In the news / Genomics

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The BIO5 Institute solicited COVID-19 research proposals for seed grants supplied by the Technology and Research Initiative Fund (TRIF).

 
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As of April 28, more than 6,500 COVID-19 cases have been reported in the state of Arizona.

 
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University of Arizona researchers have begun using a test that can detect the presence of the COVID-19 virus in a person who has no obvious symptoms and possibly determine whether someone was once infected with COVID-19. By studying the antibodies present in a person's blood, the two lead researchers, UA immunologists Dr. Deepta Bhattacharya and Dr. Janko Nikolich-Zugich, hope to answer questions such as what unique antibodies are important to fight the novel coronavirus, how much of the population already had it and recovered or showed no symptoms, and whether it's possible to get reinfected with the virus.
 
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UArizona researchers and staff at all levels are working to assemble COVID-19 collection kits. Led by Dr. David T Harris, Arizona Health Sciences Biorepository executive director, UArizona Department of Immunobiology professor, and BIO5 faculty member, research staff had begun producing the kits over the weekend, ultimately assembling more than 1,600 kits. Dr. Harris said that while assembling the collection kits is fairly easy, it's finding the materials for those kits that's the difficult part. Despite already making nearly 2,000 of these collection kits over the weekend, Dr. Harris said staff aim to assemble 10,000 over the next two weeks.
 
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UArizona Pharmacology professor and BIO5 member Dr. Rajesh Khanna was named a senior member of the National Academy of Inventors (NAI) for his work with Regulonix. Dr. Khanna co-founded and serves as the chief scientific officer of Regulonix. The company is in the process of developing non-opioid therapies for chronic pain relief and management.
 
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Dr. Donna Zhang, a UArizona professor ofPharmacology and Toxicology and BIO5 member, has been formally vested as the Musil Family Endowed Chair For Drug Discovery. Dr. Zhang is an internationally recognized researcher who has spent her career focusing on the transcription factor that regulates the expression of antioxidant proteins, where she has made a number of profound contributions.
 
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Dr. Jeffrey Burgess, a UArizona Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health researcher and BIO5 member has spent decades researching the connection between firefighters and chemical exposures that can lead to cancer. Dr. Burgess and a team of researchers throughout the U.S. are looking into the genetic changes caused by a firefighter's exposure to chemicals present at fires and different methods that can be used to quickly clear their bodies of these toxins.
 
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A collaborative study led by researchers are the University of Arizona and Henan Normal University in China, traces acoustic communication across the tree of life of land-living vertebrates. Result of the study revealed that the ability to vocalize goes back hundreds of millions of years, associated with a nocturnal lifestyle and has remained stable. Surprisingly, acoustic communication does not seem to drive the formation of new species across vertebrates.
 
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Reglagene, a biotech start-up led by BIO5 members Drs. Laurence Hurley and Vijay Gokhale, placed second in the RESI Innovation Challenge during JPM Week in San Francisco. The RESI Challenge featured 30 early stage life science companies from around the world and is designed to help startups refine their business plan, improve go-to-market strategies and increase investor readiness.
 
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UArizona researcher and BIO5 associate director Dr. Michael Hammer spends every day in a lab studying the gene mutation behind the rare form of epilepsy that afflicted his late daughter Shay. Dr. Hammer studies different models with similar gene variants to understand the genetics and cell formations behind this mutation. His lab uses their findings to assess the effectiveness and reliability of different treatment options to help other children living with this disease.
 
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Our genes can have the effect of increasing our risk for certain diseases, or at it turns out, sometimes they can protect us from them. This has turned out to be the case with a Colombian woman in her 70s who should have developed Alzheimer’s disease by her mid-40s, but has an identified a mutation in her genes that is keeping her from not experiencing dementia.
 
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UA CALS researchers including BIO5 members Drs. Shane Burgess and Patricia Stock, explain the advantages of having a complete genome description of its academic beef herd, after an SNP (single nucleotide polymorphisms) typing project was completed this past May at the V Bar V Agricultural Experiment Station in Coconino County. The goal is to use the extensive data, to help cattle growers improve production by giving them an affordable method for identifying predictable and specific genetic traits in cows.
 
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Swollen Shoot disease is affecting cacao trees in Ghana. UA Plant Sciences professor Dr. Judith Brown, notes that the disease is threatening to affect the supply of chocolate. Dr. Brown is using genome sequencing technology to look deeper into the viruses found to cause damage in cacao plant samples.
 
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After nine years of work, an international consortium of scientists, including UA Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology associate professor and BIO5 faculty member Dr. Mike Barker, has released gene sequences for more than 1100 plant species. The massive undertaking is part of the One Thousand Plant Transcriptomes Initiative (1KP), a global collaboration to examine plant species, genes and genomes diversification back to the ancestors of flowering plants and green algae.
 
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A Tucson startup with technology to help fish farmers boost production were one of two grand prize winners of a business pitch competition at the 2019 edition of IdeaFunding. The founders of GenetiRate, including BIO5’s Dr. Benjamin Renquist shared in the $25,000 grand prize sponsored by UAVenture Capital
 
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Coinciding with World Food Day, a team of plant scientists from King Abdullah University for Science and Technology (KAUST) established a major project to improve global date palm production and protection.
 
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Past research claimed that new genes arise when existing ones are accidentally duplicated, blended with others or broken up. Nowadays, researchers including Ecology & Evolutionary Biology professor and BIO5 member Dr. Joanna Masel, are suggesting that some genes do not always evolve from existing ones, but are fashioned from desolate stretches of the genome that do not code for any functional molecules.
 
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UArizona Pharmacology and Toxicology professor and BIO5 faculty Dr. Donna Zhang, leads her lab to examine how chronic exposure to arsenic causes genetic changes linked to disease development. By using QIAGEN Genomic Services, the team discovered that arsenic and high-fat diets induce similar transcriptomic changes. Through this analysis, the team also found that when a set of master regulator RNA molecules had been inactivated, there were fewer arsenic-induced dietary changes.