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

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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

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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…

Animals, Genetics, News

Scientists find how lizards regenerate their tails

The green anole lizard (Anolis carolinensis) can lose and then regrow its tail, using cartilage and fat to replace the bone.

It’s one of the most remarkable adaptations in the animal world – growing a tail or a limb. Some lizards do it, salamanders do it, and by learning how they do it, we may soon be able to do it as well; with technology, that is. A team of researchers have discovered the genetic “recipe” for lizard tail regeneration which, at…

Genetics, News

Resetting the immune system back 500 million years

The normal mouse thymus (left) contains only a small fraction of B-cells (red). If the gene FOXN4 is activated, a fish-like thymus with many B-cells develops. Image: Max Planck

Researchers at the Max Planck Institute of Immunobiology and Epigenetics (MPI-IE)  re-activated the expression of an ancient gene in mice. To their surprise, the gene in question which is dormant in all mammalian species caused the mice to develop  fish-like thymus. The thymus is an organ of paramount importance to the adaptive immune system, but in this particular instance, the thymus produced…

Genetics, Health & Medicine, News

PMS may have evolved to disrupt infertile relationships

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A brave Australian professor of molecular biology thinks he may have found out  why women get premenstrual syndrome (PMS). According to his findings, following genetic screenings, PMS has evolved as a mechanism for breaking up infertile relationships and thus increase the chance of fostering a fertile relationship in the future. Effectively, nature designed PMS to give men hell. As a…

Biology, Genetics, News

Fish oil could be grown in plants

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When you think about fish oil, you probably wouldn’t think of the English countryside – but that’s exactly where scientists are trying to grow it; yep, grow it! They’re using Camelina sativa plants genetically modified to produce long chain omega-3 fatty acids—the primary component of “fish oil.” Things you didn’t know about fish oil Most of the fish oil we use goes to…