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.
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Evolution Is Not Random (At Least, Not Totally)
dna illustration
October 2nd, 2014
Evolution is often said to be "blind," because there's no outside force guiding natural selection. But changes in genetic material that occur at the molecular level are not entirely random, a new study suggests.
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Memory Making Linked to Gene and Protein, Research Shows
brain’s hippocampus with fluorescent lighting agent

August 19th, 2014
Discovery of the Arc gene and its like-named protein is leading to breakthroughs in how memories form and are recalled as well as giving hope to developing treatments for memory disorders like Alzheimer’s.
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People Use Just 8.2% of Their DNA, Study Finds
Strand of DNA
July 24th, 2014
More than a decade has passed since the completion of the Human Genome Project, the international collaboration to map all of the "letters" in our DNA. Yet, it's still unclear what percentage of the human genome is actually doing something important.
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Humanity Has More Mothers Than Fathers, DNA Reveals
X and Y DNA
September 24th, 2014
There were a lot more mothers than fathers throughout much of human history, a new DNA analysis of people around the world shows. The genetic findings offer evidence for polygyny, when one man has many wives, as people migrated out of Africa.
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Blood Test Could Predict Oral Cancer Recurrence
Blood Test Tubes
August 1st, 2014
A new blood and saliva test that looks for traces of the human papillomavirus (HPV) can predict whether some people with oral cancers will have their cancer come back, early research suggests.
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Genetic Match? People Marry Those With Similar DNA
May 19th, 2014
Married people are more likely to have matching DNA segments than random strangers, suggesting that people pick their mates based partially on genetic-influenced traits.
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Do People Expect Too Much From DNA Data? (Op-Ed)
walter gilbert, dna, dna sequencing
September 23rd, 2014
Walter Gilbert, the 1980 winner of the Nobel Prize for Chemistry, discusses the future of DNA sequencing.
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Newly Discovered Virus Lives in Half the World's Population
bacteria-generic-110121-02
July 24th, 2014
A new virus that lives in the gut has just been discovered, and to the surprise of scientists, can be found in about half the world's population, according to a new study.
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Friends Have More DNA in Common than Strangers 
friends genetics similar
July 14th, 2014
People unsuspectingly choose friends who share parts of the same DNA, a new genetic analysis finds.
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