genetics

How The Internet Is Helping A Father Fight An Illness Unknown To Science

In 2012, Matt Might sat down to write a blog post. The 5000-word essay titled “Hunting Down My Son’s Killer,” which was also republished on Gizmodo, documented his and his wife’s harrowing attempt to make sense of their son’s mysterious illness. The post went viral online — setting the family down a road that could change medical research. In the New Yorker, journalist Seth Mnookin tells the story of what’s happened since.


There's A Plan To Breed Bald Chickens That Can Survive Global Warming

In a few decades, global warming will likely make our unbearable summers hotter, longer, and even more unbearable. So think of the chickens. Or, if you can’t find a place for chickens in your heart, think of the chicken nuggets and hot wings that you’ll miss. That’s why researchers at the University of Delaware want to breed a heat-resistant chicken with no feathers on its head and neck.


New Software Can Spot Rare Genetic Diseases From Family Photographs

Spotting rare genetic disease is, by definition, a little tricky. But now a team of scientists from the University of Oxford has developed software that can spot such conditions by analysing family photographs.


Mystery Illnesses Could Now Be Diagnosed With A Rapid DNA Test

When we think of medicine, we usually think of the treatment: drugs, surgery, therapy. But before all that comes the diagnosis — a tricky proposition when symptoms are confusing and information scant. Now for the first time ever, doctors were able to use rapid DNA sequencing to identify an obscure bacterium in time to save a boy’s life.


Scientists Have Created 'Alien' DNA

After 15 years of work, scientists have successfully created a living cell that contains two unnatural DNA building blocks. The breakthrough brings us one step closer to being able to synthesise cells that can produce drugs on demand. It even opens the door to a future where we could create life that’s unlike anything ever found on Earth.


Predict What Your Future Children Look Like In 'Virtual Embryos'

Remember those slightly horrifying sites that mash up two faces to tell you what your hypothetical babies might look like? With genome sequencing and “virtual embryos”, we might actually be able to do that — using science. Those days are not quite here yet, but New Scientist has an intriguing report about a company called GenePeeks. We already screen for common genetic disorders by testing the DNA of prospective parents.


Scientists Manipulate Genes To Make Old Organs Young Again (In Mice)

Researchers at the University of Edinburgh showed this week that they could teach an old mouse’s thymus to bounce back to a healthy, youthful state, simply by manipulating a single protein that controls gene expression. It’s the first time scientists have been able to regenerate a living organ by gene manipulation, and it could have huge implications in health science.


Scientists Genetically Modified Trees So They Can Make Greener Paper

Wood scientists just announced an exciting breakthrough in tree research. They have come up with a way to make more environmentally friendly paper — by genetically modifying trees. And it’s not just the paper industry that will benefit.


These Eerily Accurate Mugshots Were Created From DNA Alone

Everyone knows that DNA can be invaluable when it comes to solving crimes. But now genetic analysis can be used to generate incredibly precise mugshots of criminals, too.


Would You Customise Your First Born Child?

The recent announcement by a British medical ethics board in favour of an experimental three-parent IVF treatment — wherein the genetic material from three donors, not the usual two, is used to create a foetus — and has once again stirred the pot of reproductive controversy. So where exactly is the line between prenatal treatments and eugenic experiments?