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Genetics

CRISPR gene editing: Moving closer to home

With the first medical therapy approved and systems like CRISPR-Cas showing up in complex cells, there’s a lot going on in the genome editing field. Here’s our primer.

We urgently need data for equitable personalized medicine

OPINION: A massive bias in medical studies toward men of European origin means that genetic variants in understudied populations don’t get the focus they deserve

Genes and heart disease: Finally making the link

Polygenic risk scores — a patient’s chance, based on tiny DNA variants, of developing cardiovascular disease, breast cancer and more — are coming to clinics. But there are kinks to iron out and accuracy remains an issue.

New Zealand’s quest to save its rotund, flightless parrots

DNA sequencing, GPS tracking and tailored diets are slowly restoring the endangered kākāpō

Neanderthals: More knowable now than ever

They have held our fascination ever since we first identified their remains. Today, thanks to new artifacts and technologies, findings about our closest relatives are coming thick and fast.

Untangling the genetics that underlie our facial features

After turning up hundreds of genes with hard-to-predict effects, some scientists are now probing the grander developmental processes that shape face geometry

The remaining frontiers in fighting hepatitis C

A scientist whose work was key to identifying, studying and finding treatments for this life-threatening virus discusses the scientific journey and challenges that persist

Where the heck did all those structures inside complex cells come from?

Scientists agree that eons ago, a bacterium took up residence inside another cell and became its powerhouse, the mitochondrion. But there are competing theories about the birth of other organelles such as the nucleus and endoplasmic reticulum.

The extraordinary case of the ferocious female moles

Their genital anatomy, musculature and aggressiveness have made them a model for studying the phenomenon of female masculinization — and demonstrate that sometimes, it’s not easy to tell the difference between male and female

Clever DNA tricks

As cells divide, they must copy all of their chromosomes once and only once, or chaos would ensue. How do they do it? Key controls happen well before replication even starts.

Nature, nurture and randomness

OPINION: More than genes and upbringing determine animal personalities: There’s a good dose of chance in the mix, too.

Hope for haploinsufficiency diseases

Genetic conditions like Dravet syndrome, which causes severe childhood epilepsy, are hard to tackle with traditional gene therapy. New approaches in the works include using antisense therapy to boost mRNA splicing.

Saliva: The next frontier in cancer detection

Scientists are finding tumor signals in spit that could be key to developing diagnostic tests for various types of cancer

Navigating the ethics of ancient human DNA research

Paleogenomic research has expanded rapidly over the past two decades, igniting heated debate about handling remains. Who gives consent for study participants long gone — and who should speak for them today?

Color is in the eye, and brain, of the beholder

The way we see and describe hues varies widely for many reasons: from our individual eye structure, to how our brain processes images, to what language we speak, or even if we live near a body of water 

The evolution of whales from land to sea

The genomes of cetaceans help tell the story of mammals who returned to the life aquatic

Sex, immunity and the brain

Differences between the immune systems of males and females — in particular, ones involving cells called microglia — might help explain why the risk for conditions such as autism and Alzheimer’s varies between the sexes

Mining museums’ genomic treasures

The world’s natural history collections hold billions of biological specimens, many of which still contain DNA. Scientists exploring these genetic repositories are gaining new, historical perspectives on how animals evolve.

Cochineal, a red dye from bugs, moves to the lab

Carminic acid is a bright, natural coloring used in some cosmetics and foods. It’s traditionally sourced from ‘farming’ an insect on acres of prickly pears. Today, scientists are moving to engineer it in microbes.

Urban evolution: How species adapt to survive in cities

Plants and animals are evolving in cities around the world — offering ways to study longstanding scientific questions and clues to where climate change is taking us

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