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Biobank Growth

Scientists were initially skeptical of the UK Biobank, NPR writes, but data from the project has now contributed to numerous scientific publications.

The initiative launched in 2006 when it invited 3,000 individuals from the Manchester area to take part, as GenomeWeb reported. It has since ramped up and now houses genotyping and health data on 500,000 volunteers.

As Rory Collins, the project's principal investigator, tells NPR, interest in the program increased when it received funding to do that genotyping analysis of all participants. That way, researchers without access to such a large cohort could still perform large-scale analyses. UK Biobank data has now been used to, for instance, find that type 1 diabetes, which is generally thought of as a childhood-onset disease, can also crop up among adults, among many other studies.

NPR writes that the biobank's success is breeding even more success, noting that pharmaceutical company Regeneron has teamed up with the project to sequence the genes of all the participants. GenomeWeb reported in 2017 that it and GlaxoSmithKline announced they would be sequencing the UK Biobank cohort in exchange for exclusive access to the data for nine months.

The Scan

Machine Learning Helps ID Molecular Mechanisms of Pancreatic Islet Beta Cell Subtypes in Type 2 Diabetes

The approach helps overcome limitations of previous studies that had investigated the molecular mechanisms of pancreatic islet beta cells, the authors write in their Nature Genetics paper.

Culture-Based Methods, Shotgun Sequencing Reveal Transmission of Bifidobacterium Strains From Mothers to Infants

In a Nature Communications study, culture-based approaches along with shotgun sequencing give a better picture of the microbial strains transmitted from mothers to infants.

Microbial Communities Can Help Trees Adapt to Changing Climates

Tree seedlings that were inoculated with microbes from dry, warm, or cold sites could better survive drought, heat, and cold stress, according to a study in Science.

A Combination of Genetics and Environment Causes Cleft Lip

In a study published in Nature Communications, researchers investigate what combination of genetic and environmental factors come into play to cause cleft lip/palate.