Genetics & Molecular Biology

What do the missing Romanov children, genetically engineered humans, financial risk taking, and poop have in common? You can read about all these topics from this month's Gene Genie carnival at Mary Meets Dolly. Who would have thought that mutations could be so much fun? Read more

A long-sought goal in genetics has been to develop therapies that can use correctly functioning genes to replace genes with defects. If we had the technology to predictably modify our genomes, we would have the ability to cure many diseases instead of having to place people on medications for their entire lives.

For a long time, gene therapy has remained an elusive dream. But, in the past few years the dream has come closer to reality, especially in the case of ten children, who live because of researchers who kept that dream in sight (1).

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My garden at home is looking a bit bleak after all the snow, Mendel's Garden is blooming wonderfully at Jeremy Cherfas' blog Another Blasted Weblog. Jeremy has prepared a nice collection of perennial favorites. I especially like the story about pea breeding and, if you view the post, there are several interesting pictures of peas. These peas are far more diverse than the kind you'd normally see in a genetics text. Not all peas are shrunken or waxy. ... Read more
The New York Times had a great article a couple of days ago on the need for personalized medicine to become more than a catchy phrase. As we're learning more about the interaction between genes and drug metabolism, we're also learning that large numbers of people are either taking the wrong drug or taking drugs that won't work.

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Researchers have known for some time that genetic variants determine how well drugs work. Some versions of a gene cause a drug to be metabolized faster, some slower, and when combined, at an ... Read more
Mosquito-borne diseases, like Dengue and Malaria, are serious problems in many parts of the world. While some people are working on treatments for mosquito-carried disease, others are looking at ways to treat the mosquitoes.
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Figure 1. Image of Aedes aegypti from the Public Health Library

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Masha Gessen was faced with a terrifying choice: cut off her breasts, and possibly save herself from cancer, or use them to feed her child. It was late at night when I walked back to my empty dorm room at the conference. Shivering, I stood on the narrow bed, quickly shut the windows, tore the blankets off the other bed, and wrapped myself up, trying to get warm. Too cold to sleep, I picked up my copy of Masha Gessen's " ... Read more
Why should professional scientists have all the fun? i-ac01bf3290c4fd272ad38e404e606bc4-gfp_bacteria.pngResearchers have been engineering glowing cats, and selling glowing fish at pet stores. High school kids can do genetic engineering too, if ... Read more
Maybe you did it for the extra cash. Maybe you wanted to be part of the sperm cube public art project. Whatever the reason, it's possible, just possible, your sperm took on a life of it's own, once you left it. And now that a genome is no longer an entirely personal bit of information, you may be in for a surprise meeting someday, with the end result. That's right. Male adoptees are getting their DNA tested and getting information about their possible surnames. According to ... Read more
One of the holy grails of modern medicine is the development of a vaccine against HIV, the virus that causes AIDs. An obstacle to attaining this goal has been the difficulty in stimulating the immune system to make it produce the right kinds of antibodies. A recent finding in Science describes a gene that controls production of these antibodies and may provide insights to the development of an effective vaccine. (1). Antibodies are special kinds of proteins that bind to things, often very tightly. If they bind to the right molecules, they can prevent viruses from infecting ... Read more
Lots of bloggers in the DNA network have been busy these past few days writing about Google's co-founder Sergey Brin, his blog, his wife's company (23andme), and his mutation in the LRRK2 gene. I was a little surprised to see that while other bloggers (here, here, ... Read more

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