Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Researchers have identified two new genetic risk factors for Alzheimer's disease (AD) among African Americans

Despite the fact that AD is more common in African Americans than whites, the AD genetic risk profile for African Americans is more poorly understood. While more than 20 genes have been identified as risk factors for AD in whites, fewer than five have been identified for African Americans. In 2013, a genome-wide association study of AD in more than 5,500 African Americans identified two genetic risk factors for AD. This study looked at genetic variants across subjects' entire genome and compared their frequency in cases versus controls. Researchers from Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) used these same subjects, but added additional AD risk information (smoking status, diabetes status, education level) to their statistical modeling to increase the power of the study. By doing so they were able to identify two new genes (COBL and SLC10A2) associated with risk of AD in African Americans. "There are currently no medications for AD that slow or stop the progression of the disease. Genes that increase risk for AD are potential targets for new disease-modifying AD drug therapies. Our study identifies two potentially "drugable" targets," explains corresponding author Jesse Mez, MD, MS, assistant professor of neurology at BUSM and associate director of the Boston University Alzheimer's Disease & CTE Center Clinical Core. According to the researchers the methodology they employed for this study allowed them to make an important discovery without investing more money in genotyping or more effort to recruit volunteers. They believe that a similar methodology could be used for many other diseases to make new genetic discoveries without new large investments.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Two studies may explain why people of African descent respond more strongly to infection, and are more prone to autoimmune diseases

DNA acquired from breeding with Neanderthals may explain why people of European descent respond differently to infection than those of African descent, two studies suggest. The findings might also offer insight into why people of African descent are more prone to autoimmune diseases caused by an overactive immune system.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

A team of scientists has identified MNX1 as a new oncogene - a gene than can cause cancer - that is more active in African American prostate cancer than in European American prostate cancer

The finding suggests that genetic factors can contribute, at last in part, to the higher incidence of prostate cancer among African American men compared with men of other ethnic groups. "African Americans have about one-and-a-half times the incidence and twice the mortality associated with prostate cancer of European Americans, and the reasons for this are not clear," said senior author Dr. Michael Ittmann, professor of pathology & immunology at Baylor College of Medicine and the Michael E. DeBakey Department of VA Medical Center. Most scientists think that some of the health disparities among ethnic groups can be explained by differences in biology. The scientists discovered that, compared with normal prostate tissues, both African American and European American prostate cancer have MNX1 genes that are more active and produce more of the MNX1 protein. However, MNX1 is significantly more active in African American prostate cancer than in European American prostate cancer. In summary, in African American prostate cancer androgen and the AKT signaling pathway can increase the activity of MNX1, which in turn increases lipid metabolism. Increased lipid metabolism is a hallmark of aggressive prostate cancer, which is more common in African American men.

In the first genome-wide association study (GWAS) of genetic risk factors for inflammatory bowel disease in African Americans, a research team has identified two regions of the genome (loci) associated with ulcerative colitis only in people of African descent

The study identified single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) - at ZNF649 and at LSAMP - with genome-wide significance in ulcerative colitis. These SNPs are very specific to sub-Saharan Africans and are not found in any other populations - making these findings unique and novel. This is the first time African- specific loci are known to contribute to inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD), and these loci will be added to the already known 200+ loci in IBD to further expand the IBD genetic architecture. The team also found evidence of overlapping genome-wide associations for ulcerative colitis and IBD in African- Americans and other populations. The detection of variants associated with IBD risk in only people of African descent demonstrates the importance of studying the genetics of IBD and other complex diseases in populations beyond those of European ancestry.

German police have arrested a 19-year-old Moroccan migrant on suspicion of raping a 90-year-old woman who had been attending a church service

Dusseldorf police have announced that they had arrested the man after they had launched a search for the assailant after the daylight attack on the grandmother. The elderly woman had left in the church in the heart of the German city center when the assailant pushed her into a narrow alley between two pubs. In the alley, which is usually closed off to the public and used for storing rubbish from the pubs, the perpetrator is said to have demanded money from the woman before sexually assaulting her. Dusseldorf police were able to construct a likeness of the suspect after a police officer recognized the man at a trains station. The DNA of the man, a Moroccan migrant who had previously lived in Spain, matched the traces found at the crime scene. The man had been previously arrested for robbing a teenager in May 2016. The news comes after the chief of the German police union Rainer Wendt said that criminal migrants from north Africa were laughing at the German justice system as they are often allowed to go free after committing crimes. “They despise our country and laugh at our justice,” Wendt said. “If there is no pre-trial detention made, no imprisonment is imposed, and no deportations carried out then the police make multiple arrests and the perpetrators get away with it,” he added and stated that the migrants are often then released. Wendt also referred to the Casablanca Report that documented around 2,244 North African migrant criminals in the city of Dusseldorf and the police union leader stated that the figures were similar for other German cities around the country. Earlier in 2016 refugees burnt down a shelter for asylum seekers in the city amid claims that the fire had been started over a dispute over food.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Milwaukee: A black police officer who fatally shot another black man in August 2016, sparking several nights of unrest, has been charged with sexually assaulting a man the night after the shooting, after they watched coverage of the riots on television at a bar

Officer Dominique Heaggan-Brown, 24, has been arrested. The alleged victim, unidentified in a criminal complaint, told police on August 15, 2016 that Heaggan-Brown had sexually assaulted him while off duty. Heaggan-Brown fatally shot 23-year-old Sylville Smith on August 13, 2016. Police said that he was holding a gun when he was shot after a brief chase. Police said that Heaggan-Brown is suspended and in custody and they have launched an internal investigation. Police Chief Ed Flynn said that nothing in Heaggan-Brown's pre-hiring background check suggested that he would be likely to engage in wrongdoing. Heaggan-Brown's attorney, Michael Steinle, didn't immediately respond to messages seeking comment. Heaggan-Brown's bail was set at $100,000. He's set to appear at a preliminary hearing on October 27, 2016.