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Will Vaccines Work Against the New Coronavirus Variants?

Everyone has heard the scary reports about the new, more infectious coronavirus variants that are circulating in countries around the world, but scientists aren't pushing the panic button at this point.

Why? Because the new COVID-19 vaccines should still work on these viral interlopers.

Luckily, the new variants still rely on the coronavirus' "spike protein" to infect cells, and the...

Sperm Samples May Help Predict Autism Risk in Offspring

Biomarkers in sperm may help identify men at risk of fathering children with autism, researchers say.

For the study, investigators examined sperm epigenetics -- the molecular processes that affect gene expression -- in 13 men who fathered sons with autism and 13 who had children without the disorder.

The American and Spanish researchers focused specifically on DNA methylation, a che...

Calorie-Burning 'Brown Fat' Could Help Keep You Healthy, Even if You're Obese

A special calorie-burning type of body fat appears to help protect against an array of chronic ailments, including heart disease, type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure, a new study suggests.

Brown fat generates heat by drawing glucose from the bloodstream, as opposed to energy-storing white fat, explained senior researcher Dr. Paul Cohen. He's an assistant professor and senior attending...

Cancer Diagnosis Might Be Wrong for Many English Bulldogs

New research on illness in English bulldogs has discovered a previously unknown genetic health condition -- and could save the lives of some beloved family pets.

Researchers were attempting to better understand B-cell chronic lymphocytic leukemia (BCLL), a common cancer, when they uncovered a non-cancerous syndrome called polyclonal B-cell lymphocytosis. This benign condition has many sim...

Genes Help Explain Role of Race in Prostate Cancer Risk

If you're a Black man, your risk of getting prostate cancer is 75% higher than it is for a white man, and it's more than twice as deadly.

Now, research is helping to bring genetic risks for people of various racial and ethnic groups into focus. In doing so, dozens more risk factors that could better help pinpoint the odds of developing prostate cancer have been uncovered. And that could ...

Do Genes Doom Some Kids to Obesity? Probably Not, Study Finds

While childhood obesity is a significant challenge, German researchers have uncovered some hopeful news while investigating the impact of genes.

Though some "obesity genes" do play a minor role in the success of weight loss interventions, environmental, social and behavioral factors make the biggest difference, according to a new study from the Technical University of Munich.

Those ...

How Are 'Super Agers' Protected From Alzheimer's and Mental Decline?

Some older folks are still sharp as tacks and dementia-free well into their 80s and beyond. Now German researchers have uncovered a possible reason why: Their genes may help them fend off protein build-up in the brain.

The finding is based on a study of brain images of 94 participants, all aged 80 or older. They were characterized by the amount of tau protein tangles and beta-amyloid pro...

Treatment Reverses Young Man's Type 1 Diabetes. Will It Last?

After starting a drug that's officially approved to treat a type of blood cancer, a young man with type 1 diabetes was able to stop using insulin.

He's been off insulin since August 2018 -- more than two years.

Dr. Lisa Forbes -- his doctor and co-author of a letter describing his case in the Oct. 8 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine -- stopped short of calling...

Why Do Black Patients Fare Worse With Blood Cancer Than Whites?

A pair of studies shed new light on why a relatively rare blood cancer — acute myeloid leukemia (AML) — is more deadly among Black patients.

The takeaways: Where patients live and their access to quality health care matter. And even when Black people with AML have the same access to treatment as white patients, their survival is shorter — something genetic differences might explain....

Gene Therapy Shows No Long-Term Harm in Animals: Study

Results from a long-term study of a gene therapy technique to prevent inherited mitochondrial disease show promise, researchers say.

Studies of the technique at Oregon Health & Science University in Portland show no adverse health effects in rhesus macaque monkeys and their offspring. The researchers said the technique could break the cycle of disease passed from mother to baby through mu...

Why a Newborn's First Breath Is So Important

New research on what happens as a newborn is delivered and takes its first breath may shed light on a potential contributor to sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

A team led by doctors from the University of Virginia School of Medicine discovered a signaling system within the brainstem that activates almost immediately at birth to support early breathing.

The findings help re...

Some Older Breast Cancer Patients Can Safely Cut Down on Chemo

More women with early-stage breast cancer may be able to safely skip chemotherapy after having surgery, according to initial results from a major clinical trial.

The trial, conducted in nine countries, found that adding chemotherapy to hormone-blocking drugs brought no added benefit to a particular group of patients. Those were postmenopausal women with hormone-sensitive breast cancer tha...

Birth Defects Tied to Rise in Lifelong Cancer Risk

Major birth defects are associated with an increased, lifelong risk of cancer, researchers say.

It has been known that people with major birth defects have a greater risk of developing cancer as children and teens, but it wasn't clear whether the risk extends into adulthood.

To find out, Norwegian researchers compared more than 62,000 people in Scandinavia, aged 46 and younger, who ...

Need to Pee? Scientists May Have Found the Gene for That

Scientists say they have spotted the gene responsible for telling you when it's time to pee.

The gene, called PIEZO2, may help at least two different types of cells sense when the bladder is full and needs to be emptied.

"Urination is essential for our health. It's one of the primary ways our bodies dispose of waste. We show how specific genes and cells may play criti...

In Medieval Times, Plagues 'Sped Up' With Each New Outbreak

Medieval plague outbreaks in England picked up frightening speed in the 17th century, Canadian researchers report.

Their analysis of historical documents covering 300 years showed that outbreaks of the plague doubled every 11 days in London during the 1600s, compared to every 43 days in the 14th century.

"It is an astounding difference in how fast plague epidemics grew," sai...

Treatment Reverses Young Man's Type 1 Diabetes. Will It Last?

After starting a drug that's officially approved to treat a type of blood cancer, a young man with type 1 diabetes was able to stop using insulin.

He's been off insulin since August 2018 -- more than two years.

Dr. Lisa Forbes -- his doctor and co-author of a letter describing his case in the Oct. 8 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine -- stopped short of cal...

Genetics Might Explain Some Cases of Cerebral Palsy

Genetic problems cause about 14% of cerebral palsy cases, and many of the implicated genes control the wiring of brain circuits during early fetal development, new research shows.

The largest genetic study of cerebral palsy supports previous findings and provides "the strongest evidence to date that a significant portion of cerebral palsy cases can be linked to rare genetic mutati...

Mother and Son Draw Hope, Healing From Shared Cancer Treatment

Families bond over lots of shared experiences -- but one Leslie Seigel and her adult son, Josh, never expected to share was battling cancer.

Soon after Leslie finished chemotherapy for an aggressive form of breast cancer, however, Josh found himself waging his own battle with testicular cancer.

The mother and son soon learned they shared something else -- a genetic mutation ...

New Research Links Another Gene to Alzheimer's Risk

A genetic variant in some people may be associated with mental decline that can't be explained by deposits of two proteins linked with Alzheimer's disease, researchers say.

They said their findings could lead to new treatments for Alzheimer's.

The two proteins are amyloid β and tau. Amyloid forms into plaques and tau forms into tangles. Both are found in the brains of A...

Your Sex Affects Your Genes for Body Fat, Cancer, Birth Weight

Researchers say your biological sex affects gene expression in nearly every type of tissue -- influencing body fat, cancer and birth weight.

Gene expression is the amount of product created by a gene for cell function, the international team of researchers explained.

They said their findings could prove important for personalized medicine, creating new drugs and predicting p...

First Trial of Gene-Targeted Asthma Rx in Kids Shows Promise

Asthma treatments tailored to the genes of kids and teens could help improve control of their symptoms, new research suggests.

The study included 241 adolescents, aged 12 to 18, who were randomly selected to receive either traditional asthma treatment or "personalized medicine" -- treatment based on their individual genetics.

During a year of follow-up, those in the personal...

Do Your Sleep Patterns Affect Your Risk of Alzheimer's Disease?

Disturbed sleep doesn't cause Alzheimer's disease, but some sleep patterns may be more common in people who have a high genetic risk for it, a new study reports.

Those patterns include being a morning person, having shorter sleep duration and being less likely to have insomnia, according to findings published in the Aug. 19 online issue of the journal Neurology.

"We ...

Microbes in Lungs Could Affect COVID-19 Outcomes

Scientists have discovered that the types of fungi living in the lungs play a big part in severity of a life-threatening condition called acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS).

In ARDS -- a condition developed by many patients with severe cases of COVID-19 -- the lungs are unable to supply adequate oxygen to vital organs. Patients with ARDS are usually placed on ventilators.

...

Could Gene Therapy Stem the Damage of Parkinson's?

It may be possible to protect Parkinson's patients' brains from further damage by turning off a "master regulator" gene, researchers report.

"One of the biggest challenges in treating Parkinson's, other than the lack of therapies that impede disease progression, is that the disease has already laid waste to significant portions of the brain by the time it is diagnosed," said researche...

Why Is Stroke a Bigger Threat to Black People?

Stroke is more deadly among Black people than whites, and the reason may come down to genetics.

Researchers who studied the genomes of more than 21,000 Black people found that a common variation near the HNF1A gene was tied to an increased risk of stroke in people of African descent.

The gene has been linked to stroke and heart disease.

"Given the undue burden t...

Genetic Research May Help Identify Causes of Stillbirth

Scientists are well on the way to understanding more about how genes can cause stillbirth, new research suggests.

In the study, researchers used genetic analyses to identify gene mutations that are linked to stillbirth, which is the in utero death of a fetus after 20 weeks' gestation. The findings might help doctors counsel parents who have experienced a stillbirth.

The ...

Can Seniors Handle Results of Alzheimer's Risk Tests?

As researchers hone in on ways to detect whether someone has a high risk of developing Alzheimer's disease before they have any symptoms, mental health professionals have worried what the psychological fallout of that knowledge might be.

But new research suggests that people can handle the truth.

In the study, seniors who didn't have any Alzheimer's symptoms underwent a sp...

More Education May Slow Start of Early-Onset Alzheimer's

Among people who have the gene that carries a heightened risk for early-onset Alzheimer's disease, a new study suggests that more education might slow the development of beta-amyloid plaques in the brain.

About 1% to 6% of people with Alzheimer's disease have genes that put them at risk for early development of the disease, which can start in their 30s to 50s, the researcher...

Skeletons May Put Blame on Vikings for Smallpox' Spread

The Vikings had smallpox and may have spread it wherever they ventured, scientists report.

That conclusion stems from an examination of teeth from 1,400-year-old Viking skeletons that contained extinct strains of smallpox. The genetic structure of those strains differed from that of the modern smallpox virus eradicated in the 20th century, the researchers found.

"We already...

Will Your Brain Stay Sharp Into Your 90s? Certain Factors Are Key

Some people in their 90s stay sharp whether their brain harbors amyloid protein plaques -- a hallmark of Alzheimer's disease -- or not, but why?

That's the question researchers sought answers for among 100 people without dementia, average age 92, who were followed for up to 14 years. Their answer? A combination of genetic luck and a healthy, fulfilling lifestyle.

"The vast ...

Success of Smallpox Vaccine Bears Lessons for Coronavirus Vaccine

Scientists who have identified the early smallpox strains used to create vaccines against the disease say this type of genetic research could help efforts to develop a vaccine against the new coronavirus.

Smallpox was among the most dangerous viral diseases in human history, killing about three of every 10 people who were infected. Many of those who survived were disabled, blind or di...

More Clues to the Genes Behind Hearing Loss

Dutch researchers have identified a common genetic variant as a cause of deafness, and say it could be a good target for gene therapy.

Deafness in adults is known to be inherited but, unlike childhood deafness, the genetic causes aren't clear.

To date, 118 genes have been linked to deafness. Variants in these genes explain much of the deafness present at birth and in childho...

Scientists Move Closer to Mapping Entire Human Genome

Although much of the genetic makeup of humans has been mapped, hundreds of missing DNA sequences remain.

Until now.

Scientists from the U.S. National Human Genome Research Institute report they have produced the complete DNA sequence of a single human chromosome. That discovery could allow researchers to sequence the entire human genome.

"This accomplishment begins...

Brain's Iron Stores May Be Key to Alzheimer's

The progression of Alzheimer's disease may accelerate as iron deposits build up in the brain, a new study finds, hinting at a possible role for the mineral in mental decline.

Using MRI scans of 200 older adults with and without Alzheimer's, researchers found that those with the disease generally had higher iron levels in various parts of the brain. And 17 months later, Alzheimer's pat...

Your Genes May Affect How You'll Heal If Wounded

Your genes may have a big impact on bacteria in your wounds and how quickly you heal, new research shows.

The researchers said their findings could help improve wound treatment.

Chronic wounds -- ones that don't show signs of healing within three weeks -- can be costly, and bacterial infection slows the process.

A range of bacterial species are present in chronic w...

Why Are Some People More Sensitive Than Others? Genes May Tell

Very sensitive people may owe about half of their heightened feelings to their genes, a British study of twins suggests.

Researchers looked at pairs of identical and fraternal 17-year-old twins to gauge how much differences in sensitivity owed to genes or the environment.

While identical twins share the same genes, fraternal twins don't, so findings among identical twins a...

At-Home Gene Test for Breast, Ovarian Cancers Looks Effective

Screening for breast and ovarian cancer genes might be added to the list of medical tests that can be safely and effectively done from home, new research suggests.

The study looked at screening for BRCA1, BRCA2 and other gene mutations linked to an increased risk of breast and ovarian cancer. Women with a BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation have as much as a 7 in 10 chance of getting breast canc...

Are Many With Autism Missing Out on Key Gene Tests?

Very few people with autism receive two recommended genetic tests, a new study finds.

The American Academy of Pediatrics and other medical groups recommend offering chromosomal microarray testing and Fragile X testing to people with autism, to detect or rule out genetic abnormalities that could affect their diagnosis and care.

For the study, the researchers analyzed data gat...

Uncles, Aunts May Influence a Child's Odds for Autism

A child with an uncle or aunt with autism appears to have a more than doubled risk of being diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder themselves, a new U.S. government-funded study reports.

Roughly 3% to 5% of children with an aunt or uncle with autism can also be expected to have some form of autism, compared with just 1.5% of children overall, according to the study fun...

Scientists Spot More Genes Linked to Problem Drinking

It was already known that genetics can play a role in drinking problems, but now researchers have identified additional gene variants that could help identify many more at-risk people.

The team conducted a genome-wide analysis of more than 435,000 people of European ancestry to look for shared gene variants among people with problem drinking.

The researchers pinpointed 19 ne...

Alzheimer's Gene Linked to Severe COVID-19 Risk

People who have a flawed gene linked to Alzheimer's disease may face a higher risk of COVID-19, an international team of researchers reports.

Part of the increased risk among people with dementia may owe to high rates of new coronavirus infections in nursing homes. But this study suggests genetics may also be a factor.

The APOE e4e4 gene variant is known to increase Alzheime...

Black and White Women Share the Same Genetic Risk for Breast Cancer

Black and white women share genes that increase the risk for breast cancer, a new study finds.

These genes include BRCA1, BRCA2 and PALB2, each of which is associated with a more than sevenfold risk of breast cancer. Women of both races also share four other genes linked with a moderately increased risk, according to researchers.

"This means that the multi-gene panels that...

Pangolins Hold Clues to How COVID-19 Began -- and Might End

They're small spiny mammals that look like anteaters with scales.

And pangolins -- which some credit with playing a role in the emergence of the new coronavirus -- might hold clues to fighting COVID-19.

Genetic research into the new coronavirus has suggested that it originated in bats, found its way into pangolins sold at Chinese "wet markets," and then migrated into humans....

Experts Cast Doubt on Notion That New Strain of Coronavirus Is More Infectious

A new study suggesting that the new coronavirus has mutated to become even more infectious should be viewed with skepticism, multiple experts said Wednesday.

Earlier this week, researchers at Los Alamos National Laboratory concluded that the new strain of the coronavirus started spreading in Europe in early February and then expanded to other parts of the world, becoming the dominant ...

New Coronavirus Strain More Contagious, Scientists Say

A new, mutated strain of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 has become dominant and appears to be more contagious than the strain that spread during the early stages of the pandemic, scientists report.

They said the new strain appeared in February in Europe, spread to the East Coast of the United States and has been the dominant strain worldwide since mid-March, the Los Angeles ...

Heavy Drinking Tied to Raised Stroke Risk, Study Finds

Lots of boozing might increase your risk for a stroke, Swedish researchers report.

Heavy alcohol use can triple your risk for peripheral artery disease, a narrowing of arteries that results in reduced blood flow, usually to the legs. It can also increase your risk for stroke by 27%. There's also evidence of a link to coronary artery disease, atrial fibrillation and aortic aneurys...

Herpes Virus Yields Up Genetic Secrets

Herpes simplex virus -- the virus that causes cold sores -- is more complex than scientists had thought, a new study finds.

It had been believed that there were about 80 so-called open reading frames in the herpes gene, but there now appear to be 284, researchers report. Those are places where the DNA becomes proteins.

"The new findings now make it possible to study the in...

New Polio Vaccine Promising in Early Test

A new oral polio vaccine promises to help make polio a disease of the past, according to the results of a phase 1 clinical trial.

Polio was almost eliminated worldwide -- except in vaccine-induced cases. In those cases, the weakened virus used in vaccines developed the ability to escape from immunized individuals and spread in places with low vaccination rates.

The new des...

New COVID-19 Test Could Give Results in Under 1 Hour

Researchers say they've developed a low-cost swab test that can diagnose COVID-19 infections in about 45 minutes.

The CRISPR-based test -- which uses gene-targeting technology and requires no specialized equipment -- could help relieve testing backlogs in the United States as COVID-19 continues to spread, the scientists said.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has not app...

Obesity Is Biggest Type 2 Diabetes Risk Factor

Whether you have a low or a high genetic risk for type 2 diabetes, obesity seems to be the driving factor in developing the disease, Danish researchers say.

Their new study found that obesity increased the risk of type 2 diabetes by at least six times, no matter what a person's genetic risk was.

"Obesity and unfavorable lifestyle are associated with increased risk of type ...