Advances in Genetics

By Michael Windelspecht | Genes, genomes, and evolution.

This Woman Learned Her Birthmark Is A Sign She Fused With Her Twin In Utero

Chimerism is a rare genetic condition where an individual has two sets of DNA.<p>Twins often have an inseparable bond, but Muhl and her fraternal twin are actually the same person. In a rare genetic event, Muhl fused together with her fraternal twin in the womb. So Muhl has two sets of DNA: her own, …

Genetics

The 'Genome Hacker' Who Mapped a 13-Million-Person Family Tree

Huge crowdsourced genealogy databases are inspiring new genetics research.<p>Yaniv Erlich has been a white-hat hacker and a geneticist at Columbia University, and now he works for a genealogy company.<p>This unusual career trajectory has led, most recently, to a 13-million-person family tree unveiled …

How Cells Pack Tangled DNA Into Neat Chromosomes

A human cell carries in its nucleus two meters of spiraling DNA, split up among the 46 slender, double-helical molecules that are its chromosomes. …

The DNA database that is key to beating our rarest diseases

The future now holds hope for children like Sam Ward, and doctors say many other people are set to benefit<p>Jillian Hastings Ward gave birth to her second child, Sam, almost four years ago. For the first few months of his life, the boy appeared to be in good health. “Then we realised that he was not …

Genetics

Ancient Human Genomes Reveal Complicated Split into Europeans and Asians

Isolated human populations could never really stay apart.<p>Research on the genes of ancient humans is speedily growing in scope, revealing insights …

Only Black Man in Early-1800s Iceland Left No Remains—But Now We Have His DNA

Recreating a person’s DNA usually involves some sort of remains, like tissues, to use as a framework. However, a team of scientists have been able to …

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 …

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 …

FDA

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 …

Genetics

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

Dementia

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 …

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 …

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 …

Genetics

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 …

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 …

Genealogy

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 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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …