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

Would You Customize Your First Born Child?

The recent announcement by a British medical ethics board in favor of an experimental three-parent IVF treatment—wherein the genetic material from three donors, not the usual two, is used to create a fetus—and has once again stirred the pot of reproductive controversy. So where exactly is the line between prenatal… » 3/16/14 2:00pm 3/16/14 2:00pm

Resurrecting Dinosaur-Age Proteins To Cure Human Disease

While dinosaurs have not yet been resurrected Jurassic Park-style, scientists fiddling with ancient DNA sequences have made a discovery that may turn out to be a tad more useful: a treatment for gout. That a 90 million-year-old protein could treat a modern disease is a fascinating window into evolutionary history. » 2/20/14 5:20pm 2/20/14 5:20pm

The Science of Marrying Your Cousin

In modern western society, marrying your cousin is not well accepted, particularly in the United States. Through a combination of old prejudices and present-day conventional wisdom about inherited birth defects, first cousin marriage is seen by many as a little too close for comfort, as well as a bad idea if you want… » 2/14/14 7:00am 2/14/14 7:00am

The World's Oldest Tumor is 11,000 Years Old and Spread By Dog Sex

Somewhere 11,000 years ago, something weird happened to a dog. It got cancer—and the really damn freaky part is that the cancer could survive even outside of its canine host. That unknown dog is long dead now, but its tumor cells have improbably lived on, continuing to sprout on the genitalia of dogs all over the… » 1/24/14 5:40pm 1/24/14 5:40pm