They came from test tubes. They came pale as ghosts with eyes as blue-white as glacier ice. They came first out of Korea. N-Words
- a science fiction short story by Ted Kosmatka
. Audio version
November 24, 2012: analysis of extensive DNA sequencing of 'a novel hominin hybrid species, commonly called “Bigfoot” or “Sasquatch” ... suggests that the legendary Sasquatch is a human relative that arose approximately 15,000 years ago as a hybrid cross of modern Homo sapiens with an unknown primate species.
' The press release claimed that the research was "currently under peer-review," except that no scientific journal would publish the research, until now: DeNovo
, an open access scientific journal. But DeNovo isn't really open access, as it costs $30 to view the article, the paper itself is brand new, the domain was recently purchased
, and the website features generic stock photos. Ars Technica digs deeper
, summarizing some of the "open access" article, and providing a link to a particularly insightful clip on YouTube
, with an odd water mark. [more inside]
"If the history of public health has until now been embodied by the map—as in British physician John Snow’s famous map, which allowed him to curb the London cholera outbreak of 1854 and to found, in doing so, the modern field of epidemiology—Snitkin was embarking on a new kind of epidemiology: one founded on the phylogenetic tree." Writing for Wired
, Carl Zimmer describes how Evan Snitkin and Julie Segre used genome sequencing to halt a bacterial outbreak
at the National Institute of Health's Clinical Center
. (via The Feature)
"The Turn of the Screw: James Watson on The Double Helix and his changing view of Rosalind Franklin":
's brief interview with Watson
, co-discoverer of the structure of DNA, about his "infamous" treatment of Franklin
in his book The Double Helix
, on the occasion of the publication of an annotated and illustrated edition of the same
Hacking the President’s DNA.
"The U.S. government is surreptitiously collecting the DNA of world leaders, and is reportedly protecting that of Barack Obama. Decoded, these genetic blueprints could provide compromising information. In the not-too-distant future, they may provide something more as well—the basis for the creation of personalized bioweapons that could take down a president and leave no trace."
With the possible exception of the Nobel awards, physicists seem to get all the press these days, whether they're doing quantum level work at the LHC, or cosmology via the latest satellite data. Biologists, not so much. It's too bad, because Richard Lenski
is running one of the great evolutionary experiments of our time
, and it's producing interesting results. [more inside]
In 2001, we learned the sequence of our genome; now, we have amassed a vast amount of knowledge about what those sequences actually do
. Yesterday, the data from the ENCODE
project went live. [more inside]
NASA Proves Building Blocks Of DNA Come From Space.
"NASA researchers studying meteorites have found that they contain several of the components needed to make DNA on Earth. The discovery provides support for the idea that the building blocks for DNA were likely created in space, and carried to Earth on objects, like meteorites, that crashed into the planet’s surface. According to the theory, the ready-made DNA parts could have then assembled under Earth’s early conditions to create the first DNA.
The New Biology
- Eric Schadt's quest to upend molecular biology and open source it. (via
The Xenotext Experiment
is Christian Bök
],"nine-year long attempt to create an example of “living poetry.” I have been striving to write a short verse about language and genetics, whereupon I use a “chemical alphabet” to translate this poem into a sequence of DNA for subsequent implantation into the genome of a bacterium (in this case, a microbe called Deinococcus radiodurans—an extremophile, capable of surviving, without mutation, in even the most hostile milieus, including the vacuum of outer space)." [Via] [more inside]
“To live, to err, to fall, to triumph, to recreate life out of life.”
Craig Venter created synthetic life
and inscribed this quote from James Joyce into its genome. Now he has been threatened with a suit for copyright infringement by the very litigious James Joyce estate.
The Someone You're Not: "Our packed prisons are starting to disgorge hundreds of mostly African-American men who, over the last few decades, we wrongly convicted of violent crimes. This is what it's like to spend nearly thirty years in prison for something you didn't do. This is what it's like to spend nearly thirty years as someone you aren't. And for Ray Towler, this is what it's like to be free." Via. [more inside]
Invasive amniocentesis and chorionic villi sampling (CVS) tests are commonly used to determine the chromosomal, structural and genetic abnormalities in fetuses. But could they eventually become obsolete? A Chinese study
has found that a complete copy of the fetal genome exists in the mother's blood, suggesting many prenatal diagnoses could potentially be performed noninvasively. [more inside]
Noncoding "junk" DNA
is a signature part of the genomes of eukaryotes
. Scientists have now identified a case
of such DNA causing a genetic disease
(Facioscapulohumeral Muscular Dystrophy
) in certain genetic backgrounds by stabilizing the messenger RNA
of a gene.
Followup to this post:
A US District Court has ruled
that Myriad Genetic's patents on breast cancer genes BRCA1 and BRCA2, which allow them to hold exclusive rights
to a widely used genetic test for inherited breast and ovarian cancer susceptibility, are invalid
. Genomics Law Report analyzes the ruling
in two posts
. The decision is likely to be challenged in a legal appeal — but if upheld, it could have huge implications for the biotechnology industry. [more inside]
grumblebee's post about cell size and scale
the other day was quite fascinating. Pulling back to the home for that site, the Genetic Science Learning Center
at the University of Utah delivers educational materials on genetics, bio-science and health topics ranging from stem cells
to gene therapy
, and from epigenetics
. Explore the neurobiology of normal and addicted brains
and the genetic contribution to this chronic disease.
The Home Office
, the UK government department responsible for immigration control
, has initiated a program to test the DNA from of potential asylum seekers in an attempt to confirm their true nationalities
. The initial program is a six-month pilot limited to claimants arriving from the Horn of Africa
. The program, currently using forensic samples provided on a voluntary basis, could potentially expand to other nationalities if successful. The Home Office spokeswoman said ancestral DNA testing would not be used alone but would be combined with language analysis, investigative interviewing techniques and other recognized forensic disciplines, but many are decrying the "deeply flawed" program, from refugee support groups
to scientists in the genetic forensics fields
). [more inside]
Familial genetic profiling of law enforcement DNA databases
has already been used to succesfully establish both guilt and innocence. Legal and moral questions on these expanded techniques abound and are comprehensively explored by a speaker at a recent FBI symposium on the topic. In the author's words, scenarios previously limited to movies like Minority Report are unfolding quietly, before most of us have thought about the consequences. (Via)
Now: The Rest of the Genome.
"Only 1 percent of the genome is made up of classic genes. Scientists are exploring the other 99 percent and uncovering new secrets and new questions."
U.S. military practices genetic discrimination in denying benefits.
"Those medically discharged with genetic diseases are left without disability or retirement benefits. Some are fighting back."
As advances in DNA testing allow us to discover our genetic origins in ever-greater detail
, many people are making surprising discoveries. Especially in the melting-pot that is the USA
. Of course there are always those who feel that access to such information about who we are will only lead to bad things
As legends go, the first recorded instance of violence in the feud occurred after an 1873 dispute about the ownership of a hog:
Floyd Hatfield had it and Randolph McCoy said it was his. The rest is Appalachian history. But it turns out that history may have had a helping hand in something called Von Hippel-Lindau disease.
It weren't the moonshine, Pa. It was the DNA that did it.
...Historians teach that they are mostly descended from different peoples: the Irish from the Celts and the English from the Anglo-Saxons who invaded from northern Europe and drove the Celts to the country’s western and northern fringes. But geneticists who have tested DNA throughout the British Isles are edging toward a different conclusion. Many are struck by the overall genetic similarities, leading some to claim that both Britain and Ireland have been inhabited for thousands of years by a single people that have remained in the majority, with only minor additions from later invaders like Celts, Romans, Angles, Saxons, Vikings and Normans. The implication that the Irish, English, Scottish and Welsh have a great deal in common with each other, at least from the geneticist’s point of view, seems likely to please no one.A United Kingdom? Maybe
See also Myths of British ancestry
In the words of one well known Basque cultural icon
: HA Ha!
Poor old Abe.
He had an impressive medical history
, as previously discussed
. Will we ever figure out all his ailments? As an explanation for "his especially clumsy gait," one theory claims that he had Marfan's Syndrome
(with good company
). But now researchers are leaning more toward a new theory, that a gene-linked disorder called ataxia
. But Lincoln also suffered from depression which could have been heriditary
, for which he took "little blue pills"
that gave him mercury poisoning, which could explain his insomnia, tremors and rage attacks, gait, and more
. Of course, we also suspect
that he was in the closet
. Lincoln's DNA
will continue to be a growth industry, at least until somebody can get hold of a sample of the old guy and figure him out for sure.
If your European ancestors survived the Bubonic Plague
700 years ago, they very likely may have also passed on to you a mutation of the CCR5 gene -- called delta 32
. This may not sound exciting, but delta 32 is a powerful mistake. HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, attacks the human immune system, infecting the white blood cells sent to destroy it. The delta 32 mutation, however, effectively blocks the crucial gateway into human cells the virus needs. In fact, possessing delta 32 could save your life, and the lives of your children.
To settle the issue, I extracted my own DNA
. I extracted the DNA of my subject
. I tested both in a gel electrophoresis
[flash] chamber that I built myself
. As I suspected, although my DNA is delicious
, I am not a kiwi fruit.
not so junk DNA
the idea has always made me uncomfortable. now scientists are taking a closer look at base-pair sequences that have been generally overlooked till now.
"We are becoming the masters of our own DNA. But does that give us the right to decide that my children should never have been born?"
John Sundman is a science fiction novelist
and the father of two children with severe medical conditions. In this two-part article
he shares his experiences and thoughts on bioethics, the Human Genome Project and whether genetics research is paving the way for a resurgent eugenics movement.
Stupidity should be cured, says DNA discoverer.
"People say it would be terrible if we made all girls pretty. I think it would be great."
Need a user's manual for your DNA?
Sure that there's some bug in there you could fix if you knew how to? Here are the tools you'll need. I know the web isn't relly about one-to-many publishing, but just sometimes it does it wonderfully well.
Scientists are making DNA that uses letters other than AGCT
Underlying the chemicals is a code. DNA is composed of pairs of four types of proteins. This project at Scripps Research Institute is attempting to design a DNA which uses different proteins to convey genetic information. The ultimate goal would be to have a functioning organism with a genetic code that uses a different "alphabet" to "communicate" the same "message" You know what this means? If they can get it to work, language wins! The world will truly be proven to be a "discursive" formation. (The language metaphor comes courtesy of the NYT
, but I believe it is more than apt.)
Within a year, one authority expects, a judge will declare fingerprint evidence unscientific.
The Age of Genetics is upon us. I didn't know twins have identical DNA, but different fingerprints. And, for other reasons as well, fingerprinting will still be used. Just not the standard anymore.
Gould, earthworms and you:
Stephen Jay Gould discusses the recent discovery that the human body has only about 1/4th of the DNA originally estimated. NYTimes op-ed piece.
One of the best results of this discovery is that it sounds death knell of reductionist biology; as usual, the human body turns out to be more complicated than anyone could have imagined. ("Gee, we haven't explained life, the universe and everything? Gosh darnit!")
I have always thought it was silly to ascribe artistic talent, criminal behaviour, musical aptitude or computer savvy to the foibles of some single gene. Now here's independent confirmation of that opinion...
So once again we find that we ourselves
, and not our parents or our grandparents, are responsible for who we are and what we become...
A rather interesting article
on how scientists how found that people with the same surname usually share some common DNA. This could soon be used to track down the original founder of your last name.