Genes Change Your Risk for Disease, but Aren’t Necessarily Destiny

In 1951 essayist Norman Cousins wrote: “The hand that is dealt you represents determinism. The way you play your hand represents free will.” He was writing about the nature of man, but it’s not unreasonable to extrapolate his thoughts to the part that our genes play in our health.

The genetic material we inherit from our parents may be a blueprint, an instruction book used to build our body and to keep it running, but – for most of us – it doesn’t determine our fate completely.

Source: Genetics: Risk or Destiny?

Disease is one aspect; athleticism is another.  I’ll never be an elite athlete, but that won’t stop me from enjoying a hobby.

Genetically Speaking, You’re More Like Your Dad

You may have inherited your mother’s eyes, but, genetically speaking, you use more DNA passed down from your father. That’s the conclusion of a new study on mice that researchers say likely applies to all mammals.

We humans get one copy of each gene from mom and one from dad (ignoring those pesky sex chromosomes) that hasn’t changed. The same is true for all mammals. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that mom and dad genes are equally active in creating who we are.

Researchers now report that thousands of mouse genes show parent-specific effects, and that on balance, the scales are tipped in favor of dads. Studying whether this imbalance exists in humans could give scientists insights into the causes of inherited conditions like diabetes and heart disease.

Source: Genetically Speaking, You’re More Like Your Dad

Surprising Genetic Glitch Creates Stuttering Mice with Human-like Speech Disorder

Mice that can stutter like humans may seem pretty striking. But what really renders researchers speechless is the enigmatic genetic glitch that causes stuttering.

Source: Surprising genetic glitch creates stuttering mice w/ human-like speech disorder

Now they need to test if stress, like sleep deprivation and caffeine, make their stuttering worse in humans.

New App Aims to Help Researchers Look for a Genetic Link to Postpartum Depression

With mothers and medical providers clamoring for answers about postpartum depression, scientists are beginning a major effort to understand the genetic underpinnings of mood disorders that afflict millions of women during and after pregnancy.

Source: Hunting the Genetic Signs of Postpartum Depression With an iPhone App

Women with high scores will be asked if they’d like to submit a DNA sample to researchers at UNC. If users agree, they will be mailed an oral kit. Researchers assured the Times that even though personal information like name and address are required, that data will be encrypted in order to preserve privacy.

HIV Genes Successfully Edited Out of Immune Cells

Researchers from Temple University have used the CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing tool to clear out the entire HIV-1 genome from a patient’s infected immune cells. It’s a remarkable achievement that could have profound implications for the treatment of AIDS and other retroviruses.

Source: HIV Genes Successfully Edited Out of Immune Cells

It’s a little early to break out the champagne, but while medication for HIV has done wonders – HIV is notoriously good at hiding in the body.  That’s where news like this brings hope that HIV positive people could one day be truly cured.

New Molecular Scissors Cut Out Lingering HIV—Maybe Once And For All

For the approximately 37 million people worldwide who are infected with HIV (human immunodeficiency virus), the newest cocktails of anti-retroviral drugs have come a long way in beating back the retrovirus and keeping an infection in check. Still, those drugs are no cure. While the treatments snarl the viral assembly line and thwart new infectious particles from invading the body’s cells, HIV itself is still there, hunkered in the DNA of a patient’s genome until there’s an opportunity for a comeback—say, when a patient goes off their medication.

Source: New molecular scissors cut out lingering HIV—maybe once and for all

I wonder if this means if we can eventually cure all those pesky viruses that hides in cells. Shingles, Herpes, and the whole bunch.

DNA Tests Can’t Really Tell Your True Ethnicity

The answer as to whether a DNA test can tell you your ethnic identity? Yes — and no.

We know that, when it comes to DNA, geography matters. Although in principle anyone can mate with anyone else, in practice we tend to mate with people nearby. If we could assemble all the DNA of everyone everywhere, we would expect to find that people living near each other were more likely to be genetically similar than people living farther apart.

Source: Can You Tell Your Ethnic Identity From Your DNA?

It would provide insight for those who have little to no family history.  My family barely has any details beyond my grandparents, and even then – I discover that my parents have neglected to mention things.

Ancient Hook-ups With Neanderthals Left Lasting Effects On Our Health

Around 50,000 years ago, anatomically modern humans shacked up with some Neanderthals—and the genetic consequences are still doing a walk of shame through our generations.

Source: Ancient hook-ups with Neanderthals left lasting effects on our health

“Hook-ups” is rather charitable, no?  The myth of the noble savage is just that – a myth. Intelligent species, especially those with the ability to reason, all murder members of their own race. Dolphins, chimps, apes, etc all plan and kill each other.

So we have some insight to why those like my father have Factor V (still waiting on confirming for myself)…  I admit – before the blood thinner, I didn’t bleed much at all.  But then Life for me turned into Logan’s Run…

Don’t Hate Perky Morning People: It Might Be Their DNA’s Fault

The people who burst from bed as the sun rises to cheerily tackle their to-do list—while others sluggishly rouse and fumble with coffee makers—may have a few DNA tweaks in common.

Source: Don’t hate perky morning people: It might be their DNA’s fault

Being a morning person is associated with lower risks of depression…  Speaking as a cheerful morning person myself, my theory is that part of that is all the free schadenfreude we get access to just by watching all the other poor schlubs trying to get moving in the morning.