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Archive for the ‘Biology’ Category

Scientists Have Cloned Man’s Best Friend

posted by DNA Identifiers @ 3:30 PM
Tuesday, July 31, 2012

I just came across an article distributed by the Global Press Release Distribution about the above topic. This brought my thinking to the use of DNA in general, and about the ethics of cloning specifically.

Dan Vergano, USA TODAY. Scientists have cloned man’s best friend for the first time, creating a genetic duplicate of a 3-year-old male Afghan hound, South Korean scientists reported Wednesday

The puppy was born in April to its surrogate mom, a Labrador retriever. His name: Snuppy, short for Seoul National University puppy. The team of scientists there that cloned the dog, led by Hwang Woo Suk, is the same one that first cloned human embryonic stem cells last year. Their achievement is reported in the journal Nature. Researchers have cloned other animals, but dog cloning has posed a particular challenge. And the difficulties have alarmed some animal advocates and researchers.

There are benefits of cloning your pet according to the Seoul National University, but there are also many groups that are questioning the ethics involved in cloning.

USA Today

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Failure of Genetic Passports for Plants, Animals and Microorganisms

posted by DNA Identifiers @ 3:26 PM
Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The idea of creating genetic passports for, plants, animals, microorganisms was a very hot topic between 2007 and looked like it was on it’s way to becoming a common, standard practice. However, at this time, for the most part, these burgeoning ideas seem to have been put on hold.

The idea to create genetic passports was suggested by the Technical Expert Group of the Convention on Biological Diversity in Lima, Peru and was backed by a group of experts from over 25 countries. The proposal, which stated that 150 countries, who signed a 1992 Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) treaty, would have sovereignty over the genetic resources originating within their borders and could control the use of their genetic resources outside of their borders. They would do so by providing specific information such as the material’s origin, its characteristics and the institutions responsible for providing and/or using it.

While the proposal was widely praised and supported, it does not appear that it was ever adapted by the Convention on Biological Diversity.  In fact, in a paper entitled “Genetic Diversity and Conservation and Utilization of Plant Genetic Resources” the author(s) state that:

Accurate passport and characterization data are the first requirements, but users of plant genetic resources, particularly plant breeders, have also emphasized the need for improved evaluation of accessions. Evaluation is a complex process and there is serious backlog in most collections.

However, you can be assured that genetic passports for non-human organisms is on it’s way even if it is not currently implemented. Were there is a will, there is a way.

If you enjoyed this story you might also enjoy: Genetic Passports…A Thing Of The Past?‪ ‬

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Frankenstein’s Pet Jellyfish, “Frankenjelly”

posted by DNA Identifiers @ 3:20 PM
Tuesday, July 31, 2012

After much trial and error, researchers have built a 1 cm jellyfish, or medusiod, out of rat heart cells. While some engineers build objects using standard materials such as concrete, metal or wood, these bioengineers are using living cells.

The reason for this experiment is not just to play around with nature, but to understand and design better artificial hearts and other muscular organs, which in turn helps with the advancement of medical implant device technology.

The bioengineers who spearheaded this project are: John Dabiri from the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena and Kevin Kit Parker from the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University. Their motto was, “Copy nature, but not too much.”

After building an ideal jellyfish shape on silicon they then coached rat heart muscle cells to grow along the silicon and encased that product with an elastic material called an elastomer. In order to make it “swim”, through muscle flexing and contracting, the researchers submerged the jellyfish in a saline solution and ran an electric current through the water which “jump started” the heart cells into movement. When they did this the jellyfish propelled itself in the same way a real jellyfish would move.

Scientists agree that this groundbreaking research is expected to have a lasting impact on the future capability of medical implant devices.

Wired Science Original Article

Authored by: Meagan Thompson

Jellyfish Swimming

Rat Heart Cells

Rat Heart Cells

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DNA Database for Falcon Chicks

posted by DNA Identifiers @ 3:18 PM
Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Wildlife experts in Nottingham have been taking DNA Samples from peregrine falcon chicks in an effort to protect the species from thieves, according to an article in the BBC News.

Apparently it is common for thieves to rob falcon nests for chick that can then be trained for falconry.  The purpose of the data base is to be able to identify whether birds found, dead or alive, or birds being used for falconry were born in the wild or in captivity.

Nottingham Local wildlife trust, working with Nottingham Trent University and with the National Wildlife Crime Unit are working on constructing a DNA database in order to track and prosecute people who are raiding the nests of falcons.

For more information:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/england/nottinghamshire/8044260.stm

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/8044511.stm

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Black Death DNA Decoded

posted by DNA Identifiers @ 3:02 PM
Tuesday, July 31, 2012

I just came across an article distributed by the National Public Radio (NPR) about a scientific beak though in DNA sequencing. This article just goes to show that DNA can answer current question about crimes, relationships and health but it can also help us look into our past.

Scientists have used DNA lurking inside the teeth of medieval Black Death victims to figure out the entire genetic code of the deadly bacterium that swept across Europe more than 600 years ago, killing an estimated half of the population…

People back then had no access to modern antibiotics and were likely weakened by other infections as well.

Poinar says the ancient Black Death DNA looks so similar to Yersinia pestis that still infects people today that researchers believe the medieval strain must be the ancestor of all modern strains.

The Natural History Museum of Denmark’s Thomas Gilbert says the insights that come from these studies will be of interest not only from a historical perspective, but also to help scientists understand how deadly epidemics have emerged in the past so that they can get ready for what might come in the future.

For the full story see: Decoded DNA Reveals Details Of Black Death

While this field of research might not seem very practical at first glance there is a wealth of knowledge about, diseases, bacteria and the ways we interact with them and how they spread and change.

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Pearl Harbor: DNA Testing Brings Hope To Missing Soldiers’ Families

posted by DNA Identifiers @ 2:57 PM
Tuesday, July 31, 2012

On December 7, 1941 the Japanese struck Pearl Harbor in a surprise attack that decimated the US Pacific Fleet. Of the ships that were attacked few sank as fast or as completely as the Oklahoma, which listed and capsized within minutes after a rapid series of direct torpedo strikes.

Survivors from the Oklahoma described a surreal scene below deck of sloshing water and fuel oil, men trying to climb from the darkness through hatches, beating their way out with tools. Hundreds remained trapped in interior compartments. Of the dead on the Oklahoma, 36 were easily recovered and identified. The remainder were not able to be identified and were interred in communal caskets.

Approximately 74,000 soldiers from World War II still remain unaccounted for. About one-quarter of those are considered recoverable by the military’s Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command, the Hawaii organization that has relied on scientific and geopolitical changes to identify more than 600 long-lost MIAs since 2003.

The Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command’s military and civilian teams have tracked down aircraft wrecks and burial sites in remote locations, exhumed remains, and analyzed bone fragments and bits of material at the world’s largest forensic anthropology lab. They work with casualty offices from each branch to find survivors and collect DNA samples for matching. For each name, the military tries to locate at least two relatives who share a long-lasting form of DNA passed along maternal lines.

In Hawaii, Greg Berg, the forensic anthropologist who manages the joint command’s Central Identification Laboratory, cautions that the work to identify remains could take years, the process he warns is complicated by commingling of remains which is far more extensive than expected. Only five people have been definitively identified since 2003.

Still, “the commingling problems are not insurmountable, and [we are] confident in our abilities to eventually bring about case resolution,’’ Berg said by e-mail.

For more see: Boston Globe

If you enjoyed this story you might also enjoy: Dog Tages Out DNA Profiles In‪ ‬

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South Korean Scientists Clone Fluorescent Cats

posted by DNA Identifiers @ 2:51 PM
Tuesday, July 31, 2012

South Korean scientists from Gyeongsang National University and Sunchon National University have cloned three Turkish Angora cats, born January and February, that glow red when exposed to ultraviolet rays and also glow in the dark. They did so by taking skin cells from a cat and inserting the fluorescent gene into them before transplanting the genetically modified cells into eggs. The purpose for doing this is so that these cats could help develop cures for human genetic diseases. The South Korean Science and Technology Ministry claims it was the first time cats with modified genes have been cloned.

Proving that this new technology works means other genes can also be inserted in the course of cloning, paving the way for producing lab cats with genetic diseases, including those of humans, to help develop new treatments.

According to veterinary professor Kong Il-keun of Gyeongsang National University:

“Cats have similar genes to those of humans,” “We can make genetically modified cats that can be used to develop new cures for genetic diseases.”

“People with genetic disorders usually have to receive treatment throughout their lives that is very hard on them,” Kato said.

“If these results can help to make their lives easier, then I think it’s a wonderful thing.”

If you enjoyed this story you might also enjoy: Scientists Have Cloned Man’s Best Friend‪ ‬

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Dead Mountain Lion To Be Genetically Tested In New York

posted by DNA Identifiers @ 2:22 PM
Tuesday, July 31, 2012

New York State officials are hoping that genetic testing can help solve the mystery of a mountain lion which mysteriously appeared in Greenwich. DNA testing will be used to determine where the deceased young male mountain lion came from and, hopefully, how he got to Greenwich, NY in the first place. Along with how is the question of any criminal aspect to his appearance.  A mountain lion was killed by a driver on Route 15 in Milford, NY early Saturday morning. Officials believe that this same lion that had been spotted in the upper King Street area of Greenwich earlier.

The mountain lion was neither neutered nor declawed, according to DEP (Department of Environmental Protection) officials. But they do believe the lion was let go from captivity or released into the area.  Mountain lions are not native to this region of the state

Officials believe that by conducting genetic testing, examining the animal’s stomach content and checking to see if it was microchiped, they can determine where the mountain lion came from, including whether the animal is native to North America or South America.

After the crash that killed the mountain lion in Milford, there were three other reports of possible mountain lions, but DEP is not considering them to be credible because of a lack of photos or significant paw prints.

New York state DEP (Department of Environmental Protection) received an anonymous call on Sunday to report a large cat in the area of exit 31 on the Merritt Parkway in Greenwich. Later a call from a Greenwich family reported a large tan cat in the backyard of their John Street home, near the Audubon. The family described the cat as a mountain lion.

DEP Officials are testing “scat” or feces to determine what the second reported animal is.

DEP officials say that part of the investigation into the deceased mountain lion will be done in New York, where officials are checking on “permitted lions” to see if that generates leads. The closest mountain lion population is located in Florida. While the mountain lions roam, DEP officials do not think it is likely that a Florida mountain lion would have made the trip that far north.

DEP officials said mountain lions are most active at dawn and dusk and anyone with information should call 860-424-3333

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Top Cause Of Oral Cancer Found To Be A Virus Passed During Oral Sex

posted by DNA Identifiers @ 2:08 PM
Tuesday, July 31, 2012

I just came across an article released by NPR by Peggy Grishman regarding new research the above topic. While not about DNA specifically, I felt it contained important information to share with my readers.

Researchers studying the human papilloma virus say that in the United States HPV causes 64% of oropharynxl cancers.

And the more oral sex someone has had — and the more partners they’ve had — the greater their risk of getting these cancers, which grow in the middle part of the throat. “An individual who has six or more lifetime partners — on whom they’ve performed oral sex – has an eightfold increase in risk compared to someone who has never performed oral sex,” said Dr. Maura Gillison of Ohio State University a meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

After reading this article it made complete sense we tend to think of HPV as a woman’s health issue but there is no rule that cancer can’t spread or that it is confined to one specific part of the body. In fact we know that just the opposite is true, so why would this one type be confined?  The question now do we start to vaccinate boys as well as girls against this type of cancer?

For the full story see: NPR

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Have you read; “Wolf In Dog’s Clothing?”

posted by DNA Identifiers @ 1:52 PM
Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Science Daily’s article “Wolf in Dog’s Clothing?” opens the door for new studies in animal genetics and domestication. Scientists have been able to prove that domesticated dogs that bred with wolves thousands of years ago and that this gave wolves a genetic mutation encoding dark coat color.  As a result, the Gray Wolf is no longer just gray.  In addition scientists are reporting that the darker colored wolves have advantages over their lighter pack mates in forested areas. This is leading scientists to believe that these advantages are due to the addition of that domesticated dog DNA.

This study was conducted by Genetics professor Greg Barsh, MD, PhD, and one of his  graduate students, Tovi Anderson, as well as other scientist collaborators.  They compared DNA collected from 41 black, white and gray wolves in the Canadian Arctic and 224 black and gray wolves in Yellowstone National Park with that of domestic dogs and gray and black coyotes.  This study confirmed that the black-coat gene shows evidence of positive selection in forest wolves. It also showed that the gene is dominant, meaning that an animal with only one copy of the gene would still have a black coat. Ten out of fourteen pups conceived by the mating between a black wolf and a gray wolf carried the gene and were black.

Anderson and her collaborators used a variety of genetic tests to determine that the mutation was likely introduced into wolves by domesticated dogs sometime in the last 10,000 to 15,000 years. This was about the same time the first Native American humans were migrating across the Bering land bridge. These humans were probably accompanied by dogs, some of which carried the black-coat mutation estimated to have arisen about 50,000 years ago.

Barsh said, “We were really surprised to find that domestic animals can serve as a genetic reservoir that can benefit the natural populations from which they were derived. It’s also fascinating to think that a portion of the first Native American dogs, which are now extinct, may live on in wolves.”

For the full article see:

http://www.sciencedaily.com­/releases/2009/02/090205142137.htm

(Stanford University Medical Center. “Wolf In Dog’s Clothing? Black Wolves May Be First ‘Genetically Modified’ Predators.” ScienceDaily 6 February 2009. 24 April 2009 <http://www.sciencedaily.com­/releases/2009/02/090205142137.htm>)

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