For the first time ever, scientists have sequenced the genome of the world’s tallest land species, the giraffe. Surprisingly, this majestic creature required only a small handful of mutations to attain its remarkable physical stature and physiology—but these mutations packed an evolutionary punch.
With a deluge of DNA sequences pouring in from various studies, researchers diving in are finding that Mendelian genetics may be a lot muddier than expected. Wrinkled peas aside, certain bad mutations may not always be bad.
Given the population density on the earth it is highly likely you’ll find naturally evolving resilience to disorders and diseases before you’ll solve them through man-made solutions.
My only concern is the privacy level these types of tests require. No one wants to be outed as the golden goose or the unlucky person carrying a bunch of dormant super crippling disorders that could affect their progeny. That said, the same team that did this study is also launching a new study (with re-contact clauses) at http://resilienceproject.com/
Steven Pete can put his hand on a hot stove or step on a piece of glass and not feel a thing, all because of a quirk in his genes. Only a few dozen people in the world share Pete’s congenital insensitivity to pain. Drug companies see riches in his rare mutation. They also have their eye on people like Timothy Dreyer, 25, who has bones so dense he could walk away from accidents that would leave others with broken limbs. About 100 people have sclerosteosis, Dreyer’s condition.
I don’t have a problem with the pharmaceutical companies trying to maximize profits. Profits are necessary to help the market determine how to allocate resources. When a company makes “obscene” profits that is a signal to everyone else that resources should be taken from those enterprises incurring loses and invested in the more profitable ventures.
One the people whose mutation is highlighted in the article reminds me of a character from the book “The Girl Who Played with Fire“, the second part of the Millenium series by Stieg Larsson. I haven’t seen the American version of the movie for the first book, but enjoyed the books & Swedish movies.
The story of kuru, as classically told in biology textbooks, is a tragic one. The Fore population in Papua New Guinea ate the brains of their tribe members as an act of mourning, a ritual that allowed a misshapen protein to spread through the population. This caused the disease kuru, which killed as much as 10 percent of the population in the mid-twentieth century.
No one “developed” a resistance to it as a result of eating a brain. They already had it, and the ones who did not died. This is part of how evolution works – sometimes it’s the benefit of a random mutation, and a lot of death.
I suggest starting with chilled monkey brains before attempting human ones:
The Y chromosome, a chunk of genetic code that is unique to male animals, 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?