Tag: Genetics and Heredity

New ‘Omicron’ Variant Stokes Concern but Vaccines May Still Work

Scientific experts at the World Health Organization warned on Friday that a new coronavirus variant discovered in southern Africa was a “variant of concern,” the most serious category the agency uses for such tracking. The designation, announced after an emergency meeting of the health body, is reserved for dangerous variants that may spread quickly, cause […]

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Genetic Risks for Cancer Should Not Mean Financial Hardship

Tens of millions of Americans have received genetic tests illuminating their risk of disease, and a majority of adults in the United States say they would be interested in getting tested. When we each turned 20, we sought genetic testing to learn whether we had inherited our mother’s BRCA mutation, which significantly increases the risk […]

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The Gene-Synthesis Revolution

At Ginkgo, the synthesized DNA is then inserted into a host cell, perhaps yeast, which starts producing enzymes and peptides. Trial and error follow. Maybe the outputs from the first gene sequence are too floral, not spicy enough; maybe the ones from the second gene sequence have the right scent, but the cells don’t produce […]

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You Should See Her in a Crown. Now You Can See Her Face.

This year, archaeologists announced the discovery of a remarkable, 3,700-year-old double burial in Murcia, Spain. Skeletons of a man and a woman were draped in silver — earrings, bracelets, rings and, most notably, a silver diadem that had once gleamed on the woman’s head. The burial site, and particularly the crown and other fineries interred […]

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The DNA of Roma People Has Long Been Misused, Scientists Reveal

For decades, geneticists have collected the blood of thousands of Roma people, a marginalized group living in Europe, and deposited their DNA in public databases. The ostensible purpose of some of these studies was to learn more about the history and genetics of the Roma people. Now, a group of scientists has argued this research, […]

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Michael Rutter, Pioneering Child Psychiatrist, Is Dead at 88

He entered the University of Birmingham Medical School in 1950, planing to be a general practitioner and join his father’s practice. But he became fascinated by neurology and neurosurgery and then by psychiatry, inspired by a professor, Wilhelm Mayer-Gross, a prominent psychiatrist who had fled Nazi Germany. Dr. Rutter worked at various British hospitals after […]

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He Can’t Cure His Dad. But a Scientist’s Research May Help Everyone Else.

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — When Sharif Tabebordbar was born in 1986, his father, Jafar, was 32 and already had symptoms of a muscle wasting disease. The mysterious illness would come to define Sharif’s life. Jafar Tabebordbar could walk when he was in his 30s but stumbled and often lost his balance. Then he lost his ability […]

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Endangered California Condors Can Reproduce Asexually, Study Finds

Conservation geneticists working to preserve endangered California condors have discovered two instances of chicks hatching from unfertilized eggs — the first known cases of so-called virgin births within the species. That finding, included in a study published Thursday in The Journal of Heredity, is particularly remarkable, as such cases are unusual among birds. Parthenogenesis, the […]

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DNA Confirms Sitting Bull Was South Dakota Man’s Great-Grandfather

For years, Ernie LaPointe, a writer and Vietnam veteran, claimed that he was the great-grandson of Sitting Bull, the Hunkpapa Lakota leader famous for resisting the federal government’s efforts to seize the Great Plains. He has had his mother’s oral history verified by Smithsonian researchers, and a lock of hair and wool leggings belonging to […]

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Why Strawberries Turn a Ghostly Shade of White

Strawberries are not always red. Fragaria nubicola, native to the Himalayas, can produce a vivid red fruit or a ghostly white one; another species, F. vesca, can produce a white fruit with brilliant scarlet seeds, as well as a conventional red type. What gives some strawberries such a ghostly pallor? One answer has been uncovered […]

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A Stranger Looked Like My Twin. That Was Just the Beginning.

When BB visited and the waitress at lunch asked if we were siblings, my heart fluttered. The double helix diagram is a color-coded spiral ladder with chemical-base rungs. Every day, I climbed it and swung around, exploring, gobsmacked. Chromosomes are the tiniest, hugest things in the world. If you believe the nurture theory, they’re unimportant […]

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U.S. Warns of Efforts by China to Collect Genetic Data

BETHESDA, Md. — Chinese firms are collecting genetic data from around the world, part of an effort by the Chinese government and companies to develop the world’s largest bio-database, American intelligence officials reported on Friday. The National Counterintelligence and Security Center said in a new paper that the United States needs to better secure critical […]

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Tuskless Elephants Escape Poachers, but May Evolve New Problems

The team sequenced the genomes of 11 tuskless females and seven with tusks, looking for differences between the groups. They also searched for places in the genome showing the signature of recent natural selection without the random DNA reshuffling that happens over time. They found two genes that seemed to be at play. Both genes […]

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Does Estrogen Impact Exercise? What Scientists Are Learning

These results highlight the “complexity of physical activity behavior,” Dr. Ingraham said, and how the willingness to spontaneously move — or not — for any animal likely involves an intricate interplay between genetics, endocrinology and neurology, along with conscious deliberation. The study also raises the intriguing possibility that the “timing of exercise, to have its […]

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Ancient-DNA Researchers Set Ethical Guidelines for Their Work

The authors of the new paper intentionally chose to invite only active practitioners of ancient DNA research, according to Kendra Sirak, a paleogeneticist at Harvard Medical School and one of the authors. They also emphasize that these guidelines come from a particular group of scholars in the ancient DNA community. “We realized that what’s lacking […]

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How Hungry Sea Otters Affect the Sex Lives of Sea Grass

Jane Watson studied sea otters for decades, but it was in the 1990s that the ecologist in British Columbia observed they had a destructive habit. While conservationists were working diligently to restore damaged sea grass meadows elsewhere in the world’s oceans, it seemed ironic that in northern Vancouver Island’s sea grass habitat, which is much […]

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Should You Get a Microbiome Test?

Despite how much scientists have learned in recent years, there remains a lot that we still don’t know about the thousands of different microbial species that can inhabit the gut. “The known unknowns of the microbiome are staggering: Approximately 20 percent of bacterial gene sequences have not been identified,” and the function of 40 percent […]

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What the Future May Hold for the Coronavirus and Us

As the virus spread, more mutations sprang up, giving rise to even more transmissible variants. First came Alpha, which was about 50 percent more infectious than the original virus, and soon Delta, which was, in turn, roughly 50 percent more infectious than Alpha. “Now we’re basically in a Delta pandemic,” said Robert Garry, a virologist […]

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How Old is the Maltese Dog Breed?

“The tiny Maltese,” the American Kennel Club tells us, “has been sitting in the lap of luxury since the Bible was a work in progress.” This is also the opinion of my friend the Maltese owner (the dog is also my friend), who recently invoked the Greeks and the Romans as early admirers of the […]

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Cancer Without Chemotherapy: ‘A Totally Different World’

When Dr. Roy Herbst of Yale started in oncology about 25 years ago, nearly every lung cancer patient with advanced disease got chemotherapy. With chemotherapy, he said, “patients would be sure to have one thing: side effects.” Yet despite treatment, most tumors continued to grow and spread. Less than half his patients would be alive […]

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Why I Gave My Mosaic Embryo a Chance

Five months later, I got a call from a physician who was filling in for my doctor; she canceled my appointment, claiming she was uncomfortable transferring a mosaic embryo. I was livid and overcome with grief. “The larger question that emerges with embryo testing is who gets to take on the risk of possibly bringing […]

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When the Lung Cancer Patient Climbs Mountains

On Oct. 15 at 8 a.m., Andy Lindsay stood atop 21,247-foot Mera Peak in Nepal, a wildly improbable place for him to be both athletically and medically. Andy, a veteran climber and a friend of mine, had been living with Stage IV lung cancer for three years. “To live one year was statistically unlikely, and […]

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Stalked by the Fear That Dementia Is Stalking You

One of her sisters was tested for the APOE4 genetic variant; results were negative. This is no guarantee of a dementia-free future, however, since hundreds of genes are implicated in Alzheimer’s, Lewy body dementia, frontotemporal dementia and vascular dementia. Rather than get genetic or neuropsychological tests, Ms. Super has focused on learning as much as […]

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Is Aerobic Exercise the Key to Successful Aging?

Researchers monitored people’s heart rates during their workouts, and the exercisers continued their programs for six months. Afterward, everyone returned to the lab, where the scientists again tested fitness and drew blood. At this point, the volunteers who had exercised in any way were more aerobically fit. There were sizable differences, however, between the groups […]

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Is Aerobic Exercise the Key to Successful Aging?

Researchers monitored people’s heart rates during their workouts, and the exercisers continued their programs for six months. Afterward, everyone returned to the lab, where the scientists again tested fitness and drew blood. At this point, the volunteers who had exercised in any way were more aerobically fit. There were sizable differences, however, between the groups […]

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