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  • News in Brief

    Almost all healthy people harbor patches of mutated cells

    Normal isn’t always normal. A new study finds that large groups of cells in healthy tissues carry mutations, including ones tied to cancer.

    About 95 percent of healthy people had patches of mutated cells in at least one of the 29 tissues examined, including kidney, muscle and liver, researchers report in the June 7 Science. Most of those mutations found in the 488 people in the study are...

    06/06/2019 - 14:00 Genetics, Cancer
  • News in Brief

    Africa’s first herders spread pastoralism by mating with foragers

    Ancient sheep, goat and cattle herders made Africa their home by hooking up with the continent’s native hunter-gatherers, a study suggests.

    DNA analysis shows that African herders and foragers mated with each other in two phases, says a team led by archaeologist Mary Prendergast of Saint Louis University in Madrid. After entering northeastern Africa from the Middle East around 8,000...

    05/30/2019 - 14:00 Anthropology, Genetics, Human Evolution
  • News

    A fungus weaponized with a spider toxin can kill malaria mosquitoes

    A fungus engineered to produce a spider toxin could help take down insecticide-resistant mosquitoes that can spread malaria.

    In a netted, outdoor experiment in Burkina Faso, the genetically engineered fungus wiped out mosquito populations within two generations, researchers report in the May 31 Science. If the result holds up in a real-world situation, the modified fungus may one day...

    05/30/2019 - 14:00 Health, Fungi, Genetics
  • News

    How bacteria nearly killed by antibiotics can recover — and gain resistance

    Mostly dead bacteria can sometimes be resurrected as antibiotic-resistant cells.

    A protein that pumps toxic chemicals out of E. coli bacterial cells can buy time for even nearly dead microbes to become antibiotic resistant. The protein, known as the AcrAB-TolC multidrug efflux pump, doesn’t work well enough to defeat antibiotics on its own. But it can move enough antibiotic molecules out...

    05/28/2019 - 06:00 Microbiology, Genetics, Biomedicine
  • News

    Key parts of a fruit fly’s genetic makeup have finally been decoded

    Some of the most important chapters in fruit flies’ genetic instruction book have finally been decoded.

    For the first time, researchers have deciphered, or sequenced, the genetic makeup of all of a multicellular organism’s centromeres — and discovered stretches of DNA that may be key in divvying up chromosomes. Errors in doing that job can lead to cancer, birth defects or death. The team...

    05/17/2019 - 12:05 Genetics, Cells, Molecular Evolution
  • News in Brief

    Some dog breeds may have trouble breathing because of a mutated gene

    Dogs with flat faces aren’t alone in their struggle to breathe. It turns out that Norwich terriers can develop the same wheezing — caused not by the shape of their snouts, but possibly by a wayward gene. 

    DNA from 401 Norwich terriers revealed that those suffering a respiratory tract disorder shared the same variant of gene ADAMTS3 that’s associated with swelling around airways. Nearly a...

    05/16/2019 - 14:00 Animals, Genetics
  • News

    Tweaking one gene with CRISPR switched the way a snail shell spirals

    A genetic spin doctor sets snail shells to swirl clockwise, new research confirms. And the twist in this story comes at the beginning — when snail embryos are just single cells.

    Though most pond snails (Lymnaea stagnalis) have shells that coil clockwise, a few have taken a left turn, curling counterclockwise. Researchers had strong evidence that a mutation in a gene called Lsdia1 caused...

    05/14/2019 - 07:00 Genetics, Development, Animals
  • News

    A lack of circular RNAs may trigger lupus

    A lack of certain mysterious genetic molecules may spin the immune system out of control and lead to lupus.

    People with lupus have lower than normal levels of circular RNAs, triggering an immune reaction meant to fight viruses, biochemist Lingling Chen of the Shanghai Institute of Biochemistry and Cell Biology and her colleagues discovered. Switching on the body’s virus-fighting...

    04/25/2019 - 11:00 Genetics, Biomedicine
  • News in Brief

    A marine parasite’s mitochondria lack DNA but still churn out energy

    One parasite that feeds on algae is so voracious that it even stole its own mitochondria’s DNA.

    Mitochondria — the energy-generating parts of cells — of the parasitic plankton Amoebophyra ceratii seem to have transferred all of their DNA to the cell’s nucleus, researchers report April 24 in Science Advances. The discovery is the first time that scientists have found an oxygen-using...

    04/24/2019 - 14:52 Genetics, Microbes
  • News

    A genetic scorecard could predict your risk of being obese

    There’s a new way to predict whether a baby will grow into an obese adult.

    Combining the effect of more than 2.1 million genetic variants, researchers have created a genetic predisposition score that they say predicts severe obesity. People with scores in the highest 10 percent weighed, on average, 13 kilograms (about 29 pounds) more than those with the lowest 10 percent of scores, the...

    04/18/2019 - 11:00 Genetics