Understanding resistance to methadone treatment for opioid dependence

Methadone maintenance treatment (MMT) is the most widely-used therapy in opioid dependence, but it is not effective in some patients, who relapse or drop out from treatment. Researchers at the IMIM and Hospital del Mar led by Marta Torrens, in collaboration with colleagues at the CRG, have found a possible explanation of why some people may not respond well to this treatment. As the authors explain in their paper published this month in the journal European Neuropsychopharmacology, they carried out a genetic analysis on several patients, focusing on the gene ALDH5A1. This enzyme is involved in the catabolism of the … Continue reading Understanding resistance to methadone treatment for opioid dependence

Common causes of complex diseases between Europeans and Asians

Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have revolutionized the field of complex disease genetics in the last six years. Many disease associations (i.e. genetic variants that increase risk for a specific disease) have been detected using this technique, but the reported variants tend to explain only small fractions of risk. Also, the causal variants that generate the associations unveiled by GWAS have not been identified. And their frequency and degree of sharing across different ethnical populations remains unknown. Arcadi Navarro, from the Institute of Evolutionary Biology (UPF-CSIC), set out to study the degree of sharing of disease-associated variants across populations, in order … Continue reading Common causes of complex diseases between Europeans and Asians

Down syndrome hippocampal defects improved in a mouse model

In a recent work published in Neurobiology of disease, the research groups lead by Mara Dierssen at the CRG and Cristina Fillat, now at the August Pi i Sunyer Biomedical Research Institute (IDIBAPS) have joined efforts to find a potential therapeutic target for Down Syndrome (mice). Down Syndrome (DS), caused by the trisomy of human chromosome 21 (HSA21), is the most common chromosome abnormality in humans. It is typically associated with a delay in cognitive ability, with an average IQ of around 50 in young adults compared with 100 in adults without the condition, as well as with physical growth and a particular set of facial characteristics. The Ts65Dn mouse is a genetic model … Continue reading Down syndrome hippocampal defects improved in a mouse model

“The same mutation can have a different outcome in different individuals”

The English researcher Ben Lehner started as a junior group leader at the CRG in December 2006 and has been an ICREA Professor since 2009. His lab, Genetics Systems, consists of five postdoctoral fellows, four PhD students, and a technician who hail from Italy, the UK, Germany, the Netherlands, Poland, Chile, Peru, Canada and Switzerland. About half of the group members are computational biologists and the rest work primarily in the ‘wet’ lab. They all have the same aim – to understand basic questions in genetics – but they use diverse approaches and model systems. From individual genome sequences to … Continue reading “The same mutation can have a different outcome in different individuals”

Your very own cancer avatar

Fátima Al-Shahrour, from the CNIO in Madrid, came last week to the PRBB to give a talk entitled “Bioinformatics challenges for personalized medicine”. She explained what they do at her Translational Bioinformatics Unit in the Clinical Research Programme. And what they do is both exciting and promising. They start with a biopsy of a tumour from a cancer patient who has relapsed after some initial treatment – they concentrate mostly in pancreatic cancer, but it would work with any, in principle. From this sample, they derive cell lines, but also – and they are quite unique in this – they … Continue reading Your very own cancer avatar

Finding the genes underlying complex genetic diseases

Complex genetic disorders often involve multiple proteins interacting with each other, and pinpointing which of them are actually important for the disease is still challenging. Many computational approaches exploiting interaction network topology have been successfully applied to prioritize which individual genes may be involved in diseases, based on their proximity to known disease genes in the network. In a paper published in PLoS One, Baldo Oliva, head of the Structural bioinformatics group at the GRIB (UPF–IMIM)  and Emre Guney, have presented GUILD (Genes Underlying Inheritance Linked Disorders), a new genome-wide network-based prioritization framework. GUILD includes four novel algorithms that use protein-protein interaction data to predict gene-phenotype associations at genome-wide scale, … Continue reading Finding the genes underlying complex genetic diseases

Anniversary CRG Symposium: from genomics to cell biology

Next October 18 and 19, the CRG will be celebrating its annual Symposium. This year it is especially relevant, since this research centre is celebrating its 10th Anniversary. The symposium will focus on the latest and most important advances in genomics but also in genetics, molecular and cell biology, or biotechnology. Several scientists in the international arena, such as Angus LAMOND (Wellcome Trust Centre for Gene Regulation and Expression, Dundee, UK), Tom MANIATIS (Columbia University, New York, US), or Iain MATTAJ (EMBL Heidelberg, Germany) will showcase the achievements of the CRG in the last 10 years in these fields. You … Continue reading Anniversary CRG Symposium: from genomics to cell biology

El·lipse: Spanish science suffers a 25% cut in the budget

The May 2012 edition of the PRBB newspaper, El.lipse, a monthly bilingual newspaper, is now available: http://bit.ly/KprWYh Is working at night harmful? This is one of the issues that the group of Manolis Kogevines (CREAL) is addressing in its research as explained in the new issue of El·lipse. You could also learn about the cutting-edge work with cord blood stem cells for transplants by Nadim Mahumd from the University of Illinois. The genetic origin of Afghanistan’s ethnic groups, the results of the most ambitious genetic study so far about osteoporosis and a European map of mental disorders are among the news that … Continue reading El·lipse: Spanish science suffers a 25% cut in the budget

The effect of genes and environment on the consequences of ecstasy use

The Human Pharmacology and Clinical Neurosciences group of the IMIM-Hospital del Mar, lead by Rafael de la Torre, has published a paper in PLoS One  this week to try to clarify the association between cumulative use of MDMA (ecstasy), one of the most popular illegal psychostimulants abused among youth,  and cognitive dysfunction. They have also set to understand the potential role of candidate genetic polymorphisms in explaining individual differences in the cognitive effects of MDMA. Several studies have suggested that MDMA induces neurotoxicity, which primarily affects the serotonin system and is linked to memory dysfunction. There is also evidence that several gene polymorphisms may contribute to explain variations … Continue reading The effect of genes and environment on the consequences of ecstasy use