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When you are on your morning commute to work, whether you drive or ride the bus, you might not realize that you are exposed to traffic-related air pollution (TRAP). When people think of air pollution, factory emissions are the first that come to mind. However, the most contributing factor to air pollution happens to be right in your neighbourhood: vehicles.1, 2

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It is widely accepted that genetic factors are strongly linked with athletic performance.[1] After receiving my own 23andMe wellness results, I learned that I was a carrier of the speed gene-- α-Actinin-3 (ACTN3) R577X polymorphism -- which is known to be common in elite power athletes. According to 23andMe, at national and international levels of athletic competitions, this gene seems to make a difference when it comes to athletes’ success.[2]

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This week, I interviewed Scott Rabuka, Director of the Genomics Program at DNA Genotek for our podcast, Molecules, Microbes and Multiomics. Scott joined DNA Genotek in 2008 as the product manager for Oragene and successfully expanded the product into a complete family of solutions for global genomic research and clinical use. He is responsible for the launch of the company's first FDA 510(k) cleared product in 2011 as well as multiple new products designed to address evolving global market opportunities. In this podcast, Scott speaks about saliva as a DNA sample type, who’s using it today and how it compares to other sample types in the field, the clinic and in the lab.

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Many researchers have asked the question: can saliva replace blood for DNA collection and analysis? Research studies confirm that DNA from saliva is equivalent to DNA from blood for analysis; however, when it comes to maximizing research budgets it is also important to consider the costs of the sample type you are using.

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I recently had the opportunity to visit our new sister company, Novosanis+ in Antwerp, Belgium, to talk about urine as a sample type. Novosanis is dedicated to solving urine sampling challenges through its product Colli-Pee™ - an award-winning device designed to efficiently and hygienically capture first-void urine (the first 20ml of a urine sample). 

I spoke with CEO and co-founder, Vanessa Vankerckhoven. You may also listen to our full interview on our podcast: Molecules, Microbes and Multiomics.  

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“Diabetes is the fastest growing debilitating disease in the world”.

Dr. Al-Anouti and Dr. Al-Safar

In 2015, statistics showed that 415 million people suffer from diabetes worldwide. The rate is expected to increase by 54.5% and reach about 642 million people by 2040.[1] The Middle Eastern population account for approximately 20% of these cases. According to the International Diabetes Federation (IDF), the United Arabian Emirates (UAE) has 745,940 diabetics, 304,000 undiagnosed diabetics, and 934,300 pre-diabetics.3 We corresponded with researchers Dr. Al-Anouti and Dr. Al-Safar from Zayed University and Khalifa University to discuss their research on vitamin D receptor gene polymorphisms among Emirati patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus.  

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DNA methylation (DNAm) has become increasingly widespread in the study of psychiatric disorders.[1] Many psychiatric epigenetic studies began to work with peripheral tissues such as blood and saliva to determine which had the best correlation with brain tissue. Researchers like Smith et al compared the DNA methylation in post-mortem tissue samples with blood and saliva and found there was a higher correlation between the brain and saliva compared to blood - DNA methylation from saliva was about 3% more likely to agree with each area of the brain regions than DNA methylation with blood.1,[2]

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We recently introduced readers of The Microbiome Snapshot to our sister company, CoreBiome, a privately-held, Minnesota-based microbiome analysis company that accelerates discovery for customers in the pharmaceutical, agricultural, environmental and research communities. We are continuing this story via a podcast with CoreBiome co-founder, Dr. Dan Knights. In this new podcast, Dr. Knights speaks to us about why the microbiome is so different from the human genome, what answers microbiome research can provide for wellness and disease that we can’t find elsewhere, and what advice he would give an epidemiologist who is looking to add a microbiome component to their project.

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Throughout history, women have influenced and shaped our views and knowledge of science from all disciplines, including human genomics. The research of radioactivity by Dr. Marie Curie (1867-1934), the discovery of the XY sex-determination system by Dr. Nettie Maria Stevens (1861-1912), and the co-discovery of the genetic material of life by Dr. Martha Chase (1927-2003), has shaped genomics and the influence of incredible women like these is undeniable.[1] In addition, many feel that much of the credit for modeling the structure of the DNA molecule should rightfully go to a woman named Rosalind Franklin and not Watson and Crick. These women have brought their love of genetics to life and shared their scientific discoveries with the world.

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Congenital anomalies and genetic disorders are the leading cause of death in children less than ten years old and affect about six percent of live births. For children with suspected genetic disorders, it is crucial to establish an early etiologic diagnosis for a prompt implementation of precision medicine and to enable optimal outcomes to guide clinical decisions. The challenge, however, is the lack of etiologic diagnosis.

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