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Posts Tagged ‘disease’

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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UCLA Scientists Link Gene To Autism Risk

posted by DNA Identifiers @ 2:44 PM
Monday, July 30, 2012

Classic autism strikes boys four times more often than girls, with the inclusion of milder variations (Asperger syndrome) boys are ten times more likely than girls to be diagnosed than girls.

UCLA Scientists link genetic variant to autism risk. This discovery may explain the gap in autism cases between boys and girls. Dr. Stanley Nelson, professor of human genetics at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and his team narrowed their research on a region of chromosome 17 that previous studies have tied to autism. In that region they discovered a variant of a gene (a gene that is essentially the same as another, but has mutational differences) called CACNA1G. Dr. Stanley Nelson and his team looked at the DNA of 1,046 members of families with at least two sons affected by autism for common gene variants.

According to Dr. Stanley Nelson, “We wanted to identify what was happening in this region of chromosome 17 that boosts autism risk. When the same genetic markers kept cropping up in a single region of the DNA, we knew we had uncovered a big clue.”

The researcher team traced the genetic markers to CACNA1G. CACNA1G helps move calcium between cells. They discovered a common variant that appears in the DNA of nearly 40 percent of the population studied.

“This alternate form of CACNA1G consistently increased the correlation to autism spectrum disorders, suggesting that inheriting the gene may heighten a child’s risk of developing autism,” Nelson said, but he emphasized that it cannot be considered a risk factor on its own. “This variant is a single piece of the puzzle,” he said. “We need a larger sample size to identify all of the genes involved in autism and to solve the whole puzzle of this disease.”

This study was funded by the National Institute of Mental Health and Cure Autism Now. The DNA samples were provided by the Los Angeles–based Autism Genetic Resource Exchange (AGRE).

For more information see:

UCLA Newsroom

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Sequencing DNA of the Chocolate Plant

posted by DNA Identifiers @ 11:57 AM
Thursday, July 26, 2012

Cocoa Plant BeansThe Cacao plant, that makes our beloved chocolate, has officially had it’s DNA sequenced. Oddly enough, more than one team of scientists, both of whom claim they were the first, has completed it.

In 2010, a team of researchers financed by MARS, the candy maker, announced that they had competed the sequencing of the Cacao plant. However, another candy maker, Hershey, also financed a group of scientists who completed and published their findings in the journal “Nature Genetics”. The Hershey team claims that they had completed the task first, yet they did not release their findings first as they wanted to go through the full peer review process before publishing.

Regardless of this Chocolate pioneering augment, the fact is that both teams were first since they sequenced different strains of the cacao plant. The Hershey team sequenced an ancient Mayan variety that was domesticated about 3000 years ago and team MARS sequenced the Matina chocolate plant which is supposed to represent the cultivar from which most cocoa in the world is cultivated.

So, why sequence this plant? Why sequence any plant? That topic is hotly debated. In theory, understanding and gaining genetic insights to cocoa can help aid in creating more disease resistant plants which can help farmers grow more cocoa since they would not be losing as many crops. And, crazy enough, it has been reported that they have also isolated the gene that determines the melting point of chocolate, which could help in a number of ways, including genetically modifying the plant so that scientists can change the melting point for whatever purpose suits a candy maker’s fancy.

Regardless of your feelings and thoughts about the sequencing of this fine plant, the truth is that every plant will eventually be sequenced and it’s no surprise that the chocolate plant was at the top of the list.

(Blog based on reports by the New York Times on December 27, 2010 and Genome Web Daily News on September 15, 2010.)

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DNA Testing – An Overview Of This Revolutionary Scientific Breakthrough

posted by DNA Identifiers @ 2:41 PM
Tuesday, August 17, 2010

By Brook Hayles

What is DNA testing?  DNA testing is specified testing that searches for the absence or presence of DNA genetic sequences.  DNA testing makes use of molecular methods like DNA chips, arrays, or polymerase chain reaction. Your genetic makeup is carried inside your cells nucleus, which contains the DNA material.

Deoxyribonucleic acid is the scientific term for DNA. DNA determines the cells behavior, function, and structure. What is great about DNA is that not only can it tell the identity of a person, but it can also give information about thousands genetic conditions and diseases.

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Top 5 Misconceptions About DNA Testing

posted by DNA Identifiers @ 10:31 AM
Friday, April 9, 2010

By Groshan Fabiola

An increase in stories in the media about many uses for DNA tests has caught the public attention in a big way.  DNA testing is big business, in many fields. Programs like CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, Heroes and even popular soap opera’s regularly feature DNA tests as the basis for their often thrilling story lines.  While these television shows are informative in many cases they also encourage many misconceptions about DNA testing, in addition the public seems to believe that DNA testing can fix a variety of life’s problems.  The real miracle stories are far less talked about and even more amazing than TV dramas and soap operas can convey.

So what are some of the most common misconceptions about DNA testing?

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Autism’s Link To A Chromosome 16 Mutation

posted by DNA Identifiers @ 2:57 PM
Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Autism is a brain development disorder and the behaviors of those who have autism range from: hindered or impaired social interaction and communication; repetitive behavior such as hand-flapping, body rocking or head rolling; compulsive behavior such as arranging objects according to size, shape or color; the dislike of change; ritualistic behavior; all the way though self-injury; most of which starts before a child is three years old.

Up to date, diagnosis has always been based on behavior – the child must exhibit at least six symptoms, such as lack of social or emotional reaction, repetitive use of language, problems with all types of communication and a fixation with objects.

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How DNA Testing Could ‘Save’ You

posted by DNA Identifiers @ 2:44 PM
Tuesday, March 30, 2010

You have probably read that DNA testing can have life transforming effects, but are you aware that DNA testing can ‘save’ you? Yes, DNA testing can save you and your family both financially and physically.

Let’s look at a situation where DNA testing can save you financially. Suppose you are a man, and a girlfriend you have been having a casual relationship with gives you the news that she has just been to the doctor’s, and that she is expecting your baby. Normally, this would be source of great joy – only in this case you are not so sure whether you are the only man in her life (remember this is a casual relationship). You are not sure, either, why out of any other man in her life you would be one lucky enough to ‘score’ as far as fathering the baby is concerned. What you are sure though is the great financial responsibility it is bringing up a kid – right from maternity delivery costs, through childhood and teenage to the day they clear college and stand up on their own. This is a situation in which many men are increasingly finding themselves in, and DNA testing can help them clear the air on whether the baby in question is indeed theirs, or whether they are being taken for a ride, being asked to help bring up another man’s child.

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