Everything You Know Is Wrong (EYKIW) is the product of years of research into human origins, spanning everything from the oldest known recorded histories of the world to modern genetic discoveries. In it, Lloyd Pye postulates his alternative view of human evolution, now called “Intervention Theory.”
A decade ago, scientists announced that they had produced the first draft of the human genome, the 3.6 billion letters of our genetic code.
It was seen as one of the greatest scientific achievements of our age, a breakthrough that would usher in a new age of medicine. A decade later, Horizon finds out how close we are to developing the life-changing treatments that were hoped for.
Horizon follows three people, each with a genetic disease, as they go behind the scenes at some of Britain’s leading research labs to find out what the sequencing of the human genome has done for them – and the hope this remarkable project offers all of us.
The latest shopping website is open for business, offering unusual wares: DNA tools to help biologists to engineer life.
The DNA sequences — which allow precise control of gene activity in the bacterium Escherichia coli — are the first output of BIOFAB, based in Emeryville, California, which calls itself “the world’s first biological design-build facility”. Launched in 2009 with a US$1.4-million grant from the US National Science Foundation, BIOFAB aims to advance synthetic biology by creating standard biological ‘parts’ in the form of DNA sequences that control gene expression. These standard sequences should allow biologists to engineer cells that can make medicines and perform other useful tasks simply by plugging in various sets of genes.
The sequences are meant to overcome a key barrier to synthetic biology: genes inserted into an organism do not behave predictably, even in such a well-understood workhorse as E. coli. “You would think after a generation of genetic engineering, expressing genes with precision in an organism as well utilized as E. coliwould be pretty straightforward. It turns out it’s not,” says BIOFAB co-director Drew Endy, a synthetic biologist at Stanford University in California.
For a cell to express a gene — that is, transcribe it into an RNA molecule and then translate that RNA into a protein — other sequences recognized by the cell’s machinery must precede it. A promoter sequence is needed to make an RNA transcript, and a ribosome binding site (RBS) is crucial for protein translation.
Over the past three decades, scientists have amassed collections of these sequences and used them to express genes in which they are interested. Some sequences tend to be ‘strong’ and others ‘weak’, resulting in varying levels of RNA and protein being produced.
But a team led by Endy and BIOFAB co-director Adam Arkin, of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in Berkeley, California, has found that the activities of those sequences are far from predictable. In two papers published online this week in Nature Methods1, 2, the team reports inserting many different combinations of promoters and RBS sequences in front of genes encoding fluorescent proteins, and then measuring the level of protein that was made. “It was a bloody mess,” says Arkin, with each promoter–RBS combination having varying effects depending on the gene.
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
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
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.
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
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 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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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.
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.
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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
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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.”