Posts Tagged ‘human genome sequencing’

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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Neanderthal Baby Momma Ad Denied

Yesterday, DNews ran the article, Surrogate Mother Wanted for Neanderthal Baby. In it, we told you that Harvard professor of genetics, George Church, proposed finding an “extremely adventurous female human” to serve as a surrogate mother for a cloned Neanderthal baby. Since that article ran, Church has come out saying that’s not what he meant, exactly. He blames the misinterpretation on the poor translation of an interview with him that appeared in the German magazine, Der Spiegel.

“I’m certainly not advocating it,” Church told the Boston Herald. “I’m saying, if it is technically possible someday, we need to start talking about it today.”

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 - February 3, 2013 at 8:45 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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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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Were Neanderthals Part Human?

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.

“Based 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 – 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.”

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.

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by admin - December 2, 2012 at 5:02 pm

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What is the Human Genome

Here is the definition taken from the Human Genome Project, “A genome is the complete collection of an organism’s genetic material. The human genome is ”"composed of about 20,000 to 25,000 genes located on the 23 pairs of chromosomes in a human cell.

A single human chromosome may contain more than 250 million DNA base pairs, and scientists estimate that the entire human genome consists of about 3 billion base pairs.

In the past eighteen months, scientists discovered more than 100 genetic variations that affect older people, such as: type 2 diabetes, asthma, Alzheimer’s disease, osteoporosis, high blood pressure and heart disease.

Genetic science is moving so fast that people now in their 60′s-80′s will see medical innovations that will touch their lives.

Francis Collins, MD, a leader in the Project, was astounded to see the huge amount of information derived from the genome, particularly in regards to older people.

As an example he cited age-related Macular degeneration, an eye disease troubling almost 2 million, visually impaired Americans. “Using new genomic tools we’ve discovered two genes that account for about 60% of the risk- the rest is smoking. But we were surprised. These genes are involved in inflammation, and everybody was thinking macular degeneration was caused by aging in the back of the eye.”

Macular degeneration tests are now being made using anti-inflammatory drugs, a complete change in the way it was formerly viewed.

Many scientists believe that the Human Genome Project has the potential to revolutionize both therapeutic and preventive medicine by providing insights into the basic biochemical processes that underlie many human diseases.

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by admin - November 5, 2012 at 4:17 pm

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Complete Genomics

It was once thought that the human genome would never be completely mapped out because it was much too complex. The human genome project found that, while complex, human genomes are not as complex as some very undistinguished creatures such as the roundworm and fruit fly.

Nevertheless the breakthrough was enormous and caused an incredible stir among scientists and researchers worldwide, opening doors to research about humans that had never before been seen.

At the center of the breakthrough was Complete Genomics, a California research facility that caused the stir when it announced in 2009 that it had sequenced its first human genome.  When they had finished it they submitted the data to the National Center for Biotechnology Information and scientists the world over clamored to see it.

Today Complete Genomics is a full-service life-sciences company. The DNA sequencing platform that they developed is used by researchers around the globe to analyze and sequence human genomes using their proprietary and data management software and their informatics.

When a researcher anywhere in the world needs a genome to be sequenced they send it to Complete Genomics for analysis in Mountain View, California. After sequencing the assembled sequences and variant reports are published and sent back to the various researchers who order them.

The proprietary software that Complete Genomics uses is adjusted for the study of human DNA exclusively, and they can provide researchers with genome variation files and also assembled sequences.

Today there are various research papers that have been submitted using the results found at Complete Genomics.  For example, their research was responsible for finding which gene was responsible for Miller Syndrome, a rare craniofacial disorder that had struck 1 member of a family of four.

It’s an amazing time to be alive, to be sure, and Complete Genomics is at the forefront of amazing changes that will soon be taking place that only years ago were hard to even imagine. Their technology will ultimately allow researchers to help find and, possibly, cure many diseases that afflict mankind.

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