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Mutations

HEALTH
June 21, 2010 | By Amanda Leigh Mascarelli, Special to the Los Angeles Times
Though the causes of autism are unclear, and many researchers believe that environmental factors play some kind of role, they are sure of one thing: Genes are strongly involved. Scientists once harbored hopes that autism might be linked to a handful of genetic mutations that would clearly explain why someone develops it. But the genetic roots of autism (known these days as autism spectrum disorders because behaviors and severity differ widely) are proving much trickier to untangle than anticipated . One problem is that the number of people in most studies has been limited; another is that the small tweaks in genes that scientists have linked to autism so far are very rare in the human population.
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CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
March 24, 2010 | By Thomas H. Maugh II
Dr. Leena Peltonen, an unusually prolific genetics researcher whose team discovered mutated genes responsible for 15 inherited diseases and who established the department of human genetics at UCLA, died of cancer March 11 at her home in Finland. She was 57. Her "contribution to understanding the genetics of human disease has been a lifelong commitment and is simply outstanding," said Allan Bradley, director of the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute in England, where Peltonen ended her career.
WORLD
March 18, 2010 | By John M. Glionna
President Obama's visit to Indonesia next week will offer the unexpected image of an American president delivering a major diplomatic speech to the Islamic world, from a country that has frequently been the source of terrorist plots against Western targets. Obama's three-day trip to the world's most populous Muslim country is intended to demonstrate Washington's improving relationship and closer security ties with the government of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. It is also a vote of confidence in Indonesia's security apparatus, once notorious for human rights abuses, but which in recent years has found itself back in favor with the U.S. as it battles home-grown and foreign Islamic extremist networks.
SCIENCE
March 13, 2010 | By Karen Kaplan
Hundreds of genetic mutations accumulated over thousands of years have transformed the red jungle fowl of South Asia into the domesticated chickens that are a fixture on farms -- and dining tables -- worldwide, according to a scientific analysis of poultry DNA published this week in the journal Nature. Swedish and American scientists identified about 7.5 million genetic variations between domesticated chickens and the jungle fowl, their primary wild ancestor. Then the scientists zeroed in on a few dozen differences that seemed particularly important based on their frequent prevalence in eight distinct populations of birds raised for meat or eggs.
SCIENCE
January 2, 2010 | By Amina Khan
Disinfectants, be they hand sanitizers or industrial-strength cleaners, present a hospital's first blockade against bacterial infection. But this same weapon may be helping create stronger microbial enemies: superbugs that are resistant to disinfectants and commonly used antibiotics, scientists report in the January issue of the journal Microbiology. Researchers from the National University of Ireland in Galway studied lab cultures of Pseudomonas aeruginosa , which lives in soil and water.
ENTERTAINMENT
September 12, 2009 | Reed Johnson
Eight time zones ahead of Los Angeles, Brian Eno's cellphone is ringing. He's cycling along the Thames River towpath, savoring the shank of a summer afternoon. "Could you call back in an hour?" he asks politely. The appointed moment arrives and Eno is ready to chat, having come to a temporary halt in the tranquillity of his London home. Like his fellow harried humanoids, the British multimedia artist intimates that he's constantly trying to carve out a few minutes of quiet, contemplative space for himself within the manic, tech-driven modern world.
OPINION
August 19, 2009 | TIM RUTTEN
Several weeks in rural Ireland may have softened the emotional carapace required for any extended immersion in American politics these days, but it's hard not to be taken aback by the televised images of people opposed to healthcare reform carrying guns to rallies at which President Obama is speaking. At least a dozen people openly displaying everything from an AR-15 assault rifle to 9-millimeter Beretta sidearms were in the crowd outside the hall where Obama spoke in Arizona on Monday.
HEALTH
August 17, 2009 | Shari Roan
Sean Delshad, 19, probably could have found more enjoyable things to do on a breezy Sunday afternoon. But instead he was waiting his turn at Sinai Temple -- along with dozens of other members of Los Angeles' large Persian Jewish community -- to undergo genetic testing. The UCLA student deposited a few drops of saliva in a tube handed to him by a doctor and, in four to six weeks, he'll learn whether he carries gene mutations for four disorders that are especially prevalent among Persian Jews.
SCIENCE
November 8, 2008 | Times Staff and Wire Reports
Researchers have identified two genetic variations that appear to increase a person's risk of developing lung cancer by up to 60%, they reported Sunday in the journal Nature Genetics. Smoking is the leading risk factor, but increasingly scientists are looking to genetics to help explain why some longtime smokers never develop the disease and why some nonsmokers do. Researchers from 18 countries analyzed genetic mutations in more than 15,000 people -- 6,000 with lung cancer and 9,000 without the disease.
SCIENCE
July 17, 2008 | Thomas H. Maugh II and Karen Kaplan, Times Staff Writers
A genetic mutation that originally protected Africans from a virulent form of malaria now renders them 40% more susceptible to HIV infections, offering a partial explanation for the disproportionate spread of the virus among Africans and African Americans, researchers reported today. The mutation, however, has an unusual benefit. It also slows progression of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, giving patients an extra two years of life, said Dr. Sunil K.
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