Gentlemachines
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Gentlemachines
What's new at the crossroads of culture, technology and science
Curated by Artur Alves
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Hybrid zoo: Introducing pig–human embryos and a rat–mouse

Hybrid zoo: Introducing pig–human embryos and a rat–mouse | Gentlemachines | Scoop.it
Chimaeras could pave the way for growing human organs in other animals.
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Fifth of Neanderthals' genetic code lives on in modern humans

Fifth of Neanderthals' genetic code lives on in modern humans | Gentlemachines | Scoop.it
Traces are lasting legacy of sexual encounters between our direct ancestors and Neanderthals from 65,000 years ago
Artur Alves's insight:

"The last of the Neanderthals may have died out tens of thousands of years ago, but large stretches of their genetic code live on in people today.

Though many of us can claim only a handful of Neanderthal genes, when added together, the human population carries more than a fifth of the archaic human's DNA, researchers found.

The finding means that scientists can study about 20% of the Neanderthal genome without having to prise the genetic material from fragile and ancient fossils."

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Whose DNA is it anyway? | Bioethics.net

The 1000 Genomes Project has collected anonymous DNA samples from people all over the world. By looking at this massive data set, the project hopes to discover genetic components of diseases or traits. Their data and the sequences are publicly available on the Internet.

Artur Alves's insight:

"This comes at an interesting time. Federal agencies are reconsidering the rules and regulations regarding privacy and confidentiality and research in tissue samples. Again, there was a belief that a person could not be identified (yet) from a simple tissue sample or leftover tissue from a clinical test. But now, such an assumption is called into doubt. With cheaper DNA sequencing, and only needing to sequence small parts of the genome, re-identification of samples is not only more likely, it is possible.

Perhaps the notion of privacy and confidentiality is quaint and outdated. After all, people willingly share the intimate details of their lives through social media platforms. And with the prevalence of cameras everywhere recording us and GPS on our cell phones knowing our every step, the idea of a private life may be a thing of the past. Younger generations have little expectation of any sort of privacy.

In the meantime, the NIH has removed people’s ages from their databases in the in the hopes of preventing more re-identifying. The long-term solutions, however, remain to be developed."

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CRISPR gene-editing tested in a person for the first time

CRISPR gene-editing tested in a person for the first time | Gentlemachines | Scoop.it
The move by Chinese scientists could spark a biomedical duel between China and the United States.
Artur Alves's insight:
«Lu’s trial received ethical approval from a hospital review board in July. Injections into participants were supposed to begin in August but the date was pushed back, Lu says, because culturing and amplifying the cells took longer than expected and then the team ran into China’s October holidays.
The researchers removed immune cells from the recipient’s blood and then disabled a gene in them using CRISPR–Cas9, which combines a DNA-cutting enzyme with a molecular guide that can be programmed to tell the enzyme precisely where to cut. The disabled gene codes for the protein PD-1, which normally puts the brakes on a cell’s immune response: cancers take advantage of that function to proliferate. Lu’s team then cultured the edited cells, increasing their number, and injected them back into the patient, who has metastatic non-small-cell lung cancer. The hope is that, without PD-1, the edited cells will attack and defeat the cancer.»
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What Happens When Monsanto, the Master of Genetic Modification, Decides to Take Nature's Path? - Wired Science

What Happens When Monsanto, the Master of Genetic Modification, Decides to Take Nature's Path? - Wired Science | Gentlemachines | Scoop.it
Monsanto’s new veggies are sweeter, crunchier, and more nutritious—with none of the “Frankenfoods” ick factor.
Artur Alves's insight:

"I CAN’T BELIEVE IT’S NOT GMO

Agriculture giant Monsanto may be best known for genetic modification—like creating corn that resists the effects of Monsanto’s weed killer Roundup. But when it comes to fruits and vegetables you buy in the store, genetic modification is off the menu. Monsanto thinks no one will buy Frankenfoods, so the company is tweaking its efforts—continuing to map the genetic basis of a plant’s desirable traits but using that data to breed new custom-designed strains the way agronomists have for millennia. Here’s how it works—and how the results differ from GMO crops. Thanks to this cross between high and low tech, a new era of super-produce may be upon us. —Victoria Tang

 

The Old Way
 Identify plants with recognizable, desirable traits.
 Crossbreed those plants together.
 Grow the offspring.
 Wait to see if the traits show up. Repeat as necessary.

The Genetic Modification Way
 Identify plants or other organisms with recognizable, desirable traits.
 Isolate the genes that manifest those traits.
 Use enzymes to clip out those genes and paste them into the genomes of other plants, or inject them using a “gene gun” (for real) or by piggybacking them on a bacteria or virus.
 Grow the plant with the inserted gene. If the gene has successfully incorporated into the plant, you’ll have a novel phenotype.

The New Monsanto Way
 Identify plants with recognizable, desirable traits.
 Crossbreed the plants.
 Sift through the offspring genome for known markers for desirable traits.
 Grow only the plants with those markers."

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