Genetics

Resetting the immune system back 500 million years

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 […]

PMS may have evolved to disrupt infertile relationships

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 […]

Fish oil could be grown in plants

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 […]

Genetic response to starvation is passed down to at least three generations

In 1944, the Nazis caused widespread famine in Western Netherlands after they blocked food supplies. A group of pregnant women living in the Netherlands, labouring under starvation conditions imposed by a harsh winter and food embargo, gave birth to relatively small babies. When their children grew up, in relative prosperity, to have children of their own their babies were unexpectedly small.

Computer games sometimes better than medication in treating elderly depression

Computer games could be the key to treating elderly people who have been diagnosed with depression, but who aren’t responding to conventional treatment. A new study has shown that playing a certain type of computer games was more effective at reducing symptoms of depression than the “gold standard” – the antidepressant drug escitalopram. Recently, we’ve been bombarded about […]

Potential HIV-1 cure works by deleting the virus’ DNA from the genome

HIV is maybe one of the most resilient and tenacious viral infections known to medical science. Unlike other infections, even if all traces of HIV are gone from the body – the virus itself – it can still resurface and infect the patient later on. That’s because HIV inserts itself permanently into the patient’s genome, […]

Mutated cat poop parasite treats cancer

Right now, I’m the happy caregiver of seven cats (five kittens. Yey!) which in most people’s books makes me socially challenged and insane. I do take special notice of my pets, and this means looking after them so they don’t get infected by parasites. Cats are typically clean animals, but when infested can spell trouble […]

Mutant worm that doesn’t get drunk could help end alcoholism

An unlikely worm might help millions of people fighting alcohol addiction. No, you won’t find it in tequila, but in the labs of neuroscientists at University of Texas at Austin who have engineered  Caenorhabditis elegans - one of the most popular animal models in science – to become insensitive to alcohol intoxication. The findings, if replicated on […]

Friends are family: study shows we share more genes with friends than strangers

We often cherish our closest friends as if they were family. Well, this isn’t actually too far from the truth, considering a new study from the University of California, San Diego, and Yale University found friends who aren’t biologically related resemble each other genetically. In fact, on average friends are as “related” as fourth cousins […]

Chemical switch found in Alzheimer’s and stroke victims’ brains kills neurons

Researchers at the Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute (Sanford-Burnham) have found a chemical switch that both regulates the generation of new neurons from neural stem cells and the survival of existing nerve cells in the brain. Postmortem examination of the brains of Alzheimer’s patients and stroke victims found the switch that shuts off the signals was […]

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