October 9, 2013 |
Scientists have discovered two gene mutations that they believe are associated with an increased risk of eating disorders. Anorexia nervosa and bulimia often run in families, but these eating disorders are complex, and it has proved difficult to identify the paths. But, using two families with very high incidences of eating disorders, scientists say they found rare mutations, one in each family, that were associated with the people who had the disorders. The study suggests that mutations that decrease the activity of a protein that turns on the expression of other genes - called a transcription factor - increase the risk.
August 2, 2013 |
The most recent common ancestors of modern-day men and women - dubbed “Adam” and “Eve” -- lived during roughly the same time period, contrary to previous findings indicating that Eve was tens of thousands of years older, according to two studies published Thursday in the journal Science. The researchers sequenced DNA from two key sources -- the Y-chromosome, which is passed only from father to son; and mitochondria, which provides energy for cells and is transmitted only from a mother to her children.
May 14, 2013 |
Late Monday night, friends and colleagues started sending me Angelina Jolie's op-ed about her decision to have a double mastectomy. Like Jolie, I have the mutation in my BRCA1 gene that pushed my lifetime risk of developing breast cancer to nearly 90%. (It also raised my risk of ovarian cancer above 50%.) Also like Jolie, I chose to get a double mastectomy to reduce my risk of breast cancer to less than 5%. In 2007, I wrote a first-person story in the Los Angeles Times about finding out I had this mutation and how I decided what to do about it. Jolie is an icon of beauty -- and her disclosure doesn't change that.
May 14, 2013 |
By opting for surgery to remove her breasts while they were still healthy, Angelina Jolie joined a growing number of women who have used genetic testing to take control of their health. Here are answers to some common questions about how DNA influences breast cancer risk and what women can do about it. What genes are involved in breast cancer? The two primary ones are known as BRCA1 and BRCA2. Hundreds of variants of these genes have been found that make a woman - or a man - more likely to develop breast cancer.
February 14, 2013 |
About 30,000 years ago, a tiny mutation arose in a gene known as EDAR and began to spread rapidly in central China, eventually becoming common in the region. This week, scientists at Harvard University offered some explanations for why the EDAR mutation may have been so successful - by observing how it affects mice, animals long used in disease research but never before pressed into service for the study of human evolution. The small change, substituting one chemical letter of DNA for another, may have helped humans in Asia survive crippling heat and humidity by endowing them with extra sweat glands, the scientists reported Thursday in the journal Cell.
January 23, 2013 |
Bird flu researchers said Wednesday that they would end a self-imposed moratorium on controversial experiments to determine how the deadly H5N1 virus might mutate and gain the ability to spread easily among humans. In a statement published online by the journals Science and Nature, 40 scientists said they were poised to resume their investigations - but only in countries that have established clear rules for conducting the research safely. The U.S., which is the largest funder of influenza research, is not yet among those nations.