Around five years ago, a pregnant woman in Australia went in for her six-week ultrasound and was told she would be having twins. Her scan showed that the fetuses were sharing a single placenta, indicating that they were identical. But when the woman came in for a follow-up ultrasound at 14 weeks, it was discovered that she was carrying a boy and a girl—something that is impossible in identical twins. Continue reading Doctors Identify Very Rare ‘Semi-Identical’ Twins
In the not-too-distant future, it will be possible to get a complete readout of a person’s genetics with ease, even right after they’re born. A new study published Thursday offers a glimpse of what that future could look, suggesting many children are born with genetic conditions that can’t be found with current screening. But the study also raises important ethical questions about how best to handle the predictions these tests will provide families and their doctors. Continue reading Sequencing the DNA of Newborns Uncovered Hidden Disease Risks and a Whole Lot of Tricky Issues
There’s a rocky island in the South Atlantic Ocean so remote that it is known as Inaccessible Island. No humans and few animals dwell there, but among the creatures that call the island home is the Inaccessible Island rail, the world’s smallest flightless bird still in existence. Since the creature was first described in the 1920s, scientists have wondered how it managed to reach its far-flung habitat. Now, as Sarah Laskow reports for Atlas Obscura, a new study may shed light on the enduring natural mystery.
Millions of Americans struggle with substance abuse and tens of thousands die each year, according to the American Society of Addiction Medicine. Though treating addiction has become a vast (and at times abusive) industry, the underlying causes of drug or alcohol dependency—and how to successfully treat these debilitating conditions—are still poorly understood by science. Now, researchers think they’ve found the germ of an answer in our genetic past. Continue reading Addictive behavior could trace back to an ancient retrovirus in our DNA
YOU MIGHT THINK the time on the clock controls when and how you live your life. But ticking away inside each of us is a biological timekeeper that holds powerful sway over our bodies and behaviors. When we eat and when we sleep, our heart rates and our hormones—they’re all regulated by our so-called circadian clocks. Continue reading HOW OUR BIOLOGICAL CLOCK COULD DICTATE MEDICAL TREATMENTS
The discovery of DNA as a double helix is a hallowed story of scientific triumph—the work of four researchers merging together to solve one of science’s biggest mysteries, giving birth to what we know as the field of modern genetics. But decades later, we’re still learning that DNA is a more furiously complicated piece of biological machinery than we ever knew. Continue reading Scientists just discovered a strange new DNA shape lurking in human cells
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. Continue reading The USDA Just Gave the Green Light to CRISPR’d Food