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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Ancient American: Kennewick Man's Tribal Links Confirmed
A clay facial reconstruction of Kennewick Man was carefully sculpted around the morphological features of his skull.
May 2nd, 2016
The origins of a man who lived some 8,500 years ago, and whose skeleton was discovered in 1996 in Kennewick, Washington, have finally been pinned down.
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Designer Medicine Needs More Than Big Data, It Needs New Science (Op-Ed)
Human genome
April 20th, 2016
Science rests on data, of that there can be no doubt.
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Marijuana Addiction Linked to Genetics
marijuana, marijuana leaves, plant
March 30th, 2016
A new study finds a link between three genetic markers and symptoms of marijuana dependence.
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That Youthful Glow? It's in Your Genetic Makeup
A woman's face as she ages
April 28th, 2016
Does one gene makes you younger and one gene make you old?
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Your Genes May Influence When You Lose Your Virginity
dna, double helix
April 18th, 2016
The age at which people first have sex is largely influenced by social factors, but genes play a role too.
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Trace Your Ancient Human Ancestry with New Map
Denisovan genome proportions
March 29th, 2016
The map reveals how extensively past interbreeding has affected people alive today.
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'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.
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Is It Possible to Clone a Dinosaur?
An illustration of a T. rex head in a storm.
April 28th, 2016
Apologies to people keen on reviving extinct dinosaurs, but researchers have never recovered dinosaur DNA, which is necessary for cloning. But, intriguingly, they have found fragments of mystery DNA in dinosaur bone, experts told Live Science.
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Mom's Smoking Can Alter Fetus's DNA
smoking, cigarette, pregnant
March 31st, 2016
Before reaching for a cigarette, consider your baby's genes.
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Tiny Artificial Life: Lab-Made Bacterium Sports Smallest Genome Yet
Scientists have synthesized a bacterial genome with just the genes necessary for life.
March 24th, 2016
A newly created bacterium, with a synthetic genome, can metabolize nutrients and self-replicate, bringing the world a step closer to building custom artificial life with particular functionalities, Craig Venter and his team said.
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