Genetics & Molecular Biology

Normally, a tissue injury causes cells to repair damaged tissue and restore the skin to a normal, homeostatic, state. Errors in this process can give rise to various problems, such as chronic inflammation, which is a known cause of certain cancers.  


By analyzing whole-genome sequencing data from 665 people from Europe and East Asia  as part of the 1,000 Genomes Project, researchers have determined that more than 20 percent of the Neanderthal genome survives in the DNA of this contemporary group. 

That means a substantial fraction of the Neanderthal genome persists in modern human populations. Neanderthals became extinct about 30,000 years ago but their time on earth and their geographic range overlapped with us. 


Prion proteins are "misfolded"and cause a group of incurable neurodegenerative diseases, including spongiform encephalopathies (for example, mad cow diseases) and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. 

Prions are unique infective agents. Unlike viruses, bacteria, fungi and other parasites, prions do not contain either DNA or RNA. Despite their seemingly simple structure, they can propagate their pathological effects like wildfire, by "infecting" normal proteins.

PrPSc (the pathological form of the prion protein) can induce normal prion proteins (PrPC) to acquire the wrong conformation and convert into further disease-causing agents. 




Human induced-pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) derived from human umbilical cord-blood are capable of repairing damaged retinal vascular tissue in mice, according to a new paper.

The adult stem cells were coaxed turned into an embryonic-like state without the conventional use of viruses, which can mutate genes (and thus initiate cancers) and paves the way for regenerative medicine using a stem cell bank of cord-blood derived iPSCs.


A new protocol for conducting Miller-Urey Experiments is comprised of a modern and simplified approach to the method used by Dr. Stanley Miller and Dr. Harold Urey in 1953. Their research evaluated the possibility of organic compounds important for the origin of life to have been formed abiologically on early Earth. 


Going barefoot in parts of Africa, Asia and South America is dangerous.

Hookworms live in the soil and enter the body through the feet. By feeding on victims' blood, the worms cause anemia and, in children, stunted growth and learning problems. These infections afflict an estimated 700 million of the world's poor. 

Researchers have decoded the genome of the hookworm, Necator americanus, finding clues to how it infects and survives in humans. Necator americanus causes about 85 percent of human hookworm infections, which are not usually fatal. However, in pregnant women, the worm can cause severe anemia, leading to maternal deaths and low birth weights that contribute to newborn deaths.


√n law

√n law

Jan 16 2014 | 0 comment(s)

How do we estimate the confidence range about an estimate?

Researchers have decoded the whole genome sequence of one widespread species and it turns out to be remarkably big -  6.5 gigabytes, largest animal genome sequenced so far. 

The honor goes to Locusta migratoria, the most widespread locust species. We all know about locusts: a single locust can eat its own bodyweight in food in a single day which is, proportionately, 60 times a human's daily consumption. They are capable of inflicting famine and wiping out livelihoods when they swarms, which can cost countries billions of dollars in lost harvests and eradication efforts.


The retina can be bombarded by reactive oxygen species in diabetes, prompting events that destroy healthy blood vessels, form leaky new ones and ruin vision, and now researchers have learned that those chemically reactive molecules must come from both the bone marrow as well as the retinal cells themselves to cause such serious consequences.

Excessive glucose in the blood prompts excessive production of reactive oxygen species, or ROS, and the light-sensitive retina is particularly vulnerable. Caldwell's research team had previously documented that ROS from white blood cells produced by the bone marrow as well as from retinal cells were the major instigators in diabetic retinopathy, a leading cause of blindness worldwide. But they weren't sure which mattered most.


Culturally, it's discussed that being a man in the Western world is going out of fashion. People are instead supposed to be homogenized into some sort of gender-neutral swirl of beliefs and actions, with only slight variation.

Even the Y chromosome is dwindling. Is it at risk of being lost?

The human Y chromosome contains 27 unique genes, compared to thousands on other chromosomes. Some mammals have already lost their Y chromosome, though they still have males, females and normal reproduction. This has led people to speculate that the Y chromosome is becoming superfluous. But the genes on the Y chromosome are important, they have been maintained by selection.  They're probably not going anywhere.