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May 31, 2016

Gene Duplication: New Analysis Shows How Extra Copies Split the Work

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, evolution

Word cloudThe human genome contains more than 20,000 protein-coding genes, which carry the instructions for proteins essential to the structure and function of our cells, tissues and organs. Some of these genes are very similar to each other because, as the genomes of humans and other mammals evolve, glitches in DNA replication sometimes result in extra copies of a gene being made. Those duplicates can be passed along to subsequent generations and, on very rare occasions, usually at a much later point in time, acquire additional modifications that may enable them to serve new biological functions. By starting with a protein shape that has already been fine-tuned for one function, evolution can produce a new function more rapidly than starting from scratch.

Pretty cool! But it leads to a question that’s long perplexed evolutionary biologists: Why don’t duplicate genes vanish from the gene pool almost as soon as they appear? After all, instantly doubling the amount of protein produced in an organism is usually a recipe for disaster—just think what might happen to a human baby born with twice as much insulin or clotting factor as normal. At the very least, duplicate genes should be unnecessary and therefore vulnerable to being degraded into functionless pseudogenes as new mutations arise over time.

An NIH-supported team offers a possible answer to this question in a study published in the journal Science. Based on their analysis of duplicate gene pairs in the human and mouse genomes, the researchers suggest that extra genes persist in the genome because of rapid changes in gene activity. Instead of the original gene producing 100 percent of a protein in the body, the gene duo quickly divvies up the job [1]. For instance, the original gene might produce roughly 50 percent and its duplicate the other 50 percent. Most importantly, organisms find the right balance and the duplicate genes can easily survive to be passed along to their offspring, providing fodder for continued evolution.

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May 31, 2016

Cannabis use linked to gene mutation

Posted by in category: biotech/medical

Pot can cause serious illness due to its gene altering effects.

Scientists from The University of Western Australia have identified how using cannabis can alter a person’s DNA structure, causing mutations which can expose them to serious illnesses, and be passed on to their children and several future generations.

Although the association between use and severe illnesses such as cancer has previously been documented, how this occurs and the implications for was not previously understood.

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May 31, 2016

Augmented Reality Glasses with Eye Tracking Showcased at AWE 2016

Posted by in category: augmented reality

TELTOW, Germany and REHOVOT, Israel, May 31, 2016 /PRNewswire/ —

SensoMotoric Instruments (SMI) adds eye tracking to the Lumus DK-50

- Cross reference: Picture is available at AP Images (

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May 31, 2016

For $20M, These Israeli Hackers Will Spy On Any Phone On The Planet

Posted by in categories: mobile phones, surveillance

The latest surveillance tech from Israel “will open a new era in data interception,” says the CEO of profitable but troubled snoop supplier Ability. It’s sitting on the “golden key of surveillance” with a $20M product.

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May 31, 2016

Fighter jets piloted by mind control using brain-to-machine implant on the horizon

Posted by in categories: military, neuroscience

DARPA’s new mind control fighter jets (BMIs are coming here soon) — BMI tech will mean smart devices will not be needed by most of the population.

University of Melbourne has developed an implant that could plug the brain directly into a vehicle.

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May 31, 2016

The Defense Department Wants Your Ideas For A Military Space Plane

Posted by in categories: military, space travel

Oh boy.

Got a design concept? You have until July 22 to submit your plan.

By Jennings Brown.

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May 31, 2016

Finding a New Formula for Concrete

Posted by in categories: engineering, materials

“If we can replace cement, partially or totally, with some other materials that may be readily and amply available in nature, we can meet our objectives for sustainability,” MIT Professor Oral Buyukozturk says. Image: Christine Daniloff/MITResearchers at MIT are seeking to redesign concrete — the most widely used human-made material in the world — by following nature’s blueprints.

In a paper published online in the journal Construction and Building Materials, the team contrasts cement paste — concrete’s binding ingredient — with the structure and properties of natural materials such as bones, shells, and deep-sea sponges. As the researchers observed, these biological materials are exceptionally strong and durable, thanks in part to their precise assembly of structures at multiple length scales, from the molecular to the macro, or visible, level.

From their observations, the team, led by Oral Buyukozturk, a professor in MIT’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE), proposed a new bioinspired, “bottom-up” approach for designing cement paste.

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May 31, 2016

Can Tracking Our Hormones Make Us Smarter With Money?

Posted by in category: economics

Bad with money? Blame it on your hormones according to Richard Thaler.

Let’s face it: most of us suck at managing money.

According to a National Bureau of Economics working paper published this March, roughly three quarters of all American households carry some form of debt. 40% haven’t paid off their credit cards. Nearly half have no savings at all. And the US isn’t alone: Canada, the UK and Australia are in roughly the same debt-ridden neighborhood.

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May 31, 2016

Gene BRCA1 Plays An Important Role In DNA Repair

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, genetics


The research, published in Nature Structural and Molecular Biology, explains how the gene encourages the attachment of the protein, ubiquitin, to other proteins and plays a vital role in DNA repair. Should the results be confirmed by further studies, it is possible that patients with certain genetic changes in BRCA1 could be identified as being at higher risk of breast and ovarian cancer.

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May 31, 2016

First gene therapy for children is approved in Europe: Radical treatment for rare ‘bubble boy’ disorder has a 100% survival rate

Posted by in category: biotech/medical

Great news for precision medicine.

European regulators have given the green light for a British drug firm to produce the world’s first gene therapy treatment for children.

GlaxoSmithKline was given approval by the European Commission to provide the treatment to children with a rare immune disorder — which can be fatal for those affected.

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