Tag Archives: Genetics

First validated canine behavioral genetics, findings of nine fear, aggression traits in dogs

Anxiety disorders are the most common type of mental illness in the United States. And while much is understood about the biochemistry of anxiety, little is known about the genetic variation associated with it. Recently published in BMC Genetics, a study led by researchers at Nationwide Children’s Hospital reports that genetic predisposition to aggression toward […]

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* Lions in West and Central Africa apparently unique

Lions in West and Central Africa form a unique group, only distantly related to lions in East and Southern Africa. Biologists at Leiden University confirm this in an article published in Scientific Reports. In this study, the researchers gathered a genetic dataset of lion populations covering a total of 22 countries. This included samples from […]

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* Gene therapy treats all muscles in the body in muscular dystrophy dogs

Muscular dystrophy, which affects approximately 250,000 people in the U.S., occurs when damaged muscle tissue is replaced with fibrous, fatty or bony tissue and loses function. For years, scientists have searched for a way to successfully treat the most common form of the disease, Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD), which primarily affects boys. Now, a team […]

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More evidence that ‘healthy obesity’ may be a myth

The term “healthy obesity” has gained traction over the past 15 years, but scientists have recently questioned its very existence. A study published August 18 in Cell Reports provides further evidence against the notion of a healthy obese state, revealing that white fat tissue samples from obese individuals classified as either metabolically healthy or unhealthy […]

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CRISPR’s hopeful monsters: gene-editing storms evo-devo labs

A model and fossil of Tiktaalik roseae, a transitional fossil that illustrates how fish began to develop limbs. Most summers since 1893, young developmental and evolutionary biologists have flocked to Woods Hole, Massachusetts, to master the tricks of their trade. At the world-famous Marine Biological Laboratory there, students in its annual embryology course dissect sea […]

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Should the gray wolf keep its endangered species protection?

Research by UCLA biologists published today in the journal Science Advances presents strong evidence that the scientific reason advanced by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to remove the gray wolf from protection under the Endangered Species Act is incorrect. A key justification for protection of the gray wolf under the act was that its […]

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Songbirds’ epic migrations connected to a small cluster of genes

Scientists from the University of British Columbia have shown that there is a genetic basis to the migratory routes flown by songbirds, and have narrowed in on a relatively small cluster of genes that may govern the behaviour. “It’s amazing that the routes and timing of such complex behaviour could be genetically determined and associated […]

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Why brain neurons in Parkinson’s disease stop benefiting from levodopa

Though the drug levodopa can dramatically improve Parkinson’s disease symptoms, within five years one-half of the patients using L-DOPA develop an irreversible condition — involuntary repetitive, rapid and jerky movements. This abnormal motor behavior appears only while taking L-DOPA, and it stops if the drug is stopped. However, if L-DOPA is taken again, even many […]

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* Scientists warn about health of English bulldog

According to new research it could be difficult to improve the health of the English bulldog, one of the world’s unhealthiest dog breeds, from within its existing gene pool. The findings will be published in the open access journal Canine Genetics and Epidemiology. The English bulldog’s limited genetic diversity could minimize the ability of breeders […]

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Shorter telomeres reveal stress in migratory birds

The stress of birds’ continent-spanning annual migrations, it appears, leads to faster aging and a potentially earlier death. A new study in The Auk: Ornithological Advances reveals that telomeres, structures on the ends of chromosomes that shorten with age, are shorter in migratory birds than in their non-migratory counterparts. Migration lets birds take advantage of […]

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Viruses revealed to be a major driver of human evolution

The constant battle between pathogens and their hosts has long been recognized as a key driver of evolution, but until now scientists have not had the tools to look at these patterns globally across species and genomes. In a new study, researchers apply big-data analysis to reveal the full extent of viruses’ impact on the […]

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No blood vessels without cloche

The decade-long search by researchers worldwide for a gene, which is critical in controlling the formation of blood and blood vessels in the embryo, shows how fascinating science can be. It is more than 20 years since Didier Stainier, director at the Max Planck Institute for Heart and Lung Research in Bad Nauheim, discovered a […]

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Unsilencing silenced genes by CRISPR/Cas9

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Scientists have developed a new technique to unleash silenced genes and change cell fates using CRISPR/Cas9. The ability to control gene expression in cells allows scientists to understand gene function and manipulate cell fate. Recently, scientists have developed a revolutionary gene-editing tool, called CRIPSR/Cas9, which employs a system naturally used by bacteria as protection against […]

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Gene-therapy trials must proceed with caution

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Jesse Gelsinger was 18 and healthy when he died in 1999 during a gene-therapy experiment. He had a condition called ornithine transcarbamylase deficiency (OTC), but it was under control through a combination of diet and medication. Like others with the disorder, Gelsinger lacked a functional enzyme involved in breaking down ammonia, a waste product of […]

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On the path to controlled gene therapy

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The ability to switch disease-causing genes on and off remains a dream for many physicians, research scientists and patients. Research teams from across the world are busy turning this dream into a reality, including a team of researchers from Charité — Universitätsmedizin Berlin and the Max Planck Institute for Medical Research in Heidelberg. Led by […]

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Transmission of genetic disorder Huntington’s disease in normal animals

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Mice transplanted with cells grown from a patient suffering from Huntington’s disease (HD) develop the clinical features and brain pathology of that patient, suggests a study published in the latest issue of Acta Neuropathologica by CHA University in Korea, in collaboration with researchers at Université Laval in Québec City, Canada. “Our findings shed a completely […]

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Dogs were domesticated not once, but twice … in different parts of the world

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The question, ‘Where do domestic dogs come from?’, has vexed scholars for a very long time. Some argue that humans first domesticated wolves in Europe, while others claim this happened in Central Asia or China. A new paper, published in Science, suggests that all these claims may be right. Supported by funding from the European […]

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Scientists identify mutation that causes muffs and beards to grow on chickens

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The growth of long facial feathers, creating the appearance of muffs and beards on chickens, is caused by a chromosomal rearrangement affecting a gene involved in feather development, report Xiaoxiang Hu of the China Agricultural University in Beijing and colleagues, in a new study published on June 2 in PLOS Genetics. Unusual plumage and fancy […]

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CRISPR gene-editing system unleashed on RNA

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Researchers who discovered a molecular “scissors” for snipping genes have now developed a similar approach for targeting and cutting RNA. The new cutting tool should help researchers better understand RNA’s role in cells and diseases, and some believe it could one day be useful in treatments for illnesses from Huntington’s to heart disease. To develop […]

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* Cancer-causing virus strikes genetically vulnerable horses

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Sarcoid skin tumors are the most common form of cancer in horses, but little is known about why the papillomavirus behind them strikes some horses and not others. A new study by an international research group led by scientists at the Baker Institute for Animal Health at Cornell’s College of Veterinary Medicine shows genetic differences […]

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Human-eating monster crocodile may be Florida’s newest invasive species

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Spotting native alligators and crocodiles in Florida is common, but anyone who sees a large reptile may want to take a second look — human-eaters that can grow to 18 feet long and weigh as much as a small car have been found in the Sunshine State. Using DNA analysis, University of Florida researchers have […]

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How do some birds get such bright red feathers?

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In the bird world, the color red has special significance. Many species use red signals to attract mates or deter rivals, adding the color to their beaks, feathers, or bare skin. Generally speaking, as far as many birds are concerned, redder is better. Now, two teams of researchers have independently identified an enzyme-encoding gene that […]

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* Reintroduction of lynx requires larger numbers to avoid genetic depletion

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For successful reintroduction of lynx into the wild, the number of released animals is crucial. If only a few lynx are reintroduced to found a population, the genetic diversity is too low to ensure their long-term sustainability. An international research team has recently published these findings in the scientific journal Conservation Genetics. The researchers highlight […]

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Second gene modifies effect of mutation in a dog model of ALS

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Degenerative Myelopathy is a naturally occurring, progressive adult onset disorder of the spinal cord that leads to paralysis and death. In 2009, a SOD1 mutation was associated with risk of developing the disease (link to previous press release). However, not all dogs with the mutation became affected, prompting the hypothesis that additional genes could modify […]

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Why Labrador retrievers are more interested in food than other breeds

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Dog owners tell their vets that Labrador retrievers are always interested in food, and new work shows there might be a biological truth to the claim. A May 3 study in Cell Metabolism links a gene alteration specifically found in Labs and related flat coat retrievers to greater food-motivated behavior, describing the first gene associated […]

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Origin of dromedary camel domestication discovered

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The dromedary, the one-humped Arabian camel, plays an important role in the countries of North Africa. For thousands of years, the people of North Africa and Asia have used the animal for the transportation of people and goods. It was fundamental to the development of human societies in inhospitable environments. Dromedaries are the largest domesticated […]

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Human-embryo editing now covered by stem-cell guidelines

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The international society that represents stem-cell scientists has updated its research guidelines in the wake of dramatic progress in several fields — in particular in research that involves the manipulation of human embryos. The authors hope that the updated guidelines will allay various ethical concerns, and avoid the need for strict government regulations that could […]

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* Using precision-genetics in pigs to beat cancer

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Pigs could be a valuable alternative to rodent models of cancer. The numbers are staggering: more than 40 % is the lifetime risk of developing cancer in the U.S., with only 66 % survival-rates 5 years after diagnosis, for all types of cancer. Trends suggest that in 2015, over 1.6 million new cases were diagnosed […]

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Mice with genetic defect for human stuttering offer new insight into speech disorder

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Mice that vocalize in a repetitive, halting pattern similar to human stuttering may provide insight into a condition that has perplexed scientists for centuries, according to a new study by researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and the National Institutes of Health. The researchers created mice with a mutation in a […]

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Gene-editing research in human embryos gains momentum

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Experiments are now approved in Sweden, China and the United Kingdom. At the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Fredrik Lanner is preparing to edit genes in human embryos. It’s the kind of research that sparked an international frenzy in April last year, when a Chinese team revealed that it had done the world’s first such experiments. […]

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