New Advances in Biology

We’ve compiled the advanced in biology we found most interesting in brief. These include eradication of a lethal lung disease, a next-generation tool that improves our ability to investigate single cells more thoroughly, and the effect of consuming curcumin (a powder made from the roots of the turmeric plant) on cancer.

A team from Penn Medicine and Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia used CRISPR gene editing to eradicate a lung disease in an animal, whereby a harmful mutation kills it within hours of birth. This study shows in uteri editing could be a helpful new approach for treating lung diseases before birth. The ability to treat or mitigate a disease via gene editing prior to birth and the onset of irreversible pathology is very interesting. This is particularly true for illnesses that affect the lungs, which have a very important function at the time of birth.

The team hopes to solve lung conditions such as cystic fibrosis, congenital diseases like surfactant protein deficiency, and alpha-1 antitrypsin, which is characterized by lung failure at birth or chronic lung disease with limited therapeutic options. Just under a quarter of all pediatric hospital admissions are due to lung disorders, and congenital causes of respiratory diseases are frequently deadly despite advances in treatment and a deeper understanding of their molecular causes.

Scientists at the New York Genome Center developed a new technique called ECCITE-seq to perform high-throughput measurements of many modalities of information from single cells. ECCITE-seq sequences different types of bio-molecules from a multitude of single cells at the same time, offering a wealth of information that can be utilized in CRISPR-based pooled genetics screens. The next-generation tool will help us understand disease mechanisms better.

Finally, scientists found that curcumin, often used to flavor and color food, can also help combat and even prevent stomach cancer. A study by researchers at the Federal University of Pará (UFPA) and Federal University of São Paulo (UNIFESP) in Brazil identified possible therapeutic effects of curcumin among other bioactive compounds on stomach cancer, which is one of the most common types of cancer in Brazil. This research was an element of a Thematic Project supported by FAPSP (São Paulo Research Foundation). Scientists published the findings in the journal Epigenomics.