Genetics & Molecular Biology

A molecule known as coenzyme A plays a key role in cell metabolism by regulating the actions of nitric oxide. according to a new study.

Cell metabolism is the ongoing process of chemical transformations within the body's cells that sustains life, and alterations in metabolism are a common cause of human disease, including cancer and heart disease. Their findings about the mechanisms of action for coenzyme A, as well as discovering a new class of enzymes that regulate coenzyme A-based reactions. 


In a laboratory first, researchers have grown human skeletal muscle that contracts and responds just like native tissue to external stimuli such as electrical pulses, biochemical signals and pharmaceuticals. The lab-grown tissue should soon allow researchers to test new drugs and study diseases in functioning human muscle outside of the human body.

The researchers started with a small sample of human cells that had already progressed beyond stem cells but hadn't yet become muscle tissue. They expanded these "myogenic precursors" by more than a 1000-fold, and then put them into a supportive, 3-D scaffolding filled with a nourishing gel that allowed them to form aligned and functioning muscle fibers.
In a new study, an analysis of 5,749 patients who received dalcetrapib or placebo and provided DNA in a clinical study found a strong association between the effects of dalcetrapib and a specific gene called ADCY9 (adenylate cyclase 9) on chromosome 16, particularly for a specific genetic variant (rs1967309).

In patients with the genetic profile AA at rs1967309, there was a 39% reduction in the composite cardiovascular endpoint with dalcetrapib compared to placebo. Supporting evidence was also obtained from a second study, which showed that patients with the favorable genetic profile also benefited from a reduction in the thickness of their carotid artery walls with dalcetrapib.  

Sensory 'hair cell' loss is the major cause of hearing loss and balance disorders. The postnatal mammalian inner ear harbors progenitor cells which have the potential for hair cell regeneration - and hearing recovery - but the mechanisms that control their proliferation and hair cell regeneration are yet to be determined. 

A new study has shown that blocking the Notch pathway, known to control the elaborate hair cell distribution in the inner ear, plays an essential role that determines cochlear progenitor cell proliferation capacity. 


A study of circadian rhythms in skin stem cells finds that this biological clock plays a key role in coordinating daily metabolic cycles and cell division. The paper shows how the body's intrinsic day-night cycles protect and nurture stem cell differentiation and provides insights into a mechanism whereby an out-of-synch circadian clock can contribute to accelerated skin aging and cancers.

Bogi Andersen, professor of biological chemistry and medicine at University of California - Irvine, and Enrico Gratton, professor of biomedical engineering, focused their efforts on the epidermis, the outermost protective layer of the skin that is maintained and healed by long-lived stem cells.


White fat and brown fat have been well documented regarding metabolism but new research has introduced data that may be important this winter and this new year: each type of fat may change into the other, depending on the temperature.

In particular, cold temperatures may encourage "unhealthy" white fat to change into "healthy" brown fat.


Humans who eat a lot of red meat are known to be at higher risk for certain cancers but other carnivores are not, which is a bit of an epidemiological puzzle, mostly because cancer rates in animals are not well-known.

In a recent study,  University of California, San Diego School of Medicine scientists wanted to  investigate the possible tumor-forming role of a sugar called Neu5Gc, which is naturally found in most mammals but not in humans, and found that feeding Neu5Gc to mice engineered to be deficient in the sugar (like humans) significantly promoted spontaneous cancers.

The study did not involve exposure to carcinogens or artificially inducing cancers, further implicating Neu5Gc as a key link between red meat consumption and cancer. 


It's commonly said that moderate alcohol consumption is good for people, but no one knew why and the determination of moderate was arbitrary.

A new study of 618 Swedes with coronary heart disease and a control group of 3,000 healthy subjects lent evidence to epidemiological curve-matching. The subjects were assigned to various categories based on the amount of alcohol they consumed and were tested in order to identify a particular genotype (CETP TaqIB) that previous studies suggested played a role in the health benefits of alcohol consumption.

The results showed that moderate consumption of alcohol helps protect people  against coronary heart disease
- if they have the genotype.


Multiple sclerosis is a degenerative disease and most patients with RRMS who received disease-modifying therapies experience breakthrough disease. Autologous (using a patient's own cells) hematopoietic cell transplant (HCT) has been studied in multiple sclerosis with the goal of removing disease-causing immune cells and resetting the immune system.


It is common in some fields to infer that differences in one area will ultimately reflect differences in the end product. Though the real abuse and misuse is with neuroscience and tools like fMRI imaging, they are not alone. 

Geneticists have also commonly suggested that RNA differences will mean differences in proteins but  the majority of RNA expression differences between individuals have no connection to the abundance of a corresponding protein, finds a new study.

Instead, there is likely a yet-unidentified cellular mechanism that regulates gene expression and RNA measurements to characterize gene function won't stand alone.