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 >>

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 >>

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 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 >>

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 >>

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 >>

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 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 >>

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 >>

Another Reminder That Consumer DNA Tests Are Not 100 Per Cent Accurate

Not long ago, decrypting DNA was an expensive undertaking that could run into hundreds of thousands of pounds. Now, for £149 you can spit into a test tube and find out about your ancestry, your risk of developing Alzheimer’s, and even how likely you are to smell asparagus in your wee. Read More >>

How Scientists Could Use DNA Sequencing to Identify Alien Life

Here’s a riddle: If an alien life form is, well, alien, how will we know what it is? DNA and RNA are the building blocks of life on Earth, but the molecules of life might differ substantially on another planet. So if scientists combing, say, the potentially habitable waters of Jupiter’s moon Europa were to stumble across a new life form, how could they know what they had discovered? Read More >>

23andMe Data Reveals Genes Linked to Hyperemesis Gravidarum, Severe Morning Sickness

Pregnancy is hard on the body. But for women with two specific genes, it may be especially difficult. Read More >>

The Genetics of Depression Are Different for Men and Women

There may not be a single depression gene, but there’s no question that our genetic makeup is an important factor in whether or not we get depressed. And our sex, it turns out, can be a factor in how those genes are expressed. In men and women diagnosed with major depressive disorder, the same genes show the opposite changes. In other words, the molecular underpinnings of depression in men and women may be different. Read More >>

Astronaut Scott Kelly’s DNA Did Not ‘Change in Space’ the Way You Think

It seems like pure science fiction. NASA astronaut Scott Kelly goes to space for nearly a year, comes back, and suddenly has turned into a mutant with different DNA from his twin. As Newsweek wrote, his DNA “changed in space.” Read More >>

23andMe Data Shows That Kind People Might Have Empathy in Their Genes

Scientists have long been interested in understanding the underpinnings of empathy. Being able to share the feelings of another person plays a critical role in our inner lives, how we behave towards others, and the way human societies function as a whole. Harnessing the power of empathy, some suggest, could go a long way toward solving problems like racism and sexism, and help us better understand non-neurotypical people. At the same time, another corner of the research world worries that constant immersion in technology is making it harder for today’s kids to empathise. Read More >>