Diseases, Genetics, News

Scientists revive 700 year old virus to see if it still “works”

An image of frozen caribou feces. Image credits: Brian Moorman.

Scientists have resurrected a 700 year old virus form Canadian permafrost and showed that even after several centuries of lumbering, viruses can remain… well. virulent. This could have significant implications, because as global warming continues melt more and more permafrost, unknown viruses could be released into the environment – and there’s currently no way of telling what the effects will be…

Anthropology, Genetics, News

Researchers find early connection between Easter Island and America inhabitants

Easter island is famous for its large human head statues, called moai. A total of 887 monolithic stone statues have been inventoried on the island and in museum collections so far

People from the Americas may have been making their way to the Easter Island way before Dutch commander Jakob Roggeveen arrived in 1722, according to new genomic evidence; this new evidence showed that the isolated Rapanui people shared a strong connection with Native American populations hundreds of years earlier. This evidence shows that early Americans undertook the 4000 kilometer route to Easter…

Biology, Genetics, Health & Medicine, News

A Rogue gone Good: Mitochondria was initially an Energy Parasite

Image: knowingneurons.com

A new milestone study found that mitochondria – the energy factories in animal and plant cells – were initially very similar to parasitic bacteria some two billion years ago, and only later did they become energy sources. Very little is known about the origins of mitochondria, but by probing the genomes of bacteria closely related to the energy cell scientists at University…

Biology, Genetics, News

Genes that Define How Tall You Grow Identified

height_gene

It’s common knowledge that babies born out of tall parents will most likely grow to be just as tall, but it’s only recently that scientists report finding most of the genes responsible for height. Information like this could prove to be useful in diagnosing genetic growth deficiencies or, in the not so distant future, genetic manipulation to enhance growth in height. Short…

Genetics, News

What really causes aging? Study suggests “parasitic DNA fragments”

Sirt6 has many functions to play in the body. Image via Nature.

Most organisms, including humans, have parasitic DNA fragments called ‘jumping genes’ that insert themselves into DNA molecules, disrupting genetic instructions in the process. This phenomenon can interfere with the good health of the individual, causing numerous conditions, including cancer. Now, a new study has documented how a protein called Sirt6 keeps these fragments (technically called retrotransposons) at bay. Better understanding this mechanism…

Biology, Genetics, News

Tobacco plants borrowing bacteria genes achieve more efficient photosynthesis

This plant may look like an ordinary tobacco plant, but on the inside it was engineered to express bacteria proteins which helps it perform more efficient photosynthesis. Photo: Rothamsted Research

It wouldn’t be an understatement to say we owe all the wonders of life to photosynthesis – the ability of plants and certain bacteria to convert CO2 into energy (sugars) and food. Scientists have for some time attempted to enhance photosynthesis through genetic manipulation, but it’s only recently that we’re beginning to see these efforts take form. The most recent…

Genetics, News

Human face diversity may have evolved to make us look unique

face_two

While you might find people sometimes resemble each other, if you look close enough you’ll soon find unique features and facial characteristics that sets them apart. It’s remarkable how diverse human faces are across the billions alive today and the countless billions that used to live in this world. Scientists at University of Berkeley now believe they understand why this…

Genetics, Mind & Brain, News

Schizophrenia is not a single disease but multiple genetically distinct disorders

800px-Cloth_embroidered_by_a_schizophrenia_sufferer

A new study concluded that schizophrenia isn’t a single disease, but rather a group of eight genetically distinct disorders, each with its own set of symptoms, and likely, its own treatment. The study could be the first step in finally understanding the condition and how it can be dealt with. Currently, schizophrenia is thought of as a complex mental disorder, often associated…

Anatomy, Genetics, News

Japanese woman is first recipient of next-generation stem cells

Researchers were able to grow sheets of retinal tissue from induced pluripotent stem cells, and have now implanted them for the first time in a patient.

A Japanese woman in her 70s is the world’s first recipient of cells derived from induced pluripotent stem cells, a technology that promises to work wonders and has the scientific community excited about the perspectives. Surgeons working on the case created the retinal tissue after reverting the patient’s own cells to ‘pluripotent’ state. If you’d like to benefit from stem cells, but…

Biology, Genetics, News

Whole organ ‘grown’ in animals for the first time

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A whole functional organ has been successfully grown in animals for the first time; a group of Scottish researchers created a group of cells which, when transplanted into a mouse, developed into a fully functional thymus – a critical part of the immune system. The findings could lead to a revolution in organ transplant. The thymus is a specialized organ…