Genetics & Molecular Biology

Stem cells taken from teeth can grow to resemble brain cells. Perhaps one dau they could be used in the brain as a therapy for stroke, say researchers at the University of Adelaide Centre for Stem Cell Research, who believe that although these cells haven't developed into fully fledged neurons, it may be just a matter of time and the right conditions for it to happen.

"Stem cells from teeth have great potential to grow into new brain or nerve cells, and this could potentially assist with treatments of brain disorders, such as stroke," says Dr Kylie Ellis, Commercial Development Manager with the University's commercial arm, Adelaide Research&Innovation (ARI).

Biomedical engineers at Columbia Engineering have successfully grown fully functional human cartilage in vitro from human stem cells derived from adult stem cells in bone marrow tissue. 

The genomics revolution has been going on for decades, but half of known eukaryote lineages remain unstudied at the genomic level.

A new survey, with results published in
of Trends in Ecology and Evolution, concludes that this is simply a popularity contest and the field is displaying research bias against 'less popular', but potentially genetically rich, single-cell organisms. The lack of microbial representation leaves a world of untapped genetic potential undiscovered.

While our chromosomes are relatively stable within our lifetimes, the genetic material found in our mitochondria is highly variable across individuals and may impact upon human health, say researchers at the University of Montreal and its affiliated CHU Sainte-Justine Hospital.

Genomes are changing, they say, not just from generation to generation, but even and in fact within our individual cells. The researchers are the first to identify the extent to which the editing processes of RNA code can vary across a large number of individuals.


Some genetic diseases caused by an abnormal repeat in the DNA are known to become more severe with each new generation - this dreadful trait is called anticipation. Now a study by Portuguese researchers from Porto University has proved for the first time the existence of anticipation in diseases caused by a different type of errors that not a DNA repeat, in this case in the fatal neurodegenerative disorder Familial Amyloid Polyneuropathy (FAP). 

Chronic pain is an unknown issue with unknown causes and a subjective definition but some people clearly have it. Researchers recently analyzed 2,721 people, all taking prescription opioid pain medications, for genes COMT, DRD2, DRD1 and OPRK1. The participants also rated their perception of pain on a scale from zero to 10. People who rated their pain as zero were not included in the study.

Low pain perception was defined as a score of one, two or three; moderate pain perception was a score of four, five or six; and high pain perception was a score of seven, eight, nine or 10. 

9 percent of the participants had low pain perception, 46 percent had moderate pain perception and 45 percent had high pain perception.

In biology, anticipation is the term for genetic diseases caused by an abnormal repeat in DNA that becomes more severe with each new generation.

Now there is a twist. A study has found the existence of anticipation in diseases caused by different errors - not a DNA repeat - in fatal neurodegenerative disorder Familial Amyloid Polyneuropathy (FAP).

All organisms, from mammals to fungi, have daily cycles controlled by a tightly regulated internal clock called the circadian clock.

The circadian clock is influenced by exposure to light and dictates the wake-sleep cycle. At the cellular level, the clock is controlled by a complex network of genes and proteins that switch each other on and off based on cues from their environment and most genes involved in the regulation of the circadian clock have been characterized, but a key component was missing in mammals. 

In a new study, a team performed a genome-wide chromatin immunoprecipitation analysis for genes that were the target of BMAL1, a core clock component that binds to many other clock genes, regulating their transcription. 

Cardiovascular disease often causes the heart to work harder than usual, a condition that triggers the chronic buildup of cardiac pressure and the onset of heart failure.
A genetic study of brown bears (Ursus arctos) in Bulgarian mountain regions showed they originated in Carpathia. So how did they get to Bulgaria? It wasn't natural dispersal. 

Bulgarian and Romanian NGOs, the Frankfurt Zoological Society, and scientists of the Senckenberg Conservation Genetics Section in Frankfurt have found that a legend was probably true - the legend being that the former leader of the Romanian Communist Party, Nicolae Ceausescu, flew the bears to Bulgaria.