Tag Archives | DNA

Combining The DNA Of Three People Raises Ethical Questions

Stuart Caie (CC BY 2.0)

Stuart Caie (CC BY 2.0)

via NPR:

In a darkened lab in the North of England, a research associate is intensely focused on the microscope in front of her. She carefully maneuvers a long glass tube that she uses to manipulate early human embryos.

“It’s like microsurgery,” says Laura Irving of Newcastle University.

Irving is part of a team of scientists trying to replace defective DNA with healthy DNA. They hope this procedure could one day help women who are carrying genetic disorders have healthy children.

“We are talking about conditions for which there is currently no cure,” says Dr. Doug Turnbull, a professor of neurology at Newcastle University who is leading the research. These mitochondrial diseases are caused by hereditary defects in human cells.

“Mitochondria are like little power stations present in all our cells,” Turnbull says. These power stations provide the energy that cells need. If the mitochondrial DNA is defective, the cells don’t work right.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

Epigenetic Tie to Neuropsychiatric Disorders Found

2D structure of neurotransmitter dopamine. Created with BKChem and Extensible SVG Optimiser

2D structure of neurotransmitter dopamine. Created with BKChem and Extensible SVG Optimiser

Could this discovery lead to the end of “treating” mental illness through the endless prescribing of psychiatric drugs?

Via ScienceDaily:

Dysfunction in dopamine signaling profoundly changes the activity level of about 2,000 genes in the brain’s prefrontal cortex and may be an underlying cause of certain complex neuropsychiatric disorders, such as schizophrenia, according to UC Irvine scientists.

This epigenetic alteration of gene activity in brain cells that receive this neurotransmitter showed for the first time that dopamine deficiencies can affect a variety of behavioral and physiological functions regulated in the prefrontal cortex.

The study, led by Emiliana Borrelli, a UCI professor of microbiology & molecular genetics, appears online in the journal Molecular Psychiatry.

“Our work presents new leads to understanding neuropsychiatric disorders,” Borrelli said. “Genes previously linked to schizophrenia seem to be dependent on the controlled release of dopamine at specific locations in the brain.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

Family Violence Leaves Genetic Imprint on Children

Pic: US ARMY (PD)

Pic: US ARMY (PD)

Via ScienceDaily:

A new Tulane University School of Medicine study finds that the more fractured families are by domestic violence or trauma, the more likely that children will bear the scars down to their DNA.

Researchers discovered that children in homes affected by domestic violence, suicide or the incarceration of a family member have significantly shorter telomeres, which is a cellular marker of aging, than those in stable households. The findings are published online in the latest issue of the journal Pediatrics.

Telomeres are the caps at the end of chromosomes that keep them from shrinking when cells replicate. Shorter telomeres are linked to higher risks for heart disease, obesity, cognitive decline, diabetes, mental illness and poor health outcomes in adulthood. Researchers took genetic samples from 80 children ages 5 to 15 in New Orleans and interviewed parents about their home environments and exposures to adverse life events.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

Best Way To Colonize Planets? Send Our DNA And Print New Humans When It Gets There

PIC: Webridge (CC)

PIC: Webridge (CC)

Sounds far fetched, but we’ve been delivering DNA and “printing” new humans on this planet for a long while. Oh, and to our new future alien friends: I’d return to sender if I were you. This particular batch of Sea Monkeys can get out of hand pretty quickly

Assuming human deep space travel turns out to be not just incredibly dangerous, but perhaps “crazy idiotic” and “laughable,” as Harvard biologist Gary Ruvkun put it, the tenacious dream of an interstellar civilization forces some out-of-the box thinking. What if, instead of rocketing humans to other planets, we made an exact copy on site?

Adam Steltzner, the lead engineer on the NASA JPL’s Curiosity rover mission, believes that to send humans to distant planets, we may need to do one of two things: look for ways to game space-time—traveling through wormholes and whatnot—or rethink the fundamental idea of “ourselves.”

“Our best bet for space exploration could be printing humans, organically, on another planet,” said Steltzner on stage at Smithsonian Magazine’s Future Is Now conference in Washington, DC this month.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

Scientists Create Mugshots From Perps’ DNA

Elvis_mugshotThis is some next level CSI! New Scientist reports on the DNA-generated mugshots:

A murder has been committed, and all the cops have to go on is a trace of DNA left at the scene. It doesn’t match any profile in databases of known criminals, and the trail goes cold. But what if the police could issue a wanted poster based on a realistic “photofit” likeness built from that DNA?

Not if, but when, claim researchers who have developed a method for determining how our genes influence facial shape. One day, the technique may even allow us to gaze into the faces of extinct human-like species that interbred with our own ancestors.

It’s already possible to make some inferences about the appearance of crime suspects from their DNA alone, including their racial ancestry and some shades of hair colour. And in 2012, a team led by Manfred Kayser of Erasmus University Medical Center in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, identified five genetic variants with detectable effects on facial shape.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

Are We Too Close to Making Gattaca a Reality?

English: Blastocyst on day 5 after fertilizati...

Blastocyst on day 5 after fertilization Courtesy: RWJMS IVF Program (Photo credit: Wikipedia) (PD)

The benefits of these techniques can prevent suffering, but imagine futures literally written in DNA before birth. All it would take is an ethical hop, and lots of money.

via Scientific American

Sometime in the not-too-distant future, Marie and Antonio Freeman step into a doctor’s office to design their next child.

“Your extracted eggs, Marie, have been fertilized with Antonio’s sperm,” the doctor says. “After screening we’re left with, as you see, two healthy boys and two very healthy girls.”

A monitor displays what looks like soap bubbles that bumped into each other on a green background.

“Naturally, no critical predispositions to any of the major heritable diseases,” the doctor says. “All that remains is to select the most compatible candidate. We might as well start with gender—have you given it any thought?”

“We would want Vincent to have a brother, you know, to play with,” Marie says, referring to her first child.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

You’re A Neanderthal

Neanderthal childWell at least you are part Neanderthal, reports Reuters:

It’s getting harder and harder to take umbrage if someone calls you a Neanderthal.

According to two studies published on Wednesday, DNA from these pre-modern humans may play a role in the appearance of hair and skin as well as the risk of certain diseases.

Although Neanderthals became extinct 28,000 years ago in Europe, as much as one-fifth of their DNA has survived in human genomes due to interbreeding tens of thousands of years ago, one of the studies found, although any one individual has only about 2 percent of caveman DNA.

“The 2 percent of your Neanderthal DNA might be different than my 2 percent of Neanderthal DNA, and it’s found at different places in the genome,” said geneticist Joshua Akey, who led one of the studies. Put it all together in a study of hundreds of people, and “you can recover a substantial proportion of the Neanderthal genome.”

Both studies confirmed earlier findings that the genomes of east Asians harbor more Neanderthal DNA than those of Europeans.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

Imagine Cloning John Lennon, I Wonder If You Can

rocking-toothThe dentist who purchased John Lennon’s rotten molar for $31,000 at a 2011 auction now has plans for the tooth: He’s getting it genetically sequenced in the hopes of cloning the musician, who died in 1980.

Via NBC:

Dr. Michael Zuk has started up a website, JohnLennonDNA.com and put out a press release with all the gory details.

“I am nervous and excited at the possibility that we will be able to fully sequence John Lennon’s DNA, very soon I hope,” Dr. Zuk said in the release. “With researchers working on ways to clone mammoths, the same technology certainly could make human cloning a reality.”

“To potentially say I had a small part in bringing back one of rock’s greatest stars would be mind-blowing,” he added.

Keep reading.

Read the rest

Continue Reading

Scientists Clone Mouse From Single Drop Of Blood

drop of bloodIt starts with a just mouse. But next, Hitler? Via Medical News Today:

For the first time, scientists in Japan have cloned a mouse using just a drop of blood taken from its tail. The result is important because it gives scientists a new way to preserve strains of lab mice for the study of human diseases. It opens the door to a way of producing clones almost as soon as the cells are retrieved, with minimal risk to the donor.

The female clone proved to be fertile by natural mating and lived for 23 months, which is about normal for a lab mouse, researchers from RIKEN BioResource Center in Tsukuba, Japan, report in a paper published online in the journal Biology of Reproduction on 26 June.

Since the world’s first successful reproductive animal cloning that resulted in Dolly the Sheep in 1996, nearly 20 different mammal species have been cloned.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

The Arsehole Gene

It may be a brother, a sister, a father, a mother, or a co-worker. Whoever it may be, we understand. May the healing begin.

After years of investigation, a group of European scientists had discovered that the vulgarly called ‘arseholes’ are actually suffering a genetic mutation that conditions their behaviour. This discovering had opened a door to end with the unfair stigmatization of this group of patients. Understanding how the disease works is the first step to the cure, but there’s a lot of work to do before that moment arrives, including informing the citizenship about its existence. Because arseholes… are just sick people.

judge_arse

Read the rest

Continue Reading