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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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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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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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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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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Genes reveal clues about people’s potential life expectancy

Scientists say they can predict whether a person can expect to live longer or die sooner than average, by looking at their DNA. Experts have analyzed the combined effect of genetic variations that influence lifespan to produce a scoring system. People who score in the top ten per cent of the population might expect to live up to five years longer than those who score in the lowest ten per cent, they say.
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