Research Roundup: July 27, 2018

An inflammation brake, a global hunt for gut microbe diversity, and an algorithm benchmarking tool.

Len Rubenstein
Credit: Len Rubenstein

Welcome to the July 27, 2018 installment of Research Roundup, a recurring snapshot of recent studies published by scientists at the Broad Institute and their collaborators.

Keeping the body’s defense system from going rogue

Sometimes, our body’s defense cells start attacking healthy cells while killing harmful pathogens, leading to a condition called autoimmunity. In a study published in Cell Reports, a research team led by Daniel Graham, Guadalupe Jasso, and Broad core institute member Ramnik Xavier in the institute's Infectious Disease and Microbiome Program screened inflammatory bowel disease genes and used mouse models to identify a “feedback loop” in our immune system that stops inflammation before it can become a threat to the body. Read more in this Broad news story.

Casting a global net for diverse microbiomes

The world's populations play host to an amazing diversity of gut microbes — a diversity under threat from spreading industrialization, urbanization, and other factors. Postdoctoral fellows Mathieu Groussin, Mathilde Poyet, and Ainara Sistiaga, institute member Eric Alm, and Ramnik Xavier have launched an international effort, the Global Microbiome Conservancy, to catalog, preserve, and explore this global biodiversity and clues it may hold about relationships between the microbiome and inflammatory bowel disease, type 1 diabetes, and other disorders. Read more in a Broad news story.

A new dataset for variant validation

When creating tools for genome analysis, developers must test new algorithms on known reference genome sequences to determine their accuracy and sensitivity. But even these validation datasets can provide biased test results. In Nature Methods, a team led by Heng Li in the Broad's Program in Medical and Population Genetics presents a new, more robust reference dataset for use when benchmarking algorithm performance. The genomic dataset, called Syndip for “synthetic diploid,” was generated by combining the sequences of two homozygous human cell lines. Check out more in a post on the Genome Analysis Toolkit blog.

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