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Neurons Constantly Rewrite Their DNA

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Scientists have discovered that neurons are risk takers: They use minor “DNA surgeries” to toggle their activity levels all day, every day. Since these activity levels are important in learning, memory and brain disorders, the researchers think their finding will shed light on a range of important questions.

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Rady Genomics Institute Launches First Initiative: Sequencing Genomes of Children with Birth Defects

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In a first step towards realizing the future of personalized pediatric medicine, Rady Children’s Hospital–San Diego has begun whole genome sequencing of San Diego County children born with birth defects of unknown cause.

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Rare Mutation Causes Vitamin A Deficiency and Eye Deformities

Researchers at the University of Michigan and UC Davis have solved a genetic mystery that has afflicted three unrelated families plagued by congenital eye malformations.

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Researchers Map Entire Genomes of Woolly Mammoths, Revealing More Clues to Cause of Extinction, Raising Possibility of Bringing Mammoths Back

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An international team of researchers has sequenced the nearly complete genome of two Siberian woolly mammoths—revealing the most complete picture to date—including new information about the species’ evolutionary history and the conditions that led to its mass extinction at the end of the Ice Age.

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Gene-Editing Technique Offers Hope for Hereditary Diseases

Salk scientists use molecular “scissors” to eliminate mitochondrial mutations in eggs and embryos

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Trending Stories Report for 23 April 2015

Trending news releases with the most views in a single day. Topics include: diet supplements and cancer risk (3 days on top 10 list), oral mucositis in cancer treatment, updated breast cancer screening guidelines, climate change, materials science, asthma, mental health and gun violence, genetics and immunology, and multiple sclerosis treatment.

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Epigenetic Marks Lay Foundations for a Child’s Future Abilities

Epigenetic marks on our DNA account for how all cells in the body have the same DNA sequence, inherited from our parents, but nonetheless there are hundreds of different cell types. The body uses epigenetics as its principal control system, to increase or decrease the expression of our genes, and epigenetic processes are known to be important in memory and other aspects of brain function. The new research used umbilical cord tissue collected at birth and identified epigenetic marks in a key brain development gene called HES1 that were linked to the child’s ability to learn and their cognitive performance at ages 4 and 7 years. The findings in two groups of children in Southampton, UK, were accompanied by additional findings in children from Singapore that HES1 epigenetic marks at birth were associated with aspects of socially disruptive behaviour that have previously been linked with a reduced school performance.

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Missing Genetic Link Found in a Challenging Immune Disease

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In the largest genome-wide analysis of common variable immunodeficiency disorder (CVID), scientists identified a gene that may be a "missing link" between overactive and underactive immune activity.

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Autism and Prodigy Share a Common Genetic Link

Researchers have uncovered the first evidence of a genetic link between prodigy and autism. The scientists found that child prodigies in their sample share some of the same genetic variations with people who have autism.

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A Frequent Genomic Alteration Is Identified in a Rare Subset of Breast Cancer

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Research from Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey shows genomic profiling identifies genomic mutations in a gene associated with a rare subset of breast cancer – mutations that cannot otherwise be identified with standard clinical analysis of cells and tissue. The findings, being presented at the AACR Annual Meeting could have therapeutic implications specific to this rare form of the disease, say the authors.