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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Watson's Nobel Prize medal.
December 5th, 2014
James Watson has a new claim to fame: His Nobel Prize medal just sold for a record-breaking $4.76 million.
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Memory Making Linked to Gene and Protein, Research Shows
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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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It's Really Richard: DNA Confirms King's Remains
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Humanity Has More Mothers Than Fathers, DNA Reveals
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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
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James Watson's Nobel Prize for DNA Discovery Up for Auction
Watson's Nobel Prize medal.
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You may never actually win a Nobel Prize, but that doesn't mean you can't take one these prestigious awards home with you.
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Do People Expect Too Much From DNA Data? (Op-Ed)
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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
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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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