Latest Expert Analysis

GENeS publishes comments from researchers on scientific developments and breaking news. Expert analyses of peer-reviewed studies are a complementary resource to standard press releases, providing background, scientific context, contacts and leads for stories, while expert reactions to breaking news feed into rolling coverage.

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March 14, 2016

SARS-like virus engineered in the lab gives insight into possible disease threat

Researchers have assessed the threat of a SARS-like virus, found naturally in bats, by ‘reverse engineering’ the virus in the lab. The authors, found that human airway cells were easily infected in the lab and conclude that the virus, WIV1 poses a threat to emerge as a human disease. Continue reading

March 11, 2016

FDA gives preliminary go-ahead for Florida release of genetically engineered mosquitoes

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration published a notice that a field trial of genetically engineered mosquitoes in the Florida Keys would not harm humans or the environment. Continue reading

March 8, 2016

Not a one-way street: Antibiotic resistance genes found on cattle farms suggest spread from humans to livestock

The first study to track antibiotic resistance all the way through the intensive beef production process found genes conferring resistance to ‘last resort’ antibiotics which are not used in the livestock industry. Continue reading

March 4, 2016

Zika virus infects lab-grown brain cells, suggests link to birth defects

New research finds the Zika virus can infect neural cells crucial for brain development in embryos, suggesting a potential biological explanation for the cases of microcephaly seen in Latin America during the Zika outbreak. Continue reading

February 25, 2016

World first: Mouse stem cells used to make sperm-like cells which produce fertile offspring

Researchers have coaxed mouse embryonic stem cells into sperm-like cells which were then used to create fertile offspring. The authors, who describe their technique in Cell Stem Cell, say it could hold “tremendous promise” for treating male infertility in humans. Continue reading

February 25, 2016

Abnormal gene activity in Down syndrome affects lifelong brain development

The faulty activity of genes controlling the development of white matter in the brain may underlie cognitive symptoms of people with Down syndrome, according to a study in Neuron. The researchers suggest their results could open up new possibilities for treatment. Continue reading

February 19, 2016

UPDATE: USDA decides first CRISPR-edited crop is not regulated

USDA has decided that it will not regulate a mushroom which has been gene-edited to prevent browning. The mushroom, developed by Yinong Yang at Penn State, is the first crop modified using CRISPR-Cas9 that USDA has said is not subject to regulation. Continue reading

February 11, 2016

Medical records help shed light on how Neanderthal DNA may impact health

Researchers have begun to unpick how the remnants of Neanderthal DNA resulting from ancient interbreeding might impact the physical and psychiatric health of modern humans. Continue reading

February 4, 2016

Combating Zika with genetically engineered mosquitoes: Hope or hype?

As the Zika outbreak continues in the Americas, methods of controlling the mosquitoes that spread the virus by using genetic engineering have gained attention. But how realistic is it for these new technologies to be deployed on a large scale? Continue reading

February 3, 2016

Ethics panel: US should allow embryos with mitochondrial DNA from a third person

A panel of scientists and ethicists have said the US should allow clinical research into preventing genetic diseases by mitochondrial replacement, a technique which involves substituting the faulty mitochondria in a mother’s eggs with healthy mitochondria from a donor. Continue reading