learning about genetics

Contrary to popular belief, body cells in a human may not all have the same DNA

According to an article in Science Daily, 15 July 2009, "research by a group of Montreal scientists calls into question one of the most basic assumptions of human genetics: that when it comes to DNA, every cell in the body is essentially identical to every other cell."
The original report of the results appears in the July issue of the journal Human Mutation.
The article continues:

This discovery may undercut the rationale behind numerous large-scale genetic studies conducted over the last 15 years, studies which were supposed to isolate the causes of scores of human diseases.

Most body samples used in large-scale genomic studies are saliva or blood. If these samples have DNA that doesn't match genetically to cells in the diseased or affected tissue--which this report suggests is likely--then, the samples may not tell us "the truth" about the DNA makeup responsible for the disease being investigated. Thus, "ambitious and expensive genome-wide association studies may prove to have been essentially flawed from the outset."

| | | | read more | mgodfrey39's blog

Gee, what are GWAS?

Perhaps you've been reading in the news lately about genes "for" autism, obesity, cancer, sudden heart attack . . . . . . and on and on.

What are all these reports about? 

Most of the reports you see are based on genome-wide association studies, or GWAS. You pronounce this acronym: gee wahs.

The genome, by the way, is the full set of DNA (the inherited material) in a human, mouse, yeast, or whatever is being studied. In most interpretations, genomics--the science of genomes--includes the study of environmental as well as genetic information. However, GWAS are usually studies of the DNA of large populations of people with disease X compared with 1) people who don't obviously have the disease or with 2) some sort of DNA standard.

| | | | | read more | mgodfrey39's blog

Amazon users who accessed AAAGTCTGAC also bought...

Just in time for the holidays:

Users who accessed AAAGTCTGAC also bought:

  • BioPet DNA Breed Identification Kit
  • The DNA of Relationships
  • DNA Nation iPhone Cover Sticker
  • DNA by Bijan for Men -- Eau De Toilette

I couldn't resist playing with Amazon's announcement that it's making the Annotated Human Genome Data available via Amazon Web Services.

| | read more | Genetizen's blog

"Voice" your opinions about genetic technology

Hsien-Hsien Lei of the Eye on DNA blog recently asked readers to define genetics in one simple sentence. I tried, with the following:

Genetics is the study of the operating instructions for life.

To this could be added: Scientists look at how the instructions are passed from one generation to the next, how instructions differ from one living thing to another, and how the instructions work.

For a "young" audience, something modern--operating instructions--could be useful. Note that the second sentence distinguishes the various components of genetic study: inheritance, form, function.

| | | | | read more | mgodfrey39's blog
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