Tag Archives | DNA

Changing Our DNA through Mind Control?

Marguerite Agniel in a Buddha position with her legs crossed Wellcome V0048585.jpg

Marguerite Agniel, photo from Wellcome Library (CC)

A study finds meditating cancer patients are able to affect the makeup of their DNA, reports Scientific American:

“I think, therefore I am” is perhaps the most familiar one-liner in western philosophy. Even if the stoners, philosophers and quantum mechanically-inclined skeptics who believe we’re living an illusion are right, few existential quips hit with such profound, approachable simplicity.  The only catch is that in Descartes’ opinion, “we” – our thoughts, our personalities, our “minds” – are mostly divorced from our bodies.

The polymathic Frenchman and other dualist philosophers proposed that while the mind exerts control over our physical interaction with the world, there is a clear delineation between body and mind; that our material forms are simply temporary housing for our immaterial souls. But centuries of science argue against a corporeal crash pad. The body and mind appear inextricably linked. And findings from a new study published in Cancer by a Canadian group suggest that our mental state has measurable physical influence on us – more specifically on our DNA.

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Nanotechnology to outer space: ten top tech innovations of 2014

This article was originally published on The Conversation.
Read the original article.

By David Green, Monash University

Don’t be mesmerised by cool apps and flashy new gizmos – the top technology inventions of the year are ones that will have a lasting effect.

Most are advances in fields that are already changing us. Some will have immediate impact; others are portents of transformations that may take decades to complete. In this vein, and in no particular order, here are what I consider to be ten of the best technological innovations from 2014.

1. DNA nanobots injected into cockroaches

Nanotechnology is a growing research field that manipulates materials on a molecular scale. One prospect is to transform medicine by injecting nanobots into the body where they perform functions such as treating disease.

Researchers injected DNA into cockroaches. Tom Spinker/Flickr, CC BY-NC-ND

In February, an Israeli team described devices they made from DNA and injected into cockroaches.… Read the rest

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Viking families traveled together, research shows

Frank Douwes CC BY 2.0

Frank Douwes (CC BY 2.0)

via Phys.org:

(Phys.org)—A new study shows that when Vikings moved to new territories, men and women traveled together. Erika Hagelberg of the University of Oslo and her colleagues compared ancient Norse and Icelandic mitochondrial DNA with mitochondrial DNA of modern Northwestern Europeans. They found similarities between the ancient and modern DNA suggesting women played a significant role in Viking migrations. The research appears in The Royal Society Philosophical Transactions B.

Vikings traveled long distances, establishing colonies in Iceland and many parts of Northwestern Europe. They even traveled as far as North America. It’s a commonly held belief that Viking expeditions consisted entirely of men, and that a shortage of women at home compelled Viking men to seek out women in foreign lands. Earlier genetic studies have suggested that while Viking men ventured forth to pillage and plunder, women and children stayed home.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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