science
Ancestry Sites Could Soon Expose Nearly Anyone’s Identity, Researchers Say

Genetic testing has helped plenty of people gain insight into their ancestry, and some services even help users find their long-lost relatives. But a new study published this week in Science suggests that the information uploaded to these services can be used to figure out your identity, regardless of whether you volunteered your DNA in the first place. Read More >>

science
New Research Sheds Light on How Opium Poppies Evolved Their Powerful Painkillers

The opium poppy is famous for its ability to produce painkilling molecules. Now, by sequencing its genome, a team of scientists from China, the UK and Australia uncovered several events in the poppy’s history that, together, could have led to the evolution of its opium-producing behaviour. Read More >>

science
Extinct Giant Panda Lineage Discovered Thanks to DNA From 22,000-Year-Old Skull

DNA from a 22,000-year-old fossilised panda skull suggests an entirely separate lineage of giant pandas once roamed the area that is now southern China. Read More >>

science
I Tried a DNA-Optimised Skin-Care Routine – and I Was Allergic to It

The pitch was a skin-care routine designed especially for me, genetically optimised to give me the skin I was “born to have.” The reality was decidedly more itchy, flaky, and red. Read More >>

dna testing
I DNA Tested My Cat and She Was Not Happy About It

I was crawling around on the floor, chasing my cat, Avalanche, as she artfully wriggled away from me over and over again to gnaw at the piece of tape I had stuck to her grey and white fur. Avalanche had unwittingly become a victim of journalistic inquiry: I wanted to explore the latest fad in consumer DNA testing, genetic analysis for pets. But rather than somehow coax my cat to spit in a tube, Basepaws required that I stick a piece of tape to Avalanche’s body, then “gently” pull it off. Except it turns out that there is no way to gently rip tape off of an animal completely covered in two-inch-long fur. My cat was furious with me for hours. Read More >>

science
How a Massive Effort to Sequence Genomes of 1.5 Million Species Could Help Preserve Life on Earth

In what will undoubtedly be the largest genomic sequencing effort of all time, an international consortium of researchers is organising a massive effort to collect and sequence the DNA of Earth’s 1.5 million known eukaryotes, the domain of organisms that includes animals, plants, and fungi. Read More >>

science
Forget the Double Helix – Scientists Discovered a New DNA Structure Inside Human Cells

Guided by the work of Rosalind Franklin, James Watson and Francis Crick discovered the the twisted-ladder structure of DNA in 1953, a finding that gave rise to the modern field of molecular biology. It was by understanding DNA’s double-helix form that science was able to begin unravelling the many mysteries of genetic code. Read More >>

science
Rare Mutation Among Bajau People Lets Them Stay Underwater Longer

The Bajau people of Malaysia and the Philippines are renowned for their free-diving abilities, often working eight-hour shifts in search of fish and other sea critters. Underwater sessions can last upwards of two minutes, with accumulated daily totals of breath-holding often reaching five hours. New research suggests these impressive feats aren’t the result of training, but rather, an example of natural selection at work—which, in this case, has endowed Bajau individuals with abnormally large spleens. Read More >>

crispr
This Gene-Editing Breakthrough Could Provide Hyper-Specific Cancer Diagnoses

Ever since researchers first discovered that bacterial immune systems could be hijacked to selectively change DNA in living creatures, CRISPR gene-editing technology has been limited by the boundaries of the cell wall. CRISPR allows scientists to cut and paste little bits of DNA, swapping out even single letters of DNA to correct disease-causing genetic mutations. But—at least until now—all of that cutting and pasting has gone on inside cells. Read More >>

genetics
Genetics Research is Failing Most of The World’s Population

In the late 1990s, as Esteban Burchard was finishing up his medical training at Harvard’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital, newspaper headlines blared warnings about what appeared to be a growing asthma epidemic. Read More >>

science
An Indian State Is Building a Massive, Blockchain-Based DNA Database

India’s eighth largest state is seeking to build a blockchain-based DNA database of all 50 million of its citizens. Read More >>

science
Scientists Edit Thousands of Genes at Once With Upgraded CRISPR

When the gene-editing technology CRISPR first made a splash back in 2012, it foretold a future in which curing diseases might simply involve snipping out problematic bits of genetic code. Of course, innovation is rarely so straightforward. Read More >>

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The U.S. Department of Agriculture Just Gave the Green Light to CRISPR’d Food

For nearly two years now, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has been quietly giving the go-ahead to a handful of crops that have been genetically engineered using CRISPR. Editing the DNA of people and animals may be controversial, but when it comes to plants, the agency has taken the stance that as long as the gene-edited plants don’t include any foreign genetic material, CRISPR’d crops aren’t subject to special regulation. Read More >>

science
Science Journal Retracts Paper That Sparked CRISPR Panic

Last May, a journal published results suggesting that the revolutionary gene-editing technique CRISPR might actually be quite dangerous. The paper caused a bit of turmoil in the biotech world, which is looking to CRISPR as a major disease-fighting tool of the future. But it didn’t take long for the study to attract some serious scepticism. This week, the journal that published the paper, Nature Methods, finally retracted it. Read More >>

science
The Scientists Who Sparked CRISPR Panic Couldn’t Reproduce Their Study Results

Last summer, a study claiming that the gene-editing technique CRISPR might actually be dangerous whipped labs around the biotech world into a frenzy. Researchers found that when they used CRISPR to cure blindness by changing DNA in mice, it resulted in not just a few but more than a thousand unintended effects on other genes. That meant that unless CRISPR could be fixed to to be more precise, the ballyhooed technology might be more a laboratory nightmare than a revolutionary tool poised to rid the world of devastating disease. Read More >>