The discovery of the Cas9 protein has simplified gene editing, and may even make it possible to eliminate many hereditary diseases in the near future. Using Cas9, researchers have the ability to cut DNA in a cell to correct mutated genes, or paste new pieces of genetic material into the newly opened spot. Initially, the Crispr-Cas9 system seemed to be extremely accurate. However, it is now apparent that Cas9 sometimes also cuts other DNA sequences similar to the sequences it was programmed to target. Scientists at Delft University of Technology have developed a mathematical model that explains why Cas9 cuts some DNA sequences while leaving others alone.
The Crispr-Cas9 system is a defence mechanism that protects bacteria from viruses. If a virus enters a bacterium but does not take over the cell, the defence system cuts out some genetic material from the virus and stores it in the bacterium’s own genome. The built-in viral DNA acts as a genetic memory. If the same virus attacks the bacterium (or its descendants), it quickly recognises the attacker and can send out Cas9 proteins to track it down. Using viral RNA as a sort of “cheat sheet,” the protein hunts for hostile DNA in the cell. If it finds a match, the Crispr-Cas9 system then cuts the viral DNA, incapacitating the threat.
LONDON, Aug 1 (Reuters Life!) – Up to 70 percent of British men and half of all Western European men are related to the Egyptian Pharaoh Tutankhamun, geneticists in Switzerland said.
Scientists at Zurich-based DNA genealogy centre, iGENEA, reconstructed the DNA profile of the boy Pharaoh, who ascended the throne at the age of nine, his father Akhenaten and grandfather Amenhotep III, based on a film that was made for the Discovery Channel.
The results showed that King Tut belonged to a genetic profile group, known as haplogroup R1b1a2, to which more than 50 percent of all men in Western Europe belong, indicating that they share a common ancestor.
From kindergartens to high schools, from prisons to anyone who’s simply lost their ID, China is conducting the world’s most aggressive campaign to collect DNA from its population – with or without permission, in what it is calling a “high-tech security blanket” used to better monitor its 1.4 billion citizens, the WSJ reports
Schoolchildren in a bucolic region in western China famed for steam trains and jasmine flowers thought little of it when police interrupted classes and asked all the boys to spit into small plastic boxes.
Chinese authorities are already pointing to the collection techniques as a success – highlighting a case in Qianwei County, in which the murder of two shopkeepers from nearly a decade ago was solved using genetic samples collected from the murderer.
The goal, according to a WSJ’s examination of police documents from across China, is to double China’s current DNA repository to 100 million records by 2020 – which will require that they step up their efforts and collect nearly as many records each year as the United States has in its entire national database built over two years.
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Physical contact between babies and their caregivers doesn’t just foster emotional bonds — it also affects infants on a molecular level. This was the conclusion that researchers from the University of British Columbia and BC Children’s Hospital Research Institute came to in their landmark study. Though far from just impacting children in their infancy, physical contact (or lack thereof) elicit results that remain detectable well into childhood.
For the purposes of their study, the researchers recruited the parents of 94 healthy, five-week-old children. The parents were asked to keep journals of their children’s behavior (things such as crying, feeding, and sleeping), as well as the frequency amount of bodily contact they shared. By the time the children were four-and-a-half years old, the researchers swabbed the inside of their cheeks to attain DNA samples.
More info about the importance of vitamin B3:
– High Doses of Vitamins Fight Alzheimer’s Disease (Dec 9, 2008):
Researchers at the University of California at Irvine gave the human dose equivalent of 2,000 to 3,000 mg of vitamin B3 to mice with Alzheimer’s. (2) It worked. Kim Green, one of the researchers, is quoted as saying, “Cognitively, they were cured. They performed as if they’d never developed the disease.”
Researchers from the University of Sydney, Australia believe that nicotinamide (vitamin B3) can be used to prevent the incidence of melanoma, a deadly form of skin cancer. The study, published in Photodermatology, Photoimmunology, and Photomedicine, demonstrates the efficacy of vitamin B3 in reducing or even reversing DNA damage and inflammation caused by ultraviolet radiation. Authors of the review say that more research into the topic is necessary but conclude that should their data be further verified, it could lead to a cheap and potent solution to skin cancer.
The team noted that nicotinamide costs around $10 per month if taken at the recommended dosage of one gram a day. This is significantly less expensive than conventional cancer therapies, which usually include chemotherapy sessions and various forms of medications.
Harvard geneticist Dr. George Church has announced that the first organ transplants from pigs to humans could take place in just two years, after scientists found a way to combine gene editing and cloning to overcome some of the longstanding obstacles to pig organ transplants in an act that takes going against nature to new heights.
In the 1990s, scientists explored using pig organs for human transplants, but they discovered that pig DNA contained hidden genes for viruses that are similar to those that cause leukemia in monkeys. When they grew pig cells alongside human embryonic kidney cells in lab tests, the viruses spread to human cells. Once they were infected with these retroviruses, the human cells could then infect other human cells with them.