Tag Archives | DNA

A Family Secret That Has Been Murder to Figure Out

Gautam Naik for the Wall Street Journal:

IRVINE, Calif. — Jim Fallon recently made a disquieting discovery: A member of his family has some of the biological traits of a psychopathic killer.

“These results will cause some problems at the next family party,” he said, reviewing the data on his laptop in his backyard. Meanwhile, his wife, Diane, stood in the kitchen, using a knife to slice through a blood-red pepper.

Dr. Fallon, 62 years old, is a neuroscientist who studies the biological basis of human behavior at the University of California’s campus here. He has analyzed the brains of more than 70 murderers on behalf of psychiatric clinics or criminal defense lawyers. It’s a young science. Because jailed killers rarely are permitted to take part in research trials, data linking genes and brain damage to violent crime are tentative and often disputed.

“In terms of early factors, we know nothing about who becomes an adult psychopath,” says Adrian Raine of the University of Pennsylvania, who applies neuroscience techniques to study the causes and cures of crime.

Three years ago, as part of a personal project to assess his family’s risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, Dr. Fallon collected brain scans and DNA samples from himself and seven relatives. At a barbecue soon thereafter, Dr. Fallon’s mother casually mentioned something he had been unaware of: His late father’s lineage was drenched in blood… [continues in the Wall Street Journal]

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British Police Arrest People ‘Just For The DNA’

BritishPoliceGoToHellStrangely enough, this page is no longer on MSNBC. Here the cached version via Google, MSNBC via Reuters:

More than three-quarters of young black men are on system, watchdog says

Britain has built the world’s biggest DNA database without proper political debate and police routinely arrest people just to get their DNA profiles onto the system, the genetics watchdog said in a report on Tuesday.

The Human Genetics Commission, which advises the government on the social, legal and ethical aspects of genetics, called for a review of the database and said new laws must be passed to govern its use.

In a damning report, the commission said “function creep” had transformed the system from a DNA store for offenders into a database of suspects.

Was on MSNBC via Reuters, also on USA Today

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When Your Boss Wants Your DNA

Joseph Shapiro reports for NPR:

Last month, Matt Williams, an adjunct professor at the University of Akron, opened an e-mail from his bosses about the school’s new rules for hiring and was “absolutely blown away,” he says, “when I saw the reference to collecting DNA samples.”

The university was saying it could ask new workers for a DNA sample — to run background checks. But Williams knew his DNA could also be used to discover the most private of information about his health — like his genetic risk for cancer, heart disease or mental illness.

To Williams, who taught in the School of Communications, it was one more insult in the hard life of an adjunct professor. (He’s an officer in a national organization, New Faculty Majority, that advocates for adjunct professors.) He says adjuncts at the University of Akron sign new contracts from year to year, so he expected to be counted as a new worker the next time his contract came up.

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Will your D.N.A. be the new barcode?

George Orwell couldn’t have dreamed this up; from IT Pro:

IBM scientists are working on ambitious research where nano-sized holes will be drilled into computer chips and DNA passed through to create a ‘genetic code reader’.

IBM said that experts from nanofabrication, microelectronics, physics and biology are working together to master a technique where a long DNA molecule passes through a three nanometer wide hole (a nanopore).

As the molecule passes through the nanopore one unit of DNA at a time, an electrical sensor can ‘read’ the DNA.

The challenge of the silicon-based ‘DNA Transistor’ would be to slow and control the motion of the DNA through the hole so the reader could decode what is inside it.

IBM claimed that if the project was successful it could make personalised genome analysis as cheap as $100 to $1,000, and compared it to the first ever sequencing done for the Human Genome Project, which cost $3 billion.

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