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The Link Between Misery and Death

Researchers at UCLA have discovered what they call a biochemical link between misery and death, and a genetic variation in some people that seems to break that link, rendering them more biologically resilient in the face of adversity.
The researchers analyzed transcription factor binding sequences in a gene called IL6, which controls immune response, and can serve as a kind of "fertilizer" for cardiovascular disease and some kinds of cancer. They were able to trace a biochemical pathway through which certain life circumstances can activate the IL6 gene, identified the specific genetic sequence in the gene that serves as a target of the signaling pathway, and the well-known genetic variation that can block the path and disconnect IL6 responses from the effects of stress. People with the most common type of the IL6 gene showed an increased risk of death for about 11 years after being exposed to a stressful event; however, people with the variant gene appeared immune and showed no increased mortality risk in the face of the same adversities. The findings were reported in the current online edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences .

The Scan

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DNA Storage Method Taps Into Gene Editing Technology

With a dual-plasmid system informed by gene editing, researchers re-wrote DNA sequences in E. coli to store Charles Dickens prose over hundreds of generations, as they recount in Science Advances.

Researchers Model Microbiome Dynamics in Effort to Understand Chronic Human Conditions

Investigators demonstrate in PLOS Computational Biology a computational method for following microbiome dynamics in the absence of longitudinally collected samples.

New Study Highlights Role of Genetics in ADHD

Researchers report in Nature Genetics on differences in genetic architecture between ADHD affecting children versus ADHD that persists into adulthood or is diagnosed in adults.