Genetics 1 min read

Google Teams With Autism Speaks, Gene Therapy Could Help Prevent Heart Disease, and Blood Test Could Predict Success of Antidepressants

By Rhonda Reinhart featured image

Google to house world’s largest autism genome library: Autism Speaks, a foundation dedicated to funding autism research, is collaborating with Google on a database of 10,000 whole genomes of individuals with autism and their family members. In addition to housing the genomic data on its cloud platform, Google will also provide tools to help analyze the data. According to Autism Speaks, this joint effort “promises to advance breakthroughs in the understanding, diagnosis, subtyping, and personalized treatment of autism.”

Scientists use genomic editing to prevent heart disease in mice: Though this technique is probably 10 years from being tested in humans, researchers are still excited about the results from a study in which they lowered cholesterol by 35 to 40 percent in genetically modified mice. According to the study, this type of gene therapy could possibly cut heart disease risk by 90 percent.

Blood test could tell who will benefit from depression medication: According to Gustavo Turecki of McGill University in Canada, “millions of people are treated with antidepressants that won’t have any effect.” But Turecki sees hope in a recent study he led on microRNAs, small molecules that serve as on-off switches in gene expression. Blood samples studied by Turecki and his team showed that people who saw benefits from the antidepressant Celexa (citalopram) had lower levels of a certain molecule than those who saw no improvement from the drug, suggesting that a blood test could predict who would benefit from the antidepressant.