With the warm weather of summer quickly approaching, a common enemy known as the mosquito will soon make a reappearance. Mosquitoes are more than just an irritation. In many areas of the world, mosquitoes are also carriers of infectious diseases such as malaria and the Zika virus. While the mosquito is a major problem to many, scientists at Microsoft Research are attempting to exploit some … Continue reading Mosquitos: Friend or Foe? Possible use of mosquitos in modern epidemiology
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?
Gaeten Dugas, the man who received the title “Patient Zero” for supposedly bringing HIV/AIDS into the United States, has been cleared. Dugas was a Canadian flight attendant who contracted and died of AIDS soon after the disease first appeared in the US. The book And the Band Played On paints a sinister picture of his role in the early AIDS epidemic, leading many to suspect … Continue reading Genetic Evidence Exonerates HIV’s “Patient Zero”
“Shrink to grow” is a two-pronged business strategy where a company gets rid of unprofitable brands (“shrink”) to focus its resources on a few remaining or new brands (“grow”). Companies like P&G and Microsoft have used it, and a similar idea to “shrink to grow” is behind the George Church lab’s ongoing development of the synthetic bacteria rEcoli57. But while the executives at P&G were … Continue reading Shrink to grow: on the road towards a 57-codon bacterium
The first clinical trial using the gene editing technique CRISPR was given the go-ahead by panel from the US National Institutes of Health (NIH). The trial is aimed at determining if the technique is safe for use on human subjects. As there is much we have yet to learn about genes and their expression, it is a valid concern that modifying DNA in humans could … Continue reading First Human Trial of Gene Editing Technique CRISPR Approved
Headlines touting a recently discovered link between particular snippets of DNA and academic success skew a complicated (and fascinating) story that’s hidden in our genes. As described in Nature, a team of researchers from all over the world studied the genomes of hundreds of thousands of people and found a correlation between “educational attainment” and specific genetic variations. This technique, called a genome-wide association study, … Continue reading Our Genes are Not Our Destiny: “Smart Genes” have Tiny Effect on Schooling
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