301 posts tagged with genetics.
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Genetic Engineering Will Change Everything Forever – CRISPR

Designer babies, the end of diseases, genetically modified humans that never age. Outrageous things that used to be science fiction are suddenly becoming reality. The only thing we know for sure is that things will change irreversibly. [more inside]
posted by Blasdelb on Aug 10, 2016 - 55 comments

Ice Bucket Challenge funds ALS Breakthrough

Want some good news for terrible times? It seems the Ice Bucket Challenge viral fundraiser for ALS research has yielded identification of a common gene amongst 15,000 ALS patients. It's still early days for this research, but it's progress: progress funded as the result of a viral phenomenon.
posted by hippybear on Jul 27, 2016 - 27 comments

Meet Luca, the Ancestor of All Living Things

Genes that do the same thing in a human and a mouse are generally related by common descent from an ancestral gene in the first mammal. So by comparing their sequence of DNA letters, genes can be arranged in evolutionary family trees, a property that enabled Dr. Martin and his colleagues to assign the six million genes to a much smaller number of gene families. Of these, only 355 met their criteria for having probably originated in Luca, the joint ancestor of bacteria and archaea.
Meet Luca, the Ancestor of All Living Things [more inside]
posted by y2karl on Jul 26, 2016 - 36 comments

Sapiens 2.0: Homo Deus?

In his follow-up to Sapiens, Yuval Noah Harari envisions what a 'useless class' of humans might look like as AI advances and spreads - "I'm aware that these kinds of forecasts have been around for at least 200 years, from the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, and they never came true so far. It's basically the boy who cried wolf, but in the original story of the boy who cried wolf, in the end, the wolf actually comes, and I think that is true this time." [more inside]
posted by kliuless on May 24, 2016 - 23 comments

I hereby claim credit for this when it shows up on various CSIs

Fingerprints! Everybody's got 'em...except for folks with adermatoglyphia, aka "immigration delay disease", a rare, benign genetic mutation that disrupts the formation of fingerprint ridges by disrupting RNA transcription tied to the SMARCAD1 gene.
posted by cortex on Apr 30, 2016 - 10 comments

A new banana promises to cure blindness in East Africa

"In the winter of 2014, students at Iowa State University received emails asking them to volunteer for an experiment. Researchers were looking for women who would eat bananas that had been genetically engineered to produce extra carotenes, the yellow-orange nutrients that take their name from carrots. Our bodies use alpha and beta carotenes to make retinol, better known as vitamin A, and the experiment was testing how much of the carotenes in the bananas would transform to vitamin A. The researchers were part of an international team trying to end vitamin A deficiency. The emails reached the volunteers they needed to begin the experiment, but they also reached protesters. “As a student in the sustainability program, I immediately started asking questions,” said Iowa State postdoc Rivka Fidel. “Is this proven safe? Have they considered the broader cultural and economic issues?” ... Fidel told me she and her friends had found it nearly impossible to extract information from researchers, or from the Gates Foundation, which is providing funding for this project. Too often conversations about these kinds of issues simply reverberate within their respective echo chambers. So to bridge the gap I took the gist of the students’ questions to people at the Gates Foundation, scientists working on the banana, and the one person who may have done the most to fight vitamin A deficiency — an ophthalmologist who has no interest in either promoting or bashing GMOs." [more inside]
posted by Blasdelb on Mar 31, 2016 - 65 comments

Taking race out of human genetics

In the wake of the sequencing of the human genome in the early 2000s, genome pioneers and social scientists alike called for an end to the use of race as a variable in genetic research. Unfortunately, by some measures, the use of race as a biological category has increased in the postgenomic age. Although inconsistent definition and use has been a chief problem with the race concept, it has historically been used as a taxonomic categorization based on common hereditary traits (such as skin color) to elucidate the relationship between our ancestry and our genes. We believe the use of biological concepts of race in human genetic research—so disputed and so mired in confusion—is problematic at best and harmful at worst. It is time for biologists to find a better way. - An editorial in Science exploring the conundrum facing genomic researchers where race is both fundamentally flawed as a scientific model and violently dangerous but still the only consistent lens through which study participants understand the information they have about their own connection to human diversity [more inside]
posted by Blasdelb on Feb 11, 2016 - 34 comments

No, not another story about the voting public

Kept in the dark for 60 years, fruit flies begin to reveal their genetic adaptations. In 1954, seven years after their cousins returned from space, a colony of fruit flies was plunged into a darkness which would continue through 1500 generations right up till the present day. The results of this study shed considerable light on the role of genetic variation in physical adaptation. Spoiler: [more inside]
posted by fairmettle on Feb 10, 2016 - 12 comments

Neuron-pruning gene linked to schizophrenia

After
the collection of DNA from more than 100,000 people, detailed analysis of complex genetic variation in more than 65,000 human genomes, development of an innovative analytical strategy, examination of postmortem brain samples from hundreds of people, and the use of animal models to show that a protein from the immune system also plays a previously unsuspected role in the brain
researchers have concluded that a complex variant of the C4 gene is a major risk factor for schizophrenia. C4 is involved in synaptic pruning, which helps explain why the disorder often begins in adolescence or young adulthood. [more inside]
posted by clawsoon on Jan 28, 2016 - 30 comments

The DIY Scientist, the Olympian, and the Mutated Gene

It seemed absolutely crazy. The idea that an Iowa housewife, equipped with the cutting-edge medical tool known as Google Images, would make a medical discovery about a pro athlete who sees doctors and athletic trainers as part of her job? via
posted by ChuraChura on Jan 19, 2016 - 62 comments

Genegineering

Humans 2.0 - "With CRISPR, scientists can change, delete, and replace genes in any animal, including us. Working mostly with mice, researchers have already deployed the tool to correct the genetic errors responsible for sickle-cell anemia, muscular dystrophy, and the fundamental defect associated with cystic fibrosis. One group has replaced a mutation that causes cataracts; another has destroyed receptors that H.I.V. uses to infiltrate our immune system." [more inside]
posted by kliuless on Nov 16, 2015 - 69 comments

Who do you mean by we?

Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari - "The book delivers on its madly ambitious subtitle by in fact managing to cover key moments in the developmental history of humankind from the emergence of Homo Sapiens to today's developments in genetic engineering." Also btw, check out Harari on the myths we need to survive, re: fact/value distinctions and their interrelationships.
posted by kliuless on Nov 8, 2015 - 7 comments

When it's good, it's great; when it's bad, it's horrid

A 5-year study of 333 Australians found those with the short-short version of the 5-HTTLPR promoter of the SERT serotonin transporter gene were more likely than other adults to be depressed if they had suffered abuse as a child. However, if they hadn't suffered childhood abuse, they were likely to be happier than the rest of the population. This may help resolve inconsistent previous results about the effects of the allele.
posted by clawsoon on Oct 28, 2015 - 3 comments

Not human, lion-fronted and snake behind, a goat in the middle

When a Washington couple failed a paternity test, they thought the fertility clinic had used the wrong sperm. But the clinic was pretty sure it hadn't. A more detailed fertility test showed that the father wasn't the father -- his never-born twin brother was. [more inside]
posted by jeather on Oct 27, 2015 - 43 comments

Ball taken, gone back to Heimatland

"Immigration to my country harms me, it harms my family, it harms my people. Whoever invites or welcomes immigrants to Europe and Germany is my enemy,” says bioinformatician Gangolf Jobb, who has responded to the Syrian migrant crisis by revoking the license for his Treefinder software, one tool (among many) that help measure and visualize the evolutionary distances between organisms. [more inside]
posted by a lungful of dragon on Sep 30, 2015 - 52 comments

Anti-GMO thinking

'Why People Oppose GMOs Even Though Science Says They Are Safe - Intuition can encourage opinions that are contrary to the facts' (SciAm)
posted by peacay on Aug 22, 2015 - 176 comments

What is thy name?

"Humans as Superorganisms: How Microbes, Viruses, Imprinted Genes and Other Selfish Entities Shape Our Behavior" by Peter Kramer and Paola Bressan discusses the idea that an individual homo sapiens is only one component of the human superorganism we call a person, focusing on the psychological and psychiatric ramifications thereof. (Paola Bressan previously.)
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth on Jul 27, 2015 - 17 comments

In-valid user

In 2012 the genetics company 23andme gave web app developers the ability to create app mashups with DNA information. Most apps help users add genetics to their electronic health record, or connect with relatives, or explore risk factors for diseases. Two days ago a new webapp did something different: it showed how to only let white people in. [more inside]
posted by Monochrome on Jul 22, 2015 - 59 comments

Swapped at birth times two

The Mixed-Up Brothers of Bogotá:
After a hospital error, two pairs of Colombian identical twins were raised as two pairs of fraternal twins. This is the story of how they found one another — and of what happened next.
A fascinating and improbable tale of coincidence, family, class, and genetics. [SLNYT]
posted by mr. manager on Jul 9, 2015 - 12 comments

Proposing certain things in terms of dystopia that are not untrue

"Science, Chance, and Emotion with Real Cosima": A Longreads profile of Cosima Herter, the show's science consultant and the inspiration for Orphan Black's character Cosima. Mostly not directly about the show, but probably contains some spoilers if you're not fully caught up through season three.
posted by Stacey on Jul 2, 2015 - 9 comments

The "braided stream" of human evolution

Recent genetic discoveries are revealing this is a more accurate analogy for human origins than the "branching tree" model. John Hawks discusses the role of connectivity in human evolution in a clip from the new PBS series First Peoples.
posted by ChuckRamone on Jun 29, 2015 - 7 comments

Fore tribe's genetic mutation furthers understanding of brain diseases

How a history of eating human brains protected this tribe from brain disease After years of eating brains, some Fore have developed a genetic resistance to the molecule that causes several fatal brain diseases, including kuru, mad cow disease and some cases of dementia. [more inside]
posted by Michele in California on Jun 11, 2015 - 25 comments

How to distinguish a wedge from a modified wedge.

Messybeast.com [previously] has a lot on offer than previously discussed on the blue; the cat care, welfare, rescue, genetics and history page has information about cat breeds and types, cat behaviour, eye colours in cats, a plain english guide to cat colours and patterns, a plain english guide to conformation, and cat colour and pattern charts. Oh and don't miss the indefinable colours, with photos and description.
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome on May 10, 2015 - 9 comments

Most assuredly *not* 42

This is my vision of life. A conversation with evolutionary biologist and author Richard Dawkins. (Video and transcript)
posted by zarq on May 1, 2015 - 4 comments

Charging toward an era of genetically modified humans

The CRISPR Revolution [ungated: 1,2,3] - "Biologists continue to hone their tools for deleting, replacing or otherwise editing DNA and a strategy called CRISPR has quickly become one of the most popular ways to do genome engineering. Utilizing a modified bacterial protein and a RNA that guides it to a specific DNA sequence, the CRISPR system provides unprecedented control over genes in many species, including perhaps humans. This control has allowed many new types of experiments, but also raised questions about what CRISPR can enable." [more inside]
posted by kliuless on Apr 16, 2015 - 28 comments

Is genetic reductionism shaping our identity?

"What would it mean to live in a society where people seek only the significant same." Reductionist discourses tend to infiltrate both genetic and big data enterprises. Could these discourses imperceptibly close rather than open the prospect for us to decide what we want to become—what we want our futures to be? Could such discourses also “hide rather than reveal the deepest sources of social ills,” which shape the evolution of our genes and identities?
posted by pmfail on Mar 24, 2015 - 9 comments

Engineering the Perfect Baby

Scientists are developing ways to edit the DNA of tomorrow’s children. Should they stop before it’s too late?
posted by infini on Mar 9, 2015 - 89 comments

An argument for more cats and fewer humans in genetics class

Unfortunately, what textbooks, lab manuals and web pages say about these human traits is mostly wrong. Most of the common, visible human traits that are used in classrooms do NOT have a simple one-locus, two-allele, dominant vs. recessive method of inheritance. Rolling your tongue is not dominant to non-rolling, unattached earlobes are not dominant to attached, straight thumbs are not dominant to hitchhiker's thumb, etc.
posted by sciatrix on Mar 1, 2015 - 42 comments

Something cold about this investigation

Locals couldn’t understand why police hunting the murderer of a 13-year-old girl were taking DNA samples of elderly women. A high profile Italian murder investigation exposes the secrets of more than one family, with controversial collateral damage. [more inside]
posted by Hypatia on Jan 13, 2015 - 26 comments

Sprouting feathers and lost teeth

"A remarkable international effort to map out the avian tree of life has revealed how birds evolved after the mass extinction that wiped out the dinosaurs into more than 10,000 species alive today. More than 200 scientists in 20 countries joined forces to create the evolutionary tree, which reveals how birds gained their colourful feathers, lost their teeth, and learned to sing songs." Via iO9.
posted by brundlefly on Dec 12, 2014 - 29 comments

The Lurker

How A Virus Hid In Our Genome For Six Million Years. Carl Zimmer writes for Phenomena [more inside]
posted by the man of twists and turns on Dec 12, 2014 - 14 comments

DIY Diagnosis: How an Extreme Athlete Uncovered Her Genetic Flaw

She started by diving into PubMed—an online search engine for biomedical papers—hunting down everything she could on Charcot-Marie-Tooth. She hoped that her brief fling with a scientific education would carry her through. But with pre-med knowledge that had been gathering dust for 30 years and no formal training in genetics, Kim quickly ran head first into a wall of unfamiliar concepts and impenetrable jargon. “It was like reading Chinese,” she says.
posted by ellieBOA on Nov 27, 2014 - 15 comments

Neanderthal and Sapiens, sitting in a tree...

"Scientists have reconstructed the genome of a man who lived 45,000 years ago, by far the oldest genetic record ever obtained from modern humans. The research, published on Wednesday in the journal Nature, provided new clues to the expansion of modern humans from Africa about 60,000 years ago, when they moved into Europe and Asia. And the genome, extracted from a fossil thighbone found in Siberia, added strong support to a provocative hypothesis: Early humans interbred with Neanderthals."
posted by jammy on Oct 23, 2014 - 78 comments

Family Planning: The short, long and speculative issues

Some interesting recent links on family planning in the short, long and speculative senses.

- Catherine Rampell examines the "information gap" surrounding birth control and family planning amongst young people with lower levels of education.
- Sarah Perry examines the history of fertility transitions over the last 300 years.
- Carl Shulman and Nick Bostrom examine the potential effects of human genetic selection in the next 50 years. [more inside]
posted by Another Fine Product From The Nonsense Factory on Oct 19, 2014 - 6 comments

Controlling the genetics of wild populations, a next step in GM research

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] posted by Blasdelb on Aug 14, 2014 - 122 comments

Do true blondes have more fun?

"The residents of Denmark regularly report the highest levels of life satisfaction in the world. Economists Eugenio Proto and Andrew Oswald of the University of Warwick cautiously submit that there is a genetic component to this high level of contentment."
posted by Chocolate Pickle on Jul 19, 2014 - 43 comments

Greater Access for Down Syndrome Information

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett is expected to sign Chloe's Law. Chloe's Law, or the Down Syndrome Prenatal Education Act, requires medical practitioners to provide up-to-date and accurate information about Down syndrome with the accompanying diagnosis. Similar laws were passed in Massachusetts and Kentucky. Why is this necessary? Ask a parent or two and you find out how most doctors aren't up to the task. Fortunately, there are parents who will help them out (if they would listen).
posted by plinth on Jul 18, 2014 - 91 comments

Are atheletes really getting faster, stronger and better?

The large got larger. The small got smaller. The weird got weirder. When you look at sporting achievements over the last decades, it seems like humans have gotten faster, better and stronger in nearly every way. Yet as David Epstein points out in this delightfully counter-intuitive talk, we might want to lay off the self-congratulation. Many factors are at play in shattering athletic records, and the development of our natural talents is just one of them. TED talk, 14:53
posted by srboisvert on May 1, 2014 - 22 comments

Protein Packing

Harvard University and XVIVO have come together again (Previouslyw/ a commercial focus, Previouslierw/an Academic focus) to add to the growing series of scientific animations for BioVisions -- Harvard's multimedia lab in the department of Molecular and Cellular Biology. 'Protein Packing' strives to more accurately depict the molecular chaos in each and every cell, with proteins jittering around in what may seem like random motion. Proteins occupy roughly 40% of the cytoplasm, creating an environment that risks unintentional interaction and aggregation. Via diffusion and motor protein transport, these molecules are directed to sites where they are needed.
Much of this is no doubt inspired by the beautiful art and explained illustrations of David Goodsell, a biologist at Scripps who has been accurately portraying the crowdedness of the cellular landscape for a long time now.
[more inside] posted by Blasdelb on Apr 10, 2014 - 9 comments

plant sex in silico

Monsanto Is Going Organic in a Quest for the Perfect Veggie - "The lettuce, peppers, and broccoli—plus a melon and an onion, with a watermelon soon to follow—aren't genetically modified at all. Monsanto created all these veggies using good old-fashioned crossbreeding, the same technology that farmers have been using to optimize crops for millennia. That doesn't mean they are low tech, exactly. Stark's division is drawing on Monsanto's accumulated scientific know-how to create vegetables that have all the advantages of genetically modified organisms without any of the Frankenfoods ick factor." [more inside]
posted by kliuless on Mar 8, 2014 - 52 comments

De-extinction

The Mammoth Cometh. "Bringing extinct animals back to life is really happening — and it’s going to be very, very cool. Unless it ends up being very, very bad." [Previously, Via]
posted by homunculus on Feb 27, 2014 - 74 comments

The genome of the Anzick boy

The genome of the Anzick child, who died 12,600 years ago at the age of three and was buried with ceremony in the American Rockies, has been fully sequenced. The results shed an incredible light on the history of the peopling of the Americas: his people seem to have been direct ancestors to most tribes of Central and South America, and close relatives of the Canadian tribes. The discoveries have had an emotional impact on Native Americans, and the boy's remains will be reburied with great respect. Still, tribal belonging is about much more than genetics, as anthropologist Kim Tallbear reminds us. You can see replicas of the heirloom artefacts left in the boy's grave here, or visit the collection at the Montana Historical Society if you're in the area.
posted by daisyk on Feb 13, 2014 - 24 comments

The mysteries of the planarian

Animal Loses Head But Remembers Everything: "What we do know is that memory can be stored outside the brain - presumably in other body cells - so that memories can get imprinted onto the new brain as it regenerates."
posted by paleyellowwithorange on Feb 5, 2014 - 33 comments

Intergenerational mouse trauma

...Ressler... and Dias wafted the scent [of acetophenone] around a small chamber, while giving small electric shocks to male mice. The animals eventually learned to associate the scent with pain, shuddering in the presence of acetophenone even without a shock. Despite never having encountered acetophenone in their lives, the offspring exhibited increased sensitivity when introduced to its smell, shuddering more markedly in its presence compared with the descendants of mice that had been conditioned to be startled by a different smell or that had gone through no such conditioning.
posted by latkes on Jan 9, 2014 - 34 comments

PATIENT ZERO

There's A Whole New Way Of Killing Cancer: Stephanie Lee Is The Test Case [more inside]
posted by the man of twists and turns on Dec 6, 2013 - 45 comments

What 100 years of dog breeding looks like

Just how much have dog breeds changed in the past hundred years? A lot (and for the worst). [more inside]
posted by Foci for Analysis on Dec 3, 2013 - 178 comments

"‘The gene does not lead,’ she says. ‘It follows.’"

The selfish gene is one of the most successful science metaphors ever invented. Unfortunately, it’s wrong.
posted by overeducated_alligator on Dec 3, 2013 - 79 comments

Transgenic Spidergoats Brief

Spider webs are incredibly strong and flexible. It’s no surprise, then, that spider silk proteins may someday form durable artificial ligaments for people who have injured their knees or shoulders. Six different kinds of silk are produced by orb-web weaving spiders. These silk fibers have very different mechanical properties that are so effective they have changed very little over millions of years. How to synthetically develop these silks is one focus of Lewis’ research. The secret to producing large quantities of spider silk is to use “factories” designed to manufacture spider silk proteins that are easily scale-able and efficient. Lewis uses transgenic goats, E.coli bacteria, transgenic alfalfa and transgenic silk worms to produce the spider silk proteins used to create spider silk. Spider silk is 100 times stronger than natural ligaments and 10 times stronger than natural tendons; it is stronger than Kevlar and more elastic than nylon.
A 6min brief on the work being done in Laramie, WY whereby spider silk is being spun from goat milk. SPIDERGOATS
[more inside] posted by Blasdelb on Nov 24, 2013 - 24 comments

Being a fair sport

In athletic competitions, what qualifies as a sporting chance?
posted by Gyan on Sep 4, 2013 - 41 comments

Dramatic Lactose Intolerant Sobbing

"During the most recent ice age, milk was essentially a toxin to adults because — unlike children — they could not produce the lactase enzyme required to break down lactose, the main sugar in milk. But as farming started to replace hunting and gathering in the Middle East around 11,000 years ago, cattle herders learned how to reduce lactose in dairy products to tolerable levels by fermenting milk to make cheese or yogurt. Several thousand years later, a genetic mutation spread through Europe that gave people the ability to produce lactase — and drink milk — throughout their lives. That adaptation opened up a rich new source of nutrition that could have sustained communities when harvests failed." - The Milk Revolution - how a single mutation expanded (some) of humanity's diet. (Nature.com)
posted by The Whelk on Aug 2, 2013 - 158 comments

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