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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.
Low levels of vitamin D, methylation in black teens may increase cancer risk

Low levels of vitamin D, methylation in black teens may increase cancer risk

Low levels of vitamin D in black teens correlates with low activity of a major mechanism for controlling gene expression that may increase their risk of cancer and other disease, researchers report. [More]
Study identifies risk factors for asparaginase-induced pancreatitis in ALL patients

Study identifies risk factors for asparaginase-induced pancreatitis in ALL patients

Researchers have identified a rare genetic variation associated with a dramatically increased risk of severe acute pancreatitis in acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) patients treated with the chemotherapy agent asparaginase. St. Jude Children's Research Hospital led the study, which appears today in the Journal of Clinical Oncology. [More]
AMSBIO launches 96-Well CometChip System for high-throughput measurement of DNA damage

AMSBIO launches 96-Well CometChip System for high-throughput measurement of DNA damage

AMSBIO has announced the launch of the 96-Well CometChip System - a high-throughput platform developed to simultaneously treat and measure DNA damage induced by different treatments, or among different cell types on a single slide using the Comet assay. [More]
Study shows canine AD shares significant features of human version

Study shows canine AD shares significant features of human version

Atopic dermatitis (AD), a chronic inflammatory skin condition and the most common form of eczema, is estimated to afflict as much as 10 percent of the U.S. population, and is much more common now than it was 50 years ago. Veterinary clinical estimates also show that approximately 10 percent of dogs have atopic dermatitis. [More]
Changes in chromatin structure may promote cancer

Changes in chromatin structure may promote cancer

Cancer development is a complex process involving both genetic and epigenetic changes. Genetic changes in oncogenes and tumor-suppressor genes are generally considered as primary causes, since these genes may directly regulate cellular growth. In addition, it has been found that changes in epigenetic factors, through mutation or altered gene expression, may contribute to cancer development. [More]
Borrelia infection can cause scleratrophic skin lesions in certain countries

Borrelia infection can cause scleratrophic skin lesions in certain countries

This review summarizes the literature on scleratrophic skin lesions as a manifestation of a Borrelia infection. An association of morphea with Lyme borreliosis LB was mainly reported from Middle-European Countries, Japan and South America. B. afzelii has been identified predominantly from the chronic skin lesions of acrodermatitis chronica atrophicans (ACA) and has been cultivated from morphea lesions in isolated cases. [More]
Study on HDAC enzymes could lead to development of better drugs for treatment of cancer, Alzheimer’s

Study on HDAC enzymes could lead to development of better drugs for treatment of cancer, Alzheimer’s

New knowledge about the mechanism of specific protein complexes in the body could help in the development of better drugs for the treatment of diseases such as cancer and Alzheimer’s, according to research led by the University of Leicester. [More]
Fructose common in western diet can damage brain genes

Fructose common in western diet can damage brain genes

A range of diseases -- from diabetes to cardiovascular disease, and from Alzheimer's disease to attention deficit hyperactivity disorder -- are linked to changes to genes in the brain. A new study by UCLA life scientists has found that hundreds of those genes can be damaged by fructose, a sugar that's common in the Western diet, in a way that could lead to those diseases. [More]
First breakthrough in gene therapy against aging

First breakthrough in gene therapy against aging

In September 2015, then 44 year-old CEO of BioViva USA Inc. Elizabeth Parrish received two of her own company's experimental gene therapies: one to protect against loss of muscle mass with age, another to battle stem cell depletion responsible for diverse age-related diseases and infirmities. [More]
Researchers develop real-time single molecule electronic DNA sequencing platform

Researchers develop real-time single molecule electronic DNA sequencing platform

Researchers from Columbia University, with colleagues at Genia Technologies, Harvard University and the National Institute of Standards and Technology report achieving real-time single molecule electronic DNA sequencing at single-base resolution using a protein nanopore array. [More]
NASA's research program uses omics to look more closely at individual health

NASA's research program uses omics to look more closely at individual health

NASA's Human Research Program is releasing the first half of a video series entitled Omics: Exploring Space Through You to highlight its Twins Study, in conjunction with its National DNA Day Reddit Ask Me Anything event at 10 a.m. CDT/11 a.m. EDT, Monday, April 25, 2016. The series explores space through you by using omics to look more closely at individual health. [More]
Wellderly study finds link between cognitive decline genes and healthy aging

Wellderly study finds link between cognitive decline genes and healthy aging

An eight-year-long accrual and analysis of the whole genome sequences of healthy elderly people, or "Wellderly," has revealed a higher-than-normal presence of genetic variants offering protection from cognitive decline, researchers from the Scripps Translational Science Institute (STSI) reported today in the journal Cell. [More]
CUMC researchers identify new neurodevelopmental syndrome

CUMC researchers identify new neurodevelopmental syndrome

A multicenter research team led by Columbia University Medical Center has discovered a new neurodevelopmental syndrome and the genetic mutations that cause it. The discovery is an important step toward creating targeted therapies for individuals with this syndrome, which causes severe developmental delays, abnormal muscle tone, seizures, and eye complications. [More]
Researchers use highly accurate biomarker to measure aging in HIV infected patients

Researchers use highly accurate biomarker to measure aging in HIV infected patients

Thanks to combination antiretroviral therapies, many people with HIV can expect to live decades after being infected. Yet doctors have observed these patients often show signs of premature aging. [More]
Subtle changes in protein-coding gene may cause different genetic disorders

Subtle changes in protein-coding gene may cause different genetic disorders

It has been disorienting to the scientific and medical community as to why different subtle changes in a protein-coding gene causes many different genetic disorders in different patients -- including premature aging, nerve problems, heart problems and muscle problems. no other gene works like this. According to a new study, co-authored by Binghamton University faculty Eric Hoffman, it has to do with cell "commitment." [More]
Scientists develop CRISPRainbow to study genome structure in real time

Scientists develop CRISPRainbow to study genome structure in real time

CRISPRainbow, a new technology using CRISPR/Cas9 developed by scientists at UMass Medical School, allows researchers to tag and track up to seven different genomic locations in live cells. This labeling system, details of which were published in Nature Biotechnology, will be an invaluable tool for studying the structure of the genome in real time. [More]
Scientists identify transposable element in certain bird genomes

Scientists identify transposable element in certain bird genomes

In rare instances, DNA is known to have jumped from one species to another. If a parasite's DNA jumps to its host's genome, it could leave evidence of that parasitic interaction that could be found millions of years later -- a DNA 'fossil' of sorts. [More]
Scientists map core genes involved during DNA uptake in strep bacteria

Scientists map core genes involved during DNA uptake in strep bacteria

Bacteria possess the ability to take up DNA from their environment, a skill that enables them to acquire new genes for antibiotic resistance or to escape the immune response. Scientists have now mapped the core set of genes that are consistently controlled during DNA uptake in strep bacteria, and they hope the finding will allow them to cut off the microbes' ability to survive what doctors and nature can throw at them. [More]
Researchers find new insights on disease stages for gastric cancer patients

Researchers find new insights on disease stages for gastric cancer patients

Diagnosis of gastric cancer in the early stages is difficult because of the lack of simple and cheap methods of inspection and specific markers of gastric cancer while the symptoms of the disease are vague and tend to overlap with other common and benign conditions. Better tumor characterization and more individualized treatment planning can be expected only with the implementation of better diagnostic tools combined with advances in molecular and genetic analysis. [More]
Nivolumab drug shows survival benefit in phase III trial of patients with head and neck cancer

Nivolumab drug shows survival benefit in phase III trial of patients with head and neck cancer

The immunotherapy drug nivolumab has become the first to show a survival benefit in head and neck cancer, after a major international trial found that it was more effective than standard chemotherapy. [More]
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