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August 20, 2010
Smoking a pack (or two) of cigarettes each day is obviously not good for your lungs. But for those who enjoy an occasional smoke, an obvious question is, “How many cigarettes can I smoke before I start to do some damage?” The sobering answer: Zero. That’s the conclusion of a new study from researchers at Weill Cornell Medical College and Cornell University in New York. The researchers recruited 121 healthy volunteers to pee into a cup and submit to a bronchoscopy , a procedure that included removing cells from the lining of the part of the airway that would first come into contact with inhaled smoke.
April 23, 2014 | By Monte Morin
A procedure that uses a series of electric jolts to inject lab-designed DNA molecules into cells of the inner ear may help to regrow auditory nerves in people with profound hearing loss, according to researchers. In a paper published Wednesday in Science Translational Medicine , Australian researchers said they used tiny electrodes and gene therapy to regenerate nerve cells in chemically deafened guinea pigs. The procedure, they said, may one day improve the functioning of human cochlear implants -- electronic devices that provide hearing sensations to the deaf.
August 10, 2011 | By Eryn Brown, Los Angeles Times / for the Booster Shots blog
Intelligence is in the genes, researchers reported Tuesday in the journal Molecular Psychology. The international team, led by Ian Deary of the University of Edinburgh in Scotland and Peter Visscher of the Queensland Institute of Medical Research in Brisbane, Australia, compared the DNA of more than 3,500 people, middle aged and older, who also had taken intelligence tests.  They calculated that more than 40% of the differences in intelligence among...
April 21, 2014 | By Carolyn Kellogg
Gene Luen Yang has been getting a lot of attention from prize juries for his two-part graphic novel for young adults, "Boxers and Saints. " Set at the end of the 19th century, it begins with the story of a Chinese boy inspired by traditional Chinese gods to fight foreign oppression; in part two, an unwanted Chinese girl finds refuge with Christians who are threatened by the rebellion of the first book. "Boxers and Saints" was a finalist for the National Book Award in November, and in April it took the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Young Adult Literature.
October 4, 2011 | By Melissa Healy, Los Angeles Times/For the Booster Shots blog
Why do some children of mean, neglectful or downright toxic parents become rotten human beings themselves, while their siblings thrive cheerfully? And why do certain offspring of loving, attentive parents grow into well-adjusted adulthood while their siblings become sour misanthropes?  In short, why does good parenting only sometimes produce good kids, and bad parenting only sometimes produce bad kids? The answer may lie in the genes. Specifically, the almost-famous 5-HTTLPR serotonin transporter-promoter gene, which governs the activity of the mood chemical serotonin in the brain and essentially comes in three varieties.
January 21, 2014 | By Geoffrey Mohan
Fish don't have fingers, but they could. That conclusion, drawn by a team of researchers in Switzerland, casts new light on the evolution of four-legged land vertebrates, suggesting that a flick of a switch could have repurposed the bony radials of fins to become the fingers and toes of land-based animals. The DNA programming architecture necessary to create such digits was present in the ancient genome of fish, before the emergence of amphibians, according to the researchers, who published their findings Tuesday in the online journal PLOS Biology.
November 17, 2011 | By Shari Roan, Los Angeles Times / For the Booster Shots blog
Smokers who have repeatedly tried to quit and failed over the years probably have genes that make it extra hard to overcome the addiction, the authors of a new study say. Thursday marks the 36th annual Great American Smokeout. To be sure, the dire health consequences of smoking are well-known, and many adults have quit over the past four decades. But some individuals have great difficulty quitting. The new study, by researchers at the University of Colorado, examined adult twins to look for a genetic influence in tobacco addiction.
April 16, 2013 | By Geoffrey Mohan
Fainting may be in our genes, which may explain why keeling over at the sight of blood tends to run in families, according to researchers in Australia. The researchers located a specific region on chromosome 15 that is thought to be a prime suspect for "vasovagal syncope," a drop in blood pressure followed by loss of consciousness. The study "strengthens the evidence that fainting may be commonly genetic," said neurologist Samuel Berkovic of the University of Melbourne in Victoria, Australia, author of the report published this week in the journal Neurology.
July 2, 2010 | By Rachel Bernstein, Los Angeles Times
They may not have discovered the fountain of youth, but scientists are beginning to unravel some of the mysteries of living past 100 — specifically, that it's in your genes. The study, led by Paola Sebastiani and Dr. Thomas Perls of Boston University and published online Thursday in the journal Science, analyzed the DNA of more than 1,000 centenarians and found a set of small DNA variations called genetic markers that can be used to predict "exceptional longevity" with 77% accuracy.
February 23, 2009 | Jenny Hontz
Govind Armstrong Chef-owner of 8 oz. in West Hollywood and Table 8 Restaurant in Miami Beach, Fla. -- Armstrong, 38, maintains a 155-pound, 5-foot, 11-inch frame without a whole lot of effort. He was "rail thin" as a teenager -- when he was a competitive pole vaulter -- but says his secret to staying skinny is a mix of genetic luck and a high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet. "I love beef, especially grass-fed beef," he says. "I'll usually have a steak on a plate with a side of vegetables.
April 17, 2014 | Bloomberg News
Gene Estess, a broker who gave up the pay and perks of Wall Street for a second career helping New York City's homeless, has died. He was 78. He died April 9 at his home in Brooklyn, N.Y., according to his wife, Pat Schiff Estess. The cause was lung cancer, diagnosed about six months ago. Raised in Illinois on the Mississippi River, Estess found himself unable to ignore the inequality on the streets of New York. He remained interested in poverty and homelessness while living in the leafy suburb of Armonk in Westchester County and working as an options specialist at L.F. Rothschild & Co., an investment bank and brokerage firm.
April 9, 2014 | By Melissa Healy, This post has been corrected. See note at the bottom for details.
New research suggests the Internal Revenue Service should expand the list of acceptable explanations for procrastinators' yearly extension requests and late tax filings. Two possibilities: "I was born this way" and "failure to evolve. " Procrastination, suggests a new study, is an evolved trait that likely served humans well in a time when finding food and water and fending off prey were job one. For man in the state of nature, pondering lofty goals for an indistinct future was sure to result in an early demise.
March 29, 2014 | By Monte Morin
Scientists say they have created a "designer chromosome" in brewer's yeast that will mutate on command. In a study published this week in Science , researchers said they had successfully "synthesized" one of the 16 chromosomes in Saccharomyces cerevisiae -- a workhorse fungi that is used in myriad industrial processes, including making bread, brewing beer, producing biofuel and manufacturing vaccines. "We have a yeast that looks, smells and behaves like a regular yeast, but this yeast is endowed with properties normal yeast don't have," said lead study scientist Jef Boeke, director of the NYU Langone Medical Center's Institute for Systems Genetics.
March 13, 2014 | By Melissa Healy
If you're a student of fat - and who isn't these days? - you know that the FTO gene is the gene thought to be most responsible for some people's inherited propensity to become obese. Well, forget that. A multinational group of geneticists has discovered that, more likely, the real obesity gene is named IRX3, and it is very far from the FTO gene - or would be, if DNA were to be stretched out in linear fashion instead of coiled up like a skein of yarn. In a letter posted Wednesday to the website of the journal Nature, University of Chicago geneticists Scott Smemo and Marcelo A. Nobrega, along with a team of Canadian and Spanish researchers, wrote that geneticists hunting for the obesity gene appear to have fallen into a trap: They assumed that genetic variations they could see have only local effects, and do not affect the workings of far-away genes.
March 9, 2014 | By Ronald D. White
The gig: Deryl McKissack, 52, is president and chief executive of McKissack & McKissack, a construction management and design firm with offices in Los Angeles, Washington, Chicago and Baltimore. The firm manages about $15 billion in construction projects. It has 160 employees. "We're managing the construction process, providing inspections, overseeing schedules and budgets," McKissack said. "With program management, you are managing more than just one project. You are managing an entire capital program for a client.
March 5, 2014 | By David A. Keeps
For those who have always wanted to see David Hasselhoff's house, Lifetime has a series for you. In conjunction with Beverly Hills-based Julien's Auctions, the network will debut "Celebrity Home Raiders" on Thursday at 10 p.m. The premise couldn't be simpler: Stars put personal belongings up for sale, with proceeds going to the charity of their choosing. Here's the twist: While the host, Kit Hoover from "Access Hollywood," gets the celebrities to put a dollar value on their memorabilia, Julien's co-owners Darren Julien and Martin Nolan roam through the residence looking for goodies.
April 15, 2013 | By Eryn Brown
As the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the case against Myriad Genetics, scientists who are skeptical of the idea of patenting genes said they were hopeful that the justices would overturn the Utah company's claims. "I was on pins and needles the whole time," said Dr. Wayne Grody, director of the Diagnostic Molecular Pathology Laboratory at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, who was present at the arguments. "But at the end I thought, 'The justices really get it' ... I felt that all of them who spoke weren't comfortable with the idea of patenting a gene.
January 29, 2014 | By Geoffrey Mohan
Mating between Neanderthals and the ancestors of Europeans and East Asians gave our forebears important evolutionary advantages but may have created a lot of sterile males, wiping out much of that primitive DNA, new genetic studies suggest.  The comparison of Neanderthal and modern human genomes, published online Wednesday in the journals Nature and Science , identified specific sequences of altered DNA that both Neanderthals and several...
February 25, 2014 | By The Times editorial board
The manipulation of human genes could lead to profound advances in our ability to cure or prevent terrible diseases. But in some cases, it might also mean introducing genetic material that could be passed from one generation to the next, changing the human gene pool in a manner that could inadvertently harm peoples' health. Such "inheritable" DNA is a hotly debated issue among bioethicists, and one that an advisory committee of the Food and Drug Administration will review Tuesday and Wednesday as it considers whether human trials should be allowed for a new therapy that could prevent a rare but devastating inherited disorder.
January 29, 2014 | By Geoffrey Mohan
The ancestors of most modern humans mated with Neanderthals and made off with important swaths of DNA that helped them adapt to new environments, scientists reported Wednesday. Some of the genes gained from these trysts linger in people of European and East Asian descent, though many others were wiped out by natural selection, according to reports published simultaneously by the journals Nature and Science. The stretches of Neanderthal DNA that remain include genes that altered hair and pigment, as well as others that strengthened the immune system, the scientists wrote.
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