Tag Archives | Genetics

You Might Have Inherited Your Ancestors’ Fears

PIC: Hale Woodruff "Ancestral Memory" (CC)

PIC: Hale Woodruff “Ancestral Memory” (CC)

While not widely accepted in psychiatric circles, C.G. Jung’s theories about “racial memory” (more commonly known now as “genetic memory”) became a popular trope in the writings of writers like Robert E. Howard, Jean Auel, and Frank Herbert, all of whom used it to introduce things into their stories that their characters might not otherwise know. Now it seems that a couple of scientists may have proven that there is at least some truth to the idea that we can inherit memories of a sort from our ancestors.

Via Discover Magazine:

Geneticists were especially surprised to find that epigenetic change could be passed down from parent to child, one generation after the next. A study from Randy Jirtle of Duke University showed that when female mice are fed a diet rich in methyl groups, the fur pigment of subsequent offspring is permanently altered. Without any change to DNA at all, methyl groups could be added or subtracted, and the changes were inherited much like a mutation in a gene.

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Why Are We Making Robots When We Could Be Breeding Super People?

sacredsigilservitor1The thing about magick that’s difficult to explain to the uninitiated is that you absolutely have to do it to understand it entirely. You can’t just read about it in books. Supposedly “coincidental” events start piling on top of each other in such a way that you can’t deny the interconnected nature of consciousness anymore. The ideas of dead matter and cold randomness start to appear increasingly primitive. You try to buy into them because that’s what you’ve been taught since birth but the hive mind keeps throwing wrenches into that whole design from the inside. Eventually you learn to ride the strange and start looking for the plot and how you fit into it rather than denying that there is one a priori. I try to write about this connective sensation as much as I can (more on Facebook than here, friend me), and last weekend was one of those odd examples of the universe tapping into my private thoughtspace and playing tag.… Read the rest

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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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Genetic Analysis Suggests Ancient Humans Interbred Extensively Neanderthals, Denisovans And An “Unknown Population”

neanderthalNature hints that modern humans have a mysterious X factor ancestor:

Genome analysis suggests there was interbreeding between modern humans, Neanderthals, Denisovans and an unknown archaic population. Updated genome sequences from two extinct relatives of modern humans suggest that these ‘archaic’ groups bred with humans and with each other more extensively than was previously known.

The ancient genomes, one from a Neanderthal and one from a member of an archaic human group called the Denisovans, were presented on 18 November at a meeting on ancient DNA at the Royal Society in London. The results suggest that interbreeding went on between the members of several ancient human-like groups in Europe and Asia more than 30,000 years ago, including an as-yet-unknown human ancestor from Asia.

All modern humans whose ancestry originates outside of Africa owe about 2% of their genome to Neanderthals. Certain populations living in Oceania, such as Papua New Guineans and Australian Aboriginals, share about 4% of their DNA with Denisovans.

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Humans May Have Originated As A Pig-Chimp Hybrid

pig-chimpPerhaps the real reason human beings feel the urge to keep kosher/halal is that in pigs we subconsciously recognize a glimmer of ourselves. Phys.org reports:

Dr. Eugene McCarthy is a Ph.D. geneticist who has made a career out of studying hybridization in animals. He has amassed an impressive body of evidence suggesting that human origins can be best explained by hybridization between pigs and chimpanzees. Extraordinary theories require extraordinary evidence and McCarthy does not disappoint. Rather than relying on genetic sequence comparisons, he instead offers extensive anatomical comparisons, which are startling when taken together.

The list of anatomical specializations we may have gained from porcine philandering is too long to detail here. Similarities in the face, skin and organ microstructure alone are hard to explain away. A short list of differential features would include, multipyramidal kidney structure, presence of dermal melanocytes, melanoma, absence of a primate baculum (penis bone), surface lipid and carbohydrate composition of cell membranes, vocal cord structure, laryngeal sacs, diverticuli of the fetal stomach, intestinal “valves of Kerkring,” heart chamber symmetry, skin and cranial vasculature and method of cooling, and tooth structure.

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Japanese Scientists Receive Approval To Create Human-Animal Embryos

human-animal embryos

The Japan Times reports on mixing and matching the components of humans and non-human animals:

Proposed experiments with animal-human embryos cleared the first regulatory hurdle Tuesday as Japanese scientists seek permission for tests that could see human organs produced inside the growing body of an animal.

Researchers want to introduce a human stem cell into an animal embryo, to create a so-called chimeric embryo, which they can implant into an animal’s womb.

The hope is that this stem cell will grow into a fully-functioning human organ — a kidney or a liver, for example — as the animal matures. This would mean when the creature is fully grown, the organ could be harvested from the animal and used for transplanting into a person in need.

Unlike in the United States, there is little public opposition to research of this kind, with domestic media coverage overwhelmingly positive, reflecting relatively high levels of scientific literacy in the country.

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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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Sequenced Genome Of Sacred Lotus May Yield Anti-Aging Secrets

sacred lotusContemporary science meets ancient wisdom via redOrbit:

A team of international scientists report today that they have sequenced and annotated the genome of the sacred lotus (Nelumbo nucifera). The research was co-led by Ray Ming, a plant biology professor at University of Illinois’ Institute for Genomic Biology; Jane Shen-Miller, a plant biology professor at UCLA; and Shaohua Li, director of the Wuhan Botanical Garden at the Chinese Academy of Sciences. The team have sequenced nearly 90 percent of the plant’s 27,000 genes.

The sacred lotus has the ability to repair genetic defects, and may hold a key to the secrets of aging; the seeds of the lotus can survive up to 1,300 years. The sacred lotus is known from the geologic record as early as 135 million years ago. The plant has been grown in China for at least the last 4,000 years, and has long been used there for food and medicine.

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Glowing Plants Coming to a Streetlamp Near You?

A night sky lit only by stars and glowing plants sounds pretty awesome, but I can’t believe that there wouldn’t be unforeseen consequences. I’d hate to have to explain to our great grandchildren that they’re living in a world full of glowing, genetically polluted foodstuffs because our generation thought it sounded cool at the time.

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Child Abuse Changes Gene Activity Patterns

TonitzaOrfanderazboiIt looks like child abuse does more than leave physical and emotional scarring: It changes its victims on a genetic level.

Via Medical News Today:

A study of adult civilians with PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) has shown that individuals with a history of childhood abuse have distinct, profound changes in gene activity patterns, compared to adults with PTSD but without a history of child abuse.

A team of researchers from Atlanta and Munich probed blood samples from 169 participants in the Grady Trauma Project, a study of more than 5000 Atlanta residents with high levels of exposure to violence, physical and sexual abuse and with high risk for civilian PTSD.

The results were published recently in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Early Edition.

“These are some of the most robust findings to date showing that different biological pathways may describe different subtypes of a psychiatric disorder, which appear similar at the level of symptoms but may be very different at the level of underlying biology,” says Kerry Ressler, MD, PhD, professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Emory University School of Medicine and Yerkes National Primate Research Center.

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