientists understand how to slow the aging process for everyone. [More]
Preimplantation genetic screening using next generation sequencing: an interview with Dr Luis Alcaraz

Preimplantation genetic screening using next generation sequencing: an interview with Dr Luis Alcaraz

PGS, Preimplantation Genetic Screening, is a genetic test that analyses biopsied cells from embryos produced by in vitro fertilization (IVF) techniques. PGS determines whether the embryos are chromosomally normal (euploid) or not (aneuploid), thus giving the chance to transfer chromosomally normal embryos that are more apt to successfully implant and develop into a pregnancy. [More]
Scientists explore geochemical conditions that may have led to first relevant organophosphates

Scientists explore geochemical conditions that may have led to first relevant organophosphates

The phosphate ion is almost insoluble and is one of the most inactive of Earth's most abundant phosphate minerals. So how could phosphate have originally been incorporated into ribonucleotides, the building blocks of RNA, which are considered to be among the earliest constituents of life? American and Spanish scientists have now identified reasonable conditions to mobilize phosphate from insoluble apatite minerals for prebiotic organophosphate synthesis, including ribonucleotides. [More]
Researchers design DNA-based circuit that does math in a test tube

Researchers design DNA-based circuit that does math in a test tube

Often described as the blueprint of life, DNA contains the instructions for making every living thing from a human to a house fly. [More]
DNA methylation changes that alter excitability may be involved in neuropsychiatric diseases

DNA methylation changes that alter excitability may be involved in neuropsychiatric diseases

Diseases such as epilepsy, neuropathic pain, anxiety, depression, drug addiction and Alzheimer's are all associated with changes in the excitability of brain neurons. [More]
Researchers investigate link between diet, obesity-linked Type 2 diabetes, and spinal disc degeneration

Researchers investigate link between diet, obesity-linked Type 2 diabetes, and spinal disc degeneration

Can a diet high in processed fat and sugar and Type 2 diabetes cause degeneration of intervertebral discs in the spine? If so, what is happening, and can it be prevented? As part of an ongoing collaboration between Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai - a partnership that draws upon the expertise of both schools to address significant health problems - researchers hope to answer those questions by investigating the link between diet, obesity-linked Type 2 diabetes, and intervertebral disc degeneration. [More]
Novel innovation could help scientists study new treatments for mitochondrial diseases

Novel innovation could help scientists study new treatments for mitochondrial diseases

A new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences from the University of Missouri has succeeded in creating embryos with "heteroplasmy," or the presence of both maternal and paternal mitochondrial DNA. [More]
Cloned Zika virus could be used for development of attenuated vaccine

Cloned Zika virus could be used for development of attenuated vaccine

Stopping the explosive spread of Zika virus - which can lead to birth defects in babies born to infected mothers - depends on genetic insights gleaned through new tools and models. [More]
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