Tag: Genetics and Heredity

New Genomic Tests Aim to Diagnose Deadly Infections Faster

Ryan Springer’s mystery illness began last summer with a dull ache in his chest. Over the next few days, the symptoms grew more alarming: sharp pain with every breath, a rapid heartbeat and a spiking fever. Emergency room doctors at Carle Foundation Hospital in Urbana, Ill., were stumped. They ordered up a lung biopsy and […]

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Philip Leder, Who Helped Decipher the Genetic Code, Dies at 85

Philip Leder, a biologist who helped decipher the genetic code and discovered a genetic cause of cancer, died on Feb. 2 at his home in Chestnut Hill, Mass. He was 85. The cause was complications of Parkinson’s disease, his son Benjamin Z. Leder said. Dr. Leder helped accomplish the final step in deciphering the genetic […]

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Stalked by the Fear That Dementia Is Stalking You

Do I know I’m at risk for developing dementia? You bet. My father died of Alzheimer’s disease at age 72; my sister was felled by frontotemporal dementia at 58. And that’s not all: Two maternal uncles had Alzheimer’s, and my maternal grandfather may have had vascular dementia. (In his generation, it was called senility.) So […]

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Ghost DNA Hints at Africa’s Missing Ancient Humans

Scientists reported on Wednesday that they had discovered evidence of an extinct branch of humans whose ancestors split from our own a million years ago. The evidence of these humans was not a fossil. Instead, the researchers found pieces of their DNA in the genomes of living people from West Africa. Arun Durvasula and Sriram […]

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Neanderthal Genes Hint at Much Earlier Human Migration From Africa

In recent years, millions of people have been astonished, even thrilled, to learn from those popular genetic tests that their DNA is laced with Neanderthal genes. Those genes were first discovered in 2010, in a study of Neanderthal fossils. From DNA recovered from the bones, researchers deduced that modern humans interbred with Neanderthals some 60,000 […]

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DNA Collection at the Border Threatens the Privacy of All Americans

What if the United States government took the DNA of vast numbers of Americans for use without their consent? The Trump administration has just brought us one step closer to that dystopia. On January 6, the federal government began collecting DNA from any person in immigration custody — previously, it had required only fingerprints. With […]

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Ancient DNA from West Africa Adds to Picture of Humans’ Rise

In October 2015, scientists reconstructed the genome of a 4,500-year-old man who lived in Ethiopia. It was the first time that anyone had created a complete genetic snapshot of an African from an ancient skeleton. Since then, other researchers have recovered DNA from skeletons unearthed in other regions of the continent. Now researchers have found […]

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What Wolf Pups That Play Fetch Reveal About Your Dog

Imagine a human sitting by the proverbial campfire about 15,000 years ago with a few young puppies. This would have been early in the dog domestication saga, so the human may have been considering what the pups were good for. Food? Fur? Noble companion? So let’s suppose the human tossed a stick. Several puppies ignored […]

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Air Pollution, Evolution, and the Fate of Billions of Humans

The threat of air pollution grabs our attention when we see it — for example, the tendrils of smoke of Australian brush fires, now visible from space, or the poisonous soup of smog that descends on cities like New Delhi in the winter. But polluted air also harms billions of people on a continuing basis. […]

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The Secret That Helps Some Trees Live More Than 1,000 Years

The ginkgo is a living fossil. It is the oldest surviving tree species, having remained on the planet, relatively unchanged for some 200 million years. A single ginkgo may live for hundreds of years, maybe more than a thousand. They’ve survived some of our world’s greatest catastrophes, from the extinction of the dinosaurs to the […]

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How a Rose Blooms: Its Genome Reveals the Traits for Scent and Color

The scent of a rose fades over time, and has for hundreds of years. For centuries, generations of breeding in the quest for longer blooms and petals in shades of nearly every hue have dulled the sweetest smells that once perfumed gardens around the world. French researchers have now figured out precisely which genes make […]

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