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This Week in Nature: Dec 5, 2013

In Nature this week, a team from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology and elsewhere reports on the discovery of the oldest known human DNA. Mitochondrial DNA was extracted from the femur of a 400,000-year-old hominin found in Northern Spain. From this, the investigators were able to reconstruct an almost complete mitochondrial genome of the early human. Although they expected the DNA to resemble that of Neanderthals, they found that it shares ancestry an eastern Eurasian sister group to the Neanderthals, the Denisovans.

GenomeWeb Daily News has more on this study, here.

Meanwhile, in Nature Genetics, researchers from the Institute of Cancer Research in the UK and their colleagues report on the results of a genome-wide association study that identified multiple susceptibility loci for chronic lymphocytic leukemia. The study was conducted on 1,739 individuals with the disease and 5,199 controls, with validation in an additional 1,144 cases and 3,151 controls. From this, they identified new loci linked to the disease at 3q26.2, 4q26, 6q25.2 (IPCEF1), and 7q31.33 (POT1), and confirmed previous findings at 5p15.33 (TERT) and 8q22.3 "Our GWAS of CLL identified four new loci and validated two recently identified promising associations, bringing the total number of common risk variants for CLL to 30," the researchers note. "Although additional studies will be required to decipher the functional basis of these risk loci, the proximity of several of the loci to genes having a role at telomeres suggests a plausible mechanism of biological relevance."