Tag Archives | Genes

Six-Hundred Year-Old Petrified Poop Contains Antibiotic Resistance Genes

PIC: Dr. Graham Beards (PD)

PIC: Dr. Graham Beards (PD)

Once you get over the shock of a perfectly preserved 14th century turd (Dude, what did you eat?), the story is actually pretty interesting: Scientists examining a six hundred year-old piece of human poop have discovered the presence of genes that provide antibiotic resistance.

Via Heritage Daily:

A team of French investigators has discovered viruses containing genes for antibiotic resistance in a fossilized fecal sample from 14th century Belgium, long before antibiotics were used in medicine.

The viruses in the fecal sample are phages, which are viruses that infect bacteria, rather than infecting eukaryotic organisms such as animals, plants, and fungi. Most of the viral sequences the researchers found in the ancient coprolite (fossil fecal sample) were related to viruses currently known to infect bacteria commonly found in stools (and hence, in the human gastrointestinal tract), including both bacteria that live harmlessly, and even helpfully in the human gut, and human pathogens, says corresponding author Christelle Desnues of Aix Marseille Université.

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Glow-In-The-Dark Pigs Birthed Using Jellyfish DNA

Introducing what is sure to be this year’s must-have rave accessory. Via The Verge:

Scientists at the South China Agricultural University announced last week that they had successfully engineered 10 piglets that could glow green under black light. By using a technique pioneered by the University of Hawaii at Manoa School of Medicine, the researchers were able to isolate a fluorescent protein in jellyfish DNA and inject it into pig embryos.

Turkish researchers were able to raise fluorescent rabbits with the University of Hawaii’s technique earlier this year.

 

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Could Living Dinosaurs Be Bred From The DNA Of Birds?

dinosaursAre the species of the ancient past lying in wait, encoded in plain sight? The Telegraph writes:

Oxford biochemist Dr Alison Woollard said it would be theoretically possible to recreate ancient animals, through the DNA of birds. By identifying and altering certain genes found in the DNA of modern birds, she believes scientists may be able to “design” genomes of the prehistoric creatures.

“We know that birds are the direct descendants of dinosaurs, as proven by an unbroken line of fossils which tracks the evolution of the lineage from creatures such as the velociraptor or T-Rex through to the birds flying around today,” said Dr Woollard. “This evolution implies that buried deep within the DNA of today’s birds are switched-off genes that control dinosaur-like traits.”

The difficulty, claims Dr Woollard is finding and understanding the full length of a dinosaur’s genome in order to know which edits to make to a bird’s genome.

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Study Suggests That Meditation Changes The Body’s Gene Expression

buddhaVia ScienceDaily, how changing your mind changes your body:

A new study by researchers in Wisconsin, Spain, and France reports the first evidence of specific molecular changes in the body following a period of mindfulness meditation.

The study investigated the effects of a day of intensive mindfulness practice in a group of experienced meditators, compared to a group of untrained control subjects who engaged in quiet non-meditative activities. After eight hours of mindfulness practice, the meditators showed a range of genetic and molecular differences, including altered levels of gene-regulating machinery and reduced levels of pro-inflammatory genes, which in turn correlated with faster physical recovery from a stressful situation.

“Interestingly, the changes were observed in genes that are the current targets of anti-inflammatory and analgesic drugs,” says Perla Kaliman, first author of the article and a researcher at the Institute of Biomedical Research of Barcelona, Spain.

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Twin Study to Explore Genetic Aspects of Space Health

Twin studies are the Holy Grail of medical research, but in some fields its very rare to find qualifying sets of siblings. Two astronaut twins (imagine the odds!) are giving scientists at the Baylor College of Medicine the opportunity to study the genetic aspects of human health outcomes in outer space.

dn23999-2_300New Scientist:

“We have the best ground control you could dream of,” says Graham Scott of the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas, who is helping NASA with the experiment. The question of space health is especially timely as several human trips to Mars are currently being discussed.

Last year, Scott Kelly was chosen to take part in the first one-year mission aboard the ISS, double the usual stay, along with Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko. Then last week NASA announced a twist: his brother Mark will be monitored on Earth throughout.

John Charles, chief scientist of NASA’s human research programme, says the brothers came up with the idea: “I was discussing plans with Scott and he said, ‘how about the twins angle?’ ”

Researchers will have access to blood and saliva samples from both twins taken before, during and after Scott’s trip to the ISS, along with assessments of their vision, sleep patterns and cardiovascular activity.

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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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First Therapy Approved That Corrects Errors In A Person’s Genetic Code

The day is approaching in which we will be GMOs. KurzweilAI recently reported:

European regulators have approved the first therapy in the western world that can correct errors in a person’s genetic code, according to Amsterdam-based uniQure.

Europe has approved Glybera for treatment of Lipoprotein Lipase Deficiency, a rare, inherited disease. Patients with LPLD are unable to metabolize the fat particles carried in their blood, which leads to inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis). Glybera introduces a normal, healthy LPL gene into the body so that it can make functional LPL protein.

Glybera will be available in the second half of 2013, according Glybera will be available in the second half of 2013, according to uniQure, which is preparing to apply for regulatory approval in the U.S., Canada, and other markets.

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Study Finds Possible Link Between Genes and Friendship

Could your genes help decide the friends you choose? BBC News reports:

Researchers in the United States say they have uncovered tentative evidence of a genetic component to friendship.

Using data from two independent studies, they found carriers of one gene associated with alcoholism tended to stick together.

However, people with another gene linked with metabolism and openness, stayed apart.

Details are published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The researchers looked at six genetic markers in two long-running US studies, the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health and the Framingham Heart Study, which contain both genetic data and information on friends.

[Continues at BBC News]… Read the rest

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