Carl Zimmer writes for The New York Times: How Simple Can Life Get? It's Complicated - "Scientists have long wondered how much further life can be stripped down and still remain alive. Is there a genetic essence of life? The answer seems to be that the true essence of life is not some handful of genes, but coexistence." [more inside]
Scientists are developing ways to edit the DNA of tomorrow’s children. Should they stop before it’s too late?
OneRepublic just released their latest music video, I Lived, which tells the story of Bryan Warnecke. He's a fifteen year old boy who cycled over a thousand miles in 43 days over 8 mountain passes, raising $260,000 for Cystic Fibrosis research. He also suffers from Cystic Fibrosis. [more inside]
New GM technique injects mosquitoes with a gene that results in mostly male offspring, eventually leading to a population crash. Previous efforts to tackle the disease, that kills more than 1 million people each year – most of whom are African children – have included bed nets to protect people and insecticides to kill the mosquito species most responsible for the transmission of malaria (Anopheles gambiae). The new technique by a team at Imperial College London involves injecting mosquitoes with a gene that causes the vast majority of their offspring to be male, leading to an eventual dramatic decline in population within six generations as females disappear. “You have a short-term benefit because males don’t bite humans [and transmit malaria],” Andrea Crisanti, one of the authors of the new research, which was published in the journal Nature Communications on Tuesday, told the Guardian. “But in the long term you will eventually eradicate or substantially reduce mosquitoes. This could make a substantial contribution to eradicating malaria, combined with other tools such as insecticides.”
These new mosquitoes are now set to be used in Brazil, having been approved for use by the Brazilian government with a factory for their production now opened.[more inside]
These demos represent the final writings and music of Gene Ween, before he departed and the inner FREEMAN emerged. On that note, we have received a two word personal statement from Aaron: "stay tuned." [more inside]
Cocks (almost) don't have a penis, a trait common to 97% of bird species, but they can grow one when the expression of the Bmp4 gene is prevented. The expression of this gene causes the percursor of the phallus in the chick embryo to undergo apoptosis (cell death) and Bmp genes are also involved in 3 other bird traits: feather development, toothlessness and beak shape. In penis-less bird species, copulation requires a sex maneuver nicknamed the cloacal kiss (in French) which requires a full cooperation of the female (3 min of tender parrot sex). In species where males have a penis, like ducks, females are less lucky: the coevolution of the rather convoluted morphology of male and female genitalia has been hypothezised to occur through sexual conflict [many previouslies]. The evolutionary mechanisms that drove phallus reduction in most birds species are still unknown.
After a decade or so of legal back-and-forth between Utah-based Myriad Genetics and medical researchers, the ACLU, and the Public Patent Forum, the US Supreme Court will hear a case next week which attempts to address whether genes — isolated (derivative) or original — can be patented. The stakes are high on both sides: opponents use Myriad's actions to argue that giving short-term monopoly control over humanity's genetic constituency is not in the public interest, while proponents defend the use of patents to spur private research in biotech, alternative energy and other nascent industries.
A genome-wide association study has linked a dislike of cilantro with a variant of a single nucleotide in a cluster of olfactory receptor genes. The palatability of cilantro has previously been a divisive subject on the blue. [more inside]
How many arms have held you, and hated to let you go, how many, how many, I wonder, but I really don't want to know.
Less than two weeks after a controversial paper came to light advocating the pre-natal treatment of some female fetuses with a hormone to make their behavior more stereotypically female (previously discussed here) comes news of actual animal research on causing the opposite inclination. By knocking out the fucose mutarotase gene, scientists in South Korea have apparently created "Lesbian mice" who prefer other female mice and who resist the attempts of male mice to mate with them. Article abstract, and coverage by The Telegraph.
"Hi. My name is Gene and this is my journal." Young Gene Roddenberry meets two Garfield-eyed aliens who proceed to take him everywhere in their exploration of this strange planet Earth. In the process, we see where Gene came up with the idea of a unified borderless, moneyless world that would allow dashing starship captains to seek out new life and new civilizations, boldly going where no one has gone before. We see where Gene first met tribbles, Orion slave girls, Organians, and the Guardian of Forever, and how Gene came up with phasers, tricorders, the Prime Directive, food replicators (from which he orders gagh), Questor androids, and the Enterprise design. [more inside]
Maybe you remember them from their 'hit' single "Push Th' Little Daisies", or from their appearance on MTV's Beavis and Butt-head. Maybe you know them from their appearance in the film "It's Pat" or from their contributions to the "Road Trip" soundtrack or even from their appearance at Chef Aid on South Park. My hope, however, is that you don't know Ween, allowing me the opportunity to let you taste the waste. [more inside]
"Nothing in biology makes sense except in light of evolution." Despite Theodosius Dobzhansky's succint description of natural selection at the core of biological research since Darwin's fateful trip to the Galapagos, evolutionary biologist Michael Lynch respectfully dissents, asking "whether natural selection is a necessary or sufficient force to explain" the complexity of multicellular organisms we see today, where mutation, recombination and genetic drift are often overlooked, but critical factors in evolutionary theory and understanding.
Doctors in London have made the world's first attempt to treat a retinal degeneration disorder using gene therapy. "The researchers aim to restore the activity in these cells and therefore restore vision by implanting healthy copies of the key gene into the RPE at the back of the eye. In other optical news, wired.com is leading with a piece about "Luke 's Binoculars" (yes, as in Skywalker) - a gadget that is meant to provide soldiers with a 120-degree field of view and allow him/her to be able to spot moving vehicles as far as 10 kilometers away by integrating EEG electrodes that monitor the wearer's neural signals. CTTWS, I presume?
The evolutionary reason behind senescence^ is one of the great mysteries of biology. Now cancer researchers may have discovered the key to why we age.
You get the gay from your mother.
It turns out that there may not be "gay" genes, just "attracted to men" genes.
It turns out that there may not be "gay" genes, just "attracted to men" genes.
"We have [a substance] that extends the life of every species it's given to. We're 50 years ahead of where I thought we would be 10 years ago." While Harvard Medical School rules prevent David Sinclair from recommending product, "I know a number of scientists who think [it] is their best shot. Others satisfy themselves with a glass of red wine," which contains the compound. Too good to be true?
Scientists in Australia have discovered a new gene. Called BRCA3, this genetic mutation causes up to 10% of the breast cancer cases which run within families. This breakthrough completes the search for the trilogy of gene mutations. The first two gene mutation markers were discovered in 1994 and 1995 respectively.
"Language Gene" found... (link to arstechnica discussion) "A group of Oxford University researchers presented findings in this week's Nature that they isolated a gene called FOXP2 that appears to be involved in both speech and language development." this is intriguing... that so much can start from so little.
Isolating the gene responsible for caffeine is expected to lead to decaffeinated beans, and a higher-quality coffee product, all-around... But are they considering other applications? With a bit of gene splicing, anything is possible. Caffeinated oranges, anyone?