The technique used to study the genome, which contains all the genes on 46 chromosomes, is called array CGH. The use of higher resolution techniques, such as array CGH and, soon, whole genome sequencing, will enhance the ability of researchers to examine stem cell lines to determine which are best – least likely to result in diseases and other problems – to use in creating therapies for use in humans.
Array CGH provided a much better look at the gene content on the chromosomes of human embryonic stem cells, with a resolution about 100 times better than standard clinical methods. Clinical specialists commonly generate a karyotype to examine the chromosomes of cancer cells or for amniocentesis in prenatal diagnosis, which has a much lower resolution than Array CGH, said Michael Teitell, a researcher with the Eli and Edythe Broad Center of Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research and the senior author of the study. Small defects that could result in big problems later on could be missed using karyotyping for stem cells.
“Basically, this study shows that the genetic makeup of individual human embryonic stem cell lines is unique in the numbers of copies of certain genes that may control traits and things like disease susceptibility,” said Teitell, who also is an associate professor of pathology and laboratory medicine and a researcher at UCLA’s Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center. “So, in choosing stem cell lines to use for therapeutic applications, you want to know about these differences so you don’t pick a line likely to cause problems for a patient receiving these cells.”
The study appears in the March 27, 2008 express edition of the journal Stem Cells.
Differences between individual DNA sequences provide the basis for human genetic variability. Forms of variation include single DNA base pair alterations, duplications or deletions of genes or sets of genes, and translocations, a chromosomal rearrangement in which a segment of genetic material from one chromosome becomes heritably linked to another chromosome. These changes can be benign, but they can also promote diseases such as certain cancers, or confer increased risk to other diseases, such as HIV infection or certain types of kidney ailments.
In this study, Teitell and his team sought to determine copy number variants (CNVs), or differences in the numbers of certain genes, in two embryonic stem cell lines. The CNVs provide a unique genetic fingerprint for each line, which can also indicate relatedness between any two stem cell lines. Teitell used embryonic stem cell lines that made different types of neurons and studied them with array CGH for comparison. His team found CNV differences between the two lines in at least seven different chromosome locations below the level of detection using standard karyotype studies. Such differences could impact the therapeutic utility of the lines and could have implications in disease development. More studies will be required to determine the effect of specific CNVs in controlling stem cell function and disease susceptibility, he said.
“In studying embryonic stem cell lines in the future, if we find differences in regions of the genome that we know are associated with certain undesirable traits or diseases, we would choose against using such stem cells, provided safer alternative lines are available,” Teitell said.
Large genome-wide association studies are underway in a variety of diseases to determine what genetic abnormalities might be at play. When the genetic fingerprint or predisposing genes for a certain disease is discovered, it could be used as key information in screening embryonic stem cell lines.
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The WHO reports an estimated 429,000 malaria deaths each year. The disease mostly affects tropical and subtropical regions and in particular the African continent. The Fraunhofer Institute for Silicate Research ISC teamed up with the Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology IME and the Institute of Tropical Medicine at the University of Tübingen for a new test method to detect malaria parasites in blood. The idea of the research project “NanoFRET” is to develop a highly sensitive and reliable rapid diagnostic test so that patient treatment can begin as early as possible.
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The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.
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Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.
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Computer Tomography (CT) is a standard procedure in hospitals, but so far, the technology has not been suitable for imaging extremely small objects. In PNAS, a team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) describes a Nano-CT device that creates three-dimensional x-ray images at resolutions up to 100 nanometers. The first test application: Together with colleagues from the University of Kassel and Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht the researchers analyzed the locomotory system of a velvet worm.
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The quantum world is fragile; error correction codes are needed to protect the information stored in a quantum object from the deteriorating effects of noise. Quantum physicists in Innsbruck have developed a protocol to pass quantum information between differently encoded building blocks of a future quantum computer, such as processors and memories. Scientists may use this protocol in the future to build a data bus for quantum computers. The researchers have published their work in the journal Nature Communications.
Future quantum computers will be able to solve problems where conventional computers fail today. We are still far away from any large-scale implementation,...
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