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 >>

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 >>

Birds Wasted No Time Taking Over the World Once the Dinosaurs Croaked

The fossilised remains of a tiny bird that lived 62 million years ago suggests that birds burst out of the evolutionary gates once their dinosaur cousins were gone, rapidly diversifying into most of the lineages we see today. Read More >>

Enormous Genetic Study Will Help Scientists Treat Inflammatory Bowel Disease

There’s no doubt that inflammatory bowel disease is horrible. Its consequences, all sorts of gastrointestinal distress, can be downright debilitating. But treating it is full of uncertainty—folks with the same symptoms might respond in wildly different ways. That’s why scientists are trying to pinpoint its cause, among all the genetic complexities that can contribute. Read More >>

How Cats Conquered Humans Thousands of Years Ago

Cats play an essential role in our everyday lives. They have many jobs around the house, such as monitoring humans in the bathroom, knocking stuff off tables to make sure gravity still exists, and most importantly, being our snuggle buddies. While cats might seem perfectly content with being couch potatoes, the reality is they’ve been pulling the long con on humanity for thousands of years. New research that tracks the palaeogenetics of cats across ancient Europe, Asia, and Africa proves what the internet has long suggested—cats have already taken over the world, and there’s nothing we can do about it. Read More >>

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 >>

Study Identifies the Likely Genetic Mutation Responsible for Smooshed-Faced Dogs

Scientists have long understood that dogs with flat faces like pugs and bulldogs are the result of out-of-control selective breeding. But they’ve yet to discover the exact genetic mutation that’s responsible for the physical traits of these dogs. A new study has gone a long way towards finding the answer and could have implications for the health of these beleaguered canines. Read More >>

We’re One Step Closer to Breeding Animals (and Humans) In Space

Lots of people really want to go to Mars. Some of them want to live on that barren litter box forever, which sounds exciting, but would probably suck. The thing about a Martian colony is that people would have to be able to reproduce there in order to keep it going — and luckily for those hopeful pioneers, a team of Japanese scientists have achieved an important first step toward making their pipe dream a reality. Read More >>

Key Mutations Show How Tibetans Thrive at High Elevations

At altitudes of 15,000 feet, Tibetans live in environments that would incapacitate most humans. New research has uncovered several genetic mutations that appear to be responsible for these high-altitude superpowers — including a trait inherited from an extinct human species. Read More >>

Do Parents Have a Right to Sue Over Their Kids’ Genetics?

It’s a nightmare scenario straight out of a primetime drama: a child-seeking couple visits a fertility clinic to try their luck with in-vitro fertilisation, only to wind up accidentally impregnated by the wrong sperm. Read More >>

Your Most Distant Living Relative Is Probably This Tiny Jelly

For years, a debate has raged among scientists as to which ancient creature represents the first true animal, sponges or jellies. Using a new genetic technique, a collaborative team of researchers has concluded that ctenophores—also known as comb jellies—were the first animals to appear on Earth. It’s an important step forward in this longstanding debate, but this issue is far from being resolved. Read More >>

Two-Thirds of All Cancer Mutations Are ‘Unavoidable,’ Scientists Claim

In a study that’s bound to attract considerable controversy, a pair of researchers are claiming that between 60 and 66 per cent of all cancer-causing mutations are the result of random DNA copying errors, making them essentially unavoidable. The new research is offering important insights into how cancer emerges, and how it should be diagnosed and treated—but many questions remain. Read More >>

Scientists Just Took a Major Step Toward the First Complex Artificial Life

In 2008, researchers built the first artificial genome, a wonder of synthetic biology in which scientists generated all 582,970 base pairs of the bacterium Mycoplasma genitalium’s genome entirely from scratch. It was an unparalleled scientific achievement, requiring scientists to carefully design 101 unique DNA fragments so that their codes would overlap and stick together, then bind those fragments piece by piece. It was also small potatoes, one of many steps along the way to eventually creating a synthetic eukaryotic organism. Read More >>

This Single Gram of DNA Contains an Amazon Gift Card, a Virus and an Entire Movie 

Ten years ago, if you wanted to back up some old photos, you might have stored them on a big, clunky external hard drive that weighed a couple of pounds and was a pain to lug around. Ten years from now, you might back up all the data from your entire life on just a few grams of DNA. Read More >>

Poo May Be the Key to Studying the Most Elusive Animals on Earth

The secrets of the animal kingdom just might be hidden within piles of animal crap. Read More >>