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The Great White Shark Genome Is Here

BY MEGAN MOLTENI
WIRED
Is there any more daunting animal to study than the great white shark? Just you try attaching a radio transmitter or drawing a tube of blood from a six-ton, razor-toothed, meat-seeking missile. But scientific understanding of these iconic apex predators has been limited by technical challenges as much as human bias for studying species that reside on closer branches of the taxonomic tree. Sharks evolved from the rest of the animal kingdom 400 million years ago—before the first adventurous amphibians left the oceans for dry land. What could the great white possibly teach 21st century humans? Continue Reading →

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Scientists may have found a way to treat cancer without chemotherapy by replicating our body’s own self-destruct system

BY LISA SCHONHAAR
BUSINESS INSIDER
Every day, millions of cells in our bodies “kill” themselves and are quickly removed.
While the mechanism may sound dramatic, it’s for our own good. The process ensures that potentially harmful cells destroy themselves and protects us from diseases.
Cancer cells, however, can protect themselves from self-destruction by ignoring our immune system’s cell-death signals — and that’s precisely what makes them so dangerous.
Continue Reading →

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Despite CRISPR baby controversy, Harvard University will begin gene-editing sperm

BY ANTONIO REGALADO
MIT TECHNOLOGY REVIEW
In the wild uproar around an experiment in China that claimed to have created twin girls whose genes were altered to protect them from HIV, there’s something worth knowing—research to improve the next generation of humans is happening in the US, too.

In fact, it’s about to happen at Harvard University. Continue Reading →

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The Future of Crime-Fighting Is Family Tree Forensics

BY MEGAN MOLTENI
WIRED
In April, a citizen scientist named Barbara Rae-Venter used a little-known genealogy website called GEDMatch to help investigators find a man they’d been looking for for nearly 40 years: The Golden State Killer. In the months since, law enforcement agencies across the country have flocked to the technique, arresting a flurry of more than 20 people tied to some of the most notorious cold cases of the last five decades. Continue Reading →

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AP Exclusive: First gene-edited babies claimed in China

BY MARILYNN MARCHIONE
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

A Chinese researcher claims that he helped make the world’s first genetically edited babies — twin girls born this month whose DNA he said he altered with a powerful new tool capable of rewriting the very blueprint of life.

If true, it would be a profound leap of science and ethics.

A U.S. scientist said he took part in the work in China, but this kind of gene editing is banned in the United States because the DNA changes can pass to future generations and it risks harming other genes.

Many mainstream scientists think it’s too unsafe to try, and some denounced the Chinese report as human experimentation.

The researcher, He Jiankui of Shenzhen, said he altered embryos for seven couples during fertility treatments, with one pregnancy resulting thus far. He said his goal was not to cure or prevent an inherited disease, but to try to bestow a trait that few people naturally have — an ability to resist possible future infection with HIV, the AIDS virus.

He said the parents involved declined to be identified or interviewed, and he would not say where they live or where the work was done.

There is no independent confirmation of He’s claim, and it has not been published in a journal, where it would be vetted by other experts. He revealed it Monday in Hong Kong to one of the organizers of an international conference on gene editing that is set to begin Tuesday, and earlier in exclusive interviews with The Associated Press.

“I feel a strong responsibility that it’s not just to make a first, but also make it an example,” He told the AP. “Society will decide what to do next” in terms of allowing or forbidding such science.

Some scientists were astounded to hear of the claim and strongly condemned it. Continue Reading →

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Scientists Are Sequencing the Planet’s Genome

BY LUCAS LAURSEN
FORTUNE
A network of scientists around the world Thursday launched a 10-year project to sequence the genomes of all the 1.5 million known plants, animals, and fungi on Earth. The Earth Biogenome Project is a collaboration designed to avoid duplicating one another’s work and to make all genome data inter-operable and open for public use. Its leaders estimate that the total cost will be around $4.7 billion, which is less than the almost $5 billion in inflation-adjusted dollars than the Human Genome Project cost in 2003. Continue Reading →

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It’s time to talk about who can access your digital genomic data

BY CURTIS AND HEREWARD
THE CONVERSATION

We are approaching a time when you might be too scared to have your genome sequenced.

Only last week, a US senator called for an investigation into the privacy policies of direct-to-consumer DNA companies. But this is only one piece of a puzzle that is about to get much more connected.

As with any kind of personal data there are a number of concerns regarding collection, transmission, storage and use. But unlike most other data, your genome reveals intimate information about not only you, but also the people to whom you are related.

It’s time to talk about who can access that data, how, when and why. Continue Reading →

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‘I want to help humans genetically modify themselves’

JOSIAH ZAYNER

BY TOM IRELAND
THE GUARDIAN
Josiah Zayner, 36, recently made headlines by becoming the first person to use the revolutionary gene-editing tool Crispr to try to change their own genes. Part way through a talk on genetic engineering, Zayner pulled out a syringe apparently containing DNA and other chemicals designed to trigger a genetic change in his cells associated with dramatically increased muscle mass. He injected the DIY gene therapy into his left arm, live-streaming the procedure on the internet.
The former Nasa biochemist, based in California, has become a leading figure in the growing “biohacker” movement, which involves loose collectives of scientists, engineers, artists, designers, and activists experimenting with biotechnology outside of conventional institutions and laboratories.
Continue Reading →

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