Archive for the 'PopSci' Category

Scientists are cracking the code of when genetic variants matter

April 2, 2017

Cracking the code of when #genetic variants matter, by @CarlZimmer Underscores need for realistic guidelines on risk

Are You My Cousin?

March 20, 2017

Are You My Cousin? Combination of noisy crowd-sourced #ancestry & @23andMe linkages may connect everyone in a tree

“The farther you go back, the more quantum it gets. According to Geni, my 97th great-grandfather is King David from the Bible. So what are the chances that I’m actually a direct descendant of the Goliath slayer? Count me a highly doubting Thomas. But it’s still fun to dive into the research and try to verify it.

In addition to using crowd-sourced trees, I’m trying to build my family list with genetic testing. I recently sent my saliva off to 23andMe (the F.D.A. has suspended the health-related part of 23andMe, but the ancestry service remains open). The result? I found more than a thousand fellow spitters who share enough genetic material that 23andMe says we are probable cousins. One such distant cousin: my wife. This was a tad jarring. Not to mention that it set off an avalanche of bad inbreeding and hillbilly jokes from friends. But the truth is, my wife and I aren’t unusual.

pseudogenes that might have saved us !

March 20, 2017

#Pseudogenes that might have saved us! Interesting link to infectious disease for pseudo-siglecs 13 & 17

“”In a small, restricted population, a single mutation can have a big effect, a rare allele can get to high frequency,” said senior author Ajit Varki, MD, professor of medicine and cellular and molecular medicine and co-director of the Center for Academic Research and Training in Anthropogeny at UC San Diego. “We’ve found two genes that are non-functional in humans, but not in related primates, which could have been targets for bacterial pathogens particularly lethal to newborns and infants. Killing the very young can have a major impact upon reproductive fitness. Species survival can then depend upon either resisting the pathogen or on eliminating the target proteins it uses to gain the upper hand.”

In this case, Varki, who is also director of the UC San Diego Glycobiology Research and Training Center, and colleagues in the United States, Japan and Italy, propose that the latter occurred. Specifically, they point to inactivation of two sialic acid-recognized signaling receptors (siglecs) that modulate immune responses and are part of a larger family of genes believed to have been very active in human evolution.

Working with Victor Nizet, MD, professor of pediatrics and pharmacy, Varki’s group had previously shown that some pathogens can exploit siglecs to alter the host immune responses in favor of the microbe. In the latest study, the scientists found that the gene for Siglec-13 was no longer part of the modern human genome, though it remains intact and functional in chimpanzees, our closest evolutionary cousins. The other siglec gene — for Siglec-17 — was still expressed in humans, but it had been slightly tweaked to make a short, inactive protein of no use to invasive pathogens.”

The Weird Business Behind a Trendy “Anti-Aging” Pill | WIRED

March 13, 2017

NASA Adds to Evidence of Mysterious Ancient Earthworks

March 12, 2017

#NASA Adds to Evidence of Mysterious Ancient Earthworks, built in
Neolithic Kazakhstan
Vindication for von Daniken?

Is Elysium Health’s Basis the Fountain of Youth? — Science of Us

March 11, 2017

How DNA Editing Could Change Life on Earth

February 22, 2017

“One of Esvelt’s goals at M.I.T. is to facilitate that shift. Part of his job, as he sees it, is to challenge what he describes as “the ridiculous notion that natural and good are the same thing.” Instead, he told me, we ought to think about intelligent design as an instrument of genetics. He smiled because the phrase “intelligent design” usually refers to the anti-Darwinian theory that the universe, with all its intricacies and variations, is too complex to have arisen by chance—that there had to be a guiding hand. The truth is more prosaic, and also more remarkable: for four billion years, evolution, driven by natural selection and random mutation, has insured that the most efficient genes would survive and the weakest would disappear. But, propelled by CRISPR and other tools of synthetic biology, intelligent design has taken on an entirely new meaning, one that threatens to transcend Darwin—because evolution may soon be guided by us.”

How DNA Editing Could Change Life on Earth Intelligent design from CRISPR & gene drive rather than natural selection

Through a glass, darkly: Testing the methods of neuroscience on computer chips suggests they are wanting | The Economist

February 10, 2017

Through a glass, darkly: Testing the [largely correlative] methods of neuroscience on [6502] computer chips

Building a Brain in the Lab – Scientific American

January 30, 2017

Building a Brain in the Lab Nice summary of the development of organoids & their promise for personalized treatments

To bring a divided country together, start with a little spit – The Washington Post

January 5, 2017

To bring a divided country together, start w…spit by
@SusanSvrluga Prominent piece on frosh #personalgenomics

@SusanSvrluga Surprised there’s so little discussion of #privacy, consent & ethics in this prominent piece