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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Newly Discovered Virus Lives in Half the World's Population
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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Male-only Gene Trick Could Leave Invasive Fish Species Floundering (Op-Ed)
carp, invasive species, genetics
May 12th, 2014
A genetic modification that creates male-only populations could give us a new weapon against invasive fish such as carp that plague our waterways.
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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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Watson and Crick Took All the Glory, but There’s a Forgotten Hero of the Double Helix
William Astbury, DNA, double helix
July 9th, 2014
In the world of sport, we remember a winner. The history of science is often also described in similar terms.
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Weird Engineered Organism Has 6-Letter DNA
printing blocks
May 7th, 2014
The first report of a bacterium whose genome contains man-made DNA building blocks opens the door for tailor-made organisms that could be used to produce new drugs and other products.
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How Obesity May Raise Breast Cancer Risk
dna strand, telomeres, health
April 11th, 2014
Women with a certain genetic marker may be at increased risk for breast cancer, especially if they are overweight or obese, a new study 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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Plant-Derived Nanotubes Provide Personalized DNA Delivery
Plant-derived nanotubes
April 15th, 2014
Tiny tubes deliver functioning genes to cells with broken copies.
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