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The IT Future of Medicine project is developing computer models of human patients, that wo...

The way things currently stand in the field of medicine, doctors often have to try out a number of treatments on any one patient, before (hopefully) finding one that works. This wastes both time and medications, and potentially endangers the patients, as they could have negative reactions to some drugs. In the future, however, all that experimenting may not be necessary. The pan-European IT Future of Medicine (ITFoM) project, a consortium of over 25 member organizations, is currently developing a system in which every person would have a computer model of themselves, that incorporated their own genome. Doctors could then run simulations with that model, to see how various courses of treatment would work on the actual person.  Read More

DNA rendering by ynse via Flickr

While scientists have long had the ability to edit individual genes, it is a slow, expensive and hard to use process. Now researchers at Harvard and MIT have developed technologies, which they liken to the genetic equivalent of the find-and-replace function of a word processing program, that allow them to make large-scale edits to a cell’s genome. The researchers say such technology could be used to design cells that build proteins not found in nature, or engineer bacteria that are resistant to any type of viral infection.  Read More

Theobroma cacao genome sequenced: Yummier chocolate on the way!

If DNA sequencing never held much relevance for you, consider the benefits likely to flow from the recent sequencing and assembly of the chocolate tree genome. The Theobroma cacao plant is generally regarded as producing the world's finest chocolate, but is particularly vulnerable to disease and not particularly productive, and is hence shunned by risk averse growers. It is hoped the research will not only lead to hardier trees by altering the genes, but will also enable the percentages of cocoa butter, flavonoids, antioxidants, terpenoids and hormones to be regulated. The end result is likely to be smoother, more flavorsome, better smelling and even healthier chocolate. Now that's progress!  Read More

One of the DNA-reading chips, displayed against the prototype device (Photo: Imperial Coll...

Sequencing an entire genome is currently a highly complex, time-consuming process – the DNA must be broken down into segments and replicated, utilizing chemicals that destroy the original sample. Scientists from Imperial College London, however, have just announced the development of a prototype device that could lead to technology capable of sequencing a human genome within minutes, at a cost of just a few dollars. By contrast, when sequencing of the genome of Dr. James Watson (co-discoverer of the structure of DNA) was completed in 2007, it had taken two years and cost US$1 million.  Read More

Life Technologies has announced the release of Ion Torrent's Personal Genome Machine, whic...

Having just recently snapped up Ion Torrent, Life Technologies has now announced the availability of a benchtop DNA sequencing device based on its PostLight semiconductor technology. The company says that this ground-breaking and disruptive platform creates a direct link between chemical bases and digital information, and negates the need for light-based detection technology currently used in other sequencing solutions.  Read More

Scientists have sequenced the genome of the Culex quinquefasciatus mosquito

A research project that began in 2004 and involved 38 institutions around the world has culminated in the sequencing of the Culex mosquito genome. Culex is one of the three mosquito genera, the other two – Anopheles and Aedes – having already been sequenced in 2002 and 2007, respectively. It is also the genus that obtains the West Nile virus from infected birds and transmits it to humans. Scientists hope that by better understanding the mosquito, they may be better able to control the spread of the virus.  Read More

US scientists have mapped 90 percent of the domestic turkey genome

In the past few months, we’ve received announcements regarding the mapped genomes of wheat, of apples, and even the repulsive human body louse. Now, researchers from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) have sequenced 90 percent of the genome of Meleagris gallopavo, which you may know as the domestic turkey.  Read More

The genome of the Golden Delicious apple has been sequenced (Photo: Glysiak)

No sooner do we hear about the sequencing of the wheat genome, than word comes this week that the genome of the apple has been decoded. The feat was accomplished through a collaboration between 18 research institutions in the US, Belgium, France, New Zealand and Italy, and was coordinated by Italy’s Istituto Agrario S. Michele all'Adige (IASMA). DNA sequences of the Golden Delicious apple were produced in 2007/08, and over 82 percent of the genome was assembled into the total 17 apple chromosomes in 2009. Now, over 90 percent of the genes have been anchored to a precise position in the chromosomes. It may all sound like Greek (or Italian) to us non-geneticists, but the upshot of the whole thing is that we should now be able to selectively breed apples like never before, resulting in hardier, tastier fruits.  Read More

UK scientists have sequenced the entire wheat genome, and released the data to crop breede...

Scientists from the University of Liverpool, in collaboration with the University of Bristol and the John Innes Centre in Norfolk, have sequenced the entire wheat genome. They are now making the DNA data available to crop breeders to help them select key agricultural traits for breeding. The data is presently in a raw format, and will require further read-throughs and annotations, plus the assembly of the genetic data into chromosomes, before it can be fully applied. Using advanced genome sequencing platforms, however, the task isn’t as daunting as it might seem. While the sequencing of the human genome took 15 years to complete, the wheat genome has taken only a year. This is thanks in no small part to U Bristol’s next-generation genome analyzers, which can read DNA hundreds of times faster than the systems that were used to sequence the human genome.  Read More

An uncomfortably-large image of a body louse (Photo: Frank Collins, Ph.D)

An international team of scientists has successfully sequenced the genome of that most majestic of creatures, the body louse. Like head lice, body lice attach themselves to human hosts and live off their blood. Unlike head lice, however, body lice can spread bacterial diseases. By understanding more about the creature, the team hopes to develop better methods of controlling it.  Read More

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