Genetics & Molecular Biology

Homer's Cyclops might be myth, but a disorder that can cause babies to be born with only one eye is very real. Scientists from Cleveland, Ohio, and Paris, France, reached an important milestone in understanding one of the molecular causes of a rare, but serious birth defect, Holoprosencephaly.

In a study to appear in the February issue of The FASEB Journal, researchers describe findings that help explain why and how some fetal brains fail to develop two lobes, as well as why and how the related skull and facial defects occur. Using the information from this study, researchers will be able to pursue better approaches toward detecting, preventing, and treating this serious disorder.

What makes dancers different than the rest of us? Genetic variants, says a researcher at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

In a study published in PLoS Genetics, Prof. Richard P. Ebstein of the Department of Psychology and his research associates have shown, through DNA examination, that dancers show consistent differences in two key genes from the general population. Ebstein is the head of the Scheinfeld Center for Human Genetics in the Social Sciences in the Department of Psychology.

This finding is not surprising, says Ebstein, in view of other studies of musicians and athletes, which also have shown genetic differences.