Tag Archives | Genetics

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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Study Suggests Yoga Boosts The Immune System On A Genetic Level

yogaThe results support yoga as a powerful therapy, but more broadly, reinforce the fact that our very genes are affected by our activities and moods. Pacific Standard writes:

Newly published research from Norway suggests that a yoga program rapidly produces internal changes on a genetic level. The results help explain the well-documented health benefits of this ancient practice.

“These data suggest that previously reported effects of yoga practices have an integral physiological component at the molecular level, which is initiated immediately,” writes a research team led by Fahri Saatcioglu of the University of Oslo.

The experiment featured 10 participants who attended a yoga retreat in Germany. For two days, participants spent two hours practicing a comprehensive yoga program and meditation. For the next two days, they spent that same time period going on a nature walk and then listening to jazz or classical music.

Immediately before and after each of the four sessions, the researchers drew blood from each participant.

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Uruguayan Scientists Create Healthy Glow-In-The-Dark Sheep

It has been announced that nine sheep born this past October at Uruguay's Institute of Animal Reproduction have been developing normally and living contentedly. The sheep were genetically engineered to contain a gene from a jellyfish which spurs the production of green fluorescent protein, a modification which will no doubt soon be a common one for designer house pets:
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Could An Extraterrestrial Message Be Encoded In Our DNA?

Could a message have been inserted into our genetics billions of years ago, as the most durable method of communicating with intelligent life eons later? Discovery News ponders:

Could our genes have an intelligently designed “manufacturer’s stamp” inside them, written eons ago elsewhere in our galaxy?

Vladimir I. shCherbak of al-Farabi Kazakh National University of Kazakhstan, and Maxim A. Makukov of the Fesenkov Astrophysical Institute, hypothesize that an intelligent signal embedded in our genetic code would what they call “biological SETI.”

In the journal Icarus, they assert: “Once fixed, the code might stay unchanged over cosmological timescales. Therefore it represents an exceptionally reliable storage for an intelligent signature.” To pass the designer label test, any patterns in the genetic code must be highly statistically significant and possess intelligent-like features that are inconsistent with any natural know process.

They go on to argue that their detailed analysis of the human genome displays a thorough precision-type orderliness in the mapping between DNA’s nucleotides and amino acids.

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Are Men Doomed To Go Extinct?

The Sydney Morning Herald on evolutionary scientists’ assertion that biological males as we know them are on the way out, due to the inherent flawed nature of the Y chromosome:

The poorly designed Y chromosome that makes men is degrading rapidly and will disappear, even if humans are still around.

Evolutionary geneticist Jenny Graves says that while the process is likely to happen within the next five million years, it could have begun in some isolated groups. Professor Groves, who first made the prediction some years ago, gave a public lecture on the subject for the Australian Academy of Science.

If humans don’t become extinct, new sex-determining genes and chromosomes will evolve, maybe leading to the evolution of new hominid species. “As long as something came along in its stead, we would not even suspect without checking the chromosomes,” she said on Tuesday. This had happened in the Japanese spiny rat, which had survived the loss of its Y.

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Artists Recreates Strangers’ Faces From Discarded DNA On NYC’s Streets

You’ve been leaving yourself everywhere. For her ongoing project Stranger Visions, Heather Dewey-Hagborg culls discarded DNA (in the form of cigarette butts, chewed gum, et cetera) from the New York sidewalk and then uses a 3D printer to create sculpture portraits based on the genetic information. A reminder that we may soon need to guard our DNA tightly?

Heather Dewey-Hagborg creates portrait sculptures from analyses of genetic material collected in public places. Working with the traces strangers unwittingly leave behind, Dewey-Hagborg calls attention to the impulse toward genetic determinism and the potential for a culture of genetic surveillance.

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