Posted tagged ‘genetics’

Giant Panda Genome Sequenced

December 16, 2009
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An International team of scientists has sequenced the genome of the giant panda.  The findings were published this week online in the journal Nature.  This is the first genome project to rely solely on short-read next-generation sequencing technology.  This project is also the first in the bear family.  The sequencing project was able to identify that giant panda’s likely have all the necessary genetic components for a carnivorous digestive system.  Researchers speculated that the panda’s bamboo diet is influenced another aspect of its makeup, such as its taste receptors for meat.

Gene Therapy Studies Show Improvemment in Muscle-Wasting

November 16, 2009
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A gene therapy treatment that stopped the breakdown of muscle in monkeys may lead to a build up of muscle too.  The goal of the study is to improve muscle weakness caused by multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy and other neurodegenerative diseases.  Researchers used an engineered virus to transport a gene into the leg muscles of monkeys.  The transported gene causes cells to produce follistatin, which interferes with myostatin.  Myostatin breaks down muscle.  While this treatment is still in the early experimental stages, it potentially holds significant promise.  For more information, see ScienceDaily.

Advances in Gene Therapy

November 10, 2009
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French researchers have reported an advance toward curing the rare, inherited brain-wasting illness,  adrenoleukodystrophy (ALD) using gene therapy.  ALD, made famous by the movie Lorenzo’s Oil, slowly strips away layers of fatty acids protecting nerve fibers in the brain.  Researchers used an experimental treatment that incorporated a deactivated version of the HIV virus.  The deactivated HIV virus was used to carry genes to the patients’ stem cells.  For more information, see Wired Science.

Cost of DNA Sequencing Falls Further

November 9, 2009
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This summer the cost of DNA sequencing was approximately $50,000.  Last week, Complete Genomics, a California-based human genome sequencing company, announced in the journal Science that they have been able to sequence a human genome for approximately $4,400.  The company’s goal was to reduce the cost of sequencing to $5,000.  At this price drug researchers could affordably include genetic sequencing to explore disease triggers & target populations for therapy.  For more information on this advance, see Fierce Biotech.

Genome 10K Project Launched

November 5, 2009
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Genome 10K, a plan to map the genomes of all vertebrates from which cellular or tissue samples have been collected (both currently living & extinct), was announced today in the in the Journal of Heredity.  An ambitious plan, given that only 27 vertebrate genomes have been fully sequenced so far, but advances in DNA sequencing will radically reduce the time and expense necessary for this project in future years.  Scientists involved in the project state that this “genomic zoo” will help in discovering genes that trigger disease.  It will also help explore the genetic development of such biological structures as wings, fins and arms.  For more information, see e! Science News.

Scientists Decode DNA of Pig

November 2, 2009
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An international group of scientists announced that they have decoded the DNA of the domestic pig.  Pigs are often used in research due to their similarities to humans.  Decoding their DNA could have a variety of potential uses for both humans and pigs, such as eventually helping develop a vaccine to protect pigs from the H1N1 virus.  Scientists decoded the DNA from a red-haired Duroc pig, one of the five major breeds used in pork production.

Three Genes Determine Dogs’ Coat Type

October 20, 2009

Labrador dogUniversity of Utah researchers recently published findings from a study that demonstrates only three genes, RSPO2, FGF5 and KRT71, control the seven types of coats found in purebred dogs.  Variations in the genes control length, curl and texture.  Of the three genes, RSPO2 is associated with dogs’ moustaches and large eyebrows.  FGF5 is linked to fur length.  KRT71 determines if the fur is curly.  Texture is attached to both RSP02 and KRT71.  While this information is interesting on its own, it also can help scientists understand complex human diseases that are caused by multiple genes.  For more information, see Science Daily.