ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI—Most of us think of Europe as the ancestral home of white people. But a new study shows that pale skin, as well as other traits such as tallness and the ability to digest milk as adults, arrived in most of the continent relatively recently. The work, presented here last week at the 84th annual meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists, offers dramatic evidence of recent evolution in Europe and shows that most modern Europeans don’t look much like those of 8000 years ago.
Ten years ago this year, Congress passed the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act, a whopper of a law conceived at the onset of an era of rapid advancement in genetics. It was intended to protect Americans from all the ways their genetic information might one day be used against them. More commonly known as GINA, the law has plenty of flaws and loopholes, for which it has gotten a fair amount of flack. But GINA also created new rights for citizens when it comes to their DNA. And one of those was giving them access to it.
A team of scientists have snipped away HIV DNA from the genome of live mice using a CRISPR system, and the rodents lived to (kinda) tell the tale. It’s still much too early to call the method a possible cure, but the fact that it worked on a living animal opens up a lot of possibilities. Will it work on other diseases, like cancer? Maybe, but that’s something scientists have to look into. These researchers headed by neurovirologist Kamel Khalili have been focusing on the use of the gene-editing technique to eliminate HIV for years. They successfully excised HIV DNA in live mice last year, but this round is a lot more thorough.
If you’ve watched enough reruns of shows like CSI, Bones, and Law and Order, you probably know by now that when forensic specialists find DNA evidence, the suspect is often identified within the next couple of minutes—as soon as the team sticks the results of DNA analysis into a computer program. Although the real life process isn’t quite as speedy, DNA certainly has been the highest bar for identification in forensics. But when it comes to hair samples of missing persons or those found at crime scenes, sequencing the proteins in those locks may work better than DNA.
Researchers in the United Kingdom have discovered how HIV’s protective shell helps it invade healthy cells without being detected by the immune system.
Could our genes continue thriving even though we have passed on? A new animal study suggests that genes continue to work up to 48 hours after death.