The trouble with the future is that it never seems to arrive. That’s why we call it the future. We consequently have this bad habit of taking the present, and all the wondrous and horrific things it has to offer, for granted. As a reminder that we’re actually living in the future of a not-so-distant past, we present…
A international team of researchers has completed one of the most detailed analyses of a Neanderthal genome to date. Among the many new findings, the researchers learned that Neanderthals first mated with modern humans a surprisingly long time ago, and that humans living today have more Neanderthal DNA than we assumed.
For the first time, a research team from China used a new technique to fix a blood disorder in human embryos. The scientists performed “chemical surgery”—a procedure that rewrites errors in genetic code instead of snapping and replacing strands of faulty DNA, which is the central strategy employed by the CRISPR gene…
At altitudes of 15,000 feet, Tibetans live in environments that would incapacitate most humans. New research has uncovered several genetic mutations that appear to be responsible for these high-altitude superpowers—including a trait inherited from an extinct human species.
As individuals, our DNA offers insight into things like our personalities, our health and where we come from. But taken together, all those individual portraits can add up to paint a detailed history of humankind.
Hundreds of millions of years ago, a tiny green microbe joined forces with a fungus, and together they conquered the world. It’s a tale of two cross-kingdom organisms, one providing food and the one other shelter, and it’s been our touchstone example of symbiosis for 150 years. Trouble is, that story is nowhere near…
Earlier this week, over a hundred scientists, lawyers, and entrepreneurs gathered to discuss the radical possibility of creating a synthetic human genome. Strangely, journalists were not invited, and attendees were told to keep a tight lip. Which, given the weighty subject matter, is obvious cause for concern.
An international team of scholars has just unveiled plans to science the shit out of Leonardo da Vinci, the man who gave us the Mona Lisa and envisioned futuristic technologies like helicopters and tanks 500 years ago. Goals of the fledgling “Leonardo Project” include recovering the famous Renaissance figure’s remains…
Ticks—those unbreakable, blood-lusting arthropods that haunt your summer camp memories—have some fascinating genetic secrets. The tick genome tells a tale of weaponized spit, expandable armor, and how to drink 100 times one’s body weight in blood. Strangest of all, it’s utterly enormous.
Water bears, known to scientists as tardigrades, are famously adorable microscopic creatures who can survive anything: freezing, total dehydration, radiation bombardment, and even the vacuum of deep space. Now scientists have sequenced a tardigrade genome, and are very surprised by the results.
Biotech visionary and entrepreneur Craig Venter, famous for inventing a technique to sequence his own genome back in the 1990s, has embarked on a new venture. For $25,000, his startup Human Longevity will give you every possible futuristic medical test, potentially revealing your risk for Alzheimer’s.
Scientists have finished sequencing the first complete octopus genome, and it’s a big step toward unraveling many cephalopod mysteries, including the basis of their unusual intelligence and unmatched camouflage abilities.
By editing a single gene, researchers from South Korea and China have engineered pigs that produce about twice the amount of muscle as normal pigs. The goal is to produce leaner meat and at higher yields, but early results show it could be a long time before this jacked-up pork appears on your dinner plate.
The fear of genetically-modified creatures escaping from the lab is the basis for a thousand sci-fi stories, but it’s also a legitimate concern. That’s why genetic engineers are inventing kill switches, or genetically-encoded suicide triggers, for GMOs they want to keep contained. Here’s how they work.
The Y chromosome, a chunk of genetic code that is unique to male mammals, isn’t just physically smaller than the X. It also contains far fewer genes. The X has more than 1000 genes, while the Y has fewer than 200 —and most of them don’t even work. Why do men have this odd, stunted chromosome in their genomes?
Organoids are exactly what they sound like: simplified miniature organs. And now geneticists are growing them out of living cancer cells, creating tiny, living cancer tumors for study. It sounds terrifying, but it’s actually one possible way we’ll get personalized medicine to treat many kinds of cancer.
CRISPR, a new genome editing tool, could transform the field of biology—and a recent study on genetically-engineered human embryos has converted this promise into media hype. But scientists have been tinkering with genomes for decades. Why is CRISPR suddenly such a big deal?
A group of geneticists has called for a moratorium on research into modifying heritable human DNA — a practice that could lead to so-called "designer babies." But as scientists consider this drastic proposal, they should also recognize the potential benefits this technology could afford – and the risks of an outright…
23andMe made a name for itself selling DNA test kits, but today it announced a radical new direction: The company will start mining its huge database of DNA sequences to create new drugs. The science of how they could do that is fascinating—but it raises a lot of futuristic ethical questions too.
Now that Britain has legalized three-parent IVF, it's time for other countries to follow suit. As noted by Tom Solomon in The Guardian, "It's mind-boggling that some people are against a medical advance that will prevent mitochondrial disease from occurring." Critics warn that it could lead to so-called "designer…