Genetics & Molecular Biology

A team of scholars say genetic markers that may help in identifying individuals who could benefit from the alcoholism treatment drug acamprosate - patients carrying these genetic variants have longer periods of abstinence during the first three months of acamprosate treatment.

Dalibor Levíček, CC BY-NC-SA

By Mick Reed, University of New England

The Jack the Ripper murders are the most potent cold case ever. More than a century on from the first killing in 1888 they are still attracting global attention.


In 2013, when PLoS One published a research paper, Complete Genes May Pass from Food to Human Blood, anti-GMO activists claimed they had proof that GMOs can “transfer” into our bodies, and threaten human health.

Now it turns out the hysteria they tried to generate was based on a study that its researchers believe went awry.

There is concern about pollution, overfishing and even climate change when it comes to reduced wild fish populations.

Farmed fish is the obvious solution but critics have a response for that also - they contend that hatchery-raised fish won't be as well adapted to their new environments or that the wild population will be "tainted" by breeding with domesticated counterparts.



Credit: SAN_DRINO/Flickr

By Meredith Knight, Genetic Literacy Project

Melinda developed breast cancer early in life, age 29. She tested positive for BRCA1, a gene that increases the risk of breast, ovarian and prostate cancers significantly.

So, after her treatments and chemo, when she and her husband Matt were able to consider starting their own family, the decision weighed heavily upon them.

Then they learned about pre-implantation genetic diagnosis or PGD.

Improve your eating habits and will improve your health, common medical wisdom goes.

A new article in the Journal of Leukocyte Biology finds that we might as well keep eating poorly. They contend that the effects of poor eating habits persist after dietary habits are improved. In their mouse study, even after successful treatment of atherosclerosis (including lowering of blood cholesterol and a change in dietary habits) the effects of an unhealthy lifestyle still affected the way the immune system functions.


Cell division is central to life and the last stage, when two daughter cells split from each other, has fascinated scientists since the dawn of cellular biology.

The name given to this process by those early biologists, cytokinesis, translates as "cell movement" and captures the sense of a highly active and organized series of events. Studying the final step, when the dividing cell creates a furrow before cleaving in two, has been difficult.  How does the cell signal where the furrow should be?  


Induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) became the target of researchers a decade ago due to restrictions on federal funding for human embryonic stem cells (hESCs). While media reports were claiming biology was dead if President Bush didn't violate President Clinton's Dickey-Wicker law, researchers instead moved to iPSCs and now they have been able to generate functional, three-dimensional human stomach tissue in a laboratory.



Greenpeace is set to launch a series of attacks against crop biotechnology this week. It has scheduled a news conference for Friday titled “Ecological Agriculture, A Climate Resilient Model of Agriculture: The Way Forward,” which purportedly makes  its case against vitamin-enhanced Golden Rice.


By Robert Wager, Genetic Literacy Project

There is tremendous controversy about genetically modified (GM) crops and derived food. Even the definition of what is a GM crop can differ depending upon with whom you talk. From a strictly scientific perspective all food has been manipulated at the genetic level by human activity; therefore all foods are genetically modified.

A more scientifically precise term for what goes by the popular term GMOs is genetically engineered (GE). This definition involves the use of recombinant DNA technology in the crop breeding process.