Posts Tagged ‘genetics’

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“2013’s Nobel Prize Winners” — Podcast 11: James Rothman, Randy Schekman & Thomas Südhof

On Episode 11 of The Connectome Podcast, I’m joined by all three of 2013’s Nobel Prize winners in the Physiology/Medicine category — James Rothman, Randy Schekman and Thomas Südhof! All three of these guys contributed crucial pieces to a longstanding puzzle: How, exactly, do our brain cells communicate with each other? See, biologists had known […]

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Skin Into Brain II

For the first time in history, scientists have reprogrammed a whole batch of skin cells into a self-organizing, functioning network of brain cells, says a new study. That’s right, y’all – Dr. Sheng Ding at UCSF is blowin’ up the stem cell research game once again – except this time, instead of just reprogramming individual […]

Doubling Up

Our big brains may be the result of a doubled gene that lets brain cells migrate to new areas, says a new study. The gene, known as SRGAP2, has been duplicated in our genomes at least twice in the four million years since our ancestors diverged from those of the other great apes. It codes for […]

Autistic Genetics

Some forms of autism seem to be linked with variations in certain genes, a new study says. The deletion of a certain cluster of 27 genes on the mammalian chromosome 16 – specifically a region known as 16p11.2 – causes autism-like features to develop in mouse brains. These mice exhibited hyperactivity, repetitive behaviors, and difficulty adjusting to […]

Enzyme Alarm Clock

Researchers have isolated a protein that sounds our biological clock’s alarm each morning, a new study reports. A gene known as KDM5A codes for an enzyme (i.e., a protein that increases the rate of a chemical reaction) called JARID1a. This enzyme acts as a switch that starts the biochemical process of waking us from sleep – like some […]

Optimistic Genetics

For the first time, scientists have pinpointed a particular gene variation linked with optimism and self-esteem, a new study reports. Two different versions – alleles – of the oxytocin receptor gene (OXTR) exist: an allele with the nucleotide “A” (adenine) at a certain location, and an allele with “G” (guanine) at that same location. Previous studies had found that people […]

Skin Into Brain

Scientists have discovered a way to convert human skin cells into working brain cells. Cue the Weird Science theme song! Using strands of microRNA molecules and a few carefully chosen genes, a team led by Dr. Sheng Ding at the Scripps Research Institute reprogrammed the genetic code of skin cells taken from a 55-year-old patient, transforming them into full-fledged neurons that actually synapse […]

Inherited Memory

Scientists have discovered a molecular mechanism by which a parent’s experiences can alter the genes of its children. Several recent studies have demonstrated connections between environmental factors and inherited genetic traits – for instance, people whose parents lived through famine tend to have higher rates of diabetes and heart disease – but this latest research, published in the […]

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