Harvard University uncovers DNA switch that controls genes for whole-body regeneration

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A piece of non-coding DNA may hold the key to how humans could regenerate body parts

Humans may one day have the ability to regrow limbs after scientists at Harvard University uncovered the DNA switch that controls genes for whole-body regeneration.

Some animals can achieve extraordinary feats of repair, such as salamanders which grow back legs, or geckos which can shed their tails to escape predators and then form new ones in just two months.

Planarian worms, jellyfish, and sea anemones go even further, actually regenerating their entire bodies after being cut in half.

Now scientists have discovered that that in worms, a section of non-coding or ‘junk’ DNA controls the activation of a ‘master control gene’ called early growth response (EGR) which acts like a power switch, turning regeneration on or off.

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Next generation of biotech food heading for grocery stores

WASHINGTON (AP) — The next generation of biotech food is headed for the grocery aisles, and first up may be salad dressings or granola bars made with soybean oil genetically tweaked to be good for your heart.

By early next year, the first foods from plants or animals that had their DNA “edited” are expected to begin selling. It’s a different technology than today’s controversial “genetically modified” foods, more like faster breeding that promises to boost nutrition, spur crop growth, and make farm animals hardier and fruits and vegetables last longer.

The U.S. National Academy of Sciences has declared gene editing one of the breakthroughs needed to improve food production so the world can feed billions more people amid a changing climate. Yet governments are wrestling with how to regulate this powerful new tool. And after years of confusion and rancor, will shoppers accept gene-edited foods or view them as GMOs in disguise?

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Scientists just found a novel, cheap way to use CRISPR gene editing to fight cancer

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Immunotherapy Holds Big Promise for Beating Cancer

CRISPR is by all accounts a fascinating technology. Its headline feature is that it can literally be used to slice, dice, and otherwise manipulate the body’s genetic code—functions that could carry staggering implications for treating everything from inherited disorders to cancer to HIV/AIDS one day.

Now, new (though extremely early) research suggests that CRISPR could be used to vastly improve upon a new form of cancer-fighting methods that turn the body’s own immune T cells into specially targeted killers that attack cancerous tissue.

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End of ageing and cancer? Scientists unveil structure of the ‘immortality’ enzyme telomerase

 

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Making a drug is like trying to pick a lock at the molecular level. There are two ways in which you can proceed. You can try thousands of different keys at random, hopefully finding one that fits. The pharmaceutical industry does this all the time – sometimes screening hundreds of thousands of compounds to see if they interact with a certain enzyme or protein. But unfortunately it’s not always efficient – there are more drug molecule shapes than seconds have passed since the beginning of the universe.

Alternatively, like a safe cracker, you can x-ray the lock you want to open and work out the probable shape of the key from the pictures you get. This is much more effective for discovering drugs, as you can use computer models to identify promising compounds before researchers go into the lab to find the best one. Now a study, published in Nature, presents detailed images of a crucial anti-ageing enzyme known as telomerase – raising hopes that we can soon slow ageing and cure cancer.

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New CRISPR method takes on Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy

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The advance of CRISPR gene editing technology, which uses an RNA strand to guide an enzyme called Cas9 to cut a specific portion of DNA, has raised concerns and sparked debate as people envision a not-so-distant future populated by bioengineered super-crops, genetically flawless pets, and customized babies. While the method could be used for these purposes, it’s also showing potential as a valuable medical tool, with a seemingly new condition added each week to the list of what CRISPR may one day cure.

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The immigrant maps of America: Genome study of over 770,000 people reveals the ancestral origins of each part of the country

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Scientists from AncestryDNA analysed genome-wide genotype data from 774,516 Americans

This allowed researchers to identify the genetic ‘clusters’ within, or the genetic communities

The study reveals ancestral origins and migration patterns for specific groups across the country

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New Study Confirms That the Future of Data Storage Is in DNA

DNA contains information about a living organism. It codes everything in an living being. That’s why it makes sense for corporations like Microsoft to invest in research that studies how DNA can be used to store data. Unlike most of the existing data storage devices out there, DNA doesn’t degrade over time, plus it’s very compact. For example, just four grams of DNA can contain a year’s worth of information produced by all of humanity combined.
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XPrize’s Peter Diamandis and Google Venture’s Bill Maris discuss the future of technology

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Both Google Ventures’ Bill Maris and XPrize head Peter Diamandis discussed a gamut of subjects, including life extension research, sentient robots, and self-driving cars versus those that can fly at the Wall Street Journal Live conference in Laguna Beach, California this week.

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Precision medicine is much more than genetics

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Ricki Lewis, PhD: When President Obama uttered the words “Precision Medicine” in the state-of-the-union address, I scoffed at a politician’s finally noticing a field that’s been around for decades: medical genetics. Was it another case of rebranding, as chemistry has morphed into nanotech? But the definition of Precision Medicine that has emerged is, well, precise: “An approach to disease treatment and prevention that seeks to maximize effectiveness by taking into account individual variability in genes, environment, and lifestyle.”

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