DNA and Genes

Genes are the blueprints of life. Genes control everything from hair color to blood sugar by telling cells which proteins to make, how much, when, and where. Genes exist in most cells. Inside a cell is a long strand of the chemical DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid). A DNA sequence is a specific lineup of chemical base pairs along its strand. The part of DNA that determines what protein to produce and when, is called a gene.</p> <p>First established in 1985 by Sir Alec Jeffreys, DNA testing has become an increasingly popular method of identification and research. The applications of DNA testing, or DNA fingerprinting within forensic science is often what most people think of when they hear the phrase. Popularized by television and cinema, using DNA to match blood, hair or saliva to criminals is one purpose of testing DNA. It is also frequently used for other benefits, like wildlife studies, paternity testing, body identification, and in studies pertaining to human dispersion. While most aspects of DNA are identical in samples from all human beings, concentrating on identifying patterns called microsatellites reveals qualities specific and unique to the individual. During the early stages of this science, a DNA test was performed using an analysis called restriction fragment length polymorphism. Because this process was extremely time consuming and required a great deal of DNA, new methods like polymerase chain reaction and amplified fragment length polymorphism have been employed. The benefits of DNA testing are ample. In 1987, Colin Pitchfork became the first criminal to be caught as a result of DNA testing. The information provided with DNA tests has also helped wrongfully incarcerated people like Gary Dotson and Dennis Halstead reclaim their freedom.
Read More
'Schizophrenia Gene' Discovery Sheds Light on Possible Cause
Neurons in the brain.
January 27th, 2016
Researchers have identified a gene that increases the risk of schizophrenia, and they say they have a plausible theory as to how this gene may cause the devastating mental illness.
Read More »
Wear Your Genes: Scarves Turn Your DNA Into Unique Pattern
DNA-Personalized Scarf
December 27th, 2015
You can now buy scarves featuring designs based on your unique DNA sequence, making these items among the most personalized gifts ever made.
Read More »
What Clues Does Your Dog's Spit Hold for Human Mental Health?
Beskow the adopted mutt
December 5th, 2015
Dogs suffer from many of the same psychiatric and neurological disease humans do. Can studying them help diagnose and treat humans as well?
Read More »
Mom Genes: This Cockroach Species' Live Births Are in Its DNA
Mama Cockroach
January 26th, 2016
The beetle mimic cockroach gives live birth, and one researcher from the University of Cincinnati figured out what was happening on the genetic level.
Read More »
Gene Gems: Ultrapersonalized Jewelry Encapsulates Your DNA
Inside Identity Ring
December 8th, 2015
Diamonds may be forever, but what's more unique and rare than even the most precious stones on Earth? The code of life.
Read More »
Cobwebs Hold Genetic Secrets About Spiders and Their Prey
A black widow and cricket in a web.
November 25th, 2015
An empty spider web isn't a mystery; it's a clue.
Read More »