Growing up, when you brought home an A on a test, did your parents ever argue over who’s side of the family “the smarts” came from? I can recall complete reconstructions of the family tree based on what subjects my sister and I were excelling in.
In reality, the grades probably had more to do with good study habits and a certain pride in my work, but new research indicates that there may be more of a genetic component than previously realized. In addition to diet, as we learned in my last post, recent work from Dr. Paul Thompson’s team reveals that genetic variations can have measurable impacts on learning and intelligence. I came across his work thanks to a great piece written by Moheb Costandi at ScienceNOW.
Never have I found a game that simultaneously stirred such nostalgia and disgust as Monopoly. Something so timeless, so simple, so polarizing. I guess it’s understandable when the game usually plays out something like this:
Six. One, two, three, four….five. Boardwalk, are you *%#$ing kidding me?!? All I’ve got is a hundred bucks. Fine! You win – I quit anyway.
And that’s only if you’re lucky. Half the time it seems like it drags on forever until someone inevitably throws their beige benjamins skywards in frustration. Personally, I quite enjoy the game when I can actually find someone to join me.
I enjoy it, that is, until it manifests itself in my daily life. In a stunning recent turn of events, a federal appeals court has overturned a previous court ruling that declared the patenting of genes illegal. The landmark case involving Myriad Genetics, Association for Molecular Pathology, et al. v. United States Patent and Trademark Office, has kept the attention of eyes and ears in my field for the past few years. Can you imagine someone snatching up ownership of your genes just like Monopoly properties? Just hope you hold the deed to Boardwalk when the times comes you need it. Continue reading →
Not so much a post in the usual sense, but I wanted to bring your attention to something pretty interesting that Science is doing this month as a celebration of the 10th anniversary of the completion of the human genome project. At least to my sense, it’s hard to believe that it’s been ten years, but the fact stands, nevertheless. Truly a momentous achievement, learning the sequence of each and every base pair that makes each of us who we are.
In any case, rather than try to summarize what Science is doing, it’s much more beneficial for you to get the info straight from the source. There are some great essays and reports from people involved in the original efforts to sequence the human genome, as well as other big names in the sequencing and genomics fields.
These essays touch on the advances we’ve made since 2001 and what we’ve learned about our genome in that time. What have we accomplished in the way of translating our knowledge of disease-responsible into cures/treatments? Where does the field of personal genomics and genomic-based medicine stand? What do we stand to learn in the future?
I’m sure you’ve heard at least a piece here and there about the advance of personal genomics. Get the sequence of you genome, figure out what diseases you might be hiding. Yada yada. We’ll get into that some other time. With all that out there, you might guess we could tell you from your DNA what your hair color is. In fact, it is not.
Predicting any complex trait is far from easy – so take an extra beat if you ever think of getting your own genes sequenced to see if you’re at risk for, say, heart disease. There’s a relatively low number of traits and diseases that are decided by one gene. Many diseases are affected by a number of factors, just as do qualitative traits such as height and weight. Being able to predict these outputs would obviously be highly beneficial to medicine when talking about disease, but another field would benefit just as much – forensics. In a paper published online Jan.4.2011 in Human Genetics, a team led by researchers at the Forensics Research Institute in Poland built a model allowing them to predict hair color from genetic material with high accuracy.