Researchers identify genetic marker for heart failure

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A team of scientists has identified powerful predictors of congestive heart failure, a major cause of hospitalization and death in the United States. A mutated gene, SLCO1B1, was found to be associated with high levels of blood fatty acid, which is a strong predictor for the development of future heart failure and the mutation itself has a direct effect on heart failure risk.

Accumulation of a product of cell metabolism found to be linked with kidney tumor growth

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Researchers have shown that when the metabolite fumarate accumulates in a hereditary form of renal cancer it leads to an epigenetic reprogramming that drives cancer. The tumor growth mechanism seen here could be similar in other cancers, such as lung and bowel cancer, where the enzyme that breaks down fumarate is not present or not fully functional.

ICU patients lose helpful gut bacteria within days of hospital admission

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The microbiome of patients admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU) at a hospital differs dramatically from that of healthy patients, according to a new study. Researchers analyzing microbial taxa in ICU patients’ guts, mouth and skin reported finding dysbiosis, or a bacterial imbalance, that worsened during a patient’s stay in the hospital. Compared to healthy people, ICU patients had depleted populations of commensal, health-promoting microbes and higher counts of bacterial taxa with pathogenic strains.

Forensic DNA analysis checks the origin of cultured cells

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Cell lines are cultured cells that are commonly used in medical research. New results show that such cells are not always what they are assumed to be. Using genetic analyses, the researchers showed that a commonly used cell line that was established almost 50 years ago does not originate from the patient it is claimed to stem from.