Genetics & Molecular Biology

How dare biologists create something not found in nature!

Well, mankind has a lot of experience in trying to keep nature from killing us - the war between man and nature is a grudge match whose history and resentments run deep.  When scientists stop trying to keep nature from killing us is when we should worry.
In the pop culture world of mainstream media, magic bullets are common. Every week there is a new miracle vegetable and then the following work there will be scare journalism about some chemical.

In the world of magic bullets, smoking causes lung cancer. Yet science knows that a risk factor is not genetic determinism. If lung cancer among non-smokers were itemized separately from smokers, it would be in the top 10 killers all on its own, and shockingly few smokers get lung cancer compared to the hundred million who are smoking just in America.

A signal that promotes insulin secretion and reduces hyperglycemia in a type 2 diabetes animal model is enhanced by the inhibition of a novel enzyme discovered by researchers at NuChem Therapeutics of Montreal and the Montreal Diabetes Research Center.


Individuals are more genetically similar to their spouses than they are to randomly selected individuals from the same population, claims a new paper in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

This is much different than sociological factors - it is no surprised that people tend to marry others who have similar characteristics, like religion, age, race, income and education. 


Organisms inherit their mitochondria – the cell’s “power plants” – from their mothers, but what happens to all the father’s mitochondria?

Why and how are paternal mitochondria prevented from getting passed on to their offspring after fertilization? Just the randomness of evolution or is there a reason the phenomenon has been conserved?

The ancient remains of a teenage girl, researchers call her Naia, found deep in the water of a Yucatán Peninsula cave have established a definitive link between the earliest and modern Native Americans, according to a new study in Science.

So, yes, they really were here before you. 

Ancient human remains in the Americas have been a puzzle for science because their skulls are narrower and have other measurably different features from those of modern Native Americans. Some researchers have hypothesized that these individuals came to the Americas from as far away as Australia, Southeast Asia or Europe.  


Photosynthesis is one of evolution's great success stories. Plants, algae and bacteria capture light energy from the sun and transform it into chemical energy.

Can science improve it? Perhaps. While genetic modification is protested by anti-science groups, no one dislikes photosynthesis. And improving the photosynthetic rate is one strategy to improve plant productivity, which can be important for future food production. 

Your local multiplex has been packed with superheroes lately: Robocop, Captain America and Spider-Man have wowed us this year and Superman, Batman and the Avengers are waiting in the wings.

But have you ever noticed how unlikely each hero is? A maimed policeman, a teenager bitten by a radioactive spider, an orphan who starts dressing like a bat—on the face of it, they don't sound very helpful. But each winds up saving a boatload of folks who need to be protected from the forces of evil.

3 million men across America experience infertility. Today, researchers described a key event during sperm development that is essential for male fertility - a protein controls DNA packaging to protect a man's genetic information. 


A genetic mutation
that causes albinism
 in Doberman pinschers has been identified. And the researchers discovered that type of albinism has certain characteristics that are evident in humans too. 

Paige Winkler, a doctoral student in the College of Veterinary Medicine at Michigan State University, and Joshua Bartoe, an assistant professor in the Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences, led the effort to discover the mutated gene that is associated with a form of albinism in humans.