Tag Archives | DNA

Scientists Seek To Turn Chickens Into Mini-Dinosaurs

Chicks_hatching_USDA95c1973

Didn’t we learn anything from Jurassic Park? Scientists have created embryo’s with ‘alligator-like snouts’ and are hoping to be able to further ‘undo’ evolution with future trials. The New Zealand Herald reports:

Harvard scientists are hoping to turn chickens into mini-dinosaurs, according to the Daily Mail.

Scientists at the Ivy League university have ‘rewound’ evolution with chicken DNA to create embryos with alligator-like snouts instead of beaks.

By altering the DNA of chicken embryos in the early stage of their development, the team were able to ‘undo’ evolutionary progress and give the creatures snouts which are thought to have been lost in the cretaceous period millions of years ago.

Evolutionary biologist Arkhat Abzhanov developed the chickens with snouts by cutting a square hole in the shell of a chicken egg and dropping in a small gelatinous protein bead, before watching the embryo develop – stifling the development of certain molecules and preventing the birds from growing certain features.

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NASA: Building Blocks Of DNA Come From Space

delightfulsWill Mormonism’s creation theory of the seed of humanity arriving on Earth from a distant planet turn out to be proved totally true? Geekosystem writes:

NASA researchers studying meteorites have found that they contain several of the components needed to make DNA on Earth. The discovery provides support for the idea that the building blocks for DNA were likely created in space, and carried to Earth on objects, like meteorites, that crashed into the planet’s surface. According to the theory, the ready-made DNA parts could have then assembled under Earth’s early conditions to create the first DNA.

The researchers, from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, found adenine and guanine — two of the nucleobases needed to make DNA (the other two are thymine and cytosine, which were not found) — on meteorite samples. Additionally, the samples showed the presence of three molecules that are similar to nucleobases, but do not have a biological role on Earth: Purine, 2.6-diaminopurine, and 6.8-diaminopurine.

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Test Tube DNA Brain Gets Quiz Questions Right

Neuron-SEM-2A step closer to artificial intelligence? Discovery News reports:

A team of researchers lead by Lulu Qian from the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) have for the first developed an artificial neural network — that is, the beginnings of a brain — out of DNA molecules. And when quizzed, the brain answered the questions correctly.

They turned to molecules because they knew that before the neural-based brain evolved, single-celled organisms showed limited forms of intelligence. These microorganisms did not have brains, but instead had molecules that interacted with each other and spurred the creatures to search for food and avoid toxins. The bottom line is that molecules can act like circuits, processing and transmitting information and computing data.

The Caltech used DNA molecules specifically for the experiment, because these molecules interact in specific ways determined by the sequence of their four bases: adenine (abbreviated A), cytosine (C), guanine (G) and thymine (T).

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CIA Held Fake Vaccination Drive To Get Osama’s Children’s DNA

Osama-bin-Ladens-compound-007A-ha! For years I’ve been telling everyone that so-called “vaccinations” are a government scam to harvest our DNA (and render us autistic to boot). The Guardian reports on a beyond-bizarre CIA plot:

The CIA organised a fake vaccination program in the town where it believed Osama bin Laden was hiding in an elaborate attempt to obtain DNA from the fugitive al-Qaida leader’s family. A senior Pakistani doctor was recruited to organize the vaccine drive in Abbottabad, even starting the “project” in a poorer part of town to make it look more authentic.

DNA from any of the Bin Laden children in the compound could be compared with a sample from his sister, who died in Boston in 2010, to provide evidence that the family was present. It is not known exactly how the doctor hoped to get DNA from the vaccinations, although nurses could have been trained to withdraw some blood in the needle after administrating the drug.

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American Parents Submit Kids To DNA Testing

A Single Nucleotide Polymorphism is a change of a nucleotide at a single base-pair location on DNA. Author: David Hall (CC)

A Single Nucleotide Polymorphism is a change of a nucleotide at a single base-pair location on DNA. Author: David Hall (CC)

Call me old-fashioned, but voluntarily submitting your children’s DNA for inclusion in a database seems foolhardy to me. Just how secure is that database? Is Gattica really so far in the future once this becomes the norm? From BBC News:

Parents believe the benefits of testing their children for the genetic risk of some diseases outweigh the negative consequences, according to US scientists.

In the study, published in the journal Pediatrics, parents who were offered a genetic test supported their children also being tested.

The authors say doctors and politicians need to be more aware of the issue. Genewatch UK said children should never be tested for adult conditions.

Genetic testing used to be confined to specialist clinics, but direct-to-consumer testing is now possible. People send a sample to a company in the post and are told if they have any genes which carry an increased risk of illness.

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Next Gen Biological Computers Use Gold And DNA

DNAGold, DNA, Future Tech. Let the apocalypse/conspiracy theories fly. io9 reports via a Nature Materials article:

Researchers have fabricated a lattice out of gold and virus fragments. It could make your computer much faster. And turn it into a biological machine.

Optical computing technology, a growing field in the tech sector, involves computers that send data using beams of light. In order to expand the capabilities of optical computing, engineers are required to find materials that manipulate light very precisely. Photonic crystals are one such helpful material. A photonic crystal can block very precise wavelengths of light, making it a great optical tool. But creating such a crystal is a challenge. Now scientists have tested a new method for making them, and they have done using the coolest materials possible: Gold and virus parts.

Tiny gold nanospheres and pieces of virus were hooked together using strands of DNA. The DNA pieces were created specifically for the experiment.

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Japanese Scientists Plan to Resurrect Mammoth Within Five Years

Woolly mammoth (Mammuthus primigenius) - Mauricio Antón/PLoS (CC)

Woolly mammoth (Mammuthus primigenius) - Mauricio Antón/PLoS (CC)

Are we one step closer to Jurassic Park? Perhaps wishful thinking on my part, but we’re making progress, as reported by the Daily Mail:

It died out around 8,000 years ago…but in just five years the woolly mammoth could soon be walking the Earth again.

Japanese scientists are behind an ambitious project to bring the long-extinct mammal back from the dead.

The revival requires a sample of intact DNA for cloning purposes and an elephant to act as surrogate mother, donating an egg and her womb.

Taking into account the 600 or so days needed for the pregnancy, the first baby mammoths of the modern age could be born in four to five years.

In recent years, scientists have used samples of hair frozen in the Siberian ice for thousands of years to piece together the mammoth’s genetic code. And DNA preserved in bone has been used to recreate the prehistoric giant’s blood.

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New Species Of Human Discovered

Photo: David Reich, et al./Nature

Denisovan tooth. Photo: David Reich, et al./Nature

Unraveling ancient human DNA must be like crack for anthropologists — they just can’t stop! Joe Palca reports for NPR:

DNA taken from a pinkie bone at least 30,000 years old is hinting at the existence of a previously unknown population of ancient humans. It’s just the latest example of how modern genetic techniques are transforming the world of anthropology.

The pinkie bone in question was unearthed in 2008 from what’s called the Denisova Cave.

“The Denisova Cave is in southern Siberia in the Altai Mountains in central Asia,” says David Reich, a geneticist at Harvard Medical School in Boston. “This bone is the bone of a 6- to 7-year-old girl.”

Reich and colleagues from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig were able to extract DNA from the pinkie bone and sequence all 3 billion letters of DNA that made up this girl’s genome.

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Los Alamos Scientist: TSA Scanners Shred Human DNA

radiation_dna_damage_bigAh, the joys holiday travel, with its long lines and tissue-withering radiation. A Los Alamos scientist raises an alarm regarding TSA scanners’ long-term effect on the human body, Veterans Today reports:

Boian Alexandrov at the Center for Nonlinear Studies at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico recently published an abstract with colleagues, “DNA Breathing Dynamics in the Presence of a Terahertz Field ” that reveals very disturbing—even shocking—evidence that the THz waves generated by TSA scanners is significantly damaging the DNA of the people being directed through the machines, and the TSA workers that are in close proximity to the scanners throughout their workday.

In layman’s terms what Alexandrov and his team discovered is that the resonant effects of the THz waves bombarding humans unzips the double-stranded DNA molecule. This ripping apart of the twisted chain of DNA creates bubbles between the genes that can interfere with the processes of life itself: normal DNA replication and critical gene expression.

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Is Schizophrenia Caused By An ‘Insanity Virus’?

imagesIt’s a novel and chilling theory: we are all born with a brain-ravaging virus that invaded the human DNA millions of years ago. Our bodies work to contain it, but childhood infections such as the flu can allow HERV-W to become temporarily unleashed — the cause of schizophrenia and multiple sclerosis. Discovery reports:

Schizophrenia has long been blamed on bad genes or even bad parents. Wrong, says a growing group of psychiatrists. The real culprit, they claim, is a virus that lives entwined in every person’s DNA.

Schizophrenia is usually diagnosed between the ages of 15 and 25, but the person who becomes schizophrenic is sometimes recalled to have been different as a child or a toddler—more forgetful or shy or clumsy. Even more puzzling is the so-called birth-month effect: People born in winter or early spring are more likely than others to become schizophrenic later in life. It is a small increase, just 5 to 8 percent, but it is remarkably consistent, showing up in 250 studies.

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