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Archive - Nov 20, 2013

Ancient Siberian Genome Reveals Genetic Origins of Native Americans

The genome sequence of a 24,000-year-old Siberian individual has provided a key piece of the puzzle in the quest for Native American origins. The ancient Siberian demonstrates genomic signatures that are basal to present-day western Eurasians and close to modern Native Americans. The breakthrough was reported online on November 20, 2013 in Nature by an international team of scientists, led by researchers from the University of Copenhagen. The search for Native American ancestors has been focused in northeastern Eurasia. In late 2009, researchers sampled, at the Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg, the remains of a juvenile individual (MA-1) from the Upper Palaeolithic site of Mal’ta in south-central Siberia. The MA-1 individual dated to approximately 24,000 years ago. Now, the team reports genomic results from the MA-1 individual which unravel the origins of the First Americans – ancestors of modern-day Native Americans. “Representing the oldest anatomically modern human genome reported thus far, the MA-1 individual has provided us with a unique window into the genetic landscape of Siberia some 24,000 years ago,” says Dr. Maanasa Raghavan from the Centre for GeoGenetics and one of the lead authors of the study. “Interestingly, the MA-1 individual shows little to no genetic affinity to modern populations from the region from where he originated - south Siberia.” Instead, both the mitochondrial and nuclear genomes of MA-1 indicate that he was related to modern-day western Eurasians. This result paints a picture of Eurasia 24,000 years ago which is quite different from the present-day context. The genome of MA-1 indicates that prehistoric populations related to modern western Eurasians occupied a wider geographical range into northeast Eurasia than they do today.

NCI Awards Labcyte $1 Million for Development of High-Throughput Cancer Biomarker Detection Process

In a November 20, 2013 press release, Labcyte Inc., the acoustic dispensing company, announced that it has been awarded $1 million to create an innovative process to detect cancer-related proteins in samples, with initial work in breast cancer detection. The unsurpassed precision and accuracy of Labcyte acoustic liquid handling enables biomarker detection by measuring multiple proteins with a MALDI mass spectrometer. Recent work with the Canary Center at Stanford, also supported by the National Cancer Institute, showed the ability to achieve the sensitivity required for quantifying very small amounts of proteins associated with ovarian cancer. Measuring the amount of multiple proteins, and at lower cost, is an essential step in developing new diagnostic tools for disease treatment and monitoring. This cutting-edge process encompasses stable standards and capture of biomarkers with antibodies and expects to achieve greater throughput than traditional liquid chromatography-mass spectrometric approaches. The utility of this technique will be tested by simultaneously analyzing 16 different biomarkers, run in quadruplicate, to simulate the analysis of 64 unique biomarkers. The process has the potential to expand to a greater number of biomarkers as well. It may enable significant advances in diagnostics and discovery. "I am particularly enthusiastic about participating with Labcyte on the further development of their protein multiplexed biomarker detection platform,” said Dr. Mark Stolowitz, Director of the Proteomics Core Facility at the Canary Center at Stanford for Cancer Early Detection. “This novel immunoaffinity mass spectrometry-based approach exploits MALDI-TOF-MS for detection of proteotypic peptides.