science
Genetically Engineering Nature Will Be Way More Complicated Than We Thought

For more than half a century, scientists have dreamed of harnessing an odd quirk of nature— “selfish genes,” which bypass the normal 50/50 laws of inheritance and force their way into offspring—to engineer entire species. A few years ago, the advent of the CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing technology turned this science fictional concept into a dazzling potential reality, called a gene drive. But after all the hype, and fear of the technology’s misuse, scientists are now questioning whether gene drives will work at all. Read More >>

science
Lab-Grown Livers Might Save Lives Sooner Than You Think

Since at least the first time a man got on stage at a TED talk and 3D-printed a human kidney, the idea that one day we might simply grow new body parts to replace our old, out-of-service ones has existed in the collective consciousness as the pinnacle of biomedical achievement. But what if you didn’t actually have to grow a whole new organ to save someone’s life? Read More >>

science
Scientists Push Back Against Booming Genetic Pseudoscience Market

The premise behind Yes or No Genomics is simple: Genetic disease is typically caused by a variation in at least one of the many thousands of genes in the human genome, so knowing whether your DNA code contains variants could suggest whether your health is at risk. And for just $199 (£152), the scientists at Yes or No Genomics can use special technology to determine that. Read More >>

science
DARPA Is Funding Brain-Computer Interfaces to Treat Blindness, Paralysis and Speech Disorders 

These days, it seems you’re nobody if you’re not working on a way to merge machines with the human brain. Earlier this year, both Facebook and perpetual moonshot-enthusiast Elon Musk announced plans for brain-computer interfaces that could allow us to read the thoughts of others and improve our capacity for learning. Today, the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency announced plans to spend $65 million developing advanced neural implants that connect our brains to computers in order to treat sensory deficits like blindness. Read More >>

science
The US Just Greenlit the Release of Genetically Modified Moths

Diamondback moths may be a mere half-inch in length, but their voracious appetite for Brussels sprouts, kale and cauliflower make them a major pain for farmers. This week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture approved a potential solution: moths genetically engineered to contain a special gene that makes them gradually die off. A field trial slated to take place in a small area of upstate New York will become the first wild release of an insect modified using genetic engineering in the US. Read More >>

science
Gene Editing Controversy Reminds Us Just How Much Money Influences Science

Recently, a kerfuffle in the world of CRISPR illustrated just how easily money—and our perception of it—can impact science. Read More >>

health
Can an Algorithm Diagnose Heart Disease Better Than a Person?

On Thursday, researchers at Stanford University introduced the latest thing in AI diagnostics: an algorithm that can sift through hours of heart rhythm data gathered by wearable monitors to determine whether a patient has an irregular heartbeat, or arrhythmia. The algorithm, the researchers say, is not only as good as a cardiologist at correctly diagnosing a condition, but often better. Read More >>

science
Why People With Brain Implants Are Afraid to Go Through Automatic Doors

In 2009, Gary Olhoeft walked into a Best Buy to buy some DVDs. He walked out with his whole body twitching and convulsing. Olhoeft has a brain implant, tiny bits of microelectronic circuitry that deliver electrical impulses to his motor cortex in order to control the debilitating tremors he suffers as a symptom of Parkinson’s disease. It had been working fine. So, what happened when he passed through those double wide doors into consumer electronics paradise? He thinks the theft-prevention system interfered with his implant and turned it off. Read More >>

science
Welcome to the Town That Is Trying to Cure Ageing

For just about his entire life, Ron Smith has been a subject of a scientific inquiry. At birth, in 1972, he was studied by scientists, and then assessed again at age three to document his physical fitness, mental health and intelligence. Every few years after that, he has returned to be poked, prodded and tested in the name of science. This year, Smith will turn 45. Read More >>

science
Is it Possible to Stimulate Deep Inside Our Brains Without Implanting Hardware?

For decades, scientists have dreamed of how electricity might be used to change the human brain. By altering its firing patterns using currents, scientists hope to not only treat mental illness, but improve human cognition. Trouble is, so far the most successful of these enterprises have relied on implanting electrodes deep into the human brain. And brain surgery, it’s safe to say, isn’t something most of us take lightly. Read More >>

science
Scientists Used CRISPR to Reverse Huntington’s Disease in Mice

The gene-editing technique CRISPR is often touted as an eventual cure-all for all that ails us, from fatal genetic diseases to food shortages. But when it comes to disease, it’s likely that it will have the most impact on disorders caused by mutations in one single gene. New research published this week in the Journal of Clinical Investigation suggests that Huntington’s Disease may be a good candidate for a CRISPR cure. Read More >>

science
This Study is Forcing Scientists to Rethink the Human Genome

The more data, the better, right? When it comes to genetics, it turns out that might not be the case. Read More >>

science
This Controversial Doctor Wants to Use ‘Three-Parent’ Embryos to Treat Infertility

Last autumn, John Zhang made headlines after his fertility clinic announced that for the first time a baby had been born using a new technique requiring three genetic parents. The baby’s mother carried the genes for a fatal nervous system disorder called Leigh syndrome, but Zhang had been able to keep the disease from being inherited by her son by swapping in a donor’s mitochondrial DNA, the teeny bit of DNA where Leigh syndrome is housed. Since the technique is illegal in the US, the baby had been born in Mexico, where, as Zhang explained in a comment he might live to regret, “there are no rules.” Read More >>

science
A Controversial Study Is Tearing the CRISPR World Apart

When people talk about the gene-editing technology CRISPR, it’s usually accompanied by adjectives like “revolutionary” or “world-changing.” For this reason, it’s no surprise that a study out last month questioning just how game-changing the technology really is caused quite a stir. Read More >>

science
If You Resurrect the Woolly Mammoth, Can You Still Call It a Woolly Mammoth?

In the early 20th century, seeking riches, fur and its medicinal qualities, the people of Europe hunted the Eurasian beaver to near extinction. Clever scientists, though, had an idea of how to atone for their sins. The North American beaver, at least from the outside, seemed nearly identical. They would introduce this far-flung cousin to Europe in hopes that it would breed and help restore the population. Read More >>