“Extinction” Echoes Jurassic Park, with a Pleistocene Backdrop
PLOS Blogs | DNA Science Blog
by Ricki Lewis, PhD
3d ago
Multiple spoiler alert! In the classic film Jurassic Park (JP) from 1993, 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 JP theme, using DNA from a half dozen mammals from the Pleistocene, circa 2.58 million to 11,700 years ago. The animals were cloned from DNA in bits of preserved ear bones, and doctored a bit. The resulting animals roam a resort nestled into the remote Colorado Rockies, thanks to bio ..read more
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CRISPR to Reveal How “Water Bears” (Tardigrades) Survive Extreme Environments
PLOS Blogs | DNA Science Blog
by Ricki Lewis, PhD
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 and pressure ..read more
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Can Engineered Tobacco Plants that Make Human Sugars Improve Infant Formula and Plant-Based Milks?
PLOS Blogs | DNA Science Blog
by Ricki Lewis, PhD
3w 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 for us. Plant ..read more
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Cave Coronavirus in Wuhan Lab Seeded COVID – The Truth Has Always Been Out There, in the Genetics
PLOS Blogs | DNA Science Blog
by Ricki Lewis, PhD
1M 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. Rulin ..read more
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Can Global Genomic Surveillance Forecast the Next Pandemic?
PLOS Blogs | DNA Science Blog
by Ricki Lewis, PhD
2M 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. The “One Health” Paradigm Their suggestions in “Real-time Genomic Surv ..read more
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Is Identifying Extra X and Y Chromosomes a Good Idea, or Does it Invite Stigma?
PLOS Blogs | DNA Science Blog
by Ricki Lewis, PhD
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 appear in ..read more
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Mutations in Three Genes Protect Against Alzheimer’s
PLOS Blogs | DNA Science Blog
by Ricki Lewis, PhD
3M 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 fended off early ..read more
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How Lume Whole Body Deodorant Was Inspired by a Genetic Disease
PLOS Blogs | DNA Science Blog
by Ricki Lewis, PhD
3M 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 the many folds ..read more
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Older Siblings Made Possible Just-Approved Gene Therapy for Metachromatic Leukodystrophy
PLOS Blogs | DNA Science Blog
by Ricki Lewis, PhD
4M ago
The Food and Drug Administration just announced approval of Lenmeldy (atidarsagene autotemcel), a gene therapy to treat the neurological condition metachromatic leukodystrophy (MLD). Available in Italy for three years, Lenmeldy (atidarsagene autotemcel), from Orchard Therapeutics, is groundbreaking, but comes at quite a cost – the $4.25 million price tag for the one-time infusion, and for the older siblings who contributed to developing the gene treatment, but were too sick to receive it. An Ultrarare Neurological Condition MLD affects the white matter in the brain, causing progressive loss ..read more
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Cultivated Meat? Let Them Eat Snake
PLOS Blogs | DNA Science Blog
by Ricki Lewis, PhD
4M ago
Biotechnology has solved many problems, from recombinant DNA and monoclonal antibody-derived drugs, to gene therapy and stem cell transplants, to RNA-based vaccines and genetically modified plants that resist diseases and pesticides. In contrast, so-called cultivated meat has been, so far, a failure. Joe Fassler’s in-depth Opinion piece in the February 9 New York Times, The Revolution That Died on Its Way to Dinner, digests the unrealistic expectations, shortcuts, and glitches that have stymied what he envisions as “a high-tech factory housing steel tanks as tall as apartment buildings and c ..read more
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