What is the difference between a normal cell and a cancer cell? The answer lies in their DNA. Cancer results from the accumulation of genetic mutations, which trigger uncontrolled cell growth. Cancer’s mutated DNA can reveal its presence early on in the disease. Like leaving fingerprints at a crime scene, tumor cells release small pieces of DNA into the bloodstream. This “circulating tumor DNA” can now … Continue reading Catching Cancer: Blood Test for Early-Stage Diagnosis
by Catherine Weiner figures by Michael Gerhardt A decade ago, the idea of analyzing your DNA from the comfort of your own home seemed like science fiction. Tests required several weeks, thousands if not millions of dollars, and a lab of highly specialized PhDs. Today, thanks to technical advances and companies like 23andMe, you can perform this analysis for $199. The U.S. Food and Drug … Continue reading What’s in Your Genes: Newly approved genetic testing for disease risks
by Steph Guerra figures by Shannon McArdel The Cancer Moonshot is an initiative that was launched by Joe Biden in 2016 with the goal of accelerating cancer research progress by bringing together world-class researchers and institutions in the battle against this disease. Armed with $300 million in startup funding, plus a total of $1.8 billion authorized over the next seven years, the Cancer Moonshot has … Continue reading Cancer Moonshot Musings II: Fusion oncoproteins in focus
The Church lab at Harvard University recently announced plans to create a hybrid mammoth and elephant. Using a technology called CRISPR, researchers in the Church lab have learned how to insert mammoth DNA into the cells of modern elephants. Theoretically, this could set the stage for developing an embryo with DNA from both a modern elephant and the woolly mammoth. The group would like to … Continue reading Could Woolly Mammoths Walk Again?
A now five-month-old boy was the first child to be born via spindle nuclear transfer, a controversial fertilization procedure that incorporates genetic material from three different people. Most of our genes are located in the DNA found in a cell’s nucleus, but a few reside in tiny compartments called mitochondria. While rare, mutations in mitochondrial DNA can result in devastating disorders that often cannot … Continue reading It’s a boy! Baby is born with DNA from three “parents”
Scientists at the J. Craig Venter Institute have created a fast-growing bacterial cell with a nearly-minimal number of genes necessary for survival – just 473 in total. These genes were entirely synthesized – not transplanted from a grown organism – and the creation of such a cell may allow big steps forward in gene function identification and efficient mass-production of biological molecules. Continue reading Streamlined 473-Gene Bacteria May Lead to Discoveries, Biochemical Production
Spitting into a plastic tube normally doesn’t cost $199, but the personal genomics company 23andMe has recently won FDA approval to turn that saliva into a DNA fingerprint. By identifying common variants in our genetic code, 23andMe’s DNA-testing service originally supplied personalized insights into disease predisposition, drug sensitivity, and other health-related traits. In 2013, however, the FDA demanded that 23andMe shutter the health-related aspect of … Continue reading 23andMe wins approval from FDA: What does your DNA say about you?