Posts tagged gene
Alzheimer’s disease (AD) steals memories and disrupts lives of 5.4 million Americans (according to Alzheimer’s Foundation statistics) and 26.6 million people worldwide. Moreover AD is predicted to affect 1 in 85 people globally by 2050! AD still cannot be cured and is degenerative, so the sufferer relies on others for assistance, placing a great burden on the caregiver, who are mostly spouses or close relatives.
Now a new study conducted by a group Harvard, Boston University, The University of Alberta, The University of Arizona, and The Chopra Foundation ascribe AD memory loss to disruption of microtubules by zinc imbalance (March 23 More >
For a very long time I have been using Diabetes as an example of a disorder that is caused by a mutation in the insulin gene. This mutation would stop the cells from making insulin, and a diabetic might need daily insulin injections to regulate their sugar levels properly. I don’t know what took me so long to realize that this was completely wrong. That while some diabetics are insulin dependent, it is because their insulin-producing cells of the pancreas are being completely destroyed by the immune system. And while they still aren’t sure about why these cells are being More >
After asking students during a lesson on mutations if it is possible that a mutation in DNA could be good, most students will nod yes without much understanding. Recently, I finally had one student raise his hand immediately and answer the question (with extreme surprise that no other students were blurting out the answer)…”evolution!” He was able to make the connection between changes in DNA that are building up over time, and how that change can possibly make that organism better in some way. If it helps the survival of an organism, that mutation is going to stick around and More >
Classic genetics alone is unable to explain the diversity we see within a population of living things. This also cannot explain how identical twins with the same DNA sequences can have differences in their traits and development of disease. First introduced in 1939 by C.H. Waddington, epigenetics is now able to offer some explanation, as it studies the heritable changes in gene expression that are not due to any alteration in the DNA sequence.
This may help to answer many questions. How can we have so many different types of cells and they all carry the same genetic information? How is More >
Gene therapy is a technique that offers the potential to replace defective copies of genes in any genetic disease with an intact version. While the idea of this treatment sounds alluring, the actual practice of it is a whole other story. There are a few drawbacks to this technique that must be considered, including the potential risk of an immune response because the gene is inserted with the use of a virus, which the immune system will see as foreign. Also, most patients so far have needed multiple treatments over the course of their lifetime, estimating to cost much more More >
When we think of a detective the first thing that comes to mind is an investigator, either a member of a police agency or a private entity. However there are unique detectives within the multifaceted arena of medicine. All though we might already think of most doctors as detectives there are special doctors, units, working at the National Institute of Health’s (NIH) undiagnosed disease program. Doctors such as William A. Gahl at the NIH are disease detectives that try to elucidate the causes and genetic basis involved in the hundreds of unsolved and mysterious diseases that arise each year. Dr. Gahl More >
Autumn is my favorite season. I enjoy the cool weather, unpacking my sweaters from the attic and sleeping under my cozy comforter. But better than all of the above are the fantastic red, yellow and orange leaves that adorn the deciduous trees here in New York. Before I worked at the DNA Learning Center, this process was simply a beautiful rite of fall. Now, I see the whole process in a different light. It’s an elegant series of genetic steps that evolved millions of years ago, for a reason much bigger than beauty!
For most of the year, deciduous trees are More >
A good friend of mine recently gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. In searching for an appropriate gift, I came across a book by Michael Sherrod and Matthew Rayback called Bad Baby Names. The book trawls through 40 years of U.S. census data to catalog some of the most disastrous names bestowed upon American children. Examples include Acne Fountain, Emma Royd, Fanny Pack, Nice Carr, and Post Office.
Many hours of belly laughs later and I began to feel rather guilty. How terrible it must be to labor through life as Super Mann. How the schoolyard must cackle when Garage More >
Today there is a huge concern about obesity. It is a medical condition characterized by excessive body fat accumulated to a point where it has become a health issue. It is associated with high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, sleep apnea, and heart disease – ultimately leading to reduced life expectancy. Obesity is a condition that can be caused by inactivity, excessive consumption of calories, or a genetic predisposition.
Scientists have used genome-wide studies to define a relationship between body mass index and polymorphisms in the FTO gene (Fat Mass and Obesity Associated Gene). Recently, insights into the function of the More >
One of the most difficult concepts to teach anyone is the relationship between evolution and adaptation. The majority of people I have worked with, both adults and children, are confused about this to some extent. Let’s first create a simple story to frame our discussion.
Once upon a time, in a forest with leaves and soil on the ground, there is a family of rabbits. Many animals live in this forest, including several predators for the rabbits. The mom and dad are both brown rabbits and most of their rabbit children are also brown. One of the children was born with More >