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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.
Scientists uncover five new genetic causes of bowel cancer

Scientists uncover five new genetic causes of bowel cancer

A landmark study has given the most detailed picture yet of the genetics of bowel cancer - the UK's fourth most common cancer. [More]
Drexel University researchers aim to identify new molecular mechanisms involved in chronic pain

Drexel University researchers aim to identify new molecular mechanisms involved in chronic pain

Chronic pain is one of the most prevalent, disabling and expensive public health crises in the United States. It affects more than 100 million Americans, with annual costs estimated at $635 billion, says a 2014 report from the American Pain Society. [More]
Experts use next-generation genetic sequencing to diagnose suspected brain infections

Experts use next-generation genetic sequencing to diagnose suspected brain infections

In a proof-of-principle study, a team of physicians and bioinformatics experts at Johns Hopkins reports they were able to diagnose or rule out suspected brain infections using so called next-generation genetic sequencing of brain tissue samples. [More]
Shorter course of prostate cancer radiotherapy could save NHS millions of pounds

Shorter course of prostate cancer radiotherapy could save NHS millions of pounds

A shorter course of prostate cancer radiotherapy, involving fewer hospital visits and higher individual doses of radiotherapy, is as effective as the current standard treatment for both survival and quality of life, a major new study reports. [More]
Researchers identify 38 independent genomic regions linked to migraine

Researchers identify 38 independent genomic regions linked to migraine

The results of the largest genetic study on migraine thus far were published online in the journal Nature Genetics today, June 20. The study was based on DNA samples of 375,000 European, American and Australian participants. Almost 60,000 of them suffer from migraine. [More]
Rice University researchers synthesize new anti-cancer agent

Rice University researchers synthesize new anti-cancer agent

Rice University scientists have synthesized a novel anti-cancer agent, Thailanstatin A, which was originally isolated from a bacterial species collected in Thailand. [More]
New method helps analyse how cold viruses penetrate into cells

New method helps analyse how cold viruses penetrate into cells

Cold viruses cause us irritation by penetrating into our cells and transporting their RNA into the cytoplasma of the infected cells. This is the only way they can multiply. The details of how the transfer of the RNA from within the virus occurs are difficult to study. [More]
TUM scientists identify four new risk genes altered in MS patients

TUM scientists identify four new risk genes altered in MS patients

Scientists of the Technical University of Munich and the Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry have identified four new risk genes that are altered in German patients with multiple sclerosis (MS). [More]
Molecular diagnostics of the future: an interview with Elaine Warburton, OBE

Molecular diagnostics of the future: an interview with Elaine Warburton, OBE

Firstly, a sample must be transported from the clinic to the laboratory. Simple tests may be undertaken in a small lab within the hospital or clinic, whilst complex testing such as drug susceptibility testing is often done in a large centralized laboratory many miles from the clinic [More]
Scientists study fundamentals of tumour surveillance by immune system in mice models

Scientists study fundamentals of tumour surveillance by immune system in mice models

The body's defences detect and eliminate not only pathogens but also tumour cells. Natural killer cells (NK-Cells) are specifically activated by chemical messengers, the Cytokines, to seek and destroy tumour cells. [More]
ERCC2 validated as chemotherapy response biomarker in bladder cancer

ERCC2 validated as chemotherapy response biomarker in bladder cancer

Somatic mutations in the helicase-encoding ERCC2 gene are associated with response to neoadjuvant cisplatin-based chemotherapy in patients with muscle-invasive urothelial bladder carcinoma. [More]
Delivery mode, exposure to antibiotics and feeding method linked to change in baby's microbial communities

Delivery mode, exposure to antibiotics and feeding method linked to change in baby's microbial communities

Birth by C-section, exposure to antibiotics and formula feeding slow the development and decrease the diversity of a baby's microbes through the first year of life. That is the finding of a study led by researchers from NYU Langone Medical Center and published June 15 in the journal Science Translational Medicine. [More]
Researcher aims to develop easy-to-use, inexpensive sperm sorting devices to help infertile couples

Researcher aims to develop easy-to-use, inexpensive sperm sorting devices to help infertile couples

The competition is fierce and only the strongest survive the obstacle course within the female reproductive tract. Of the millions of sperm that enter the vagina, only about 10 or so make it to the oocyte or egg, demonstrating how rigorous the natural sperm selection process really is. [More]
Mother's obesity can impair health of future generations

Mother's obesity can impair health of future generations

New research suggests that mothers who eat high-fat, high-sugar diets can predispose multiple generations to metabolic problems, even if their offspring consume healthy diets. [More]
Tumour protein TP53 can locate DNA targets autonomously to prevent cancer

Tumour protein TP53 can locate DNA targets autonomously to prevent cancer

Geneticists from KU Leuven, Belgium, have shown that tumour protein TP53 knows exactly where to bind to our DNA to prevent cancer. Once bound to this specific DNA sequence, the protein can activate the right genes to repair damaged cells. [More]
Scientists develop new software program that can help compare large amounts of metagenomes

Scientists develop new software program that can help compare large amounts of metagenomes

Scientists from ITMO University, the Federal Research and Clinical Centre of Physical-Chemical Medicine and MIPT have developed a software program enabling them to quickly compare sets of DNA of microorganisms living in different environments. The researchers have already suggested exactly how the new program could be applied in practice. [More]
Penn researchers help identify unique characteristics of reserve stem cells

Penn researchers help identify unique characteristics of reserve stem cells

Adult stem cells represent a sort of blank clay from which a myriad of different cell and tissue types are molded and as such are of critical importance to health, aging and disease. [More]
New electronic sensor can distinguish between dead and living bacteria cells

New electronic sensor can distinguish between dead and living bacteria cells

A new type of electronic sensor that might be used to quickly detect and classify bacteria for medical diagnostics and food safety has passed a key hurdle by distinguishing between dead and living bacteria cells. [More]
Genomic analysis can help public health investigators understand dynamics of TB outbreak

Genomic analysis can help public health investigators understand dynamics of TB outbreak

Using genome sequencing, researchers from the University of British Columbia, along with colleagues at the Imperial College in London, now have the ability to determine when a tuberculosis (TB) outbreak is over. [More]
QIAGEN announces launch of QIAsure Methylation Test to detect cervical cancer risk

QIAGEN announces launch of QIAsure Methylation Test to detect cervical cancer risk

QIAGEN N.V. today announced the launch of the QIAsure Methylation Test, a novel CE-marked molecular diagnostic test for use in differentiating patients' risk of developing cervical cancer. [More]
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