An effective alternative to fecal transplant for C. difficile?

Bacterial spores in capsules taken by mouth may represent an alternative to fecal transplant as a treatment for recurrent C. difficile infection. Emory investigators Colleen Kraft and Tanvi Dhere were part of this preliminary study. Infographic from CDC.

Wound-healing intestinal bacteria: like shrubs after a forest fire

In injured mouse intestines, specific types of bacteria step forward to promote healing. One oxygen-shy type of bacteria that grows in the hypoxic wound-healing environment, Akkermansia muciniphila, has already attracted attention for its relative scarcity in both animal and human obesity.

Oxidative stress ain't about free radicals, it's about sulfur

Dean Jones says: don't worry about free radicals. Worry about the oxidized form of sulfur-containing amino acids, such as cystine, a useful biomarker for cardiovascular risk.

genetics

Grady Trauma Project — DICER link to PTSD plus depression

Violence and trauma are certainly not gifts, but scientifically, the Grady Trauma Project keeps on giving, even after co-director Kerry Ressler’s 2015 move to Massachusetts. Research at Emory on the neurobiology of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) continues. This Nature Communications paper, published in December with VA-based psychiatrist Aliza Wingo as lead author, is an example.

Three interesting things about this paper:

  1. The focus on PTSD co-occurring with depression. As the authors note, several studies looking at traumatized individuals found PTSD and depression together more often than they were present separately. This was true of Atlanta inner city residents in the Grady Trauma Project, veterans and survivors of the 2001 World Trade Center attack.
  2. DICER: the gene whose activity is turned down in blood samples from people with PTSD plus depression. Its name evokes one of the three Fates in Greek mythology, Atropos, who cuts the thread of life. DICER is at the center of a cellular network of regulation, because it is part of the machinery that generates regulatory micro-RNAs.
  3. The findings recapitulate work in mouse models of stress and its effects on the brain, with a connection to the many-tentacled Wnt signaling/adhesion protein beta-catenin.

Some past posts on the Grady Trauma Project’s scientific fruits follow. Read more

Posted on by Quinn Eastman in Neuro Leave a comment

Metagenomics explainer

A term we heard a bunch at the Emory Microbiome Symposium in November was “metagenomics”. Time for an explainer, with some help from Emory geneticist Tim Read.

Nature Reviews Microbiology defines metagenomics as “genomic analysis of microbial DNA that is extracted directly from communities in environmental samples.”

This technology — genomics on a huge scale — enables a survey of the different microorganisms present in a specific environment, such as water or soil, to be carried out. Metagenomics is also emerging as a tool for clinical diagnosis of infectious diseases.

Read notes that the term specifically refers to “shotgun” sequencing of environmental DNA.

“The shotgun approach is to randomly sample small pieces of the DNA in the tube, no matter which organism they came from,” he says. “The output is a mélange of different genes from bacteria, viruses, fungi, plants and humans.  The data is fascinating but the analysis is daunting.” Read more

Posted on by Quinn Eastman in Uncategorized 1 Comment

Supreme decision on DNA patents

In these days of political polarization, how often does the United States Supreme Court make a unanimous decision? When the case has to do with human genes and their patentability!

The case concerned patents held by Utah firm Myriad Genetics on the BRCA1 and 2 genes. Mutations in those genes confer an increased risk of breast and ovarian cancer. The patents in dispute claimed the genes themselves rather than just the technology for reading them.

Cecelia Bellcross, director of Emory’s genetics counseling program and an expert on breast cancer genetics counseling, reports that “in general, the clinical genetics community is jumping up and down, as are a lot of genetics lab directors and definitely patient advocacy groups.”

Myriad’s BRCA tests cost more than $3,000. Several competing firms announced that they would offer tests for the BRCA1 and 2 mutations at significantly lower prices.

Read more

Posted on by Quinn Eastman in Uncategorized Leave a comment

An indicator of aberrant stem cell reprogramming

The 2012 Nobel Prize in Medicine was awarded to Shinya Yamanaka and John Gurdon for the discovery that differentiated cells in the body can be reprogrammed. This finding led to the development of “induced pluripotent stem cells.”

These cells were once skin or blood cells. Through a process of artificial reprogramming in the lab, scientists wipe these cells’ slates clean and return them to a state very similar to that of embryonic stem cells. But not exactly the same.

It has become clear that iPS cells can retain some memories of their previous state. This can make it easier to change an iPS cell that used to be a blood cell (for example) back into a blood cell, compared to turning it into another type of cell. The finding raised questions about iPS cells’ stability and whether iPS cell generation – still a relatively new technique – would need some revamping for eventual clinical use.

Hotspots where iPS cells differ from ES cells

Chromosomal hotspots where iPS cells differ from ES cells

It turns out that iPS cells and embryonic stem cells have differing patterns of methylation, a modification of DNA that can alter how genes behave even if the underlying DNA sequence remains the same. Some of these differences are the same in all iPS cells and some are unique for each batch of reprogrammed cells.

Read more

Posted on by Quinn Eastman in Uncategorized Leave a comment

The challenges of graduate school

Biochemist Paul Doetsch’s recent appearance in a Science magazine feature on laboratory leadership led to a conversation with him about the challenges of graduate school.

He emphasized that scientific research is a team sport, and brilliance on the part of the lab head may not yield fruit without a productive relationship with the people in the lab. Doetsch suggested talking with Lydia Morris, a graduate student in the Genetics and Molecular Biology graduate program. Morris has been working in Doetsch’s lab for several years and is about to complete her degree. She has been examining the in vivo distribution of DNA repair proteins.

In this video, Morris and Doetsch talk about the differences between turn-the-crank and blue-sky projects, and the importance of backup projects, communications, high expectations and perseverance.

Posted on by Quinn Eastman in Cancer Leave a comment

The face behind a case

Last week Emory posted a news item about a case report published in the American Journal of Human Genetics. The paper described how geneticists at Emory, in cooperation with Sanford Burnham Medical Research Institute in San Diego, used “whole exome sequencing” — a sort of executive summary scan of the genome — to find the cause of a metabolic disease in a young boy.

The case was an illustration of the trend of whole exome sequencing, which is starting to enter clinical practice as a diagnostic technology. A photo of the patient, courtesy of his parents and Sanford Burnham, is a powerful reminder that within every case report, there’s a real person’s history.

Courtesy of Heather Buschman

“Over the years, we’ve come to know many families and their kids with glycosylation disorders. Here we can tell them their boy is a true ‘trail-blazer’ for this new disease,” says Hudson Freeze, director of the Genetic Disease program at Sanford Burnham. “Their smiles—that’s our bonus checks.”

Posted on by Quinn Eastman in Uncategorized Leave a comment

Genetic alteration opens door to targeted treatment of rare tumor

A cross section of an epithelioid hemangioendothelioma

Emory pathologist Sharon Weiss, MD, was the first to describe an extraordinarily rare tumor known as an epithelioid hemangioendothelioma (EHE). Thirty years later, researchers have identified a genetic alteration linked to this odd vascular tumor.

It’s hoped this newfound information will lead to a better understanding of the mechanisms underlying the development of this tumor and hence development of a targeted treatment. None yet is available. However, these findings already have been used to develop a new diagnostic test for this blood vessel disease.

The research, published in a recent issue of Science Translational Medicine, was done in collaboration with Cleveland Clinic’s Taussig Cancer Institute and led by Brian Rubin, MD, PhD, of Cleveland Clinic’s Pathology and Laboratory Medicine Institute and Lerner Research Institute.

The genetic alteration formerly in question involves a translocation between chromosomes 1 and 3, where chromosomes 1 and 3 exchange DNA fragments that are transposed onto opposite chromosomes. The result: the swapped DNA encodes a unique, fused gene that contains components from each chromosome. Because genes are translated into proteins, the result of this unique gene is a correspondingly unique protein, one thought to cause cancer.

Epithelioid hemangioendotheliomas comprise less than one percent of all cancers. Roughly 100 new cases are diagnosed in the United State each year. EHE are eccentric in their epidemiology, structure and aggressiveness. Slow to metastasize, they tend to occur in both young men and women when soft tissue is involved but occur mostly in women when the liver and lungs are affected.

However, it’s their peculiar structure that has so far made targeted treatment problematic, especially in the liver and lungs. “Instead of being one mass as you might expect with liver cancer, the patient with EHE often presents with little nodules throughout the liver,” says Weiss.

“The reason this occurs is that the growth starts in the liver’s portal vein, grows along its length, and then tracks out through the vessels. The growths blister out from the vessel creating these little nodules. Epithelioid hemangioendothelioma don’t possess the classic features of vascular tumors. In fact, EHE may have so many sites of involvement that the cancer can’t be cured, short of transplantation.”

Using EHE tissue samples gleaned from Weiss’s vast library, Rubin developed a genetic probe to detect the distinct chromosomal translocations in the tumor. The probe now serves as a powerful diagnostic tool of EHE and opens the door to understanding these tumors’ mechanisms.

“Once you understand the mechanism behind it, you can start trying to target those pathways in a therapeutic way,” says Weiss.

Posted on by Robin Tricoles in Cancer 1 Comment

Autism linked to hundreds of spontaneous genetic mutations

Emory genetic researchers Daniel Moreno De Luca, Christa Lese Martin and David Ledbetter were part of a team that produced a landmark result in autism genetics. The team identified hundreds of regions of the genome where spontaneous mutations are implicated in autism. Spontaneous mutations are those that arise for the first time in an individual, rather than being inherited from parents.

Christa Lese Martin, PhD

The team was led by Matthew State at Yale, and their results were published in the journal Neuron. Moreno De Luca discussed the topic in Spanish on a recent edition of the NPR program Science Friday. The June 10 segment was focused on autism genetics.

The team made an intriguing finding on a segment of chromosome 7. Deletion of the region is associated with Williams syndrome, where individuals can exhibit “striking verbal abilities, highly social personalities and an affinity for music.” Duplication of the same region, they found, is associated with autism.

Daniel Moreno De Luca, MD MSc

Companion studies also shed light on the question of why boys are more likely to develop autism than girls, and begin to outline a network of genes whose activity is altered in the brains of individuals with autism.

Ledbetter is now chief scientific officer at Geisinger Health in Pennsylvania.

 

 

 

Posted on by Quinn Eastman in Neuro Leave a comment

The importance of upbringing

Every time scientists identify genetic risk factors for a human disease or a personality trait, it seems like more weight accumulates on the “nature” side of the grand balance between nature and nurture.

That’s why it’s important to remember how much prenatal and childhood experiences such as education, nutrition, environmental exposures and stress influence later development.

At the Emory/Georgia Tech Predictive Health Symposium in December, biologist Victor Corces outlined this concept using a particularly evocative example: bees. A queen bee and a worker bee share the same DNA, so the only thing that determines whether an insect will become the next queen is whether she consumes royal jelly.

Read more

Posted on by Quinn Eastman in Uncategorized Leave a comment

Personal genomics: out of the bottle

Do you really want to know? That’s the question more and more people will be faced with, as personal genetic testing becomes more widespread.

Andrew Faucett discussed some of the emerging issues in “personal genomics” that will confront both doctors and patients at Emory’s Predictive Health Symposium in December. Faucett is an expert in the field of genetic testing and genetic counseling and an assistant professor in Emory’s Department of Human Genetics.

For example, does a man want to find out whether he is really the father of a baby? A recent New York Times magazine article explores this issue.

Read more

Posted on by Quinn Eastman in Uncategorized Leave a comment
  • Feedback

    Let us know what you think.

    You can contact us via the email button below or you can use our online feedback form You can also leave comments directly on individual posts.

buy windows 8 personalization enabler key cheap,buy windows 8 crack key key online,Windows 8 Activator,cheap Windows 7 Ultimate Activation Key buy Windows 8.1 Product Key Finder 2014 key online,buy windows 8 build 9200 activator free download key online,buy Windows 8 Activator key cheap,buy How to Activate Windows 8 For Free key cheap,cheap Windows 8 Professional Activation Key download buy Keyword key online,buy linux server software key cheap,buy windows crack key online,Windows Server 2012 Standard Activation Key buy windows office 2013 professional cheap,cheap ms office 365,ms office 2010 cheap download,download visio,buy office 2013 package cheap,buy office 2013 package cheap buy download office 2013 with product key cheap,2013 office product key,office 2013 for free download cheap download,ms office pro cheap download,microsoftproject free office trial,buy office 2010 access cheap,office 2013 online download cheap download,ms office professional Windows 8 Professional,buy Windows 7 key cheap,Windows 8 Enterprise Activation Key,buy small business server key cheap,cheap windows 8.1 buy Windows 8.1 loader 2013 key cheap,buy Windows 8.1 Permanent Activator free 2013 key cheap,buy Activate Windows 8 PRO and Enterprise Build 9200 key online,cheap Windows 7 Home Basic Activation Key download,cheap Windows 7 Professional SP1 Activation Key download buy windows server upgrade key cheap,buy windows 8 pro build 9200 product key key cheap,buy Download Kms Activator Windows 8 Build 8400 key online,buy windows 8 personalization working key cheap buy office 2010 home & business cheap,office software free cheap download,download of office 2013,is visio part of office 2013,buy windows office 2007 cheap buy office 365 office 2013 cheap,office download 2010,buy windows office professional cheap,office standard 2010,buy office professional plus 2013 cheap office pro 2013 plus cheap download,buy free download office word cheap,buy office home 2013 cheap,cheap latest ms office 2013 free download cheap free download office word 2013,where can i download office 2013,buy office 2013 trial version free download cheap,cheap outlook 2007 office pro 2013 plus cheap download,buy free download office word cheap,buy office home 2013 cheap,cheap latest ms office 2013 free download buy windows server learning key online,upgrade windows server,buy windows server 2008 requirements key online,data center windows 8 pro crack,cheap windows 8 pro download,Windows 7 activator free Download,buy windows 7 activation crack key cheap,buy windows 2003 servers key online,buy windows 2003 servers key online buy windows server 2008 enterprise key online,cheap Windows 7 Ultimate Activation Key download,windows business server,buy Windows 7 Pro & Enterprise 32 bit and 64 bit activator key cheap,buy windows 10 free activator key cheap skype software free download for windows 7 full version,cheap windows 8.1 pro download,windows 2008 r2,Windows 8 Pro & Enterprise 32 bit and 64 bit Activator,windows 7 home buy windows 8 crack key online,cheap Windows Server 2012 Datacenter Activation Keywindows 7,Windows 8.1 Permanent Activator free 2013 buy windows 8 crack key online,cheap Windows Server 2012 Datacenter Activation Keywindows 7,Windows 8.1 Permanent Activator free 2013 buy new windows version key online,buy windows 7 loader free download key online,windows home server 2011 Windows 7 Enterprise SP1 Activation Key,buy windows 7 certification key cheap,buy windows 8 crack download free key online,buy windows 7 activation key free download key cheap,buy server operating systems key online Windows 8.1 Activator Loader,buy windows server services key online,buy windows 8 activator 2014 key cheap,buy win 7 activator 2014 key online