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Archive - Jan 30, 2017

Donald Trump Must Be Fired Now !!

In the interests of honor, humanity, and the future of the world, Donald Trump must be fired as soon as possible. This is the opinion of BioQuick Online News. And he can take his new, character-bereft acting Attorney General with him. The image here shows the schoolyard bully draft dodger Trump belittling a disabled reporter.

Milestone for the Analysis of Human Proteomes

Researchers led by the Technical University of Munich (TUM) report on the synthesis of a library of more than 330,000 reference peptides representing essentially all canonical proteins of the human proteome. It is a major milestone in the ProteomeTools project which aims at translating human proteome information into new molecular and digital tools with the potential for use in drug discovery, personalized medicine and life science research. In a manuscript published online on January 30, 2017 in Nature Methods, ProteomeTools scientists report on the synthesis of a library of more than 330,000 reference peptides (termed PROPEL for ProteomeTools Peptide Library) representing essentially all canonical proteins of the human proteome. All peptides were analyzed by multi-modal liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS), creating a compendium of millions of very-high-quality reference spectra (termed PROSPECT for ProteomeTools Spectrum Compendium). The study illustrates the utility of these reagents and data to verify protein identifications from sparse observations and to predict the behavior of peptides during liquid chromatography and tandem mass spectrometry. The Nature Methods article is titled “Building ProteomeTools Based on a Complete Synthetic Human Proteome.” The consortium of TUM, JPT Peptide Technologies (JPT), SAP, and Thermo Fisher Scientific has made the vast quantity of data freely available to the scientific community via the data analytics platform ProteomicsDB (http://www.proteomicsdb.org) and the data repository PRIDE (http://www.ebi.ac.uk/pride) to enable scientists and to foster collaboration around the globe.

Bovine Heritage of Mongolian Yaks

Though placid enough to be managed by humans, yaks are robust enough to survive at 4,000 meters (~13,000 feet) altitude. Genomic analyses by researchers of Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitaet (LMU) in Munich, Germany show that yak domestication began several millennia ago and was promoted by repeated crosses with cattle. The first systematic genome-wide comparison of the genetic heritage of yaks and cattle shows that about 1.5% of the genome of Mongolian yaks is derived from domesticated cattle. While male hybrids are sterile, hybrid females can be backcrossed to male yaks for several generations, which allows for the stable introgression of short regions of bovine chromosomes into the yak genome. The results of the new study suggest that yak hybridization began thousands of years ago. Dr. Ivica Medugorac, who heads a research group in population genomics as the Chair of Animal Genetics and Husbandry at LMU, is the first and corresponding author on the new paper, which was published online on January 30, 2017 in Nature Genetics. "Our results indicate that hybridization between yaks and cattle began more than 1,500 years ago, and has continued with varying intensity ever since," Dr. Medugorac says, and points out that written records also testify to early hybridization of yaks by Mongolian breeders. The Nature Genetics article is titled “Whole-Genome Analysis of Introgressive Hybridization and Characterization of the Bovine Legacy of Mongolian Yaks.” In collaboration with Dr. Aurélien Capitan of the Université Paris-Saclay, Dr. Stefan Krebs of the Laboratory for Functional Genome Analysis at LMU's Gene Center, and colleagues from other European, American, and Mongolian institutions, Dr. Medugorac has mapped the distribution of cattle genes in the yak genome.

Precision Medicine World Conference (PMWC) 2017 Winds Up in Silicon Valley, Themes of Immuno-Oncology & Scientific Wellness Dominate

This year’s Precision Medicine World Conference (PMWC) 2017 in Silicon Valley welcomed 1,300 biotech professionals, 40 sponsoring companies, and 30 exhibitors from around the world and featured presentations by a number of towering figures in the field. The meeting was co-sponsored by Stanford Health Care, Intermountain Precision Genomics, the University of California-San Francisco (UCSF), and the Duke University School of Medicine. Among the over 150 session speakers were James Allison, Ph.D., Executive Director of the Immunotherapy Program at the University of Texas (UT) MD Anderson Cancer Center; Leroy Hood, M.D., Ph.D., Chief Science Officer, Providence St. Joseph Health; Yiwu He, Ph.D, Global Head of R&D at BGI (Beijing Genomics Institute) in China; Rade Drmanac, Ph..D., Chief Science Officer of Complete Genomics, a BGI company; Irv Weissman, M.D., Director of the Institute of Stem Cell Biology & Regenerative Medicine, Stanford School of Medicine; Jennifer Doudha, Ph.D., Professor of Chemistry & Molecular & Cell Biology, University of California-Berkeley; and Mark Fischer-Colbrie, President and CEO of Labcyte, the acoustic liquid handling company. Themes of immunotherapy for cancer, scientific wellness, liquid biopsies, biomarkers, the gut metabolome, genome sequencing, learning from big data, precision liquid handling via the use of sound, and the power of CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing dominated the three full days of stimulating sessions. Dr. Allison kicked off an early Monday morning session with a description of his seminal work over the last 30 years that has run from identification of the long-elusive T-cell receptor to his identification of the CD28 molecule as the T-cell’s gas pedal and the CTLA-4 molecule as the T-cell’s brakes.

Researchers Develop Wearable, Low-Cost Sensor to Measure Skin Hydration

Researchers from North Carolina State University (NC State) have developed a wearable, wireless sensor that can monitor a person's skin hydration for use in applications that need to detect dehydration before it poses a health problem. The device is lightweight, flexible, and stretchable and has already been incorporated into prototype devices that can be worn on the wrist or as a chest patch. "It's difficult to measure a person's hydration quantitatively, which is relevant for everyone from military personnel to athletes to firefighters, who are at risk of health problems related to heat stress when training or in the field," says John Muth, Ph.D., a Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at NC State and co-corresponding author of a paper describing the work. "We have developed technology that allows us to track an individual's skin hydration in real time," says Yong Zhu, Ph.D., an Associate Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at NC State and co-corresponding author of the paper. "Our sensor could be used to protect the health of people working in hot conditions, improve athletic performance and safety, and to track hydration in older adults or in medical patients suffering from various conditions. It can even be used to tell how effective skin moisturizers are for cosmetics." The paper, "A Wearable Hydration Monitor with Conformal Nanowire Electrodes," was published online on January 27, 2017 in the journal Advanced Healthcare Materials. In addition to Dr. Muth and Dr. Zhu, the paper was co-authored by Amanda Myers and Abhishek Malhotra, Ph.D. students at NC State; Dr. Feiyan Lin, a former graduate student at NC State; and Dr. Alper Bozkurt, an Associate Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at NC State.

TSRI Scientists Find Brain Hormone (FLP-7) That Triggers Fat Burning in the Gut

Biologists at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) have identified a brain hormone that appears to trigger fat burning in the gut. Their findings in animal models could have implications for future pharmaceutical development. "This was basic science that unlocked an interesting mystery," said TSRI Assistant Professor Supriya Srinivasan, Ph.D., senior author of the new study, published online on January 27, 2017 in the journal Nature Communications. The open-access article is titled “A Tachykinin-Like Neuroendocrine Signalling Axis Couples Central Serotonin Action and Nutrient Sensing with Peripheral Lipid Metabolism.” Previous studies had shown that the neurotransmitter serotonin can drive fat loss. Yet no one was sure exactly how. To answer that question, Dr. Srinivasan and her colleagues experimented with roundworms called C. elegans, which are often used as model organisms in biology. These worms have simpler metabolic systems than humans, but their brains produce many of the same signaling molecules, leading many researchers to believe that findings in C. elegans may be relevant for humans. The researchers deleted genes in C. elegans to see if they could interrupt the path between brain serotonin and fat burning. By testing one gene after another, they hoped to find the gene without which fat burning wouldn't occur. This process of elimination led them to a gene that codes for a neuropeptide hormone they named FLP-7 (pronounced "flip 7"). Interestingly, they found that the mammalian version of FLP-7 (called tachykinin) had been identified 80 years ago as a peptide that triggered muscle contractions when dribbled on pig intestines. Scientists back then believed this was a hormone that connected the brain to the gut, but no one had linked the neuropeptide to fat metabolism in the time since.

Newborn Screening for Severe Combined Immunodeficiency (SCID); Early Diagnosis and Early Start of Treatment Can Prevent Severe Infections

According to a January 30, 2017 press release, the German Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG) has assessed the benefit of newborn screening for severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID). Without treatment most young children with SCID die within 1 to 2 years, as their immune response fails. The benefit assessment provides a hint of a benefit of newborn screening for SCID: An early test combined with infection prophylaxis and subsequent curative treatment (allogeneic bone marrow or stem cell transplantation) can prevent severe or deadly infections in affected children. The failure of immune response in SCID is caused by a genetic disorder leading to inhibited development of vital immune cells (T lymphocytes, B lymphocytes, natural killer cells). Children with SCID are already highly susceptible to infections as babies and also show impairment of growth. Without treatment most young children with SCID die within 1 to 2 years. It is not exactly known how many children are born with SCID in Germany. For the year 2013, statistics of the statutory health insurance report 21 cases in children younger than a year old. SCID is currently treated with allogeneic bone marrow or stem cell transplantation: In this procedure, the inadequate stem cells of the child are replaced by those of a suitable donor in order to develop the child's immune function. The question of the optimum time of transplantation and the necessity of chemotherapy in newborns with SCID is currently the subject of controversy. Even before initiation of curative treatment the newborns must be stabilized by preventive and supportive measures, such as strict hygienic precautionary measures, infection prophylaxis, and substitution of antibodies.