Tag Archives: genetic modification

Overcoming mitochondrial diseases by having three parents

Whenever I hear about mitochondria, I think of midichlorians, “the force” of John Lucas’ Star Wars, the life energy that binds the universe by being part of every living thing, but especially concentrated in Jedi…and Sith. I don’t know if knowledge of mitochondria inspired Lucas, but there are strong parallels to midichlorians. Mitochondria are part […]
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Reprogramming cells: The post stem cell future?

Sixth in a series of posts inspired by ten topics in ‘Insights of the Decade’ from the December 17, 2010 special issue of Science Magazine The topics are: Inflammation, climatology, tricks of light, alien planets, the microbiome, cell reprogramming, Martian water, the DNA time machine, cosmology and epigenetics. The original articles are now behind a […]
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Optogenetics: Controlling live neurons with light

“We can activate or inactivate individual neurons or muscle cells, essentially turning the worm into a virtual biorobot.” Dr. Aravinthan D. T. Samuel, professor of physics at Harvard Center for Brain Science (Massachusetts, USA) is talking about optogenetics, one of the newest fields in science. The pioneer work was done around 2002. The name, optogenetics, […]
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Genetically modified yeast cells as electronic circuits

Circuit breakers, oscillators and sensors – familiar components for electronic circuits; made of yeast cells – not so familiar. That’s where the synthetic biology research at the University of Gothenburg (Sweden) is heading. As described in a paper published in Nature [Distributed biological computation with multicellular engineered networks] an international team led Stefan Hohmann created […]
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Sci-Fi movie review: Splice

[Splice. Directed by Vincenzo Natali. Released June, 2010. DVD/Blu-Ray released. As usual, the review contains many spoilers.] It looks like science fiction, but by the end it’s obvious Splice is a gothic horror movie. As science fiction it does have a modern biochemistry lab for a set, at least in the beginning; and the story […]
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New technique: DNA transfer to overcome mitochondrial genetic diseases

Most of the time when something refers to genetics, it’s assumed this means the DNA found in the nucleus of cells. However, in one of the three domains of life, Eukarya (all plants and animals), DNA is also found in the mitochondria of cells. One or more mitochondria are found in all eukaryotic cells, where […]
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Oil production from living bacteria

In the attempt to find alternative sources of energy, scientists are probing possibilities in almost the entire world of life. This includes plant life, of course, with trees, corn (maize), switch grass, and other crops in the list. It also includes smaller forms of plant life, in particular algae. Even smaller forms of life and […]
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Finally(?)…artificially making blood stem cells in quantity

This story begins with an insight: The cells of a vascular system (veins, arteries, capillaries) – called endothelial cells – do more than make up the tissue that transports blood; they also play a role in maintaining blood (hematopoietic) stem cells by producing novel stem-cell-growth factors. A research team at the Ansary Stem Cell Institute […]
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Can culture change the genome?

Almost from the beginning of our knowledge of genetics, it’s been asked, “Can the way we (humans) live change our genetics?” These days this is much the same as asking if culture can change the genome. It’s actually a relatively old question. The question got its biggest boost from one who is now a boogeyman […]
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Radical thinking in agriculture needed

A new report, published online in the journal Science, titled “Radically Rethinking Agriculture for the 21st Century” was prepared by sixteen top specialists in population, climate, agriculture, and food genetics. They represented a mixture of academics, corporations (Monsanto, DuPont), and government scientists. The report was first presented to the U.S. State Department in 2009. Three […]
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