Staring into the brains of fruit flies could clarify the connection between genes and behaviors
By Mara GrunbaumPosted 10.17.2011 at 11:02 am 3 Comments
Gaby Maimon, of Rockefeller University, can read fruit flies’ minds. As their wings buzz under his microscope, he watches the neurons fire in their poppy-seed-size brains. By doing so, he is able to discern how the firing of certain neurons corresponds to certain behaviors. His goal is to untangle precisely how genes and neuron activation trigger behavioral disorders like autism and ADHD.
By Sarah FechtPosted 10.05.2011 at 2:07 pm 0 Comments
The roundworm Caenorhabditis elegans has been a staple of biology research for almost 50 years, but, thanks to advances in molecular-biology techniques, scientists are just now able to study how multiple genes (C. elegans has 20,470 genes in its genome) act in concert to produce complex organs. In an anesthetized worm’s healthy gonad, eggs start out as tiny cells [upper right corner] and snake around counterclockwise as they mature.
In a victory for biotechnology companies, a federal appeals court ruled Friday that human genes can be patented. Odds are pretty good the case will make its way to the Supreme Court, and it’s possible the justices will rule the other way, so this is not a done deal — but until then, it seems companies can own the exclusive right to use human genes.
Around mile 10 of a recent half marathon, my quadriceps started to tighten and my feet increasingly felt like lead. Along with improving my training, perhaps in the future I will use zinc-finger nuclease scissors to snip out a gene called IL-15Rα, so I can run long distances with ease.
Mice that lack this gene, which is related to muscle contraction, can run much farther than their counterparts, a new study says — suggesting a genetic predisposition to endurance in some athletes.
A new “find-and-replace” genome editing method enables scientists to make large-scale changes to the genetic code of a living cell, faster than previous editing technology by a factor of two. The new method could be used to engineer cells that produce new proteins, or to design genetic “firewalls” that would prevent engineered cells from spreading their DNA.
A targeted snip through DNA’s double helix can take out a mutated gene that causes hemophilia, curing mice of the disease, a new study found. It’s the first study to use this form of genome editing in a living animal, and it could have implications for genetic treatment of other diseases, notably AIDS.
Scientists say the research is a major step forward for gene therapy, which has long promised to cure disease by editing genetic sequences.
The sex habits of mice have long been an intriguing subject for scientists. Now, mouse sex just got a lot more interesting for the rest of us.
A group of Korean geneticists has altered the sexual preferences of female mice by removing a single gene linked to reproductive behavior. Without the gene, the mice gravitated toward mice of the same sex.
In 1997, Jeanne Louise Calment of France died at the age of 122, making her the oldest documented human to have ever lived. People who live to be 100 years or older are rare, and only about 1 in 600,000 people in industrialized nations live that long. But is there something genetically unique about centenarians that enables them to age gracefully and relatively disease-free? According to the results of a long-term study at Boston University School of Medicine, the answer is yes.
Researchers have found a novel method for stopping the spread of influenza viruses, a finding that could lead to a universal treatment for flu. The method involves stopping the genetic process by which the virus replicates itself. Researchers can essentially flip a switch that stops RNA in its tracks.
Think all of your genetic material came straight down to you from further up your family tree? A team of researchers at the University of Texas at Arlington doesn't think so. In a finding that shakes up the prevailing theory that mammals pass on genetic material vertically from parent to progeny, researchers have found hard evidence of horizontal DNA transfer -- swapping genetic material between non-mating species -- between some parasites and their vertebrate hosts.