Tag Archives | DNA

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.

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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.

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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

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Supreme Court Rules Against Patenting Of Human Genes

 Patenting Of Human GenesGreat to know that I’m not infringing on anyone’s copyrights with my existence. The Los Angeles Times reports:

In a unanimous ruling Thursday, the Supreme Court ruled that human genes are a product of nature and cannot be patented and held for profit, a decision that medical experts said will lead to more genetic testing for cancers and other diseases and to lower costs for patients.

The decision invalidates a Utah company’s patents on two genes that are linked to breast and ovarian cancer, and is likely to lead to several thousand other gene patents being tossed as well.

The court’s decision also came as a relief to the biotech industry. While the justices agreed “naturally occurring DNA” cannot be patented, they also said DNA “synthetically created” in a lab can be patented. Industry lawyers had worried the court could issue a sweeping decision that would wipe out patents for genetically engineered drugs or farm products.

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Does Moore’s Law Imply That Life On Earth Arrived From Elsewhere?

origin of lifeThe MIT Technology Review writes that earthly lifeforms appear to have 10 billion years’ worth of complexity, yet our planet is only 4.5 billion years old. So do our origins lie elsewhere?

As life has evolved, its complexity has increased exponentially, just like Moore’s law. Now geneticists have extrapolated this trend backwards and found that by this measure, life is older than the Earth itself.

Alexei Sharov at the National Institute on Ageing in Baltimore and Richard Gordon at the Gulf Specimen Marine Laboratory in Florida argue that it’s possible to measure the complexity of life and the rate at which it has increased from prokaryotes to eukaryotes to more complex creatures such as worms, fish and finally mammals. That produces a clear exponential increase identical to that behind Moore’s Law although in this case the doubling time is 376 million years rather than two years.

That raises an interesting question.

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Could An Extraterrestrial Message Be Encoded In Our DNA?

Could a message have been inserted into our genetics billions of years ago, as the most durable method of communicating with intelligent life eons later? Discovery News ponders:

Could our genes have an intelligently designed “manufacturer’s stamp” inside them, written eons ago elsewhere in our galaxy?

Vladimir I. shCherbak of al-Farabi Kazakh National University of Kazakhstan, and Maxim A. Makukov of the Fesenkov Astrophysical Institute, hypothesize that an intelligent signal embedded in our genetic code would what they call “biological SETI.”

In the journal Icarus, they assert: “Once fixed, the code might stay unchanged over cosmological timescales. Therefore it represents an exceptionally reliable storage for an intelligent signature.” To pass the designer label test, any patterns in the genetic code must be highly statistically significant and possess intelligent-like features that are inconsistent with any natural know process.

They go on to argue that their detailed analysis of the human genome displays a thorough precision-type orderliness in the mapping between DNA’s nucleotides and amino acids.

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Are Men Doomed To Go Extinct?

The Sydney Morning Herald on evolutionary scientists’ assertion that biological males as we know them are on the way out, due to the inherent flawed nature of the Y chromosome:

The poorly designed Y chromosome that makes men is degrading rapidly and will disappear, even if humans are still around.

Evolutionary geneticist Jenny Graves says that while the process is likely to happen within the next five million years, it could have begun in some isolated groups. Professor Groves, who first made the prediction some years ago, gave a public lecture on the subject for the Australian Academy of Science.

If humans don’t become extinct, new sex-determining genes and chromosomes will evolve, maybe leading to the evolution of new hominid species. “As long as something came along in its stead, we would not even suspect without checking the chromosomes,” she said on Tuesday. This had happened in the Japanese spiny rat, which had survived the loss of its Y.

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Can We Patent Life?

An interesting question posed by Michael Specter in The New Yorker‘s new Science & Tech section:

On April 12, 1955, Jonas Salk, who had recently invented the polio vaccine, appeared on the television news show “See It Now” to discuss its impact on American society. Before the vaccine became available, dread of polio was almost as widespread as the disease itself. Hundreds of thousands fell ill, most of them children, many of whom died or were permanently disabled.

The vaccine changed all that, and Edward R. Murrow, the show’s host, asked Salk what seemed to be a reasonable question about such a valuable commodity: “Who owns the patent on this vaccine?” Salk was taken aback. “Well, the people,” he said. “There is no patent. Could you patent the sun?”

The very idea, to Salk, seemed absurd. But that was more than fifty years ago, before the race to mine the human genome turned into the biological Klondike rush of the twenty-first century.

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Artists Recreates Strangers’ Faces From Discarded DNA On NYC’s Streets

You’ve been leaving yourself everywhere. For her ongoing project Stranger Visions, Heather Dewey-Hagborg culls discarded DNA (in the form of cigarette butts, chewed gum, et cetera) from the New York sidewalk and then uses a 3D printer to create sculpture portraits based on the genetic information. A reminder that we may soon need to guard our DNA tightly?

Heather Dewey-Hagborg creates portrait sculptures from analyses of genetic material collected in public places. Working with the traces strangers unwittingly leave behind, Dewey-Hagborg calls attention to the impulse toward genetic determinism and the potential for a culture of genetic surveillance.

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Supreme Court Considers Whether Government Has Right To Log DNA Samples Of Anyone Arrested

Does your arrest allow the government to access your genetic information? Conservatives, and the Obama administration, say yes. Via CNN:

The U.S. Supreme Court offered a surprising amount of concern about states laws allowing police to collect a DNA sample of anyone arrested — but not yet convicted — of serious crimes. A ruling will be issued within a few months, and could have wide-reaching implications in the rapidly evolving technology surrounding criminal procedure.

Privacy rights groups [say] the state’s “trust us” promise not to abuse the technology does not ease their concerns that someone’s biological makeup could soon be applied for a variety of non-criminal purposes.

“There is something inherently dangerous about DNA collection that is not the same as fingerprinting,” said Justice Sonia Sotomayor. “How far do we let the state go each time it has some form of custody over you in schools, in workplaces, wherever else the state has control over your person?”

And civil liberties groups worry inadequate DNA testing by overwhelmed lab technicians can lead to errors, such as the one that sent Dwayne Jackson to prison for armed robbery.

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