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First Foldit, Now Phylo

Researchers at McGill Univeristy in Montreal have recently launched an online video game which could do for comparative genomics what Foldit has done for structural proteomics, according to Wired Science. On November 29, McGill's Jérôme Waldispühl et al. launched Phylo, a videogame-based "framework for harnessing the computing power of mankind to solve a common problem — multiple sequence alignments." Because humans are efficient problem-solvers — and because "heuristics do not guarantee global optimization as it would be prohibitively computationally expensive to achieve an optimal alignment" — the team hopes that players will be able to optimize UCSC Genome Browser alignment data in order to solve complex genomics conundrums, such as the "consequences of functional, structural, or evolutionary relationships between the sequences." The McGill team is hopeful that broad participation will help researchers determine the origins of genetic disorders. "If some region is conserved across all species after alignment, it probably was conserved for some very specific reason. … We should be able to provide better understanding of the reason for which mutation potentially will create a disease, or why this disease appears," Waldispühl told Wired.

The Scan

Self-Reported Hearing Loss in Older Adults Begins Very Early in Life, Study Says

A JAMA Otolaryngology — Head & Neck Surgery study says polygenic risk scores associated with hearing loss in older adults is also associated with hearing decline in younger groups.

Genome-Wide Analysis Sheds Light on Genetics of ADHD

A genome-wide association study meta-analysis of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder appearing in Nature Genetics links 76 genes to risk of having the disorder.

MicroRNA Cotargeting Linked to Lupus

A mouse-based study appearing in BMC Biology implicates two microRNAs with overlapping target sites in lupus.

Enzyme Involved in Lipid Metabolism Linked to Mutational Signatures

In Nature Genetics, a Wellcome Sanger Institute-led team found that APOBEC1 may contribute to the development of the SBS2 and SBS13 mutational signatures in the small intestine.