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 >>

23andMe Is Working to Make DNA Data More Diverse

When you mail off a sample of your spit to find out about your ancestry, companies like 23andMe compare your DNA to other people around the world, seeing how closely your genes match the genes of people in, say, Norway, in order to deduce whether your ancestors might have been Norwegian, too. 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 >>

Researchers Trying to Map Every Cell in the Human Body Release First Data Set

Science textbooks will tell you that the human body has just a couple hundred types of cells. But efforts to catalogue all the cells in the human body suggest that number is a multiple many, many times larger. 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 >>

Sweet Potato DNA Challenges Theory That Polynesians Beat Columbus to America

Christopher Columbus reached the New World in 1492, but some experts say Polynesian explorers beat him to it. There’s little evidence to support this fringe theory, but scientists have pointed to the presence of sweet potatoes, a plant thought to be native to the Americas, in the South Pacific as potential proof. A genetic analysis of the popular tuberous root and its relatives has now effectively quashed this hypothesis. Read More >>

23andMe CEO Compares DNA Tests to at-Home Pregnancy Tests, but It’s Not That Simple

In a provocative opinion published Monday in STAT, 23andMe CEO Anne Wojcicki argues that home DNA test customers don’t need experts to help them interpret genetic health risk reports. Wojcicki compares her company’s health reports, which tell people whether they are at risk of developing certain diseases, to at-home pregnancy tests. Read More >>

dna testing
Woman Says Test Revealed Her Parents’ Fertility Doctor Was Actually Her Father

It’s become a familiar story in the age of consumer DNA testing: a person spits into a test tube to learn more about their genetic heritage, and ends up finding out they have a parent or sibling they didn’t know existed. It can be hard to keep family secrets under wraps when all it takes to reveal them is about 100 quid and a mouthful of spit. Read More >>

Estonia Is Taking a Page from 23andMe to Offer DNA-Based Health Advice to Citizens

From its perch on the Baltic Sea, the tiny former Soviet nation of Estonia has become an unlikely leader in all things digital. Its government has already embraced blockchain, declared Internet access a basic human right, and embarked on a massive undertaking to become a “digital society” where everything from identity to voting is digitized and linked together across one massive platform. Given this, it’s no surprise that this nation would be quick to embrace another up-and-coming technology: DNA testing. 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 >>

‘Alien’ Mummy Found in Atacama Desert Is Actually a Tiny, Mutated Human

Back in 2003, a strange skeleton was discovered in a deserted Chilean town in the Atacama Desert. Featuring an elongated skull, sunken eye sockets, and an impossibly tiny body, some suggested it was of extraterrestrial origin. An updated genetic analysis confirms the skeleton as being human—but with an unprecedented variety of mutations. Read More >>