Breakthrough leads to sequencing of a human genome using a pocket-sized device

February 2, 2018

A new nanopore technology for direct sequencing of long strands of DNA has resulted in the most complete human genome ever assembled with a single technology, scientists have revealed. The research, published today in Nature Biotechnology, included scientists from the University of British Columbia and the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research (Jared Simpson, pictured above). Using an emerging technology – a pocket sized, portable DNA sequencer – the scientists sequenced a complete human genome, in fragments hundreds of times larger than usual, enabling new biological insights.

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Study identifies genes that determine ability to lose weight

January 25, 2018

It’s not just diet and physical activity; your genes also determine how easily you lose or gain weight. Researchers at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and other institutions of the Genetic Investigation of Anthropometric Traits (GIANT) consortium found 13 genes that carry variations associated with body mass index (BMI). Some genes were linked to people who weighed above the average, and some below, and 8 of the 13 were newly implicated in obesity.

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Personalized medicine helps reduce cancer overtreatment

January 23, 2018

The use and recommendation of chemotherapy for women with both node-negative and node-positive early-stage breast cancer has declined in recent years, according to a recent survey. One of the survey authors, Dr. Allison Kurian, said in a press release “This likely reflects a change in the culture of how physicians are practicing, and a move toward using tumor biology to guide treatment choices rather than solely relying on clinical measures.” Lead author Dr. Steven Katz adds “Our study shows how breast cancer is a model for how doctors have driven advances in personalized medicine into the exam room to reduce overtreatment.”

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How the genomics health revolution is failing ethnic minorities

December 8, 2017

Canada is one of the most ethnically diverse nations in the world. However, this diversity is largely missing from our growing collections of genomic data. Because genomic information is increasingly used in health care, what does this mean for our ethnic minorities, including Indigenous Canadians?

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World’s largest autism genome databank adds more than 2,000 sequences

November 3, 2017

The Autism Speaks MSSNG team announced the upload of an additional 2,030 fully sequenced genomes to the project’s cloud-based databank – making it the world’s largest whole genome resource for autism research. The MSSNG team includes Dr. Stephen Scherer and the Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) in Toronto, Autism Speaks and Verily (formerly Google Life Sciences).

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New test for BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations could reduce pre-emptive mastectomies

October 25, 2017

A genetic test that more accurately predicts the risk of developing breast cancer could soon be used on high-risk groups. Researchers behind the test, available in England only at this time, say it could reduce the number of women choosing pre-emptive mastectomy surgery. The blood test looks at 18 genetic variations, or single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), known to affect the chances of getting breast cancer.

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GA4GH to collaborate with 15 international genomic medicine initiatives

October 23, 2017

Advances in precision medicine depend on the ability to share genomic information voluntarily, securely and responsibly. To achieve this, The Global Alliance for Genomics and Health (GA4GH) has struck formal collaborations with 15 international genomic data initiatives. Ontario and Canada lead or help drive at least three of these, CanDIG, ICGC-ARGO and Matchmaker Exchange. Genome Canada has also announced new operational funding for the GA4GH.

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