HIV-Infected T Cell

Genetic Evidence Exonerates HIV’s “Patient Zero”

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”

Scanning electron micrograph of Escherichia coli

Shrink to grow: on the road towards a 57-codon bacterium

“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

An isolated blue dna molecule on white background

First Human Trial of Gene Editing Technique CRISPR Approved

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

School lockers

Our Genes are Not Our Destiny: “Smart Genes” have Tiny Effect on Schooling

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

syn30

Streamlined 473-Gene Bacteria May Lead to Discoveries, Biochemical Production

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

Brooklyn_Museum_-_The_Invalid_-_Louis_Lang_-_overall

Down, but not out: Developments in depression research

by Emily Ricq Depression affects 15 million Americans and is characterized by debilitating feelings of sadness or emptiness that interfere with the ability to lead and enjoy life [1]. The substantial personal and public health burden imposed by depression has motivated decades of intensive research by scientists, clinicians, therapists, and pharmaceutical companies alike, yet the biology underlying the cause (or causes) of the disease and … Continue reading Down, but not out: Developments in depression research

nicholes_elephant

The Elephant in the Room: Gene Copy Number and Cancer

by Caitlin Nichols figures by Krissy Lyon We’ve all heard the saying that quality is more important than quantity. The preference for quality over quantity applies in the human body as well. Cancer, for instance, is caused by malfunctioning cells that grow and divide uncontrollably, creating life-threatening health challenges for patients [1]. It’s easy to see that in the case of cancer, an individual should … Continue reading The Elephant in the Room: Gene Copy Number and Cancer