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Humans migrated north, rather than south, in the main successful migration from Cradle of Humankind

New research suggests that European and Asian (Eurasian) peoples originated when early Africans moved north - through the region that is now Egypt - to expand into the rest of the world. The findings, published in the American Journal of Human Genetics, answer a long-standing question as to whether early humans emerged from Africa by a route via Egypt, or via Ethiopia.

The extensive public catalogue of the genetic diversity in Ethiopian and Egyptian populations developed for the project also now provides a valuable, freely available, reference panel for future medical and anthropological studies in these areas.

Two geographically plausible routes have been proposed for humans to emerge from Africa: through the current Egypt and Sinai (Northern Route), or through Ethiopia, the Bab el Mandeb strait and the Arabian Peninsula (Southern Route). Some lines of evidence have previously favoured one, some the other. Read more.

White Skin Developed in Europe Only As Recently as 8,000 Years Ago Say Anthropologists

The myriad of skin tones and eye colors that humans express around the world are interesting and wonderful in their variety. Now, a recent analysis by anthropologists suggests that the light skin color associated with ancient European genetics are relatively recent traits to the continent.

Read more …

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The new revelation of DNA-editing, CRISPR technology is still making the headline rounds.

“Some experts predict that the scientists who figured out how to use CRISPR/Cas9 to edit genes will win a Nobel Prize for their discovery.”

This is something that has the potential to redefine humanity. We now harness the ability to alter our own DNA. This includes the ability to battle hereditary disease, but also to splice animal DNA into our own. The most controversial consequence of this technology is that any changes we make will be passed on through each following generation of humanity.

This technology could be a savior from disease, but also it has the potential to literally create new races of humans, or even completely new species.

Source: http://www.latimes.com/science/la-sci-gene-editing-embryo-20150503-story.html#page=1

Source: http://www.businessinsider.com/how-to-genetically-modify-human-embryos-2015-4

On April 24, 2003, shortly after the completion of the human genome project, its director Francis Collins and his team posed 15 grand challenges to the scientific community. They dared researchers to harness the genome to crack puzzles of biology, health, and society. In particular, they called for genome-based tools to close health disparities. Since then, the United States has pumped more than $1 billion a year into genomics research. What do we have to show for it?

“What we found in the literature published from 2007 to 2013 was basically nothing,” said Jay Kaufman, the lead author of the first study to examine available genetic data for evidence that explains a major racial-health disparity. For many years, researchers speculated that what they couldn’t explain about disparities must be the fingerprint of some mysterious genetic component. But since they are now able to scan the entire genome, this speculation appears both lazy and wrong. When it comes to why many black people die earlier than white people in the U.S., Kaufman and his colleagues show we’ve been looking for answers in the wrong places: We shouldn’t be looking in the twists of the double helix, but the grinding inequality of the environment.

It is no secret that a longer life is a white privilege in the U.S. In 2011, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that white men lived more than four years longer than black men, and white women lived more than three years longer than black women. The main reason for the racial mortality gap is heart disease. “There’s a huge number of years of life lost because some people have the black life expectancy and not the white life expectancy,” Kaufman said. “It’s killing people prematurely on the basis of race.”

Why hasn’t attention turned, then, to social inequality, not genetics, as the source of health disparities? The main reason is the political ramification. “If you show that this is a predisposition that is genetically determined—black people just have this gene, there’s nothing we can do about it, this is just nature—then society is completely absolved. We don’t have any responsibility to solve this problem,” Kaufman said. “If you show that it is because of racism and injustice and people’s living conditions, well, then, there is some responsibility and we have to do something about this.”

In his book Making the Mexican Diabetic: Race, Science, and Inequality, Michael Montoya shows how epidemiologists try to explain diabetes through genetics, even if evidence points in a social direction: lifestyle disruptions, dispossession, and poverty, which disproportionately affect minorities. “It is much easier to say it must be something [wrong] with those people than it is [to say something’s wrong] with the way we have arranged our society,” Montoya told me.

3D printed genetically identical rhino horns are being created to help combat poaching

By Sarah Buhr | @sarahbuhr -

There’s a startup called Pembient that is 3D printing rhinoceros horns in a lab on the far edge of San Francisco. These are not horns that look like rhino horns. These are genetically identical rhino horns, according to the startup. Pembient just didn’t need a rhino in order to make them.

READ MORE ON TECH CRUNCH

Not sure how or why people with the EXACT same parents get to have their races dictated to them by strangers. Article.

“Where does White end and Black begin?” Thank you! More importantly, who TF thinks they have the right to decide it?

A new study suggests that Holocaust survivors’ descendants may have altered stress hormones because of epigenetics. (thanks tinglealley.)

Claims that these kinds of epigenetic changes – changes in the expression of our genes – are heritable remain somewhat contentious, but the studies keep coming and the evidence that this is possible really seems to be mounting. Two fascinating books on the subject are Tim Spector’s Identically Different: Why You Can Change Your Genes, based on his years of studying identical twins as a professor of genetic epidemiology, and Sharon Moalem’s Inheritance: How Our Genes Change Our Lives and Our Lives Change Our Genes, based on his work in rare diseases, neurogenetics, and biotechnology.

Some recent articles:

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Plankton is not just whale food

Scientists  unveiled the most comprehensive analysis ever undertaken of the world’s ocean plankton, the tiny organisms that serve as food for marine creatures such as the blue whale, but also provide half the oxygen we breathe. The researchers spent 3-½ years aboard the schooner Tara, taking 35,000 samples of plankton from 210 sites globally, determining the distribution of the organisms, tracking how they interact with one another and carrying out genetic analyses.

Plankton include microscopic plants and animals, fish larvae, bacteria, viruses and other microorganisms that drift in the oceans.

“Plankton are much more than just food for the whales,” said Chris Bowler, a research director at France’s National Center for Scientific Research, and one of the scientists involved in the study published in the journal Science. “Although tiny, these organisms are a vital part of the Earth’s life support system, providing half of the oxygen generated each year on Earth by photosynthesis and lying at the base of marine food chains on which all other ocean life depends.”

The scientists conducted the largest DNA sequencing effort ever done in ocean science, pinpointing around 40 million plankton genes, most previously unknown. Much of the plankton was more genetically diverse than previously known. However, the genetic diversity of marine viruses was much lower than anticipated.

By removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and converting it into organic carbon via photosynthesis, plankton provide a buffer against the increased carbon dioxide being generated by the burning of fossil fuels, Bowler said.

Read more (via reuters.com)

Images (via scientificamerican.com)

Canadian scientists double the size of ants in experiment

Canadian scientists have managed to double the size of experimental ants by unlocking the mystery of how an animal’s environment affects how big it grows.

“It’s kind of making big news,” said Ehab Abouheif of McGill University’s evolutionary and developmental biology lab and co-author of a paper published Wednesday in Nature Communications.

Abouheif and his fellow researchers, including McGill geneticist Moshe Syzf, started by looking at ant colonies and asking: Why are some ants of the same species big and other ones small?

Continue Reading.

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A brief history of articles showing a handful of the human and human/animal DNA experiments the public knows about. 

Sources:

1: http://www.bbc.co.uk/ethics/animals/using/hybridembryos_1.shtml

2: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2017818/Embryos-involving-genes-animals-mixed-humans-produced-secretively-past-years.html

3: http://www.infowars.com/u-s-super-soldiers-of-the-future-will-be-genetically-modified-transhumans-capable-of-superhuman-feats/

4: http://qz.com/389494/chinese-researchers-are-the-first-to-genetically-modify-a-human-embryo-and-many-scientists-think-theyve-gone-too-far/

Human embryos successfully edited by Chinese researchers via CRISPR-Cas9

By Antonio Regalado -

In an ethically charged first, Chinese researchers have used gene editing to modify human embryos obtained from an in-vitro fertilization clinic.

The 16-person scientific team, based at the Sun Yat-Sen University in Guangzhou, China, set out to see whether it could correct the gene defect that causes beta-thalassemia, a blood disease, by editing the DNA of fertilized eggs.

READ MORE ON MIT TECHNOLOGY REVIEW

Ref:   CRISPR/Cas9-mediated gene editing in human tripronuclear zygotes. Protein & Cell (2015) | DOI:10.​1007/​s13238-015-0153-5

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Human Genetics Highlights

In celebration of DNA Day, 23andMe took a look back at highlights in human genetics history. From the first published paper on DNA in 1953 to the first GWAS in 2005, here are some noteworthy innovations in genetics, including 23andMe company milestones. 

Happy DNA Day!

source

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Wealth and power may have played stronger role than ‘survival of the fittest’

In a study led by scientists from Arizona State University, the University of Cambridge, University of Tartu and Estonian Biocentre, researchers discovered a dramatic decline in genetic diversity in male lineages 4,000 to 8,000 years ago – likely the result of the accumulation of material wealth, while in contrast, female genetic diversity was on the rise. This male-specific decline occurred during the mid- to late-Neolithic period.

“Instead of ‘survival of the fittest’ in a biological sense, the accumulation of wealth and power may have increased the reproductive success of a limited number of ‘socially fit’ males and their sons,” said Melissa Wilson Sayres, a leading author and assistant professor with ASU’s School of Life Sciences.

The study was published March 13 in an online issue of the journal Genome Research.

Read more

On April 24, 2003, shortly after the completion of the human genome project, its director Francis Collins and his team posed 15 grand challenges to the scientific community. They dared researchers to harness the genome to crack puzzles of biology, health, and society. In particular, they called for genome-based tools to close health disparities. Since then, the United States has pumped more than $1 billion a year into genomics research. What do we have to show for it?

“What we found in the literature published from 2007 to 2013 was basically nothing,” said Jay Kaufman, the lead author of the first study to examine available genetic data for evidence that explains a major racial-health disparity. For many years, researchers speculated that what they couldn’t explain about disparities must be the fingerprint of some mysterious genetic component. But since they are now able to scan the entire genome, this speculation appears both lazy and wrong. When it comes to why many black people die earlier than white people in the U.S., Kaufman and his colleagues show we’ve been looking for answers in the wrong places: We shouldn’t be looking in the twists of the double helix, but the grinding inequality of the environment.

Listening to classical music enhanced the activity of genes that are mainly related to reward and pleasure, cognitive functions and proper brain function. Some of the findings of this study may explain the molecular mechanisms underlying music therapy.
— 

Chakravarthi Kanduri, Computational Biology Researcher at the University of Helsinki

Music can change your genes — and that’s huge for just about everyone

Puberty (13), Election age (18), and Drinking age (21)

Puberty for Patau syndrome, caused by trisomy 13

Election for Edwards syndome, caused by trisomy 18

Drinking for Down syndrome, caused by trisomy 21

AND this list is in reverse order of frequency of trisomies resulting in live births (Down most common, then Edward, then Patau).

I always find this super difficult, but it turns out First Aid has a mnemonic for this.