In the not-so-distant future, next time you want to back up your work to Microsoft's cloud, you might be storing it on a few snippets of DNA.
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Embedded in our genetic code is all kinds of sensitive data that could be compromising in the wrong hands. Without genetic privacy protections, the information stored in our genes might be used to discriminate against us or send us targeted ads. For these reasons, some have said we should skip out on consumer DNA tests if we value our privacy. Last week, after the FDA gave DNA testing company 23andMe the greenlight to offer consumers disease risk assessments, there was a new wave of warnings.
Millions of years ago, our ancestors' bodies may have waged an epic battle against a virus. Through a sneaky DNA swap, the hosts would have gotten the upper hand, and turned the virus' defences against themselves. Researchers think they have unearthed the whole ordeal, left like a Dead Sea scroll in our genes.
At times, DNA testing can feel more like horoscopes than science. In many cases, we just don't know enough about a gene to say what it means for our health. For this reason, the US Food and Drug Administration has sought to protect consumers by preventing DNA testing companies from telling them whether or not they're are at risk for a certain disease. Until now.
Nearly a decade ago, Dallas police proposed a new program designed to get sex workers off the streets. Rather than just send them to gaol, police would set up shop at truck stops, accompanied by counsellors, social workers and nurses, and give the sex workers a choice of either prison or talking to a counsellor. But the program also had a grimmer, more ethically fraught component — collecting sex workers' DNA in hopes of identifying their bodies should they wind up dead.
While we all want to travel, live and bang in space, there are some pretty major things to consider, such as the fact that our sentient flesh cocoons were not designed to handle the harsh conditions of the cosmic void. Though research like NASA's Twin Study will illuminate some of the potential impacts of extended spaceflight on our bodies, so many mysteries remain — particularly when it comes to what's going to happen to our DNA.
Diagnosing disease often requires analysing and detecting single cells with lab tests that cost hundreds of dollars each. Hospitals in a poor country stricken with a disease epidemic like HIV or malaria simply might not have the funds to run all of those tests. Scientists are looking for a cheaper option.
The ancestors of Aboriginal Australians and Papua New Guineans diverged from Eurasian populations around 72,000 years ago according to a new DNA analysis of 83 Indigenous Australians from the Wongatha Nation in the North-Eastern Goldfields of Victoria.
The finding supports the idea that humans spread out of Africa in a single event, in the first comprehensive population-level whole-genome study of human genetic diversity in Australia.
Chemmart's myDNA test described itself as "personalised medicine" where "your DNA results can help guide your future health and lifestyle choices" in Chemmart's catalogues, television infomercials, in-store brochures and other promotional materials — and ACCC isn't happy about it, saying it "risked conveying a false or misleading impression regarding the usefulness of the genetic test, and the consumers for whom it may be appropriate".
Mitochondria float around in the goo of your cells, tirelessly making the molecules that power your body. But these mitochondria used to be independent of your body; they were bacteria, floating free in the world. You are, at a fundamental level, the result of symbiosis — the interdependence of two life forms.
Last year, a biotech startup called Clear Labs performed DNA testing on a bunch of hot dogs and discovered that they often contain more than the label advertises. The same company has now used its arsenal of molecular technologies to break down your other favourite meat-on-a-bun product: burgers. Once again, there are some unsavoury surprises.