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CRISPR-Based Tool Maps Gene Function in Human Cells

UC San Francisco scientists have used a high-throughput CRISPR-based technique to rapidly map the functions of nearly 500 genes in human cells, many of...

Device can extract human DNA with full genetic data in minutes

Take a swab of saliva from your mouth and within minutes your DNA could be ready for analysis and genome sequencing with the help...

Companies own your genes via 40,000 patents

Humans don't "own" their own genes, the cellular chemicals that define who they are and what diseases they might be at risk for. Through...

You Can Feel Safer

Feeling safer is a tricky subject, with complications that can be both personal and political. (This topic and others are explored in depth in my...

Gene increases schizophrenia risk, study says

Scientists have discovered the first "risk gene" for schizophrenia found in the general population. An uncommon variation of a gene called Nogo, when inherited from both parents, increases the risk of developing schizophrenia, says a study to be published in Molecular Brain Research. Previous findings about other risk genes for the disease were restricted to specific ethnic groups. "Finding a risk gene in the general population - the first finding of this type internationally - opens the door to discovering new and related risk genes," says one of the study's authors. "Now scientists will know where to look for related genes.... This will help in diagnosis and potentially in the design of new medications for treatment of this terrible disease."

‘Twin Sister’ mechanism prevents formation of genetic mutations

Twenty thousand hits per day --- that's the average dose of damage sustained by the genes within each cell of our body. How are innumerable mutations avoided? In a new study, researchers have proved the existence of a vital repair mechanism used by cells to correct this damage and showed that it's responsible for about 85% of what are termed "last-resort" repairs. Genes can be damaged by a variety of factors, such as ultraviolet light, cigarette smoke, or certain types of viruses. Such damage, if left unrepaired, can cause mutations, which can lead to disease. The "first resort" for genetic repair is most often a mechanism that works on an "all or nothing" basis: when unable to precisely correct the damage, it stops in its tracks, leading to what can be an even more harmful effect ? the death of the cell. Fortunately, nature has provided cells with two alternative, last-resort repair systems that can take command when the first rescue mechanism fails.

Slice that DNA carefully

The genome of the pufferfish, a Japanese delicacy, is teaching researchers about the more complex genetic makeup of humans. The pufferfish, or Fugu, has about the same number of genes as humans, but without most of the repetitive "junk" DNA found in naked apes, researchers at the Joint Genome Institute in Walnut Creek, California, report. Fugu can pack a lethal tetrodotoxin whallop, but manages to do so with the smallest genome of any vertebrate. The findings were detailed in the journal Science and reported on by the Associated Press.

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