Tag Archives | DNA

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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The Dangers of Fluoroquinolone Antibiotics

Many doctors dispense Quinolones--such as Levaquin, Cipro and Aveloxl--as if they were Pez these days.  Cipro, for example, is useful against Anthrax, but some doctors have been known to prescribe it for possible infections that haven't even shown up in tests. But fluoroquinolones are now known to researchers to sometimes cause tendinopathy, neuropathy, and other serious adverse effects.  They work by preventing bacterial DNA from duplicating, and it seems they might sometimes harm human DNA as well. So why haven't the manufacturers told doctors about these risks?  And why hasn't the FDA ordered them to?
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NASA Finds New Life Form, Made of Arsenic, in the Poisonous Mono Lake

BacteriaNew life-forms! Right here on Planet Earth! Jesus Diaz writes on WIRED Science:

Hours before their special news conference today, the cat is out of the bag: NASA has discovered a completely new life form that doesn’t share the biological building blocks of anything currently living in planet Earth. This changes everything.

At their conference today, NASA scientist Felisa Wolfe Simon will announce that they have found a bacteria whose DNA is completely alien to what we know today. Instead of using phosphorus, the bacteria uses arsenic. All life on Earth is made of six components: carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, phosphorus and sulfur. Every being, from the smallest amoeba to the largest whale, share the same life stream. Our DNA blocks are all the same.

But not this one. This one is completely different. Discovered in the poisonous Mono Lake, California, this bacteria is made of arsenic, something that was thought to be completely impossible.

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Tracking Criminals With A DNA Mist

ROTTERDAM-JRL-2-popupA “DNA mist” that store employees can spray on unaware robbers: is this the future of crime-fighting? New York Times reports:

Rotterdam, the Netherlands — When the McDonald’s down from City Hall here was burglarized a few years ago, its managers decided they needed a new security system.

It was just about that time that local police officers were offering something totally different that they hoped would stem a rising tide of robberies that occur mainly in the immigrant neighborhoods of this rough-and-tumble port city. The new system involved an employee-activated device that sprays a fine, barely visible mist laced with synthetic DNA to cover anyone in its path, including criminals, and simultaneously alerts the police to a crime in progress.

The mist — visible only under ultraviolet light — carries DNA markers particular to the location, enabling the police to match the burglar with the place burgled. Now, a sign on the front door of the McDonald’s prominently warns potential thieves of the spray’s presence: “You Steal, You’re Marked.”

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DNA Tests Show Hitler ‘Had Jewish and African Roots’

HitlerSaluteI have heard this before but looks like genetic testing is finally shedding some light on that idea. Heidi Blake writes on the Telegraph:

Saliva samples taken from 39 relatives of the Nazi leader show he may have had biological links to the “subhuman” races that he tried to exterminate during the Holocaust. Jean-Paul Mulders, a Belgian journalist, and Marc Vermeeren, a historian, tracked down the Fuhrer’s relatives, including an Austrian farmer who was his cousin, earlier this year.

A chromosome called Haplogroup E1b1b1 which showed up in their samples is rare in Western Europe and is most commonly found in the Berbers of Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia, as well as among Ashkenazi and Sephardic Jews.

“One can from this postulate that Hitler was related to people whom he despised,” Mr Mulders wrote in the Belgian magazine, Knack. Haplogroup E1b1b1, which accounts for approximately 18 to 20 per cent of Ashkenazi and 8.6 per cent to 30 per cent of Sephardic Y-chromosomes, appears to be one of the major founding lineages of the Jewish population.

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Has a Technological Singularity Already Started?

nanobot“It’s not comfortably decades down the road. It’s right now, right here, in our faces, all we have to do is look around to see it.”

A science writer argues we’re rapidly approaching a day when “we can customize the human body as easily as we can customize our car… an era where the genetic lottery of our inherited DNA will no longer dictate who we chose to be.” There’s already stem cell breast augmentation, making ovaries into testes, 3-D tissue printers and “tissue Legos”, and “then add in who knows how many other recent stem cell breakthroughs have happened in the last year and a half…”

He sees a big picture where “advancing computer science mixed with advancing biotech combine to create a potential future in which trolls and elves could walk down the street side by side with humans.”

“Here’s to hoping I’ll see you on the other side.”

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DNA ‘Spiderbot’ Is On The Prowl

nanobotVia AFP:

Scientists on Wednesday announced they had created a molecular robot made out of DNA that walks like a spider along a track made out of the chemical code for life.

The achievement, reported in the British journal Nature, is a further step in nanoscale experiments that, one day, may lead to robot armies to clean arteries and fix damaged tissues.

The robot is just four nanometres — four billionths of a metre — in diameter.

Milan Stojanovic of New York’s Columbia University, who led the venture, likens the nanobot to “a four-legged spider.”

The beast moves along a track comprising stitched-together strands of DNA that is essentially a pre-programmed course, in the same way that industrial robots move along an assembly line.

The track exploits one of the basic characteristics of DNA. A double-helix molecule, DNA comprises four chemicals which pair in rungs.

By “unzipping” the DNA, one is left with one side of the strand whose rungs can then be paired up with matching rungs.

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