Mothers can pass traits to offspring through bacteria’s DNA

The DNA of bacteria that live in the body can pass a trait to offspring in a way similar to the parents’ own DNA, a new mouse study suggests. According to the authors, the discovery means scientists need to consider a significant new factor – microbial DNA– in their efforts to understand how genes influence illness and health.

Genetic errors linked to more ALS cases than scientists had thought

Genetic mutations may cause more cases of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) than scientists previously had realized, according to researchers. Shown are study authors Janet Cady, a PhD candidate, and Matthew Harms, MD, assistant professor of neurology at the School of Medicine.

Vaccines may make war on cancer personal

In the near future, physicians may treat some cancer patients with personalized vaccines that spur their immune systems to attack malignant tumors. New research led by scientists at the School of Medicine including senior author Robert Schreiber, PhD, has brought the approach one step closer to reality.

Autistic traits seen in parents of kids with autism

Studying children with autism and their parents, researchers have found that when a child has autism, his or her parents are more likely to have autistic traits than parents who don’t have a child with an autism spectrum disorder, as measured by a survey used to identify such characteristics. Pictured is one of the study’s authors, John Constantino, MD.

Fatal cell malfunction ID’d in Huntington’s disease

New research from the School of Medicine’s Albert Kim, MD, PhD (left), and Hiroko Yano, PhD, helps explain how mutations in the gene that causes Huntington’s disease kill brain cells. The findings could open new opportunities for treating the fatal disorder.

Gene testing for heart diseases now available

The School of Medicine now offers genetic testing to help diagnose and treat patients with heart disorders that can lead to sudden death. The new test, offered though the school’s Genomics and Pathology Services (GPS) and developed in collaboration with Washington University cardiologists, analyzes genes linked to arrhythmias and cardiomyopathies.

School of Medicine announces plans for new research building

The School of Medicine plans to construct an energy-efficient, multistory research building dedicated to interdisciplinary research. Positioned along McKinley Avenue just west of Taylor Avenue, the six-story building eventually will house 138,000 square feet of highly flexible, open laboratories. Shown is a rendering of the building.