Advances in Genetics

By Michael Windelspecht | Genes, genomes, and evolution.

19 PIECES OF NON-HUMAN DNA FOUND IN HUMAN GENOME

Eight percent of your DNA is alien, in that it’s made up of non-human, viral fragments. In fact, viral fragments are often hiding within the genome …

DNA

First Gene Therapy For Inherited Disease Gets FDA Approval

The Food and Drug Administration Tuesday approved the first gene therapy to treat an inherited disease.<p>The treatment is called Luxturna, a genetically modified virus that ferries a healthy gene into the eyes of patients born with retinal dystrophy, a rare condition that destroys cells in the retina …

Medicine

Rare genetic mutation found in Amish community could combat ageing

Discovery of mutation which appears to protect against biological ageing raises hopes for new treatments to prevent age-related disorders<p>The discovery of a rare genetic mutation that prolongs human life has raised hopes for new treatments to combat ageing and prevent age-related disorders from …

Biology

Living in Space Changes Your DNA, NASA Finds

NASA's twin study found that living in space affects your DNA, but what exactly that means is undetermined.<p>Two years ago, NASA began a unique experiment to determine what happens to the human body when it's exposed to the zero-gravity environment of space for a long period of time. To do this, they …

How a female-only line of salamanders 'steals' genes from unsuspecting males

Kleptogenesis gets a little less mysterious in a new study.<p>Imagine a lineage made up solely of women. Generation after generation, these females pilfer genes from males—not mating and reproducing in the usual way, but using sex as a means to collect genetic material that they can parcel out to …

Biology

How a Quarter of Cow DNA Came From Reptiles

By hopping between species, jumping genes have radically altered the course of animal evolution.<p>Imagine if a word in a book—say, bubble—had the ability to magically copy itself, and paste those copies elsewhere in the text. Eventually, you might bubble end up bubble bubble with bubble bubble bubble …

Biology

Why Race Is Not a Thing, According to Genetics

Scientists are unlocking the secrets to how we’re all related—to each other and to the species that came before us.<p>Today, scientists routinely map the genomes of the long dead, from Neanderthals to medieval kings. What they’re finding out, says British geneticist Adam Rutherford in <i>A Brief History</i> …

Evolution

Inside Cells, Genetic War Could Create New Species

In the complex cells of humans and other organisms, two different genomes collaborate to sustain life. The larger genome, with DNA encoding thousands …

Biology

First genetic proof that women were Viking warriors

New DNA evidence uncovered by researchers at Uppsala University and Stockholm University shows that there were in fact female Viking warriors. The …

Archaeology

Viking skeleton’s DNA test proves historians wrong

The remains of a powerful Viking — long thought to be a man — was in fact a real-life Xena Warrior Princess, a study released Friday reveals.<p>The lady …

Archaeology

Scientists deploy GM sheep in fight to treat Huntington’s disease

Transgenic flock brought to UK for research into incurable brain condition, which affects more than 6,700 people in the country<p>Scientists at Cambridge University have co-opted an unusual ally in their battle to find treatments for an incurable degenerative ailment that affects thousands of people …

Genetics

How an autism gene mutation alters brain development

By analyzing the brains of mice, researchers have discovered how mutations in a gene called CHD8 may alter brain development and cognitive …

Neuroscience

8 Genetic Mutations That Can Give You 'Superpowers'

Why some humans have an edge.<p>More than 99 percent of your genetic information is exactly the same as every other person on the planet. Your genes …

Genetics

A massive new study lays out the map of our genetic intelligence

Your intelligence is partly due to hard work, nutrition, and education. But you can also thank (or blame) your genes for your mental abilities.<p>Decades of work on twin studies suggest that genes account for roughly half of variations in IQ seen across a population. And a meta-analysis published this …

Scientific Research

Scientists have discovered a mutation behind pugs’ weird little flat faces

Not cute<p>So, I have what might be an unpopular opinion: there are cute dogs, and then there are pugs. With their squished little faces, buggy eyes, and snuffling breaths — there’s not much about pugs to recommend them (and I <i>like</i> dogs). But now, at least, scientists have a better idea about the …

Pugs

DNA Tests, and Sometimes Surprising Results

Race and identity in many ways define who we think we are, while modern genetics can challenge those notions. To delve into these issues, I am involved with a communications studies project at West Chester University in Pennsylvania that explores narratives at the intersection of race and …

Racism

Every child with cancer to have tumour DNA sequenced to find best treatment

Every child with a tumour in Britain will have their cancer DNA sequenced so they can get the best possible drugs and help the UK catch up with treatment in Europe and the US.<p>The charity Children with Cancer UK has today announced £1.5 million in funding so that from today youngsters can be …

Cancer

66% of Cancers Are Caused by DNA Error, Not Environment or Lifestyle, Finds Johns Hopkins Study

We usually attribute cancer to inherited genes such as the BRACA1 or BRACA2 mutations, responsible for breast, ovarian, and prostate cancer. Or else, …

Cancer

We Can Now Use DNA To Store Everything From A Movie To An Amazon Gift Card

The oldest storage system in the world might be the key to future-proofing our modern data.<p>In the 1995 cyberpunk thriller <i>Johnny Mnemonic</i>, Keanu Reeves stars as a man whose childhood memories have been wiped so his brain can be used to smuggle data. It’s all very mid-’90s dystopia, but it the …

DNA

DNA clues to why woolly mammoth died out

<b>The last woolly mammoths to walk the Earth were so wracked with genetic disease that they lost their sense of smell, shunned company, and had a strange shiny coat.</b><p>That's the verdict of scientists who have analysed ancient DNA of the extinct animals for mutations.<p>The studies suggest the last …

Paleontology

OCD-like behavior linked to genetic mutation, study finds

A new Northwestern Medicine study found evidence suggesting how neural dysfunction in a certain region of the brain can lead to obsessive and …

Neuroscience

Science panel okays one day editing human embryos

But only to prevent disease<p>Scientists may one day genetically engineer humans — as long as the gene-editing technology is used to prevent babies from being born with diseases or disabilities, a science policy group said today in a report.<p>The 21-member committee — which was created by the National …

Genetics

Scientists Want to Use a 'Gene Drive' to Wipe Out Invasive Mice

The genetic modification could be used to wipe out several invasive species, but there may be potential unknown consequences.<p>A team of scientists have developed a "gene drive" to exterminate mice on New Zealand and other islands. This marks the first use of a gene drive in mammals, and, if the plan …

This Infographic Shows The Extraordinary Ancient Genes That Live on in Modern Populations

How many do you have?<p>It can be easy to forget that humans living on Earth today are the product of thousands of years of adaptation.<p>Without modern …

Evolution

The Next Big Thing: Products and Services Designed Specifically for Your Individual DNA

In fact, the use of genetics to create highly individualized products and services is already happening.<p>We all want to be treated as individuals, especially where something as personal as healthcare is concerned. We want our healthcare providers - and people who provide nutrition, fitness, and …

Innovation

A biohacker wants to make a genetic upgrade to Dalmatians — but the FDA isn't on board just yet

David Ishee is a Mississippi kennel operator with a passion for dogs and a plan to improve them using a gene-editing technology called CRISPR from a modest laboratory he’s built in a plywood shed.<p>Sound unlikely? It’s serious enough that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, in a phone call last …

Genetics

‘In vivo’ reprogramming induces signs of telomere rejuvenation

During the ‘in vivo’ reprogramming process, cellular telomeres are extended due to an increase in endogenous telomerase. This is the main conclusion …

83 rare genetic mutations found to affect a person’s height

Researchers have pinpointed 83 rare genetic variants that may directly affect a person’s height. These variants, described in a study published today in <i>Nature</i>, don’t occur very often, but some were found to be associated with height differences of up to two centimeters (0.78 inches).<p>Scientists have …

DNA

NASA sent one identical twin brother to space for a year and studied how it changed him — here are the first results

Last March, NASA astronaut Scott Kelly returned to Earth after spending nearly one year in space. During his 340 days aboard the International Space Station, or ISS, scientists were also observing Scott's identical twin brother, Mark Kelly, while he hung out on Earth.<p>Because Scott and Mark have the …