Posts Tagged ‘Complete Genomics Initial Public Offering’

Generation of ‘X-Men’ superhumans could become a reality in 30 years thanks to advances in gene science, say MoD experts

  • Experts warn of ‘genetic inequality’ if advances are unequally shared
  • Report says ‘human augmentation’ is likely to increase over next 30 years
  • Details released following a Freedom of Information request
A generation of genetically-modified ‘X-Men’ superhumans could be among us by 2045, a Ministry of Defence think tank has said.Advancements in gene technology could help humans gain mutant powers such as the likes of Wolverine, Cyclops and Storm in the popular comic book and movie series, it has been reported.

The MoD’s Development Concepts and Doctrine Centre warn however that ‘genetic inequality’ could result from advancements in biology being unequally shared across society.

Mutant: MoD experts have suggested a generation of genetically-modified 'X-Men' superhumans, such as Wolverine, could be a reality by 2045

Mutant: MoD experts have suggested a generation of genetically-modified ‘X-Men’ superhumans, such as Wolverine, could be a reality by 2045

The centre met last summer for a two-day summit, featuring experts from government, industry and universities. The details have been released following a Freedom of Information request by The Sun.

It was reported during the summit, held to predict what would happen in the future, that: ‘Advancements in gene technology could lead to a class of genetically superior humans by 2045.

‘Human augmentation is likely to increase over the next 30 years.

‘Discussions highlighted that it is possible that advances in biology, unequally shared across society, could generate genetic inequality.’

The X-Men are a team of mutant superheroes created by writer Stan Lee and artist Jack Kirby, who first appeared in Marvel Comics in 1963.

The mutants use their powers for the benefit of humanity, despite an ever-growing anti-mutant sentiment among mankind.

The comics were turned into a highly-successful film series, featuring Hugh Jackman as Wolverine, Halle Berry as Storm, Ian McKellan as Magneto and Patrick Stewart as Professor X.

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by admin - February 26, 2013 at 6:49 am

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Previously unknown human population boom revealed by DNA: Massive expansion occurred 40,000 years ago

  • Scientists guess that baby boom occurred as our ancestors adapted to life away from the coasts

By Damien Gayle

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DNA sequencing has revealed a previously unknown human population boom between 40,000 and 50,000 years ago, a new study claims.

The sequencing of the Y chromosomes from 36 men has revealed a ten-fold increase in the number of genetic markers nearly 20,000 years after our ancestors first left Africa.

Scientists believe the expansion could have occurred as our ancestors adapted to more rugged environments, allowing them to spread inland from coastal areas.

Baby boom: New analysis of DNA has revealed a previously unknown human population boom between 40,000 and 50,000 years ago

Baby boom: New analysis of DNA has revealed a previously unknown human population explosion between 40,000 and 50,000 years ago

‘We have always considered the expansion of humans out of Africa as being the largest population expansion of modern humans, but our research questions this theory,’ said Wei Wei of the West China University of Medical Sciences.

‘The out-of-Africa expansion, which happened approximately 60,000 years ago, was extremely large in geographical terms with humans spreading around the globe.

‘Now we’ve found a second wave of expansion that is much larger in terms of human population growth and occurred over a very short period, somewhere between 40,000 to 50,000 years ago.’

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1 comment - What do you think?  Posted by admin - February 19, 2013 at 1:18 am

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Colorado Researchers Say DNA Proves Bigfoot Is Real

Bigfoot is real. That’s according to a group of Colorado researchers who say they have hard evidence proving its existence.

Researcher Dave Paulides is convinced the reality of Bigfoot isn’t as fuzzy as the photos from people who claim to have seen the mythological creature.

 

“This DNA is like nothing else in the world,” Paulides said.

 

Paulides says Bigfoot looks approximately 7 to 8 feet tall and weighs in at a whopping 800 to 1,000 pounds.

 

“It’s easy to say a lot of things are crazy. If you lived underground your whole life, the belief that 400 people could fly in a plane would sound crazy,” Paulides said.

Paulides says his research group has collected hundreds of samples of DNA evidence. He focused his search in Northern California’s redwoods. He says strands of hair are from a Sasquatch, genetically tested to reveal a previously unknown species.

“This isn’t an animal. This is a subspecies of a human, and we believe they travel in groups,” Paulides said.

 

Not a single research institution in the country has confirmed the DNA test results, but Paulides says there are thousands of sightings a year, from California to Tennessee, including dozens in Colorado.

 

“Colorado Parks and Wildlife does not currently list ‘Sasquatch,’ ‘Yeti,’ ‘Bigfoot,’ ‘The Abominable Snowman,’ or ‘Harry’ (of ‘Harry and the Hendersons’) as any of the more than 900 diverse species that are native to Colorado,” the organization said in a statement.

 

“I think that the government probably is aware of the subject, but it’s difficult to give acknowledgement to something that they obviously can’t control,” Paulides said.

 

Paulides says he’s surprised more people haven’t seen Bigfoot. He believes there could be as many as 50,000 in the wilderness.

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by admin - February 14, 2013 at 7:58 pm

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Supreme Court to hear fight over taking DNA from arrested people

WASHINGTON — On a cold February night three years ago, police in suburban Arlington, Va., received a frantic call. A young woman said her roommate had been abducted at gunpoint by a short, clean-shaven man who sped away in a silver SUV.

At dawn, a motorist spotted the victim in a snowy field near a highway, raped and strangled, but alive. An alert officer, hearing the lookout report, recalled that he’d jotted down the license tag of a silver Dodge Durango whose driver lurked near bars at midnight, leading to the quick arrest of a short, clean-shaven Marine named Jorge Torrez.

Ten years ago, Virginia became the first state to require, upon arrest for a serious crime, a mouth swab for DNA. The sample from Torrez, sent to a state crime lab and entered into the FBI‘s DNA database, confirmed he was the rapist. A few weeks later a DNA match also led to charges against him in the rape and murder of two girls, ages 8 and 9, in Zion, Ill., where Torrez had gone to high school. Jerry Hobbs, the father of one of the girls, had been in prison for the crimes.

This month, the U.S. Supreme Court will take up a privacy rights challenge to taking DNA from people who are arrested. The case could either end the practice or make it the norm nationwide.

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Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by admin - February 4, 2013 at 2:36 am

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DNA map offers hope on cancer treatments

Cancer will become a manageable disease rather than a death sentence thanks to a revolutionary treatment which will be available within five years, British specialists predict.Out of control: biologists still cannot explain why cancerous cells will proliferate and spread to other organs if unchecked

All patients will soon have their tumour’s DNA, its genetic code, sequenced, enabling doctors to ensure they give exactly the right drugs to keep the disease at bay.

Doctors hope it will be an important step towards transforming some types of cancer into a chronic rather than fatal disease.

The technique could enable terminally ill patients, who can currently expect to live only months, to carry on for a decade or more in relatively good health, according to specialists at the Institute of Cancer Research in London.

“We should be aspiring to cure cancer, but for people with advanced disease, it will be a question of managing them better so they survive for much longer – for many years,” said Prof Alan Ashworth, chief executive of the institute.

“Cancer often appears in people who are old, and if we can keep them alive long enough for them to die of something else, then we are turning cancer into a chronic disease.”

Prof Ashworth said that understanding of how different cancers were caused by different genetic triggers was building “incredibly rapidly”.

Genetic profiling of tumours is already used to some extent, but current methods only look for a few genes. Women with advanced breast cancer are tested to see if their tumours have a particular variant of the HER2 gene, which causes a fifth of cases. Those with it are given Herceptin, but the same drug would do no good for those without the gene variant.

Advanced melanoma patients with a particular gene mutation are prescribed Vemurafenib, a pill that has been shown to increase survival, on average, from 9.6 to 13.2 months, and help patients feel much more energetic.

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Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by admin - January 28, 2013 at 11:41 pm

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It’s Alive! Artificial Life Springs From Manmade DNA

ANALYSIS: It’s Alive! Artificial Life Springs from Manmade DNA

A paragraph from his book, Regenesis: How Synthetic Biology Will Reinvent Nature and Ourselves,” clarifies his idea. Church explains that genetic engineering gives researchers a way to start with an intact genome of an animal and change it to the genome of another animal. You could start with an elephant’s genome, for example, and change it into that of a mammoth’s.

“The same technique would work for the Neanderthal,” he writes, “except that you’d start with a stem cell genome from a human adult and gradually reverseengineer it into the Neanderthal genome or a reasonably close equivalent. These stem cells can produce tissues and organs. If society becomes comfortable with cloning and sees value in true human diversity, then the whole Neanderthal creature itself could be cloned by a surrogate mother chimp or an extremely adventurous female human.”

And then today on a radio interview with WBUR’s Tom Ashbrook, Church explained it more. Ashbrook also interviewed Arthur Caplan, head of the division of bioethics at New York University and Jay Keasling, director of the Synthetic Biology Engineering Research Center.

Tom asks, What would the potential benefit be?

“It’s very hard to anticipate what the benefits are of the Apollo Moon shot are, for example. We didn’t precisely describe GPS navigation in the streets,” Church says.

“We may be limited, chauvinistic in the way we think about things,” he says.

“Sometimes we want to have alien intelligences to discuss things with and sometimes we don’t. It’s an open question. It depends on safety to the individuals.”

Tom asks, But didn’t Neanderthals go extinct for a reason?

Church makes the point that yes, they did extinct for a variety of reasons, but that doesn’t mean they were week or unintelligent and it also doesn’t mean we can’t learn from them.

You can listen to the full interview: Is Creating New Life — Maybe Even A Neanderthal — Possible?

Credit: Lonely Planet

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by admin - January 26, 2013 at 5:24 pm

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Could a Surrogate Mother Deliver a Neanderthal Baby?

In a controversial interview that has ignited commentary across the world, a respected Harvard professor of genetics has suggested an “extremely adventurous female human” might someday serve as surrogate mother for a cloned Neanderthal baby.

Besides saying that the cloning of a live Neanderthal baby would be possible in our lifetime, George Church told Der Spiegel magazine that using stem cells to create a Neanderthal could have significant benefits to society. “The first thing you have to do is to sequence the Neanderthal genome, and that has actually been done,” Church said.

“The next step would be to chop this genome up into, say, 10,000 chunks and then … assemble all the chunks in a human stem cell, which would enable you to finally create a Neanderthal clone,” Church told Der Spiegel.

Scientists completed the first sequence of the Neanderthal genome in 2010, finding genetic evidence suggesting ancestors of modern humans successfully interbred with Neanderthals, at least occasionally. More recent research has suggested Neanderthal DNA makes up 1 percent to 4 percent of the genomes of modern Eurasians. [The 10 Biggest Mysteries of the First Humans]

The benefits, according to Church, include an increase in genetic diversity. “The one thing that is bad for society is low diversity,” Church said. “If you become a monoculture, you are at great risk of perishing. Therefore the recreation of Neanderthals would be mainly a question of societal risk avoidance.”

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2 comments - What do you think?  Posted by admin - January 22, 2013 at 7:14 pm

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‘Adventurous’ Woman Needed as Surrogate for Neanderthal Baby

'Adventurous' Woman Needed as Surrogate for Neanderthal Baby

‘Adventurous’ Woman Needed as Surrogate for Neanderthal Baby

Are you an adventurous human woman? Adventurous enough to be a surrogate mother for the first Neanderthal baby to be born in 30,000 years?

Harvard geneticist George Church recently told Der Spiegel he’s close to developing the necessary technology to clone a Neanderthal, at which point all he’d need is an “adventurous human woman” — einen abenteuerlustigen weiblichen Menschen — to act as a surrogate mother.

It’s not out of the question at all. As MIT Technology Review‘s Susan Young points out, scientists cloned an extinct subspecies of ibex in 2009. It died immediately, sure. But they still cloned it.

What would that entail? According to a 2008 study of a Neanderthal infant skeleton (from which the above image is taken), “the head of the Neanderthal newborn was somewhat longer than that of a human newborn because of its relatively robust face,” and Neanderthal women generally had a wider birth canal than human women. Neanderthal birth was simpler than human birth, because Neanderthal infants didn’t have to rotate to get to the birth canal, but otherwise the processes were very similar. (Even so, I imagine all but the most adventurous of human women would opt for a C-section in this case.)

Once the baby’s out, though, you’re in good shape — Neanderthal babies are thought to have grown much more quickly than their human counterparts. And Church seems to think that there’ll be a Neanderthal craze, as he told Bloomberg Businessweek last year:

“We have lots of Neanderthal parts around the lab. We are creating Neanderthal cells. Let’s say someone has a healthy, normal Neanderthal baby. Well, then, everyone will want to have a Neanderthal kid. Were they superstrong or supersmart? Who knows? But there’s one way to find out.”

[Der Spiegel via MIT Technology Review]

44 comments - What do you think?  Posted by admin - January 19, 2013 at 6:15 pm

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The Human Genome and how it works

 

A colossal international effort has yielded the first comprehensive look at how our DNA works, an encyclopedia of information that will rewrite the textbooks and offer new insights into the biology of disease. For one thing, it may help explain why some people are more prone to common ailments such as high blood pressure and heart disease.

 

The findings, reported Wednesday by more than 500 scientists, reveal extraordinarily complex networks that tell our genes what to do and when, with millions of on-off switches. “It’s this incredible choreography going on, of a modest number of genes and an immense number of … switches that are choreographing how those genes are used,” said Dr. Eric Green, director of the National Human Genome Research Institute, which organized the project.

The work also shows that at least 80 percent of the human genetic code, or genome, is active. That’s surprisingly high and a sharp contrast to the idea that the vast majority of our DNA is junk.

Most people know that DNA contains genes, which hold the instructions for life. But scientists have long known those genetic blueprints take up only about 2 percent of the genome, and their understanding of what’s going on in the rest has been murky.

Similarly, they have known that the genome contains regulators that control the activity of genes, so that one set of genes is active in a liver cell and another set in a brain cell, for example. But the new work shows how that happens on a broad scale.

It’s “our first global view of how the genome functions,” sort of a Google Maps that allows both bird’s-eye and close-up views of what’s going on, said Elise Feingold of the genome institute.

While scientists already knew the detailed chemical makeup of the genome, “we didn’t really know how to read it,” she said in an interview. “It didn’t come with an instruction manual to figure out how the DNA actually works.”

Ewan Birney of the European Molecular Biology Laboratory in Hinxton, England, compared the new work to a first translation of a very long book. “The big surprise is just how much activity there is,” he said. “It’s a jungle.”

The trove of findings was released in 30 papers published by three scientific journals, while related papers appear in some other journals. In all, the 30 papers involved more than 500 authors. The project is called ENCODE, for Encyclopedia of DNA Elements.

The human genome is made up of about 3 billion “letters” along strands that make up the familiar double helix structure of DNA. Particular sequences of these letters form genes, which tell cells how to make proteins. People have about 20,000 genes, but the vast majority of DNA lies outside of genes.

So what is it doing? In recent years, scientists have uncovered uses for some of that DNA, so it was clearly not all junk, but overall it has remained a mystery.

Scientists found that at least three-quarters of the genome is involved in making RNA, a chemical cousin of DNA. Within genes, making RNA is a first step toward creating a protein, but that’s not how it’s used across most of the genome. Instead, it appears to help regulate gene activity.
Scientists also mapped more than 4 million sites where proteins bind to DNA to regulate genetic function, sort of like a switch. “We are finding way more switches than we were expecting,” Birney said.
The discovery of so many switches may help scientists in their search for the biology of disease, particularly common conditions such as high blood pressure, heart disease and asthma, scientists said.

Studies have found that DNA variations that predispose people to such common disease often lie outside the genes, raising the question of how they could have any effect. The new work finds evidence that many of these variations fall within or near regulatory regions identified by the ENCODE project, suggesting a way they could meddle with gene activity.

 

SOURCE:  Associated Press, Thursday, September 6, 2012

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by admin - December 7, 2012 at 5:55 am

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Human Genome Debate: SCOTUS to Decide Who Owns Your Genes

The Supreme Court announced Friday it will hear arguments in a case challenging patents on genes that possibly cause breast and ovarian cancer.

The genes, BRCA1 and BRCA2, have been associated with hereditary forms of breast and ovarian cancer. The plaintiffs argue that Myriad Genentics’ patent hinders potentially life-saving cancer research and patient access to diagnostic testing. They are also pushing for the courts to recognize genes as “products of nature” and, therefore, unpatentable.

Conversely, Myriad argues that they do not own the patent on the gene itself; rather, they own the patent on the process for isolating the gene. The company also argues that patents on genes create a financial incentive for companies to fund genetic research.

The plaintiffs include genetic counselors and researchers, patients, cancer and women’s health organizations, and medical professional organizations.

Lisbeth Ceriani, a breast cancer survivor and plaintiff in the case, had to pay Myriad over $4,000 to receive genetic testing to see if her breast cancer was hereditary. “Women should not have to go through what I went through in order to take care of themselves and continue to take care of their families,” said Ceriani. “My genes belong to me. Knowledge about my own body should not be held hostage by a corporation.”

A federal patent court invalidated the patents in 2010. However, the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) has upheld the patent twice, even after they were ordered to reconsider their ruling in light of the Supreme Court’s decision in Prometheus Laboratories v. Mayo Collaborative Services, which held that the patenting of certain medical diagnostics was unconstitutional.

“It’s wrong to think that something as naturally occurring as DNA can be patented by a single company that limits scientific research and the free exchange of ideas,” said Chris Hansen, my personal hero, and staff attorney with the ACLU Speech, Privacy and Technology Project . “The Court of Appeals failed to consider the Supreme Court’s most recent ruling on patent law.”

The basis for patent law in the Constitution lies in Article I, Section 8, which says, “Congress has the power…to promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries.” Congress has delegated to the federal patent courts the responsibility to implement this power.

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