This Video Is the Best Explanation Yet of How Genomes Really Work


There are 20,000 genes in the human genome, but only a small fraction of them are active in any given cell. This video from Nature explains with beautiful clarity the system that activity, turning genes on and off. It's called the epigenome, and it's incredibly important. Now you can understand how it works, too. » 2/19/15 4:00pm 2/19/15 4:00pm

How Do I Look in These Genes? The Science of DNA Dating

That sensation you feel when you meet someone you like—that visceral pull towards another human being—there's biology behind that. And if there's biology behind that, it can be measured, and controlled for, and used to help determine if two people will be attracted to each other before they ever even meet in person. » 2/09/15 11:30am 2/09/15 11:30am

80% Of Americans Support Mandatory Labels On Foods Containing DNA. DNA!

A recent survey conducted by the Oklahoma State University Department of Agricultural Economics found that 80.44% of respondents supported a government policy mandating labels on foods containing DNA. Not GMOs. DNA, the genetic material contained in every living thing known to science and practically every food,… » 1/18/15 2:18pm 1/18/15 2:18pm

Of Course 23andMe's Plan Has Been to Sell Your Genetic Data All Along

Today, 23andMe announced what Forbes reports is only the first of ten deals with big biotech companies: Genentech will pay up to $60 million for access to 23andMe's data to study Parkinson's. You think 23andMe was about selling fun DNA spit tests for $99 a pop? Nope, it's been about selling your data all along. » 1/06/15 3:35pm 1/06/15 3:35pm

How a New DNA Test Can Distinguish Between Identical Twins 

Ever since police started using DNA tests, one particular loophole has captivated our imagination: How do you distinguish between identical twins who share DNA? But it turns out even identical twins have tiny differences in their DNA, and prosecutors in Massachusetts want to use a new test for identical twins in court… » 12/04/14 7:30pm 12/04/14 7:30pm

Why I'd Let Google Put My Genome in the Cloud

For the past 18 months, according to the Tech Review, Google has been quietly rolling out a cloud computing service for DNA. Google Genomics could one day have millions of genomes on its servers, available at a click of a button to researchers. Are there legitimate privacy concerns here? Definitely, but it's not… » 11/07/14 7:20pm 11/07/14 7:20pm

The Many Ways We're Using Mutant Mosquitos to Eradicate Disease

Mosquitos suck. It's not just because of those itchy red bites we all get in the summer, either. Mosquitos suck because they're the deadliest animals on the planet, and none of our classic strategies from combatting the threat seem to be working. That's why we're turning the mosquitos against themselves. » 9/25/14 1:55pm 9/25/14 1:55pm

The World's First Handheld DNA Amplifier Is a Genetics Lab In a Box

DNA sequencing is crucial for identifying and tracking nasty viruses like E. coli and the flu. But current tabletop-size DNA sequencing machines aren't readily portable. Researchers at the University of Otago in New Zealand have a solution in a brick-sized DNA sequencer that connects wirelessly to a smartphone or… » 8/26/14 1:42pm 8/26/14 1:42pm

How the Internet Is Helping a Father Fight an Illness Unknown to Science

In 2012, Matt Might sat down to write a blog post. The 5,000-word essay titled "Hunting Down My Son's Killer," which was also republished on Gizmodo, documented his and his wife's harrowing attempt to make sense of their son's mysterious illness. The post went viral online—setting the family down a road that could… » 7/17/14 5:30pm 7/17/14 5:30pm

There's a Plan to Breed Bald Chickens That Can Survive Global Warming

In a few decades, global warming will likely make our unbearable summers hotter, longer, and even more unbearable. So think of the chickens. Or, if you can't find a place for chickens in your heart, think of the chicken nuggets and hot wings that you'll miss. That's why researchers at the University of Delaware want… » 6/26/14 7:40pm 6/26/14 7:40pm

Mystery Illnesses Could Now Be Diagnosed With a Rapid DNA Test

When we think of medicine, we usually think of the treatment: drugs, surgery, therapy. But before all that comes the diagnosis—a tricky proposition when symptoms are confusing and information scant. Now for the first time ever, doctors were able to use rapid DNA sequencing to identify an obscure bacterium in time to… » 6/05/14 6:20pm 6/05/14 6:20pm

Scientists Have Created "Alien" DNA

After 15 years of work, scientists have successfully created a living cell that contains two unnatural DNA building blocks. The breakthrough brings us one step closer to being able to synthesize cells that can produce drugs on demand. It even opens the door to a future where we could create life that's unlike anything… » 5/07/14 6:20pm 5/07/14 6:20pm

Scientists Manipulate Genes to Make Old Organs Young Again (in Mice)

Researchers at the University of Edinburgh showed this week that they could teach an old mouse's thymus to bounce back to a healthy, youthful state, simply by manipulating a single protein that controls gene expression. It's the first time scientists have been able to regenerate a living organ by gene manipulation,… » 4/10/14 10:10am 4/10/14 10:10am