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  • 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
  • News in Brief

    Some people may have genes that hamper a drug’s HIV protection

    ORLANDO, Fla. — Some people’s genes may stop an antiretroviral drug from protecting them against HIV, a genetics study suggests.

    The drug, called tenofovir, is used for preventing as well as treating an HIV infection. But success in prevention has been mixed, with studies reporting between 78 to 92 percent success rates. It wasn’t clear why the drug didn’t protect everyone.

    Now,...

    04/15/2019 - 06:00 Genetics, Biomedicine
  • News in Brief

    How chemical exposure early in life is ‘like a ticking time bomb’

    ORLANDO — Being exposed to a chemical early in life can be a bit like a choose-your-own-adventure book: Some things that happen early on may hurt you later, but only if you make certain choices, an unpublished study in mice suggests.

    Mouse pups were exposed to the chemical bisphenol A (BPA) for only five days after birth, a crucial time during which mice’s livers develop. BPA, once...

    04/12/2019 - 10:00 Genetics
  • News

    NASA’s Twins Study reveals effects of space on Scott Kelly’s health

    For nearly a year, U.S. astronauts and identical twins Scott and Mark Kelly lived lives that were as separate as Earth and space — literally. While Mark enjoyed retirement in Tucson, his brother floated in microgravity aboard the International Space Station orbiting about 400 kilometers above the planet.

    Ten science teams studied the twins’ physiology, memory abilities and genes before,...

    04/11/2019 - 15:23 Health, Physiology
  • 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
  • 50 years ago, scientists were unlocking the secrets of bacteria-infecting viruses

    Unusual virus is valuable tool —

    Viruses, which cannot reproduce on their own, infect cells and usurp their genetic machinery for use in making new viruses.... But just how viruses use the cell machinery is unknown.… Some answers may come from work with an unusual virus, called M13, that has a particularly compatible relationship with ... [E. coli] bacteria. — Science News, April 5...

    04/05/2019 - 06:00 Microbiology
  • 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
  • Reviews & Previews

    In ‘The Perfect Predator,’ viruses vanquish a deadly superbug

    The Perfect PredatorSteffanie Strathdee and Thomas PattersonHachette Books, $28

    Epidemiologist Steffanie Strathdee and her husband, Thomas Patterson, went to Egypt in 2015 expecting to come home with some photos and souvenirs. Instead, Patterson was hit with his own version of the 10 plagues. 

    At first, doctors in Egypt thought Patterson had pancreatitis. But his health...

    04/01/2019 - 09:00 Health, Microbiology, Biomedicine