The Science of Sustainability

Tag: genetics

Those Marvelous Mitochondria

Those Marvelous Mitochondria

This former free living bacterium now supplies our cells their energy.Current theories hold that life began on Earth around 3.5 billion years ago. About a billion years ago, a single celled beast engulfed and absorbed another single celled creature. We are all descended from that hijacking. The hijacked cell has over time become the mitochondrion. […]

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Using Genetics to Pick Your Kids' Sports

Using Genetics to Pick Your Kids' Sports

A genetic test is available that claims to be able to help parents predict what sports their kids will be good at. The idea is that the parents can then funnel their kids into the sports at which they are most likely to succeed. How scary is that!

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Curing AIDS with a Bone Marrow Transplant

Curing AIDS with a Bone Marrow Transplant

Doctors announced in Berlin that a man who received a bone marrow transplant for leukemia was now also free of his HIV infection.

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Mammoth Resurrection

Mammoth Resurrection

I had always thought that bringing back an extinct animal like the mammoth was impossible using today's techniques. I may have been wrong.

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Safer Prenatal Testing

Safer Prenatal Testing

A new study out from Stanford (yay Stanford!) promises to revolutionize prenatal testing. Instead of looking at a fetus’ cells, the test looks at mom’s blood. More specifically, it looks at the small amounts of fetal DNA found in her blood.

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The Nose Knows

The Nose Knows

We've known for awhile that animals find their "true love" partly through smells. One of the things they are sensing is whether the potential mate has a different set of MHC genes. People might be able to do this as well.

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A Viral Infection that Might One Day Cure Diabetes

A Viral Infection that Might One Day Cure Diabetes

People get Type 1 diabetes when their bodies attack and destroy their own islet cells. These people can't make insulin anymore. The best cure would be if scientists could replace the old islet cells with new ones.

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Better Eating Through Genetic Engineering

Better Eating Through Genetic Engineering

In a new studt out in Nature Neuroscience, scientists tinkered with a single gene in a mouse and made it less likely to get fat. Finally I can eat as many Double Stufs as I want without worrying about gaining weight. If scientists can turn what they've learned into a pill that is.

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Obesity and the modern man

Obesity and the modern man

Given today's environment, it is surprising that there are still thin people around. The origins of this epidemic are pretty easy to spot—lots of food and less opportunity for exercise. And yet, not everyone in the U.S. is overweight. So why is one person fat and the next thin?

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Surviving Chromosomal Rearrangements

Surviving Chromosomal Rearrangements

Last blog I talked about the Transcaucasian mole vole. This little burrowing mammal has lost its Y chromosome over time. Now both males and females have only a single X. I focused on how scientists can't yet figure out how there are any male mole voles running around. This week, I want to focus on what this means from an evolutionary perspective.

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Why no Y? Gender-bending Transcaucasian mole voles

Why no Y? Gender-bending Transcaucasian mole voles

I've always been fascinated by weird animals. Especially those with out-of-the-ordinary genetics. Transcaucasian mole vole. Image Courtesy of Heike HimmelreichOne of my favorites is a little burrowing mammal called a Transcaucasian mole vole. These guys live in the Caucasus Mountains of Armenia, Iran, Turkey, and Azerbaijan. There they are born, live, have babies and die. […]

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Genetic Testing or Recreational Genomics?

Genetic Testing or Recreational Genomics?

Do you have a note from your doctor? So much information, so little understandingOn June 9, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) sent letters to 13 different direct-to-consumer genetic testing companies telling them that they were not in compliance with California laws and needed to stop providing testing. The two main issues appear to […]

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Drive by Science is OK Too

Drive by Science is OK Too

The author feeling cheekyLast Monday I finally took my show out on the road. At The Tech Museum I run hands on genetics programs for visitors. On Monday, we took them to Overfelt High School in San Jose. And the students had a blast*. They got to take home 4X6 glossy pictures of their cheek […]

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Chromosome Fusion: Chance or Design?

Chromosome Fusion: Chance or Design?

Human and chimpanzee chromosomes are very similar. Note that human chromosome 2 is very similar to a fusion of two chimpanzee chromosomes. For the last few weeks I have been corresponding with someone about intelligent design (ID). More specifically, we have been chatting about why humans have 46 chromosomes and most of the great apes […]

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Fish and SNPs: What fish are teaching us about human skin color

Fish and SNPs: What fish are teaching us about human skin color

These fish can tell us a lot about ourselves. Species often end up a different color when their environment changes. And humans are no exception. When people moved out of Africa tens of thousands of years ago, they were dark-skinned. Now when we look around Northern Europe or parts of Asia, we see much lighter […]

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Hug-a-helix: celebrate DNA Day, April 25th

Hug-a-helix: celebrate DNA Day, April 25th

DNA magnified 850,000 times through a scanning electron microscope DNA day is coming up on Friday April 25th. This annual celebration of genetics and genomics was set up in 2003 to commemorate the sequencing of the human genome and the 50th anniversary of the solving of the structure of DNA.DNA day was thought of as […]

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Producer's Notes – Doggie DNA

Producer's Notes – Doggie DNA

There is a lot we don't know about our DNA and how it works. While there seems to be news every week about genetics, scientists are still in the early stages of finding out what effect our genes have on us (check out this post from another QUEST blogger, Dr. Barry Starr). That's what the […]

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Producer's Notes –  Alzheimer's: Is the Cure in the Genes?

Producer's Notes – Alzheimer's: Is the Cure in the Genes?

By 2050, as our population ages, 15 million Americans will suffer from Alzheimer's disease – triple today's number. There is no cure for Alzheimer's, but several treatments can help alleviate its symptoms, and many research projects aim to understand the disease better and find a way to fight it. In this QUEST story, we visited […]

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Redheads are here to stay

Redheads are here to stay

Red hair genes will be diluted but will not go away.I got a call last week from a reporter in Virginia. Someone had come up to her in a bookstore to offer her condolences about her kind dying out. She is a redhead. The guy from the bookstore must have read one of the stories […]

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Explosive hypothesis about humans' lack of genetic diversity

Explosive hypothesis about humans' lack of genetic diversity

Genetically, we're all pretty much the same. A massive volcanic eruption 75,000 years ago may be why. Lake Toba is all that is left of the volcano that nearly wiped out mankind.Last blog I talked about how East Africans are genetically more diverse than Asians. Who are genetically more diverse than Native Americans. From all […]

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