Week in Review: December 19–23

More CRISPR enzymes found; exome study reveals novel disease associations; Ebola vaccine success; pregnancy-related brain changes; Year in Review

By | December 23, 2016

More CRISPR enzymes

Mining metagenomics data from groundwater and soil bacteria, researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, uncovered CasX and CasY, two new types of CRISPR enzymes. The team also found Cas9 in archaea for the first time. The group’s results were published in Nature this week (December 22).

“It’s really cool to unearth gold out of the metagenomic dark matter,” said Rodolphe Barrangou, who studies CRISPR at North Carolina State University and was not involved in the study.

Clinical exomes

Combining whole-exome sequencing data from 50,726 adults with the individuals’ electronic health record (EHR) information, scientists at Geisinger Health System and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals identified novel genetic associations with diseases. The team’s analyses were published in Science this week (December 22).

“This is the first study that has taken exome sequencing data on individuals and linked that to their EHR phenotype data at a large scale,” said Daniel Rader from the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine, who penned an accompanying editorial but was not involved in the study.

Year in Review

Top Technical Advances 2016
The year’s most impressive achievements include methods to watch translation in cells, trace cell fates, avoid mitochondrial mutations, edit DNA, and build antibiotics from scratch.

The Year in Zika
Scientists advanced the battle against Zika in 2016, conducting basic research to better understand, detect, track, and prevent further spread of the virus.

Those We Lost in 2016
The scientific community bid farewell to several luminaries this year.

Top 10 Retractions of 2016
A look at this year’s most memorable retractions

Speaking of Science: 2016
Selected quotes from an eventful year

New Species of 2016
From a new Tyrannosaurus and many other dinosaurs to all of the living species named this year, researchers continue to chip away at the planet’s unknown biodiversity.

Best of Multimedia 2016
Editors’ picks of the year’s best in The Scientist infographics, slideshows, and videos

TS Picks: Life Science Photos of the Year
Selected Images of the Day

Other news in life science

Ebola Vaccine Success
The World Health Organization confirms further development of the first Ebola vaccine.

Blood Tests for Prion Disease
Two studies describe methods for detecting these misfolded proteins in human blood samples.

UN Rejects Calls for Moratorium on Gene Drive Research
Activists claim the technology is too risky, but scientists advise the United Nations to continue to support gene drive research.

Karolinska Finds Surgeon Guilty of Misconduct
Paolo Macchiarini is dealt another blow by his former employer, which is calling for the retraction of one of his papers on artificial esophagus research.

Pregnancy May Remodel the Brain’s Social Cognition Regions
Reductions in the volume of gray matter in specific regions appear to represent synaptic pruning, a new study suggests, that tunes a mother’s brain to childcare.

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