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Posts Tagged ‘DNA’

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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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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DNA Proves Dog Belongs To Worried Couple

posted by DNA Identifiers @ 1:39 PM
Tuesday, July 31, 2012

February 20th was a big day for Darlene and Cliff Ryckman.  It was the day when they got back their missing dog Molly.  Molly the Shih Tzu made it home because of DNA testing which was completed by local police.

In an unusual case that spanned nearly a year, DNA sample were taken to prove that Molly belonged to Cliff and Darlene Ryckman.

Molly had no microchip and no tattoo, so when the tiny dog went missing last year the Ryckmans were at a loss to prove the identity of the dog they had raised from birth.  Even though they found out who in the neighborhood had taken her in.

Darlene, said ”I thought you know what, they do it on humans, they got to do it on animals,” when asked where shy got the idea to preform a DNA test on Molly.

The Ryckmans also own Molly’s sire, Howey, and had the DNA paternity test done to compare genetic material between the two. In all three test were performed on each dog.

The stressful year started last March 4 when the two dogs were let out into the back yard of the family’s home.  The gate wasn’t quite shut, and the two dogs started to chase a cat and the next thing Darlene knew, she couldn’t find Molly.

“I prayed every day,” she said. “I went to a psychic. I put it in The Spectator.”  Darlene also put an announcement on local TV, got the word out at some schools and put up flyers.

Almost right after Molly went missing, a woman responded to the flyers Darlene had posted.  She said had seen two people in the neighborhood pick up a Shih Tzu and take it into an apartment building.  Cliff, tracked down a specific apartment, and was told by a woman there that they did not have Molly.

The Ryckmans weren’t convinced and they were persistent with police.  Eventually they ended up face-to-face with the people who had picked up Molly on the street when they were out with Molly.  Darlene said of the encounter, “Seeing Molly just walking away from me … she was going nuts when she seen me and my husband, and I just broke down because I couldn’t take my dog and these people wouldn’t give me my dog back.”

Cliff said the whole situation was very upsetting for the couple.  He said,”It upset me to go to work because my wife would be crying everyday.”

But finally, after much determination and pursuing Molly through three moves by the people who had Molly, the Ryckmans paid $110 for DNA tests for the two dogs.  Constable Annette Huys, one of two officers working on the case, took the DNA samples.  Huys said, “I’d just come out of the forensic unit, so I was used to collecting lots of DNA, but not necessarily from dogs.”  Huys said unfortunately everybody had fallen in love with the Molly and it didn’t matter which side police dealt with, they were always crying when it came to talking about the Molly.

It took about two weeks for the samples to come back a match. Molly was returned to her the Ryckmans on February 20th.

Staff Sergeant Jack Langhorn called the entire case including taking doggy DNA “extremely unusual.” He said, “It was a unique situation … It wouldn’t be something that we’re going to do on a regular basis.”

Darlene said she’s grateful to the two officers who worked on the case and that, she’ll be getting Molly microchiped shortly.

The Hamilton Spectator

Dog DNA

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Dog Tags Out, DNA Profiles In

posted by DNA Identifiers @ 12:52 PM
Tuesday, July 31, 2012

I just came across an article distributed by the New Zealand Herald announcing the above topic. This brought my thinking to the use of DNA Profiling in general.

Dog Tags give way to DNA – 5:00AM Thursday November 01, 2007

CANBERRA – The DNA of all serving defence force personnel will from next year be stored to help identification of remains.

The Australian Defence Force decision follows a review of operating procedures and operational experience in Iraq and Afghanistan. Traditionally, soldiers have been identified by dog tags – discs inscribed with name, service number and religion – worn around the neck.

Although it sounds like a grim, possibly invasive, practice, using DNA in place of dog tags to identify the remains of soldiers is, in fact, very wise. Many different issues can arise with tags worn around the neck: they can be stolen, lost, destroyed, or held on to by another solider, to name a few.

The practice of DNA Profiling and Banking is elected by many companies that send employees or contractors to war zones. A sample of that person’s DNA is collected in the case of emergency. Should there be an incident, both the company and the family can have peace of mind. Quickly. So, why not utilize the same technology for soldiers who are on the front lines?

The same goes for cases involving human remains in public cases, such as in the search for a missing or abducted child, family members (parents, siblings or children) have to give a personal sample to be matched to remains found in the accident or murder. The amount of time between the incident/crime scene collection, family collection and laboratory screening for a match can be agonizing. Especially when using State and County Forensics labs which are notorious with delayed specimen processing. All of these issues, and more, have led some protective parents to have profiles performed on their children, “just in case”.

As a matter of fact, our company, DNA Identifiers, is arranging a collection at this very moment with a client who is traveling overseas in the coming year. The client is an American Soldier currently serving in the war and he has requested a Child ID Kit and DNA Profile… “just in case”. Understandably, he, of all people, has his concerns about his child’s safety and had decided to err on the side of caution.

Creating a U.S. database with solider DNA Profiles would help cut through the waiting and possible confusion with John Does’ and missing and destroyed dog tags. At the very least, the profiles could work in conjunction with the tags, not in place of. And it is conceivable that, not accounting for a backlog of cases, a lab could have the profile matched in a 24 hour period.

So why not use this technology the same as the Australians? Based on the number of times we have asked out Congress for an increase in funds and our militaries’ struggle to keep the troops properly armored, funding for this kind of project appears to be long way down the road.

For now, my advice to any soldier or family who feels the need to have peace of mind (like our client with daughter mentioned above) – don’t wait for the government to provide this service, have a private DNA Profile performed. I know it’s a relative matter, but they are not outlandishly expensive. If you ask, who knows, you might even get a discount!

For more information about DNA Profiling and Banking visit DNA Banking

(Please note that the above views of the author, and of DNA Identifiers, do not intend to lend support to, nor oppose, the War on Terror.)

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National DNA DAY – April 25th

posted by DNA Identifiers @ 12:42 PM
Tuesday, July 31, 2012

That’s right April 25th is National DNA Day.  It was proclaimed by both the US Senate and the House of Representative in 2003 and while you might not have the day off you might want to stop and think about just what DNA has done for us.

DNA Day is a remembrance of the day in 1953 when a gound breaking article on the structure of DNA was published as well as the the day that the Human Genome Project was completed in 2003.

DNA has made big changes in our lives whether we know it or not.  So this April take some time to think about DNA and some of it’s many uses:

1. In archeology DNA helps record genetic information of life on earth many centuries ago. This creates a data base that can be used to learn more about our planets past.

2. Genetic testing is used to determine the paternity or maternity of a child.

3. DNA testing can be used to help create a family tree or genealogical chart. Through genetic data bases one can trace lost relatives or find ancestors. Using both the Y chromosome and Mitochondrial DNA people can use DNA testing to establish ancestral lines (both remain unchanged for generations).

4. Prenatal genetic tests can help doctors determine whether or not the unborn fetus will have certain health problems.

5. DNA tests are also used to help solve murders and other crimes. In recent years many unsolved mysteries have been solved due to new ways of analysis as well as clearing many people found guilty of crimes that the did not commit.

6. DNA testing finds great use in the health field as DNA sometimes is the cause of rare medical conditions or heritable diseases.

7. Genetic testing is used in healths checks. For example it can be used to help determine the presence of viruses or cells that have mutated (causing cancer).

8. DNA tests are often used to reunite lost siblings or families or identify remains of the unknown. The genetics of a person leaves an indelible mark and this is used by police, military and authorities as well as individuals to confirm relationships.

9. DNA tests on new species or on material from outer space help scientists and researchers determine the origins of a species and where they stand with reference to known living forms.

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Proving the Death of Osama Bin Laden Through DNA Testing

posted by DNA Identifiers @ 12:31 PM
Tuesday, July 31, 2012

When President Obama announced Sunday evening, May 1st,  that Osama Bin Laden had been killed in a United States military operation, many wanted physical proof that the person killed and taken into custody was in fact Mr. Osama Bin Laden.

At this time reports are confirming 3 ways the remains were identified: 1) Facial recognition software was used to match the remains with facial photos of Osama Bin Laden. 2) There was apparently a personal identification of the body by someone inside the complex (exactly who identified the remains is unclear).  3) DNA testing of the remains took place within hours of death.

DNA Testing is now fast and accurate. It no longer takes weeks but can be done in the matter of hours and has a 99.9% or better accuracy rate.  At least one question remains – who, how or what did they test to confirm that it was Osama Bin Laden?  Did they test a family member against his DNA? There is speculation that they could they have tested the purported Osama Bin Laden sample against DNA from his sister, which (according to reports) had been held at Massachusetts General Hospital after her death in Boston last year. Or did they somehow already have Osama Bin Laden’s DNA on file and test against that?

According to Dr. M. Al Salih, who works at DNA Reference Laboratory in San Antonio, TX, he is sure that the results are accurate.  “You can come up with a very solid and absolute certainty that that is him and nobody else. If you identify that individual through those markers, and you can compare and you can say, ‘They match,’ or ‘They don’t match.’” Salih went on to state that the technology is very precise and results are 99.9 percent accurate.

However, on the other side is Dr. Greg Hampikian, a biology professor at Boise State University, says if they can get DNA from one of his kids and their mother then they do a reverse paternity test to confirm his identity and he suspects that is the type of DNA testing that was done. However even with a 99.9 percent identification Hampikian says that this case is not closed. As a scientist, Hampikian says 99.9 percent does not equal a positive identification.

As is the case with most major events such as this, skeptics speculate that we have not received enough proof and conspiracy abounds. One thing is for certain, we love conspiracies and we will never really know the truth.

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At Home DNA Tests To Predict Kids’ Athletic Skills?

posted by DNA Identifiers @ 12:27 PM
Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The newest in your child’s athletic careers might just be a genetic test to see what sports they may be suited for. The parent simply swabs the inside of the child’s mouth and sends the cotton swab off to the company for analysis. The tests are reported to be able to:

• Give coaches and parents early information about their child’s predisposition for success in team or individual sports.
• Can be used to help developing a personalized training and conditioning program necessary for athletic and sport development.

The real question is are these claims fact or fiction? What makes an athlete?  When evaluating athletes, amateurs or professional, you need to look at combination of physical, mental and social attributes. Unfortunately these test can cause children or their parents to push for extreme sports regiments with out looking at the mental and physical effects on the child.

Some of the long term effects are due to life-long injuries to areas like back, knee and hip which are often the end result of extreme forms of exercise or adult obesity and the probability of heart disease which can be an unfortunate outcome of the misguided concept of “bulking up.” Rapid weight gain at any age is associated with dramatic increases in abdominal fat, which is linked to diabetes, hypertension and heart disease.

We continue to believe that now we have discovered the human genome sequence we are able understand how the human body works, and we would be even crazier to think that knowing about a few genes can let us shape the future of a child for any reason not just for sports.

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Lab Focusing on Pacific Island Genetics

posted by DNA Identifiers @ 3:17 PM
Monday, July 30, 2012

In 2009 a new laboratory was opened at the University of Otago it was expected to unlock secrets about the genetic heritage of Pacific people, animals and plants according to scientists and anthropologists.

The ancient DNA laboratory, allows scientists to extract DNA from bones, teeth and plant matter. The DNA will be analyzed using the latest technology, including the university’s $1 million gene sequencing machine which was purchased in 2008. The facility is a joint project between 3 departments.

Ancient DNA did not necessarily mean from antiquity, according to Professor Matisoo-Smith. In scientific terms, ancient means any DNA samples which were not taken from living subjects. Matisoo-Smith did go on to say that some of the samples the laboratory would handle would be thousands of years old.

Already, projects were planned with samples from many parts of New Zealand, several Pacific islands and from Chile.

Representatives of Maori iwi whose ancestors’ DNA will be analysed in the laboratory spoke of their initial reluctance to allow their ancestors’ remains to be analysed because of the intrusiveness of the process.  They did however agree to allow the DNA analysis after discussions with Prof Matisoo-Smith and her staff which allayed their fears.  Both sides are now hoping the laboratory would provide interesting information on how their ancestors lived, what they ate and what they looked like.

Respecting the remains of people from the past was paramount, said Prof Matisoo-Smith. An ultra-clean environment had to be preserved to ensure ancient DNA samples were not contaminated.

In just a year after opening, an international team of researchers, which includes University of Otago archaeologists Chris Jacomb and Richard Walter, successfully isolated ancient DNA from eggshells of extinct birds.

Previous attempts to recover DNA from fossil eggshell have been unsuccessful. Chris Jacomb said, “this new ability to isolate ancient DNA from moa eggshell opens up exciting new research possibilities not just for palaeobiologists, but also for archaeologists. Indeed, it was this potential to address important questions in New Zealand archaeology that drew Associate Professor Walter and me into this international collaboration.”

Using the DNA from the moa’s provides a powerful new tool in understanding how the demise of moa occurred. “Not only can we now match eggshell to particular moa species, we can develop detailed models of hunting practice by looking at the family relationships of individual birds. This will help us understand hunting and extinction processes.”

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