In this second week of March, we’re bringing our readers news of what we can expect next from CRISPR gene-editing therapies after scientists in the field were awarded the 2020 Nobel Prize. We’re also looking at recent developments in neuroscience, including AI-based drug discovery in Alzheimer’s; biomarkers for ADHD; and the comorbidities of concussion. In coronavirus research there’s the latest on ‘long COVID’ in children; and insights into the changing structure of SARS-CoV-2, which could help development of vaccines. Lastly, there’s news of a study linking endometriosis with lupus.
After the Nobel, What Next for CRISPR Gene-Editing Therapies?
Last year’s Nobel prize for chemistry was awarded to biochemist Jennifer Doudna and microbiologist Emmanuelle Charpentier for their work in developing the technique of gene editing known as Crispr-Cas9 (pronounced “crisper”). Hailed as the ‘molecular scissors’ that will allow us to rewrite our genes, the DNA tool is being trialed in treatments for everything from sickle-cell anemia to cancer.
AI-Based Method Used to Screen for Alzheimer's Drugs
A team at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and Harvard Medical School (HMS), both US, has developed an artificial intelligence (AI)-based method to screen currently available medications as possible treatments for Alzheimer’s disease. According to the researchers, the method could represent a rapid and inexpensive way to repurpose existing therapies into new treatments for the neurodegenerative condition. It could also help reveal new, unexplored targets for therapy by pointing to mechanisms of drug action.
Scientists and Campaigners call for More Research into Long COVID in Children
Scientists and campaign groups have called for more research into long Covid in children, as uncertainty surrounding the phenomenon continues to grow.
A total of 129 children diagnosed with Covid-19 between March and November 2020 were enrolled in a study in Italy. More than half reported at least one symptom persisting 120 days after infection, including fatigue, muscle pain and headaches.
Insights into How Coronavirus Changes Shape Could Aid Development of Vaccines
Scientists continue to search for vaccines and drugs to add to the anti-COVID-19 arsenal. Now two research groups have announced discoveries related to the changing structure of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus that caused the pandemic, and they believe their insights could aid in the development of new weapons to fight the virus.
Significant Association Found Between Endometriosis and Systemic Lupus Erythematosus
An increased risk for systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) was found among patients with endometriosis, according to study results published in Scientific Reports. Recent studies have demonstrated a higher prevalence of allergies and autoimmune diseases among patients with endometriosis. Researchers of the current nationwide, population-based, retrospective cohort study sought to examine the association between endometriosis and risk for SLE.
While chronic neurological effects from concussion have been widely studied, little is known about possible links between concussion and long-term medical and behavioral comorbidities. A recent analysis found significantly higher risks of developing medical problems, including diabetes, hypertension, and other cardiovascular risks in the concussion group compared with controls. The researchers also found that people who had concussion also had more psychiatric and neurologic disorders such as depression, psychosis, stroke, and epilepsy than people in the control group.