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Genes? There's an App for That

Researchers at Penn State have created a new smartphone app called "TimeTree," an interactive interface that tracks the evolution of genes throughout Earth's history. The comparative biology application draws on the vast amounts of data on the Internet about the diverse genes of Earth's organisms, allowing users to see how long ago two species may have shared a common ancestor, the researchers say in a press release. The user types in the names of two organisms, and the app searches its database to find how long ago they shared an ancestor, while along the side of the display, the app also shows a geological timescale with data points marking the various studies used to reach the result. The researchers have also created a video which explains how "TimeTree" works.

The Scan

Study Finds Sorghum Genetic Loci Influencing Composition, Function of Human Gut Microbes

Focusing on microbes found in the human gut microbiome, researchers in Nature Communications identified 10 sorghum loci that appear to influence the microbial taxa or microbial metabolite features.

Treatment Costs May Not Coincide With R&D Investment, Study Suggests

Researchers in JAMA Network Open did not find an association between ultimate treatment costs and investments in a drug when they analyzed available data on 60 approved drugs.

Sleep-Related Variants Show Low Penetrance in Large Population Analysis

A limited number of variants had documented sleep effects in an investigation in PLOS Genetics of 10 genes with reported sleep ties in nearly 192,000 participants in four population studies.

Researchers Develop Polygenic Risk Scores for Dozens of Disease-Related Exposures

With genetic data from two large population cohorts and summary statistics from prior genome-wide association studies, researchers came up with 27 exposure polygenic risk scores in the American Journal of Human Genetics.