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  • Feature

    Here are 5 RNAs that are stepping out of DNA’s shadow

    DNA is the glamour molecule of the genetics world. Its instructions are credited with defining appearance, personality and health. And the proteins that result from DNA’s directives get credit for doing most of the work in our cells. RNA, if mentioned at all, is considered a mere messenger, a go-between — easy to ignore. Until now.

    RNAs, composed of strings of genetic letters called...

    04/07/2019 - 06:00 Genetics
  • News in Brief

    Testing mosquito pee could help track the spread of diseases

    There are no teensy cups. But a urine test for wild mosquitoes has for the first time proved it can give an early warning that local pests are spreading diseases.

    Mosquito traps remodeled with a pee-collecting card picked up telltale genetic traces of West Nile and two other worrisome viruses circulating in the wild, researchers in Australia report April 4 in the Journal of Medical...

    04/05/2019 - 08:00 Health, Genetics, Animals
  • News

    How emus and ostriches lost the ability to fly

    Evolutionary tweaks to DNA that bosses genes around may have grounded some birds. 

    New genetic analyses show that mutations in regulatory DNA caused ratite birds to lose the ability to fly up to five separate times over their evolution, researchers report in the April 5 Science. Ratites include emus, ostriches, kiwis, rheas, cassowaries, tinamous and extinct moa and elephant birds. Only...

    04/04/2019 - 14:05 Evolution, Genetics, Molecular Evolution
  • News

    A Nobel Prize winner argues banning CRISPR babies won’t work

    Scientists are vigorously debating how, and if, they can put the human gene-editing genie back in the bottle.

    There is widespread agreement that it’s currently “irresponsible” to make heritable changes in human cells. Gene editors, even the much lauded CRISPR/Cas9 molecular scissors, have not yet been proven safe and effective enough to use to alter genes in the human germline; embryos,...

    04/02/2019 - 07:00 Genetics, Science & Society
  • News

    Resurrecting woolly mammoth cells is hard to do

    Proteins from woolly mammoth cells frozen for 28,000 years in the Siberian tundra may still have some biological activity, claim researchers attempting to clone the extinct behemoths.

    Japanese scientists first extracted nuclei, the DNA-containing compartments of cells, from the muscles of a juvenile woolly mammoth called Yuka, discovered in 2010 in northeast Russia. The team then...

    03/18/2019 - 07:00 Genetics, Cells, Animals
  • News

    Geneticists push for a 5-year global ban on gene-edited babies

    Eighteen researchers, including two CRISPR pioneers, are calling for a temporary ban on creating gene-edited babies.

    “We call for a global moratorium on all clinical uses of human germline editing — that is, changing heritable DNA (in sperm, eggs or embryos) to make genetically modified children,” the statement’s cosigners, who come from seven countries, wrote in the March 14 Nature....

    03/13/2019 - 14:00 Genetics, Science & Society
  • News

    A CRISPR spin-off causes unintended typos in DNA

    Even the best editor sometimes introduces typos. That’s true whether the editor is human or a version of the much-heralded gene-editing tool CRISPR.

    One type of CRISPR gene editor that changes individual DNA bases, rather than cutting DNA, introduces more unwanted mutations than expected in mouse embryos and rice plants, researchers report. Those mistakes occurred in places where the...

    03/05/2019 - 12:30 Genetics
  • News

    Genes might explain why dogs can’t sniff out some people under stress

    BALTIMORE — Some police dogs may smell fear, and that could be bad news for finding missing people whose genetic makeup leaves them more prone to stress.

    Trained police dogs couldn’t recognize stressed-out people with a particular version of a gene that’s involved in stress management, geneticist Francesco Sessa reported February 22 at the annual meeting of the American Academy of...

    02/27/2019 - 14:45 Genetics, Physiology, Science & Society
  • News

    A long handshake can spread your DNA to objects you didn’t touch

    BALTIMORE — A 10-second handshake could transfer a person’s DNA to an object that the person never touched.

    In handshaking experiments, people who never picked up a knife became the major source of DNA on the handle about 7 percent of the time, forensic scientist Cynthia Cale reported February 21 at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences. That DNA was transferred...

    02/26/2019 - 14:53 Genetics, Science & Society
  • News

    DNA reveals early mating between Asian herders and European farmers

    Hundreds of years before changing the genetic face of Bronze Age Europeans, herders based in western Asia’s steppe grasslands were already mingling and occasionally mating with nearby farmers in southeastern Europe.

    That surprising finding, published online February 4 in Nature Communications, raises novel questions about a pivotal time when widespread foraging and farming populations...

    02/08/2019 - 06:00 Genetics, Archaeology