Archives for Genetic Engineering

Scientist Says "Never in Our Imagination Could This Happen." Famous Last Words?

Whenever a scientist says something like, don’t worry our new experiment could never get out of the lab, or don’t worry the miniature black hole we are going to generate couldn’t possibly swallow up the entire planet, I tend to get a little worried.…

Networked Genome — New Finding Shatters Current Thinking

A new finding has discovered that the human genome may be highly networked. That is, genes do not operate in isolation, but rather they are networked together in a far more complex ecosystem than previously thought. It may be impossible to separate one gene from another in fact.…

Open-Source Medicine

There are thousands of promising drugs for treating diseases that are simply not getting studied or brought to market because they are derived from natural or common substances that can’t be patented. The dirty little secret of the pharma business is that even a miracle cure for cancer won’t be invested in if it can’t be defended as a proprietary product.…

Scientists Encode Message into Bacterial DNA

Japanese scientists have developed a technique that can encode 100-bit messages into the DNA of common bacteria. The bacteria replicate and pass the message down from generation to generation for at least thousands of years. Because there are millions or more copies of the message it can survive gradual degradation or mutuations (so they claim).…

GM Grapes and Toxic Wines

This is a somewhat scary article about the hazards of genetically modified grapes and the wines they may be used to produce. The article is from the extreme anti-genetic-engineering perspective, and so I don’t know how balanced it is or what the opposing view might say.…

Major Breakthrough Revolutionizes Genetics

Scientists have discovered a dramatic variation in the genetic
make-up of humans that could lead to a fundamental reappraisal of what
causes incurable diseases and could provide a greater understanding of
mankind.

       
         
         
            

The discovery has astonished scientists studying the human genome – the
genetic recipe of man.…

Minding The Planet — The Meaning and Future of the Semantic Web

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Playing Proteins as Songs Helps Researchers Hear Patterns

All living things are made up of proteins. Each protein is a string of
amino acids. There are 20 different amino acids, and each protein can
consist of dozens to thousands of them.

Scientists write down these amino acid sequences as series of
text letters.

New Viral Cure for Cancer Invented

Researchers in South Korea may have discovered a new cure for cancer — a genetically engineered  form of a virus that causes colds. By injecting this in animals with cancer it kills 90% of all cancer cells within 60 days, with no other side-effects.…

RNAi — The Next Revolution in Medicine?

This article discusses RNA interference (RNAi), a technique which can selectively turn genes off, which is currently in the early stages of testing. It shows promise for treating a broad spectrum of diseases.

A Village Where Aging is Sped Up

Here’s an interesting video about a village in India where men have been stricken for over a decade with a disease that causes them to age much faster. Nobody knows what is causing this. Men in their 30’s appear to be 80.…

US Rice Supplies Inadvertently Contaminated

It has just come out that supplies of rice in the USA have been contaminated with a gene that was not approved for human consumption

New Level of Order Discovered in DNA

A major new discovery about the structure of DNA molecules has been announced. Researchers have found there is a pattern to the organization of nucleosomes in DNA, which may explain why certain parts of the molecule are accessible or inaccessible to transcription.…

Anti-Aging Molecule Discovered

South Korean researchers have synthesized a molecule that seems to not only stop, but also reverse, the built-in aging functions of cells.

A team of South Korean scientists on Sunday
claimed to have created a “cellular fountain of youth,’’ or a small
molecule, which enables human cells to avoid aging and dying.

Scientists Solve Flu Virus Replication Mystery

In a big step for medicine, scientists have figured out how the flu virus replicates — including the bird flu —  inside cells. This opens up new pathways for developing drugs to fight all strains of the flu.

Big Thinkers' Most Dangerous Ideas

The Edge has published mini-essays by 119 "big thinkers" on their "most dangerous ideas" — fun reading.

The history of science is replete with discoveries
that were considered socially, morally, or emotionally
dangerous in their time; the Copernican and
Darwinian revolutions are the most obvious.

Using DNA to Send Messages into the Distant Future

This article discusses recent research into encoding short 100 word messages into the DNA of living organisms. The error-correcting characteristics of DNA enable such messages to be passed down without degrading across generations. By embedding short messages into hardy organisms such as particular strains of bacteria, it may be possible to preserve information over longer timeframes than by using any other known storage media.…

20% of Your Genes Belong to Them

From Boing Boing today:

Xeni Jardin: A report in this week’s issue of Science
says 20 percent of human genes have been patented in the United States:

The study (…) is the first time that a detailed map has been
created to match patents to specific physical locations on the human genome.

Human-Brained Monkeys Pose Ethical Challenge

A cutting-edge research program is injecting human brain cells into monkey brains, to investigate whether this causes their brains to become more "human." This poses a potential ethical challenge: If the monkeys do become more human, would they be considered "human subjects" and be protected by ethical guidelines governing research onto humans?…

Cloning in the Animal Kingdom

Several recent articles discuss the discovery of insects that clone themselves:

The ant Wasmannia Auropunctata, which is native to Central and South
America but has spread into the US and beyond, has opted for a unique
stand-off in the battle of the sexes.

New Discovery – All Vertebrates Share Certain "Junk DNA" Segments

In an amazing new research finding, it turns out that a substantial amount of the so-called "junk DNA" in humans and other vertebrates is the same and has remained unchanged for 600 to 700 million years. Not only that but it turns out that at least some of the base pairs in this set have been found to regulate genes in other parts of the genome.…

Hackers Crack Junk DNA?

A group
of researchers working at the Human Genome Project will be
announcing soon that they made an astonishing scientific
discovery: They believe so-called non-coding sequences (97%) in
human DNA is no less than genetic code of an unknown
extraterrestrial life form.

Future Evolution of Human Species

Here is a thought-provoking article that discusses several possible directions for the future evoloution of the human species. It includes comments by Richard Dawkins, as well as several scenarios with pictures of what humans might look like in the distant future.…

What the Next Pandemic Will be Like

Here is an article written by an MD about what the coming H5N1 flu pandemic will be like, based on historical records of the 1918 flu pandemic. Scary reading.

Creator of Sim City Previews Amazing New Game

Many years ago I spoke with Will Wright — one of the most interesting visionaries I’ve met (and who happens to be the creator of Sim City) about his dream of a universe game — one in which the player could evolve life from the simple cellular level all the way up through galactic scale civilizations.…

New Study Finds Stress Causes Aging

A recent study by the University of California, San Francisco, has found that stress causes the same changes in cells that are typically caused by aging:

The
study involved 39 women ages 20 to 50 who had experienced grinding
stress for years because they were caring for a child with a serious
chronic illness, and 19 other women with healthy children.

New Anti-Aging Pill To Be Released

In February of 2005, a controversial new anti-aging pill called Protandim is slated for release. This drug is claimed to increase the body’s natural production of anti-oxidants, which in turn is believed to combat damage from free-radicals. Preliminary studies on mice demonstrated "reduction of lipid peroxidation by 60% to 75% in both plasma and liver,
as well as a decrease of more than 90% percent in brain tissue.…

The Next Flu Pandemic…

This article provides some interesting details on the leading candidate for the next flu pandemic, which is overdue, and appears to be brewing in Asia. Unlike normal flu’s pandemic strains seem to have an uncanny ability to kill off people in the prime of their lives, by causing the immune system to go so far into overdrive that it actually kills the host as well as the virus.…

If the Universe is a Simulation, then What?

Here’s an interesting speculation. Assume for the moment that our universe is in fact a simulation running on a vast computing system created a race of beings that is far more advanced than we can presently imagine. The next logical question would be, “Why would an advanced civilization want or need to undertake such a project?”

Without debating whether or not such a project is possible, let’s simply address this second question.…

Designer Babies Approved in England

Couples in England with certain forms of inherited cancer will now be able to prescreen embryos to choose give birth to healthier babies. This sets a new precedent for the pre-screening and selection of embryos with other desired genetic traits.

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