Primate brain development can help explain human developmental disorders - (Wednesday, July 13, 2016)
Scientists have elucidated the genetic programs that guide the formation and development of specific regions within the brain of rhesus monkeys. This study, the results of which appear in Nature, is important because it can help better understand how the human brain develops and identify neurodevelopmental processes involved in disorders such as autism spectrum disorders and schizophrenia.
This work was designed and directed by investigators from the Allen Institute for Brain Sciences in Seattle and involved dozens of scientists from various institutions across the world, including Baylor College of Medicine. Dr. Ed Lein, investigator at the Allen Institute, and colleagues created a high-resolution atlas of the development of rhesus monkey brain that uncovers, in fine levels of anatomical detail, how gene expression changes across time, from early gestation to young adulthood.
At the Human Genome Sequencing Center (HGSC) at Baylor, Dr. Jeffrey Rogers, associate professor of molecular and human genetics, and Dr. Richard Gibbs, professor and Wofford Cain Chair of molecular and human genetics, and director of the HGSC, contributed to this work by helping to associate observed changes in gene expression during development with significant human disease characteristics.
Complete genome sequenced of Elephant Endotheliotropic Herpesvirus 4 - (Friday, June 17, 2016)
The complete genome of Elephant Endotheliotropic Herpesvirus 4, known as EEHV4(Baylor), has been sequenced by researchers at Baylor College of Medicine and the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, revealing unique characteristics of this particular species of Elephant Endotheliotropic Herpesvirus – which causes a deadly disease that affects Asian elephants in both managed care and free-range environments.
The findings appear in the current edition of mSphere from the American Society of Microbiology.
“The deadly form of the disease is predominantly associated with EEHV1, but milder disease has been caused by EEHV5 or EEHV4, of which less is known,” said Dr. Paul Ling associate professor of molecular virology and microbiology at Baylor. “Here, we have determined the complete genomic DNA sequence, completed by the Human Genome Sequencing Center at Baylor, of a species of EEHV4 obtained from a trunk wash sample collected from a surviving Asian elephant calf after suffering from EEHV4.”
Largest genomic study on kidney cancer brings hope for more effective treatments - (Friday, March 4, 2016)
Understanding the complexity of cancer is a major goal of the scientific community, and for kidney cancer researchers this goal just got closer. Dr. Chad Creighton, associate professor of medicine, member of the Dan L Duncan Comprehensive Cancer Center Division of Biostatistics at Baylor College of Medicine and affiliated faculty member of the Human Genome Sequencing Center, led the study that analyzed close to 900 kidney cancers at the molecular level. The team discovered that what have historically been considered three major types of kidney cancer according to their characteristics under the microscope, could be further distinguished into nine major subtypes through molecular analyses. Each subtype was unique in terms of altered molecular pathways and patient survival. This study made use of data from The Cancer Genome Atlas.
Creighton and colleagues’ findings are important because they help pave the way toward more effective personalized medicine. Each kidney cancer has unique characteristics. As a result, different cancers may respond differently to the same treatment. Understanding what makes each kidney cancer unique can provide clues to finding targets for effective therapies. The nine subtypes discovered by Creighton and colleagues were found to have therapeutic implications.
New research into the genetic basis of mesothelioma opens doors for better treatment - (Sunday, February 28, 2016)
Malignant pleural mesothelioma is a deadly malignancy caused by asbestos that affects more than 3,000 individuals in the United States each year. The five-year survival of mesothelioma has increased to about 10 percent at five years with aggressive multimodality therapy, but a report published in Nature Genetics provides new hope for more effective treatments.
Dr. David Sugarbaker, professor of surgery and director of the Mesothelioma Treatment Center and Lung Institute at Baylor College of Medicine, co-authored this study with physician-researchers from the International Mesothelioma Program at Brigham and Women's Hospital, a program founded by Sugarbaker.
The Baylor College of Medicine Human Genome Sequencing Center currently provides genetic testing for patients seen at the Mesothelioma Treatment Center in Houston.
“The Baylor Human Genome Sequencing Center, one of the nation’s largest genomic centers, will provide a powerful platform with which we will continue to investigate and identify potentially actionable new mutations. We will continue to move aggressively to provide this analysis to our patients coming to the MTC in order to pursue more effective therapies for every patient,” said Sugarbaker.
Researchers discover genetic cause of second-most common kidney cancer in children - (Tuesday, February 16, 2016)
A genetic mutation associated with clear cell sarcoma of the kidney that has opened a new path of research and could point the way toward a new diagnostic test for the disease, said researchers from Texas Children’s Cancer and Hematology Center and Baylor College of Medicine in a study in Nature Communications.
The collaborative research team used a combination of whole exome sequencing and whole-transcriptome (RNA) sequencing to characterize the genomic landscape of this disease. They initially detected a mutation in the BCOR gene, which is involved in regulating cell differentiation through epigenetic mechanisms, in a single patient with clear cell sarcoma of the kindey. Further investigation then led to the discovery of recurrent duplication mutations within the gene in 85 percent of those with the disease, but not in other childhood kidney tumors, such as Wilms tumors.
Blood sucking fated in bed bug’s genome - (Tuesday, February 2, 2016)
In a report that appears in the journal Nature Communications, an international consortium of scientists describe the sequence of the 650 megabase genome of the Cimex lecturlarius, the common bed bug. Within the code of the 14,200 genes that provide the blueprint for the workhorse proteins of the cell, they found genes linked to reproduction, the genes that attract the insects to human blood and several mechanisms that could lead to pesticide resistance.
“There are consequences of the bed bugs’ vampire tendencies,” said Dr. Stephen Richards, associate professor in the Baylor College of Medicine Human Genome Sequencing Center. “Their blood meals make them swell up, and they have cuticle genes that give them the flexibility to do that. Blood is a liquid diet, and they have water channels that allow them to deal with the sheer amount of fluid. They have the olfactory and vision repertoire similar to other dawn-to-dusk insects.”
“It’s no surprise we like to kill them. However, that is becoming more difficult. We now have a list of all the genes that can be involved in resistance to pesticides.”
Broad genetic testing for childhood cancer patients can pinpoint cancer causes and identify potential treatments - (Wednesday, January 27, 2016)
Combined whole exome tumor and blood sequencing in pediatric cancer patients revealed mutations that could help explain the cause of cancer or have the potential to impact clinical cancer care in 40 percent of patients in a study led by researchers from Baylor College of Medicine and Texas Children’s Cancer Center.
These findings point toward the usefulness of broad-based testing of both tumor and blood samples for children diagnosed with solid tumors, say study senior co-authors Dr. Sharon Plon, professor of pediatrics at Baylor, and Dr. Will Parsons, associate professor of pediatrics at Baylor and Texas Children’s Cancer Center.
The study, which appears in the current issue of JAMA Oncology, is part of the ongoing Baylor College of Medicine Advancing Sequencing in Childhood Cancer Care (BASIC3) project funded through a $6.6 million grant from the National Human Genome Research Institute and the National Cancer Institute.
“This is an important study and a powerful illustration of how genomic data can be effectively used by skilled physicians in a clinical context,” said Dr. Richard Gibbs, professor of molecular and human genetics and director of the Human Genome Sequencing Center at Baylor. Gibbs and Dr. Christine Eng, professor of molecular and human genetics at Baylor, lead the study’s efforts to perform genomic testing -- conducted at the WGL -- and evaluate results.
› Read press release
› Read article in JAMA Oncology