Let’s map our DNA and save billions each year in health costs

A scientist has called for Australia to embrace pharmacogenetic (PGx) testing to deliver medication more effectively and slash around $2.4 billion wasted each year through unsafe and ineffective drug prescriptions.
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Speeding up genetic diagnosis of Huntington’s disease

Elongated segments of DNA cause Huntington’s disease and certain other disorders of the brain. Researchers have developed a method to determine the length of the mutated genes quickly and easily.
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Chirality in ‘real-time’

Distinguishing between left-handed and right-handed (‘chiral’) molecules is crucial in chemistry and the life sciences, and is commonly done using a method called circular dichroism. However, during biochemical reactions the chiral character of molecules may change. Scientists have for the first time developed a method that uses ultrashort deep-ultraviolet pulses to accurately probe such changes in real-time in (bio)molecular systems.
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Giving Cas9 an ‘on’ switch for better control of CRISPR gene editing

Scientists have created an ‘on’ switch for CRISPR-Cas9 that allows it to be turned on in select cells only, specifically those that have a particular protein-cutting enzyme, or protease. Viruses produce such proteases, as do cancer cells, so the Cas9 variants — called ProCas9 — could be used as sensors for viral infections or cancer. The variants were discovered by circular permutations on wild-type Cas9 designed to produce a stripped-down Cas9 tuned to human cells.
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Decades-old question about protein found in Alzheimer’s brain plaques

Alzheimer’s-affected brains are riddled with so-called amyloid plaques: protein aggregates consisting mainly of amyloid-beta. However, this amyloid-beta is a fragment produced from a precursor protein whose normal function has remained enigmatic for decades. A team of scientists has now uncovered that this amyloid precursor protein modulates neuronal signal transmission through binding to a specific receptor. Modulating this receptor could potentially help treat Alzheimer’s or other brain diseases.
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Study: ‘Post-normal’ science requires unorthodox communication strategies

Proposals to fight malaria by ‘driving’ genes that slow its spread through mosquitoes is a high-risk, high-reward technology that presents a challenge to science journalists, according to a new report aimed at stimulating a fruitful, realistic public discussion of ‘post-normal’ science and technology.
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