July 15, 2013 |
People living at some of the world's highest elevations seem to have evolved to cope with the thinner air, according to a new study. A team led by Rasmus Nielsen and Emilia Huerta-Sanchez of UC Berkeley have pinpointed a gene, BHLHE41, that appears responsible for high-altitude Ethiopians' ability to adapt to low-oxygen environments. Anyone who has climbed Half Dome or played baseball in Colorado knows that high elevation causes shortness of breath and other symptoms of “hypobaric hypoxia,” due to low pressure and oxygen.
July 11, 2013 |
Italian researchers have used a defanged version of HIV to replace faulty genes - and eliminate devastating symptoms - in children suffering two rare and fatal genetic diseases. Improved gene therapy techniques prevented the onset of metachromatic leukodystrophy in three young children and halted the progression of Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome in three others. The advance represents a major stride for a field that has struggled to translate experimental successes in lab animals into safe and effective treatments for people, experts said.
July 3, 2013 |
The United Nations sent Nepalese peacekeeping troops to bring relief to Haiti after it was devastated by a 7.0 earthquake in 2010. A new study concludes the peacekeepers brought something else, as well -- cholera, triggering an epidemic that has sickened hundreds of thousands of Haitians and killed more than 8,000, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. After sequencing the DNA of 23 samples of the cholera-causing bacterium from Haiti and comparing them to the DNA of strains found elsewhere, researchers said the outbreak could be traced to Nepal , where the disease is endemic.
June 21, 2013 |
The same process that led to the evolution of complex life may be happening all over again in insects, according to a new study in the journal Cell. About 900 million years ago, the Earth was covered in vast oceans containing giant mats of bacteria. Single-celled organisms with little more than a nucleus topped the food chain. At some point, they engulfed photosynthetic organisms called cyanobacteria , incorporating them into their cells and forming the world's first proto-plants and algae, according to recent research in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.
June 18, 2013
Re "Menopause: Is men's taste to blame?," June 15 The report provides scant evidence that a genetic mutation caused menopause in aging women, that male preference for young women is responsible for the accumulation of that gene over time, or that men are reproductively fertile until death despite their young female partners. In fact, menopausal women tend to outlive men. As such, menopause may have arisen because of a set of complex genes contributing to longevity that enabled survival beyond a woman's ability to reproduce.
June 16, 2013 |
Gene Mako, a champion tennis player who paired with the legendary Don Budge to win four doubles titles at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open in the 1930s, died Friday at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, said his wife, Laura. He was 97 and had pneumonia. The partners won doubles at the U.S. Open, then called the U.S. Nationals, in 1936 and '38 and Wimbledon in 1937 and '38. Mako won the mixed doubles title at the 1936 U.S. Open with Alice Marble. He was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1973.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
June 16, 2013
Gene Mako Champion tennis player in 1930s Gene Mako, 97, a champion tennis player who paired with the legendary Don Budge to win four doubles titles at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open in the 1930s, died Friday at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, said his wife, Laura. He had pneumonia. The partners won doubles at the U.S. Open, then called the U.S. Nationals, in 1936 and '38 and Wimbledon in 1937 and '38. Mako won the mixed doubles title at the 1936 U.S. Open with Alice Marble.
June 15, 2013 |
For the past 60 years, we have been learning a new language. Ever since the double-helix structure of DNA was uncovered in 1953, the vocabulary of genetics has been creeping into our lives, becoming over time a full and rich lexicon. Last week's Supreme Court ruling against patents for two genes implicated in cancer is a step toward ensuring that this language remains one of science and humanity rather than profit. The landmark ruling centered on patents for two genes - BRCA1 and BRCA2 - held by Myriad Genetics, a diagnostic testing company based in Utah.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
June 15, 2013 |
In the course of our country's history, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has bestowed coveted protection on many strange and wondrous inventions: the three-legged pantyhose (in case one leg runs), the sealed, circular peanut butter-and-jelly sandwich, the motorized ice cream cone. And of course, the human gene. The human gene? How is that even possible? Could you patent a cat's whiskers? A cloud formation? A comb-over for a balding man? (Ah, well, yes, there is a comb - over patent out there somewhere.)
June 14, 2013 |
While the Supreme Court's decision to forbid patents on human genes knocked out Myriad Genetics' long-guarded patent on two genes linked to breast cancer, the Utah-based company's stock still rose soon after the news broke. That bit of investor optimism may have been due to the court's decision to allow patenting of cDNA, which they called "synthetically created" - though it's unclear if that optimism is warranted, doctors pointed out. The Supreme Court ruled unanimously that although "naturally occurring" DNA like the genes BRCA1 and BRCA2 could not be patented, the company could still patent the cDNA version of these two genes, classifying those as man-made products.