Would you be surprised to hear that the human race is slowly becoming dumber, and dumber? Despite our advancements over the last tens or even hundreds of years, some ‘experts’ believe that humans are losing cognitive capabilities and becoming more emotionally unstable. One Stanford University researcher and geneticist, Dr. Gerald Crabtree, believes that our intellectual decline as a race has much to do with adverse genetic mutations. But human intelligence is suffering for other reasons as well.
According to Crabtree, our cognitive and emotional capabilities are fueled and determined by the combined effort of thousands of genes. If a mutation occurred in any of of these genes, which is quite likely, then intelligence or emotional stability can be negatively impacted.
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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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.
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.
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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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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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
What koalas can teach us about human evolution and disease.
To understand what it means to be human, you have to understand koalas. Or, to be more precise, you have to understand how they are dying from a bizarre viral outbreak that has been raging for the past 150 years or so. The koalas are now going through something our ancestors experienced 31 times over the past 60 million years. And those ancient viral outbreaks have helped to make us who we are today.
Australian biologists discovered the koala outbreak in 1988. They were examining the blood of a koala dying of leukemia when they came across a virus infecting its white blood cells. The koala retrovirus, as it is now known, made its hosts sick in much the same way the feline leukemia virus sickens cats. It inserted its genes into host immune cells, which then produced new viruses. The infection also caused the cells to replicate at a frenzied rate. Once the scientists had found the koala retrovirus in one koala, they looked for it in others, and they soon found it all over the koala’s range—the entire eastern side of Australia.
Koalas had long been known to have terrible health. One survey estimated that leukemia and lymphoma were responsible for up to 80 percent of koala deaths. The discovery of the koala retrovirus made sense of this cancer epidemic. It also explained why koalas were getting devastated by chlamydia, a sexually transmitted bacterium. By turning koalas’ immune systems cancerous, the virus was leaving the koalas open to infection by other pathogens.
Scientists who went rummaging through koala skins in museums found genes from the retrovirus as far back as the mid-1800s, but that still makes it a fairly young outbreak. To figure out where the koala retrovirus came from, scientists have compared its genes to those of other species of viruses. One of the most similar viruses to it infects the grassland mosaic-tailed rat of Australia. The virus may well have been carried from the rats to the koalas by a mosquito or a tick.
Once the koalas picked up the retrovirus, they began to spread it among themselves. After young koalas are weaned but before they start dining on eucalyptus leaves, they feed on their mother’s feces—feces that may be laden with koala retroviruses. The epidemic appears to have started in northern Australia, where today the virus is ubiquitous. Since then, it has spread southward, even jumping to islands off the coast of Australia—presumably in the guts of mosquitos.
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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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A genetic researcher is saying that Bigfoot DNA assessments establish that the furry creature actually does exist. Dr. Melba S. Ketchum states she and her staff sequenced about three complete Sasquatch nuclear genomes and concluded the species is a human hybrid — a mosaic of human and novel non-human aspects. Their conclusions have still to go peer evaluation.
Dr. Melba S. Ketchum of Nacogdoches, founder of DNA Diagnostics Inc. in the eastern Texas town of Timpson, said she and her crew expended 5 several years on their research of purported Bigfoot hair and determined they have validated the existence of a hominin hybrid Pertinent Answers/Firms species, the famous creature frequently acknowledged as “Bigfoot” or “Sasquatch,” residing in North The usa.
There have been recurrent-but-unsubstantiated claims of Bigfoot sightings additional than the a long time, which include some grainy film clips.
In a release posted on the company’s Web internet site Saturday, the scientists say their DNA sequencing suggests the animal is a human relative that created about 15,000 several years back as a hybrid cross of present day Homo sapiens with an not known primate species.
Ketchum mentioned her team has sequenced three whole Sasquatch nuclear genomes and concluded the species is a human hybrid.
“Our examine has sequenced 20 comprehensive mitochondrial genomes and utilized up coming generation sequencing to obtain a few whole nuclear genomes from purported Sasquatch samples,” she claimed in the release. “The genome sequencing shows that Sasquatch mtDNA is identical to present day working day Homo sapiens, but Sasquatch nuDNA is a novel, mysterious hominin suitable to Homo sapiens and other primate species.
“Our facts Associated Items/Firms point out that the North American Sasquatch is a hybrid species, the final result of males of an unknown hominin species crossing with female Homo sapiens.”
Genetic testing has by now dominated out Homo neanderthalis and the Denisova hominin as contributors to Sasquatch mtDNA or nuDNA, she talked about.
“The male progenitor that contributed the not known sequence to this hybrid is special as its DNA is additional distantly removed from humans than other these days identified hominins like the Denisovan particular person,” Ketchum said.
“Sasquatch nuclear DNA is extremely novel and not at all what we experienced anticipated. Even although it has human nuclear DNA inside its genome, there are also distinctly non-human, non-archaic hominin, and non-ape sequences. We identify it as a mosaic of human and novel non-human sequence.”
She mentioned even far more take a look at is vital to “outstanding characterize and have an understanding of Sasquatch nuclear DNA.”
Ketchum, who describes herself as a veterinarian with 27 numerous a long time realistic experience in genetics investigation, which include forensics, needs general public officers and law enforcement to realize the Sasquatch as an indigenous folks today.
“Genetically, the Sasquatch are a human hybrid with unambiguously modern-day-day human maternal ancestry,” she mentioned. “Government at all quantities have to understand them as an indigenous men and women today and right absent guard their human and constitutional rights in the direction of men and women who would see in their bodily and cultural distinctions a ‘license’ to hunt, entice or get rid of them.”
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Folks residing outside the house Africa discuss as significantly as several for each cent of their DNA with Neanderthals, a cave-dwelling species with muscular small arms and legs and a mind marginally larger than ours.
The Cambridge scientists examined demographic styles suggesting that human beings were far from intimate with the species they displaced in Europe nearly forty,000 many years in the past.
The research into the genomes of the two species, located a frequent ancestor five hundred,000 many years in the past would be adequate to account for the shared DNA.
Their assessment, revealed in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), contradicts latest reports that discovered inter-species mating, identified as hybridisation, almost certainly transpired.
Dr Andrea Manica, who led the review, said: “To me the interbreeding question is not whether there was hybridisation but whether there was any hybridisation that afflicted the subsequent evolution of individuals. I assume this is really, quite not likely.
“Our work shows clearly the patterns presently witnessed in the Neanderthal genome are not outstanding, and are in line with our expectations of what we would see with no hybridisation.
“So, if any hybridisation happened then it would have been minimum and considerably less than what individuals are proclaiming now.”
Data has shown that Neanderthals ended up pushed into extinction by humans who have been a lot more efficient at obtaining food and multiplied at a more quickly fee.
A prior review in 2010 suggested that interspecies liaisons near the Middle East resulted in Neanderthal genes initial moving into humans 70,000 a long time in the past.
Contemporary non-Africans reveal more with Neanderthals than Africans, supporting the claim that the mixing happened when the initial earlier humans remaining Africa to populate Europe and Asia.
The existence of a five hundred,000-12 months-old shared ancestor that predates the source of Neanderthals gives a greater rationalization for the genetic mix.
Variety inside this ancestral species intended that northern Africans have been far more genetically similar to their European counterparts than southern Africans through geographic proximity.
This likeness persisted above time to account for the overlap with the Neanderthal genome we see in modern people these days.
Variations in between populations can be described by prevalent ancestry, Dr Manica said.
“The notion is that our African ancestors would not have been a homogeneous, effectively-mixed populace but manufactured of a number of populations in Africa with some degree of differentiation, in the way proper now you can explain to a northern and southern European from their appears,” she mentioned.
âBased on common ancestry and geographic differences amid populations inside of every single continent, we would forecast out of Africa populations to be far more comparable to Neanderthals than their African counterparts â just the patterns that ended up observed when the Neanderthal genome was sequenced, but this routine was attributed to hybridisation.
“Ideally, every person will turn out to be far more careful just before invoking hybridisation, and start off having into account that historic populations differed from every other almost certainly as significantly as present day populations do.â
Northern Africans would be far more comparable to Europeans and ancient similarity stayed due to the fact there wasn’t ample mixing among northern and southern Africans.
Populace diversity, known as substructure, cant make clear info on the shared genes, mentioned David Reich, a professor of genetics at Harvard Health-related College, in Boston who authored the 2010 examine.
We have ruled out the chance that historical substructure can make clear all the proof of higher relatedness of Neanderthals to non-Africans than to Africans, he extra.
Dr Manica stated hybridisation among Neanderthals and people can never ever be disproved completely.
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