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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.
Penn Medicine announces recipients of new Basser External Research Grant Program

Penn Medicine announces recipients of new Basser External Research Grant Program

The University of Pennsylvania's Basser Research Center for BRCA has announced $6.9 million to research teams both at Penn and at five other institutions across the United States, aimed at advancing the care of patients living with BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations through multi-disciplinary collaboration. [More]
Broccoli sprout compound may help ease classic behavioral symptoms in people with autism

Broccoli sprout compound may help ease classic behavioral symptoms in people with autism

Results of a small clinical trial suggest that a chemical derived from broccoli sprouts — and best known for claims that it can help prevent certain cancers — may ease classic behavioral symptoms in those with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs). [More]
Researchers reveal gene variants that delay fracture healing

Researchers reveal gene variants that delay fracture healing

Slow-healing or non-healing bone fractures in otherwise healthy people may be caused by gene variants that are common in the population, according to Penn State College of Medicine researchers. [More]
Researchers develop DNA-based drug delivery system that targets cancer cells

Researchers develop DNA-based drug delivery system that targets cancer cells

Biomedical engineering researchers have developed a drug delivery system consisting of nanoscale "cocoons" made of DNA that target cancer cells and trick the cells into absorbing the cocoon before unleashing anticancer drugs. The work was done by researchers at North Carolina State University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. [More]
Penn State scientists find that mitochondrial disease more prevalent in older moms

Penn State scientists find that mitochondrial disease more prevalent in older moms

The discovery of a "maternal age effect" by a team of Penn State scientists that could be used to predict the accumulation of mitochondrial DNA mutations in maternal egg cells -- and the transmission of these mutations to children -- could provide valuable insights for genetic counseling. [More]
Wireless Health 2014 international conference to highlight latest developments in mobile health

Wireless Health 2014 international conference to highlight latest developments in mobile health

From the benefits of wearable devices for remote patient monitoring to opportunities for big-data applications to a changing regulatory environment, the Wireless Health 2014 international conference here Oct. 29 – 31 aims to disseminate the latest advances and promising prospective developments in mobile health. [More]
Obesity greatly accelerates aging of the liver

Obesity greatly accelerates aging of the liver

Using a recently developed biomarker of aging known as an epigenetic clock, UCLA researchers working closely with a German team of investigators have found for the first time that obesity greatly accelerates aging of the liver. This finding could explain the early onset of many age-related diseases, including liver cancer, in obese subjects [More]
BGI issued patent for non-invasive prenatal genetic test technology

BGI issued patent for non-invasive prenatal genetic test technology

The European Patent Office has issued patent number EP2561103B1 for invention to BGI for its independently researched non-invasive prenatal genetic test (NIPT) technology. This technology has been developed by BGI in connection with the provision of its market leading NIPT, the NIFTY test. [More]
Four UCLA researchers receive NIH Director's New Innovator Award

Four UCLA researchers receive NIH Director's New Innovator Award

Four scientists from the Eli and Edythe Broad Center of Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research at UCLA have received a National Institutes of Health Director's New Innovator Award that will forward revolutionary stem cell and neuro-science in medicine. [More]
Primerdesign develops simple diagnostic test solution to contain 2014 Ebola outbreak

Primerdesign develops simple diagnostic test solution to contain 2014 Ebola outbreak

High-tech British company Primerdesign Ltd, a spin-off company from the University of Southampton, has developed a fast and simple diagnostic test solution specific to the 2014 Ebola outbreak. [More]
TSRI, STSI researchers receive NIH grants to set up platforms to mine biomedical data

TSRI, STSI researchers receive NIH grants to set up platforms to mine biomedical data

San Diego researchers at The Scripps Research Institute and Scripps Translational Science Institute will receive more than $4.4 million as part of a National Institutes of Health initiative called "Big Data to Knowledge" (BD2K). [More]
UChicago awarded $12 million grant to establish national center to study drug abuse-related behaviors

UChicago awarded $12 million grant to establish national center to study drug abuse-related behaviors

The National Institute on Drug Abuse has awarded the University of Chicago a $12 million, five year grant to establish a national Center of Excellence to study drug abuse-associated behaviors by conducting research with rats. [More]
Researchers discover mitochondrial and nuclear tRNA-lookalikes in human genome

Researchers discover mitochondrial and nuclear tRNA-lookalikes in human genome

Transfer RNAs (tRNAs) are ancient workhorse molecules and part of the cellular process that creates the proteins, critical building blocks of life that keep a cell running smoothly. [More]
Discovery could lead to treatments for alcohol-related liver diseases

Discovery could lead to treatments for alcohol-related liver diseases

Researchers at the University of Missouri School of Medicine have identified epigenetic protein changes caused by binge drinking, a discovery that could lead to treatments for alcohol-related liver diseases. [More]
New study reveals mechanism that compromises chromosome stability

New study reveals mechanism that compromises chromosome stability

During cell division, chromosomes acquire a characteristic X-shape with the two DNA molecules (sister chromatids) linked at a central "connection region" that contains highly compacted DNA. [More]
Research finding could potentially lead to new strategies to improve cancer therapies

Research finding could potentially lead to new strategies to improve cancer therapies

Cells are generally able to repair spontaneous damage that arises in their genetic material. Unfortunately, the DNA repair process is not perfect and sometimes, damaged DNA gets passed on to newly made cells. A team of researchers at the Center for Molecular Biology of Heidelberg University has recently discovered that in yeast cells, the amount of nutrients that cells are exposed to can affect DNA surveillance and repair mechanisms and therefore the quality of their DNA. [More]
Case Western Reserve researcher lands Director's New Innovator Awards from NIH

Case Western Reserve researcher lands Director's New Innovator Awards from NIH

For the second consecutive year, a Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine researcher has landed one of the year's much-coveted Director's New Innovator Awards from the National Institutes of Health. Principal investigator Rong Xu, PhD, assistant professor of medical informatics, will receive $2,377,000 for five years, starting immediately, to initiate computational analysis of thousands of drugs and their effects. [More]
'Achilles heel' in metabolic pathway could stop growth of lung cancer cells

'Achilles heel' in metabolic pathway could stop growth of lung cancer cells

Researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center have found an "Achilles heel" in a metabolic pathway crucial to stopping the growth of lung cancer cells. [More]
Tobacco use linked to oral HPV-16

Tobacco use linked to oral HPV-16

Study participants who reported tobacco use or had higher levels of biomarkers of tobacco exposure had a higher prevalence of the sexually transmitted infection, oral human papillomavirus type 16 (HPV-16), according to a study in the October 8 JAMA, a theme issue on infectious disease. [More]
NF-kB molecule may help malignant cells hide from the immune system

NF-kB molecule may help malignant cells hide from the immune system

A molecule that helps cancer cells evade programmed self-destruction, an internal source of death, might also help malignant cells hide from the immune system, an external source of death. [More]