Cave Coronavirus in Wuhan Lab Seeded COVID – The Truth Has Always Been Out There, in the Genetics
Ricki Lewis | Genetic Linkage Blog
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2w ago
When former Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Anthony Fauci testified before a House Select Subcommittee on the coronavirus pandemic on June 3 to share his thoughts about the possible origin of SARS-CoV-2, the idea that sampling from nature and alteration at the Wuhan Institute of Virology returned to the headlines.   For those of us who consider viral genome sequences instead of tea leaves, rumors, and politically expedient explanations, the cave origin-lab leak hypothesis is hardly a surprise – the genetic puzzle pieces have fit for quite some time ..read more
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Can Engineered Tobacco Plants that Make Human Sugars Improve Infant Formula and Plant-Based Milks?
Ricki Lewis | Genetic Linkage Blog
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2w ago
In an eclectic application of transgenic technology, researchers at the University of California at Berkeley and Davis describe retooling cells of a tobacco relative to produce enzymes required to synthesize the short sugars (oligosaccharides) found in human milk. The work appears in Nature Food.   Transgenic Technology   Plants have been genetically modified since the 1980s, programmed to produce molecules of use to us. In contrast to the controlled breeding of conventional agriculture, genetic modification inserts or removes specific genes, crafting a plant variant with some use fo ..read more
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Can Global Genomic Surveillance Forecast the Next Pandemic?
Ricki Lewis | Genetic Linkage Blog
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2w ago
COVID took the world by stunned surprise – but, to quote an old Who song, we won't be fooled again.   That's thanks to accelerated genome sequencing technologies, expanded laboratory capabilities, and interacting infrastructure on a global level. These factors are converging to enable both identification of novel infectious diseases as well as microbial resistance, before these threats can impact public health, write a team from the European Society for Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases in Frontiers in Science.   To continue reading, go to DNA Science, where this post fir ..read more
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CRISPR to Reveal How “Water Bears” (Tardigrades) Survive Extreme Environments
Ricki Lewis | Genetic Linkage Blog
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2w ago
Tardigrades are among the weirdest of animals.   Also known as "water bears" or "moss piglets," the 1,300 recognized species are the only members of phylum Tardigrada, a term that means "slow stepper" for their somewhat waddling gait. German zoologist Johann August Ephraim Goeze first described the tardigrades in 1773. They live in seas, in fresh water, and on land.   Tardigrades are famous for hiding when environmental conditions turn treacherous, only to emerge years or even decades later unscathed. They survive extremes of dehydration, radiation, and great ranges of temperature an ..read more
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“Extinction” echoes Jurassic Park, with a Pleistocene epoch backdrop
Ricki Lewis | Genetic Linkage Blog
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2w ago
Multiple spoiler alert!    In the classic film Jurassic Park (JP), disasters unfurl at a theme park populated with dinosaurs cloned from reptile DNA in mosquitoes fossilized in amber, with modern frog DNA filling in gaps.    Douglas Preston's new novel Extinction – really De-extinction — riffs on the 1993 Steven Speilberg epic, substituting in genetic material from a half dozen mammals from the Pleistocene, circa 2.58 million to 11,700 years ago. The animals were cloned from DNA in tiny, preserved ear bones, and doctored a bit.    The resulting animals r ..read more
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FDA Approves Duvystat, New Oral Treatment for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD)
Ricki Lewis | Genetic Linkage Blog
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2M ago
A new drug has entered the arsenal against Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD), a genetic disease that affects boys and is challenging to treat. Boys 6 years and older can take Duvystat, to slow the course of the illness. FDA classifies it as a "nonsteroidal treatment" – not a gene therapy, but it affects gene expression.   To continue reading, go to DNA Science, where this post first appeared ..read more
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How Lume Whole Body Deodorant Was Inspired by a Genetic Disease
Ricki Lewis | Genetic Linkage Blog
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2M ago
Among the barrage of drug ads for cancer, diabetes, weight loss and more are those for Lume, a "doctor-developed whole body deodorant."   Lume (pronounced loom-ay) comes as a cream, lotion, stick, wipe, wash, and cleansing bar, to be smeared, rubbed, or wiped anywhere on the human epidermis. Invented to obliterate the distinctive odor of a human female's private parts, Lume has since broadened into a "whole body deodorant." For everyone.   Whatever the formulation, Lume lowers the skin's pH (making it more acidic), which kills the bacteria behind the stink. The products infiltrate th ..read more
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Mutations in Three Genes Protect Against Alzheimer’s
Ricki Lewis | Genetic Linkage Blog
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2M ago
Clues to combatting a devastating disease can come from identifying people who have gene variants – mutations – that protect them, by slowing the illness or lowering the risk that it develops in the first place. Understanding how they do this may inspire treatment strategies for the wider patient population.   Rare variants of three well-studied genes appear to delay inherited forms of Alzheimer's disease – by decades.   Gene #1: The Famous Case of Aliria from the Colombian Family In 2019. researchers reported on a patient, Aliria Rosa Piedrahita de Villegas, who seemed to have fende ..read more
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Is Identifying Extra X and Y Chromosomes a Good Idea, or Does it Invite Stigma?
Ricki Lewis | Genetic Linkage Blog
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2M ago
Sequencing our genomes is a 21rst century phenomenon. Discrimination based on genetics dates back to the start of the eugenics movement in the 1880s. Will an effort to determine the sex chromosome constitutions of nearly 600,000 men whose DNA is being analyzed in the Million Veteran Program provide helpful health information – or highlight another possible source of genetic judgment?   Researchers at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus and collaborators across the US report the largest and most diverse study of men with extra X or Y chromosomes in the US. Their findings app ..read more
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“Ordinary Soil” Revisits the Weedkiller and AgBiotech Story, While Feeding the Scientist-As-Nerd Stereotype
Ricki Lewis | Genetic Linkage Blog
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4M ago
I love the spectacular symbiosis of my vegetable garden as harvest time approaches.   Beanstalks spiral up cornstalks, their tendrils teasing nearby tomato stems. Below, broad leaves protect ballooning squashes from the slugs that appear, seemingly from nowhere, after a rain, while providing water for passing furry creatures.   The synergism of a garden is an ancient and somewhat obvious idea. Many indigenous peoples honored the "three sisters" of corn, beans, and squash. My kids – three sisters – learned about the practice in grade school, and all recall the first meal that we grew ..read more
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