In our first issue of Industry Watch for 2021, we’re bringing our readers insights from a founding member of the Human Genome Project, looking at where the project has taken us so far and what is next in the field of genomics. Also, on this topic, we feature an article on how our partner’s genetics can affect our health. In global health issues, we’re looking at the differences in cardiovascular risk in the East and West; casting light on why many lose their sense of smell when infected with COVID-19; and the impact of climate change on children. Research updates on sepsis and PTSD are also featured.
30 Years Since the Human Genome Project Began, What’s Next?
In 1987, when researchers first used the word genomics to describe the newly developing discipline of mapping DNA, Eric Green had just finished medical school. A few years later, he found himself working on the front lines of the young field’s marquee moon shot: The Human Genome Project. To lead the nation’s participation in the global effort, Congress established the National Human Genomics Research Institute, or NHGRI, in 1989.
Cholesterol Drops in the West and Rises in the East
Cardiovascular risk from the accumulation of “bad” cholesterol in blood vessels is shifting from high-income Western countries, especially those in Europe, to low- and middle-income countries, particularly in East and Southeast Asia. A meta-analysis of 1,127 studies comprising 102.6 million people worldwide shows a significant drop in bad cholesterol from 1980 to 2018 in countries such as Finland, Belgium and the U.S. and a strong rise in Thailand, Malaysia, Nigeria and Malawi.
Mysteries of COVID Smell Loss Finally Yield Some Answers
An estimated 80% of people with COVID-19 have smell disturbances, and many also have dysgeusia or ageusia (a disruption or loss of taste, respectively) or changes in chemesthesis (the ability to sense chemical irritants such as hot chilies). Smell loss is so common in people with the disease that some researchers have recommended its use as a diagnostic test because it may be a more reliable marker than fever or other symptoms.
Pediatrician Network Puts Spotlight on Climate Change’s Effects on Children
As the effects of climate change play out worldwide, pediatricians see the evidence in their offices. There are the children with asthma who experience more frequent attacks as a result of excess heat and longer allergy seasons. And then there are kids who have missed vaccinations or other routine care because more frequent hurricanes or other natural disasters have displaced their families.
Sepsis Biomarker Prospect Found in Sugar-Binding Protein
Sepsis is a medical emergency that occurs when the body has a strong response to an infection of any type but is most typically seen as a result of bacterial infections. The life-threatening event is a result of when the body releases components of the immune system into the blood, in an effort to combat the infection, triggering massive inflammation.
Brain Tissue Yields Clues to Causes of PTSD
A post-mortem analysis of brain tissue from people who had been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) may help explain enduring mysteries about the disorder, such as why women are more susceptible to it and whether a dampened immune system response plays a role in dealing with stress, a team headed by Yale University and the VA’s National Center for PTSD (NCPTSD) researchers has found.
Your Partner’s Genome May Affect Your Health
People’s health and lifestyle are influenced by the genes of their partners, according to a study published last month (December 14) in Nature Human Behavior. Using data from more than 80,000 couples in the UK Biobank, researchers identified multiple correlations between individuals’ traits and their partners’ genomes and concluded that around one-quarter of those associations were partly causal, with one person’s DNA having indirect effects on the other person’s health or behavior.