Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Journal: Genome medicine


The effects of probiotic supplementation on fecal microbiota composition in healthy adults have not been well established. We aimed to provide a systematic review of the potential evidence for an effect of probiotic supplementation on the composition of human fecal microbiota as assessed by high-throughput molecular approaches in randomized controlled trials (RCTs) of healthy adults.

Concepts: Epidemiology, Gut flora, Evidence-based medicine, Systematic review, Randomized controlled trial, Effectiveness, Pharmaceutical industry, Meta-analysis


Emerging evidence suggests that the in utero environment is not sterile as once presumed. Work in the mouse demonstrated transmission of commensal bacteria from mother to fetus during gestation, though it is unclear what modulates this process. We have previously shown in the nonhuman primate that, independent of obesity, a maternal high-fat diet during gestation and lactation persistently shapes the juvenile gut microbiome. We therefore sought to interrogate in a population-based human longitudinal cohort whether a maternal high-fat diet similarly alters the neonatal and infant gut microbiome in early life.

Concepts: Pregnancy, Childbirth, Infant, Human, Gut flora, Breastfeeding, Maternal bond, Mammal


While the cost of whole genome sequencing (WGS) is approaching the realm of routine medical tests, it remains too tardy to help guide the management of many acute medical conditions. Rapid WGS is imperative in light of growing evidence of its utility in acute care, such as in diagnosis of genetic diseases in very ill infants, and genotype-guided choice of chemotherapy at cancer relapse. In such situations, delayed, empiric, or phenotype-based clinical decisions may meet with substantial morbidity or mortality. We previously described a rapid WGS method, STATseq, with a sensitivity of >96 % for nucleotide variants that allowed a provisional diagnosis of a genetic disease in 50 h. Here improvements in sequencing run time, read alignment, and variant calling are described that enable 26-h time to provisional molecular diagnosis with >99.5 % sensitivity and specificity of genotypes. STATseq appears to be an appropriate strategy for acutely ill patients with potentially actionable genetic diseases.

Concepts: DNA, Medicine, Genetics, Bioinformatics, Cancer, Disease, Genetic disorder, Sensitivity and specificity


While age and the APOE ε4 allele are major risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease (AD), a small percentage of individuals with these risk factors exhibit AD resilience by living well beyond 75 years of age without any clinical symptoms of cognitive decline.

Concepts: Alzheimer's disease, DNA, Medicine, Gene, Genetics, Epidemiology, Symptom, Apolipoprotein E


Personalized therapy provides the best outcome of cancer care and its implementation in the clinic has been greatly facilitated by recent convergence of enormous progress in basic cancer research, rapid advancement of new tumor profiling technologies, and an expanding compendium of targeted cancer therapeutics.

Concepts: Medicine, Cancer, Oncology, Therapy, Tumor


Expression quantitative trait locus analysis has emerged as an important component of efforts to understand how genetic polymorphisms influence disease risk and is poised to make contributions to translational medicine. Here we review how expression quantitative trait locus analysis is aiding the identification of which gene(s) within regions of association are causal for a disease or phenotypic trait; the narrowing down of the cell types or regulators involved in the etiology of disease; the characterization of drivers and modifiers of cancer; and our understanding of how different environments and cellular contexts can modify gene expression. We also introduce the concept of transcriptional risk scores as a means of refining estimates of individual liability to disease based on targeted profiling of the transcripts that are regulated by polymorphisms jointly associated with disease and gene expression.

Concepts: DNA, Gene, Genetics, Gene expression, Cell, Evolution, Transcription, Quantitative trait locus


Monitoring treatment and early detection of fatal breast cancer (BC) remains a major unmet need. Aberrant circulating DNA methylation (DNAme) patterns are likely to provide a highly specific cancer signal. We hypothesized that cell-free DNAme markers could indicate disseminated breast cancer, even in the presence of substantial quantities of background DNA.

Concepts: Breast cancer, DNA methylation


Despite a myriad of attempts in the last three decades to diagnose ovarian cancer (OC) earlier, this clinical aim still remains a significant challenge. Aberrant methylation patterns of linked CpGs analyzed in DNA fragments shed by cancers into the bloodstream (i.e. cell-free DNA) can provide highly specific signals indicating cancer presence.

Concepts: DNA, Cancer, Metastasis, The Canon of Medicine, Hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer, BRCA2, DNA replication, DNA methylation


Humans are virtually identical in their genetic makeup, yet the small differences in our DNA give rise to tremendous phenotypic diversity across the human population. By contrast, the metagenome of the human microbiome-the total DNA content of microbes inhabiting our bodies-is quite a bit more variable, with only a third of its constituent genes found in a majority of healthy individuals. Understanding this variability in the “healthy microbiome” has thus been a major challenge in microbiome research, dating back at least to the 1960s, continuing through the Human Microbiome Project and beyond. Cataloguing the necessary and sufficient sets of microbiome features that support health, and the normal ranges of these features in healthy populations, is an essential first step to identifying and correcting microbial configurations that are implicated in disease. Toward this goal, several population-scale studies have documented the ranges and diversity of both taxonomic compositions and functional potentials normally observed in the microbiomes of healthy populations, along with possible driving factors such as geography, diet, and lifestyle. Here, we review several definitions of a ‘healthy microbiome’ that have emerged, the current understanding of the ranges of healthy microbial diversity, and gaps such as the characterization of molecular function and the development of ecological therapies to be addressed in the future.

Concepts: Gene, Health, Human, Bacteria, Evolution, Biology, Species, World population


The human gut harbors more than 100 trillion microbial cells, which have an essential role in human metabolic regulation via their symbiotic interactions with the host. Altered gut microbial ecosystems have been associated with increased metabolic and immune disorders in animals and humans. Molecular interactions linking the gut microbiota with host energy metabolism, lipid accumulation, and immunity have also been identified. However, the exact mechanisms that link specific variations in the composition of the gut microbiota with the development of obesity and metabolic diseases in humans remain obscure owing to the complex etiology of these pathologies. In this review, we discuss current knowledge about the mechanistic interactions between the gut microbiota, host energy metabolism, and the host immune system in the context of obesity and metabolic disease, with a focus on the importance of the axis that links gut microbes and host metabolic inflammation. Finally, we discuss therapeutic approaches aimed at reshaping the gut microbial ecosystem to regulate obesity and related pathologies, as well as the challenges that remain in this area.

Concepts: Immune system, Archaea, Cancer, Bacteria, Gut flora, Metabolism, Adenosine triphosphate, Organism