Sunday, July 15, 2007

Gene Genie #11

double helix in vatican

The Double Helix strikes back. As you can see here, it has invaded the very epicenter of creationism, the Vatican. Since the actual pope rules there, wind has turned more against them, gay men say. But they may have to fear the danger in genetics more than the Vatican, as Steve Murphy at Gene Sherpa tells us.

Genetic genealogy is a hot topic and a growing business these days, at least in the United States. Hsien Hsien Lei at Eye on DNA has interviewed genetic genealogist Dr. Blaine Bettinger on DNA and genealogy. As far as I got it, DNA is sort of a time machine that allows us to look at gene sequences of our great-great-great-great-grandmother. Fascinating, really! And she has one more hot topic: Should we prohibit the patenting of genes? Don't miss to drop your vote!

Junk DNA: from science to framing

Back to Vatican, will say, creationism. I really do not understand what the amount of function that may or may not be detected in junk DNA has to do with believing in Creation or Intelligent Design - we have no such controversy here in Switzerland.

Scientists are supposed to educate the public about the facts, but Larry Moran at Sandwalk is quite disappointed to see one of them use the press to boost his own ego instead, using inappropriate framing. T. Ryan Gregory at Genomicron plunges even deeper into the matter, discussing articles about junk and genomes in The Scientist. Both of these posts bring me to the conclusion that the term «junk DNA» has slipped from the hands of science and has become a political issue that has nothing to do with proven facts anymore.

Genes and diseases

But political issues in genetics may also make sense. Walter presents such a case: spinal muscular atrophy legislation to be introduced in congress, posted at Highlight Health.

Why do some children get asthma and some don't? Alfa King tells us more about one possible genetic reason in childhood asthma probe.

Charles Daney at Science and Reason hat interesting new facts about the role of histone deacetylase enzymes in turning genes on and off. Just imagine a sort of switches, but much, much more complicated, and closely watched by cancer researchers.

When it comes to cancer, the scope must not be confined to genes but must be extended to chromosomes, as Keith Robison at Omics! Omics! points out.

What is all this research good for? Bertalan Mesko at Scienceroll presents a vision of a world without genetic diseases. Wishful thinking or a real option for the future? Click by and make your own opinion. He discusses several findings about Duchenne muscular dystrophy; one very promising new approach has been published at Biomed Central.

New techniques

Novel tools are vital for progress in genetic research: Medgadget presents fluorescent DNA probes that could shed new light on genetic disorders, and Microarray presents a new test to detect mutations in the largest human gene.

This concludes Gene Genie #11. Thanks to all who have submitted and to Berci who has selected me as a host. I have been strictly advised to include only clinical genetics and genomics posts. I have received more, very interesting submissions that have not been included here for this reason, and only for this reason.

Look at the Gene Genie carnival page for upcoming editions. Gene Genie #12 will be hosted by My Biotech Life.

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