The Jackson Laboratory generated many exciting and newsworthy research discoveries and advances in 2015 that accelerated progress in the search for new cures to diseases that are rooted in our DNA. Here are our top 10 stories of 2015. Click the thumbnails to advance through the slideshow.
The top JAX stories of 2015
Biomedical science is capitalizing on various advances in tools and technology to explore and manipulate genomes. Three technologies in particular are transforming medicine: high-throughput genome sequencing, gene editing technology CRISPR, and single-cell genomics.
Structural deterioration associated with old age can be prevented by long-term aerobic exercise starting in mid-life, according to Jackson Laboratory Assistant Professor Gareth Howell (above), Associate Research Scientist Ileana Soto and their colleagues.
The team found that structural changes that make the blood–brain barrier leaky and result in inflammation of brain tissues in old mice can be mitigated by allowing the animals to run regularly, so providing a potential explanation for the beneficial effects of exercise on dementia in humans.
The Jackson Laboratory is leading the search for cures through the science of genetics, genomics and precision medicine. Learn more about how the Laboratory’s scientists are accelerating discovery in order to find more effective, precise and personalized ways to treat, prevent and cure diseases like cancer — and about how philanthropy makes our mission possible.
Al Raymond beat cancer, but at a cost: the treatments he received for chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) damaged his immune system and left him with other health problems. Using the science of genetics, Jackson Laboratory researcher Kevin Mills is working on new ways to target cancer without harming the patient.
The Jackson Laboratory (JAX) for Genomic Medicine and the University of Connecticut (UConn), including UConn Health, have signed an agreement to launch a joint Single Cell Genomics Center. Paul Robson is The Jackson Laboratory's director of single cell genomics.
The $7.7 million Single Cell Genomics Center, located on the JAX-UConn Health campus, will enable investigators from both JAX and UConn to study biology at the level of its fundamental unit, the individual cell. This allows for a much more precise view of cellular mechanisms such as the genetic change within a primary tumor or immune cell response to infection.
A five-year, $9,971,936 grant from the National Institutes of Health will establish a new Center for Precision Genetics at The Jackson Laboratory, a major initiative involving several collaborating institutions, with the goal of finding solutions for life-threatening and genetically complex human diseases through new approaches to developing precision models of disease.
Jackson Laboratory President and CEO Edison Liu, M.D., says the new Center is now possible thanks to the Laboratory’s long-established expertise in mammalian genetics and disease modeling, paired with the human clinical samples, data and collaborations of the new JAX Genomic Medicine in Farmington, Conn.
As part of a comprehensive relationship to advance cancer research and accelerate personalized genomic medicine, The Cancer Center at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) and The Jackson Laboratory have launched seven joint research projects to study a variety of cancer types, including multiple myeloma, lung, breast, prostate and brain cancers.
The projects bring together 28 scientists – 14 from each institution – to lead investigations ranging from basic science to the development of clinical therapies.
“This joint research program is the first of many collaborative endeavors between BIDMC and JAX that promise to accelerate the application of genomics to cancer care – and speed the development of personalized cancer treatments,” said JAX President and CEO Edison Liu, M.D.
In work involving several new generations of mouse model development, Jackson Laboratory researchers have tested a therapeutic intervention for spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) that restores some function lost due to a mutation in one gene (SMN1) and amplifies the levels of protective genes (SMN2).
Moreover, unlike current interventions, the therapy appears to work after symptoms of SMA have already appeared, and may not need to be administered directly into the central nervous system. A research group led by Cat Lutz (above), director of the JAX Rare and Orpan Disease Center, is working to improve the ability to model SMA in mice.
A Jackson Laboratory-led research team has identified two druggable targets for gastric cancer through a genomic molecular profiling technique, and validated the findings in mouse models capable of hosting human tumors.
The findings provide proof-of-concept for a new drug discovery platform, notes Charles Lee, professor and director of The Jackson Laboratory for Genomic Medicine and senior author of the study.