In the largest genetic analysis of depression to date (as of May 27, 2021), Veterans Affairs researchers identified many new gene variants that increase the risk for depression. The groundbreaking study helps researchers better understand the biological basis of depression and could lead to better drug treatments. The study involved genetic data on more than 300,000 participants of VA’s Million Veteran Program (MVP), along with more than a million subjects from other biobanks, including 23andMe. With such a large participant pool, the researchers were able to spot trends in genetic risk of depression not previously known.
Almost all cells regulate their biological processes over a 24-hour period, otherwise called a cell’s circadian rhythm. To do so, cells use a biological clock that cycles different genes on and off throughout the day and night. Scientists already know that our metabolic health can suffer when our biological clock breaks down, due to shift work or sleep disorders, for example. However, it’s unclear how exactly the biological clock of people with type 2 diabetes may differ from that in healthy people. Now a team of international scientists has shown that the skeletal muscle in people with type 2 diabetes has a different circadian rhythm. They argue that this might arise because of a communication breakdown between a cell’s time-keeping molecules and mitochondria, which produce chemical energy for cells. “The promise of this research is that it may help us to fine-tune the timing of interventions and other medications to treat type 2 diabetes, in order to optimize their effectiveness,” says Professor Juleen R. Zierath, PhD, from Karolinska Institutet and the Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Basic Metabolic Research (CBMR) at the University of Copenhagen.
On October 20, 2021, Mursla, a liquid biopsy company, announced that it has been granted patent GB 2583550B for its novel nanoelectronics-based sensitive detection method for exosomes. Exosomes, usually 50-150 nm in diameter, are heterogenous vesicles naturally secreted by cells during their lives. Exosomes have been shown to reflect the state of their cellular sources, transporting specific ‘-omics’ information (proteins, lipids, nucleic acids, and metabolites) either locally or to distant sites via the circulatory system. Their content is conveniently accessible via the sampling of biological fluids (liquid biopsies), including blood draws.
On July 12, 2021, the American Society of Human Genetics (ASHG) named Wylie Burke, MD, PhD, as the 2021 recipient of the Victor A. McKusick Leadership Award. Dr. Burke is a Professor Emeritus and former Chair of the Department of Bioethics and Humanities at the University of Washington, and Adjunct Professor of Medicine (in the Division of Medical Genetics). “It is an honor to present the McKusick Award to Dr. Wylie Burke,” ASHG President Gail Jarvik, MD, PhD, said. “For decades she has been a national leader in the ethical and policy implications of human genome research, work that very much advances human genetics and genomics in the science and advocacy domains. Additionally, she has a demonstrated ability to provide impactful answers to fundamental questions in human genetics and genomics, respectfully engaging in difficult topics.”
On Ocober 20, 2021, at the annual American Society for Human Genetics (ASHG) meeting, Parse Biosciences, a company providing researchers with single-cell (sc) sequencing solutions, announced the launch of what it says is the most scalable single-cell RNA-seq solution on the market. The EvercodeWhole Transcriptome Mega kit allows researchers to profile up to 1,000,000 cells in parallel, allowing for unprecedented scale without losing biological resolution or data quality, and without the need for a custom instrument.
On July 12, 2021, the American Society of Human Genetics (ASHG) named Emmanouil (Manolis) Dermitzakis, PhD, as the 2021 recipient of the Curt Stern Award. Dr. Dermitzakis has just joined GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) as VP, Computational Biology in R&D and is also Professor of Genetics in the Department of Genetic Medicine and Development of the University of Geneva Medical School, Geneva, Switzerland. He was the founding Director of the Health 2030 Genome Center in Switzerland.
On July 12, 2021, the American Society of Human Genetics (ASHG) has named Alberto Santiago-Cornier, MD, PhD, as the recipient of the Society’s 2021 Mentorship Award. Dr. Santiago-Cornier is the Chief of the Genetic Section at the San Jorge Children’s and Women’s Hospital in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and is an Associate Professor of Public Health at Ponce Health Sciences University in Ponce, PR and Pediatrics at Universidad Central del Caribe, Bayamon, PR. The award will be officially presented during the ASHG’s 2021 Virtual Annual Meeting (October 18-22).
On July 12, 2021, the American Society of Human Genetics (ASHG) named Cristen J. Willer, PhD, as the recipient of the 2021 Early-Career Award. Dr. Willer is the Frank N. Wilson Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine, Human Genetics, and Computational Medicine and Bioinformatics at the University of Michigan. The award will be officially presented during the ASHG’s 2021 Virtual Annual Meeting (October 18-22).
On July 12, 2021, the American Society of Human Genetics (ASHG) named Neil Lamb, PhD, as the 2021 recipient of the Society’s Arno Motulsky-Barton Childs Award for Excellence in Human Genetics Education. Dr. Lamb is a faculty investigator and Vice President for Educational Outreach at the HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology in Huntsville, Alabama. The award will be officially presented during the ASHG’s 2021 Virtual Annual Meeting (October 18-22).
On July 12, 2021, the American Society of Human Genetics (ASHG) named C. Thomas Caskey, MD, Professor, Molecular and Human Genetics, at the Baylor College of Medicine, as the 2021 recipient of the Society’s annual William Allan Award. The award will be officially presented during the ASHG’s 2021 Virtual Annual Meeting (October 18-22).