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Vicious Circles: Ring-shaped DNA Provides Cancer Cells with a Malignant Twist

Deoxyribonucleic acid or DNA encodes information, not only in its sequence but also in its shape. Building upon previous revelatory work, a team of scientists, led by researchers at University of California San Diego, the UC San Diego branch of the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research, Stanford University and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, report that in cancer, distinct doughnut-shaped circles of extrachromosomal DNA (ecDNA) are found abundantly in human tumor cells; change how cancer-related oncogenes are expressed; promote aggressive malignant behavior; and play a key role in the ability of tumors to evolve quickly and resist threats, such as chemotherapy, radiation and other treatments.

Non-Coding DNA Located Outside Chromosomes May Help Drive Glioblastoma

One of the ways a cancer-causing gene works up enough power to turn a normal cell into a cancer cell is by copying itself over and over, like a Xerox machine. Scientists have long noticed that when cancer-causing genes do that, they also scoop up some extra DNA into their copies. But it has remained unclear whether the additional DNA helps drive cancer or is just along for the ride.

Technique identifies T cells primed for certain allergies or infections

When your immune system is exposed to a vaccine, an allergen, or an infectious microbe, subsets of T cells that can recognize a foreign intruder leap into action. Some of these T cells are primed to kill infected cells, while others serve as memory cells that circulate throughout the body, keeping watch in case the invader reappears.

Large Study Reveals PTSD Has Strong Genetic Component Like Other Psychiatric Disorders

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is one of the most common psychiatric disorders, affecting some 8 million adults at some point in their lifetime in the United States. Despite this, it is not clear why only some people who experience a traumatic event develop PTSD. Some researchers have suggested that the disorder is only a social construct, but previous studies have hinted that genetics plays a role. A new study identifies a clear biological basis for PTSD.

New Diagnostic Criteria May Enable Earlier Detection of Cognitive Impairment in Women

Women make up two-thirds of patients with Alzheimer’s disease — so why is it that women are less likely than men to be diagnosed with its precursor, amnestic mild cognitive impairment (aMCI)? This was the question guiding a new study by University of California San Diego School of Medicine researchers studying how the life-long female advantage in verbal memory performance might be masking early symptoms of dementia in women.

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