science
How Scientifically Plausible Is the ‘Simian Flu’ in Planet of the Apes?

The Planet of the Apes prequels did much to explain how humans lost their status as the dominant species on the planet—a cataclysmic set of events fueled by a global pandemic known as the “Simian Flu.” This virus, the product of a medical experiment gone horribly wrong, wiped out the vast majority of humans, but it boosted the brains of apes. And in the latest installment of the franchise, the virus has mutated into an insidious new form, affecting humans in some disturbing new ways. That’s a lot for a single virus to do, prompting the inevitable question: How feasible is the Simian Flu from a scientific perspective? Read More >>

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Why Bringing Back a Woolly Mammoth Is No Longer Science Fiction

Dr. George Church is a real-life Dr. Frankenstein. The inventor of CRISPR and one of the minds behind the Human Genome Project is no longer content just reading and editing DNA—now he wants to make new life. In Ben Mezrich’s latest book, Wooly: The True Story of the Quest to Revive One of History’s Most Iconic Extinct Creatures, Church and his Harvard lab try to do the impossible, and clone an extinct Woolly mammoth back into existence. Read More >>

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Scientists Code an Animated GIF Into DNA

What’s a strand of DNA but data? We often think of its units, the As, Cs, Ts, and Gs, as letters of the words in an instruction manual. But what if, instead, we think of them as biological computer bits, storing the smallest unit of information? What stops scientists from harnessing the power of those units, using the latest biological technology to treat DNA like a writable disk? Read More >>

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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 >>

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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 >>

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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 >>

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CRISPR May Not Be Nearly as Precise as We Thought

The revolutionary gene-editing technology CRISPR-Cas9 is often described as “molecular scissors” for its ability to turn previously improbable feats of genetic engineering into exercises in cutting and pasting. But while over the last few years CRISPR has become so commonplace that even middle school students are now using it, a study out this week in the journal Nature Methods reminds us that it’s still a nascent technology with a long way to go before we can freely cut and paste human DNA at will. Read More >>

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CRISPR Could Transform the Way We Diagnose Disease

The gene editing tool CRISPR could one day mean that we can simply edit away disease, blight and undesirable genetic traits. Now, it’s also gaining traction in another realm of medical technology: diagnosing disease. Read More >>

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China Is Racing Ahead in the Quest to Cure Cancer With CRISPR

On Friday, a team of Chinese scientists used the cutting-edge gene-editing technique CRISPR-Cas9 on humans for the second time in history, injecting a cancer patient with modified human genes in hopes of vanquishing the disease. Read More >>

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Scientists Are Making Horrible Red-Eye Mutant Wasps Because Why the Hell Not

Listen, scientists. I appreciate what you do, and boy I sure do love that evidence-based pursuit of knowledge, but did you have to make mutant wasps? Did you? Read More >>

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A New Flavour of CRISPR Could Tackle Some of the Worst Genetic Diseases

Cardiomyocytes from patients with Duchenne muscular dystrophy corrected by CRISPR-Cpf1. Image: Science Advances
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Will Sickle Cell Be the Next Disease Genetic Engineering Cures?

Sickle cell disease is a slow, vicious killer. Most people diagnosed with the red blood cell disorder in the US live to be between 40 and 60. But those years are a lifetime of pain, as abnormal, crescent-shaped haemoglobin stops up blood flow and deprives tissues of oxygen, causing frequent bouts of agony, along with more severe consequences like organ damage. Now, after decades of searching for a cure, researchers are announcing that, in at least one patient, they seem to have found a very promising treatment. Read More >>

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A Little-Known CRISPR Technique Could Be the Key to Fighting Deadly Superbugs

When folks talk about the gene-editing tool CRISPR, they’re usually talking about CRISPR-Cas9, a combination of DNA and enzymes that together act like scissors to cut and paste genes. CRISPR-Cas9 has already been hailed a potential game changer in the fight against cancer, crop pathogens, and environmental problems. But some researchers think a lesser-known flavor of the technology might be the answer to the world’s growing superbug problem. Ladies and gentlemen, meet CRISPR-Cas3. Read More >>

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Should Anyone Really Control Who Gets to Use CRISPR?

Last week, the US Patent and Trademarks office handed down a decision in one of the most high-profile patent cases of the century. In a one sentence ruling, an appeals board granted the rights to the powerful gene editing technology CRISPR-Cas9 to the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT, while leaving the door open for rival CRISPR pioneer UC Berkeley to file a new patent to lay claim to those same discoveries. Read More >>

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Here’s Why The Decision Over Who Invented CRISPR Matters

In a brief, one-sentence decision on Wednesday, the US patent office handed the patent for the gene editing technology CRISPR-Cas9 to the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT, finding that UC Berkeley had not laid the groundwork for one of the most important scientific breakthroughs of this century. Read More >>