Discovery helps improve accuracy of CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing


A detailed study of how domains within the Cas9 protein move when the molecule binds to DNA has allowed scientists to locate the protein that monitors the fidelity of binding between the Cas9 single-guide RNA and its DNA target. The researchers then tweaked this domain to boost specificity, creating the highest fidelity Cas9 protein to date.

Discovery of chromosome motor supports DNA loop extrusion


It is one of the mysteries in biology: how does a cell neatly distribute its replicated DNA between two daughter cells? Scientists are split into two camps: the first argues that condensing works like a hook, tying DNA together. The other camp thinks that the ring-shaped protein pulls the DNA inwards to create a loop. Now researchers from give the ‘loop-extrustion camp’ a boost: condensin does indeed have the putative ‘motor power’ on board.

Discovery of genes linked to preterm birth in landmark study


A massive international DNA analysis of pregnant women has identified for the first time six gene regions that influence the length of pregnancy and the timing of birth. The findings may lead to new ways to prevent preterm birth and its consequences — the leading cause of death among children under age 5 worldwide.

New Zealand researchers makes 'natural born killer' cell discovery


An unexpected role for a white blood cell called the Natural Killer (NK) cell — a critical cell for ridding the body of infection and cancer, has been discovered. The NK cell is a ‘vigilante’ killer — a white blood cell that destroys invaders and cancer cells through a process of ‘identity card’ checking. The researchers’ new work shows that violent vigilante NK cells act as helper cells to start up the immune response.