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The Evolutionary Perspective
Category Archives: DNA
Posted: January 18, 2020 at 10:18 am
In the late 1800s, when Red Mountain Town and Red Mountain City fought for supremacy in the mining district just south of Ouray, Bart Young made a name for himself in a fight all his own.
Young, already known as a tough desperado in the San Juans, was in Richard Hodge's saloon in Red Mountain City in late July 1897 when he became entangled in a quarrel with Henry Peartree, a barber, and William Skelton, a miner.
Accounts in the July 22 edition of the Ouray Herald that year don't give details as to the root of the argument, but it's a fair guess that whiskey played a part. A fight broke out among the three, and Young reportedly received the business end of the whooping.
"Being of a revengeful nature," the Herald reported, "he proceeded to his cabin, a distance of a mile and a half, and securing a gun returned to the saloon, telling everyone whom he met what he intended to do."
Young entered the saloon, took a few shots of courage, and began to empty his gun in Peartree and Skelton's direction. Peartree received a flesh wound, but Skelton wasn't so lucky. A bullet pierced his lung and he died a few hours later.
Young fled the bar, the Red Mountain mining district and was seen in Telluride later that evening, of course, drinking whiskey. It was speculated that he would continue fleeing west to the Blue Mountains in eastern Utah.
Utah was a likely and familiar hiding spot. Bart had four brothers, and his family's relatives were said to have taken part in the historic Mountain Meadows massacre in the late 1850s. The massacre, debated as to whether or not it was a direct order from Morman founder Brigham Young in retaliation and fear of federal troops disrupting Morman settlements, resulted in the deaths of nearly 120 members of the Baker-Fancher party, a wagon train of settlers originating from Arkansas.
The plan carried out in the massacre was brutal. The men of the party were led away under friendly, yet deceitful means by the militia. When a good distance away from the party, the militia turned and fired, killing them all. Meanwhile, another group of the militia came out of hiding and gunned down the women and children.
With this in their DNA, Bart Young's family fled across the border to southern Colorado. But the bloodshed didn't stop for the family when Bart went on the lam. In October 1907, Bart's brother, Bill, was sentenced in Montrose County for "not less than 25 nor more than 30 years" in the penitentiary for killing a man by the name of Wilkinson.
"The trouble between Young and Wilkinson," according to a Montrose Press report on Nov. 1, 1907, "dated back several years when Wilkinson was deputy sheriff. Young was suspected of rustling cattle in Paradox Valley, and Wilkinson was ordered by the sheriff to inspect Young's stock. Young heard of the inspection and swore vengeance on Wilkinson, who managed to stay away from Paradox Valley for a few years. But Young heard that Wilkinson was back in the area herding cattle, and he and his son, Clare, tracked Wilkinson down and forced him off his horse and ordered him to put down his gun. "Wilkinson did so and throwing up his hands begged Young not to shoot," reported the Press.
Young, however, shot Wilkinson point blank in the gut, and Clare added a few rounds in his back as Wilkinson tried to crawl away.
"This notorious family has been a costly bunch of citizens to this county," the Press opined. Indeed, just years earlier the patriarch of the family, Ken Young, was shot and killed by Tom Pepper in the Paradox Valley. Young had gone after Pepper, trying to kill him, and Pepper managed to deliver a fatal shot to his attacker in self defense.
But not to be outdone, Bart exited this world in a style that would have made his family proud. Instead of fleeing to Utah, as was thought, he instead went to Idaho. M. F. Tillery, marshal of Montrose, located Bart and had the sheriff in that Idaho county arrest him. The county commissioners in the arresting area, however, refused to pay for Bart to be transported to Montrose, and he was set free and later made considerable hay mining in Idaho.
Alas, the story must end in tragic Young family fashion. It seems that fleeing, fame and fortune weren't enough for our Red Mountain murderer. According to the Press, "A few years ago (Bart) had trouble with his wife and murdered her and killed himself."
Everyone and their brother was messaging me on Facebook. DNA tests reveal long-lost relatives, but the rest is a minefield – MarketWatch
Posted: January 17, 2020 at 3:45 am
For people like Cassandra Madison, direct-to-consumer genetic testing services from companies like 23andMe and Ancestry.com have proven revolutionary in filling gaps about their family history.
But connecting with biological relatives in cases of adoption or conception through sperm and egg donation doesnt come with a rule book forcing both parties to make difficult, emotional decisions, often on the fly.
Madison, who now lives in Virginia Beach, Va., was adopted as an infant in 1988 from the Dominican Republic by a white American couple. Throughout her life, Madison had little information about her biological family. My mom told me as much as she knew, which was just that they were very poor and couldnt afford to keep me anymore, Madison, 31, said.
Attempts to find more information on her own always proved fruitless. The lawyer in the Dominican Republic who handled Madisons adoption falsified paperwork and lied to adoptive parents about their childrens biological relatives, Madison said. It always became a dead end, Madison said.
Then one Christmas, Madisons mother gifted her with a 23andMe genetic test, so she could learn about her heritage. When she got her test results last January, she was surprised. I didnt know you could find people, she said.
Here is Cassandra Madison meeting her biological family:
When Madison clicked on her results to see her relatives, she found over 1,000 family members had taken the DNA test, which involves spitting in a test tube, including a cousin who lived in Connecticut.
She quickly went about researching him on Facebook FB, +0.28% and soon made contact. Low and behold, 20 minutes later everyone and their brother was messaging me on Facebook, Madison said. Months later, she made the trip down to the Caribbean country, meeting her relatives for the first-time in person.
Also read: 23andMe revealed that my daughter is not mine can I claim back child support from the biological father?
Genetic testing is fast becoming ubiquitous. As of 2018, around 60% of Americans with European heritage were likely identifiable from their DNA via searches of consumer websites from companies like 23andMe and Ancestry.com, regardless of whether they had ever taken a genetic test. One study estimated that around 100 million people will have their DNA mapped by one of these companies by 2021.
In situations where people were adopted or conceived with the assistance of a sperm or egg donor, the services from companies like 23andMe and Ancestry.com have removed the veil of secrecy that long existed over these relationships.
Dont miss: 23andMe can open a Pandoras Box of a familys medical secrets: As hard as it is knowing, not knowing is much worse
Consumer DNA tests have changed whos in power of the information, said Brianne Kirkpatrick, a certified genetic counselor and founder of the counseling firm Watershed DNA.
Historically, mothers typically were the only ones who knew the biological origins of their children. For decades, most adoptions were closed, meaning communication between the biological parents and their child was restricted. In many circumstances, their identities were also hidden.
Until recently, most sperm and egg donors made their donations under the expectation of anonymity.
For those who went through these procedures in the last few decades with the understanding that the donors would be anonymous the rules of the game have changed dramatically and donors are being identified and, in some cases, contacted whether or not they want to be, said Kim Kluger-Bell, a psychotherapist who specializes in infertility counseling. None of the fertility clinics or sperm banks I know of really anticipated this happening.
With so many people having taken tests already, it can be easy for some to find biological relatives. But that, too, can lead to awkward circumstances, particularly when someone connects with a relative other than their biological mother or father or vice-versa.
Ive heard stories of the parents of a sperm donor going on Ancestry.com and identifying a biological grandchild they never knew about it turned out their son had anonymously and privately donated sperm to a friend and agreed not to discuss the matter with anyone else, Kluger-Bell said. The parents of the donor wanted to contact the bio-grandchild and the parents of that child felt that this was completely inappropriate.
Ancestry.com and 23andMe have created resources for people who find themselves in these positions. There are certainly cases where a discovery might be quite unexpected. We take our responsibility towards our customers and the potential impact of complex discoveries very seriously, said Dana Chinnici, communications manager at Ancestry.
Both companies said they have experts on staff who can help customers work through some of the unexpected results they may encounter. 23andMe has a support page for customers and their family to navigate unexpected relationships, a company spokeswoman told MarketWatch.
Additionally, with both companies, customers can opt in or out of being listed as a match with other people.
When Madison was faced with the choice of reaching out to the relatives she connected with via DNA testing, she didnt hesitate. As kids we dont ask to be here, Madison reasoned.
Of course, that approach may not work for everyone. Experts who deal with situations involving adoption, and sperm or egg donation advised patience and caution when reaching out to relatives, but noted that theres not one correct approach.
There is no one size fits all scenario, said Amy Johnson Crow, a certified genealogist. Its important for the person making the contact to realize that the contact might not be welcomed. Although we all have a right to know our genetic history, we cannot force that biological parent to talk or to have a relationship.
Read more: I discovered through Ancestry.com that my biological father is someone else can I claim an inheritance as his heir?
Heres expert advice on the etiquette surrounding establishing contact:
Give the other person space: These revelations can have major ripple effects for other people, and so it may take time for the person to respond. Remember contact starts with knowing very little of each other and, like any other relationship, needs to grow and build over time. Genetics confers relatedness but not relationships, Braverman said.
Understand potential legal ramifications: Reaching out to a biological relatives through 23andMe or Ancestry.com could violate the terms of an adoption or sperm/egg donation agreement. One woman was threatened with a $20,000 fine after reaching out to the biological grandmother of her daughter who was born via sperm donation.
Establishing contact could leave you vulnerable to lawsuits, so before doing so its important to review the terms of these agreements in advance.
Consider hiring a professional: DNA tests are far from the only route toward discovering ones biological relatives. Genetic counselors and genealogists can assist in uncovering a persons family without these services. Moreover, these professionals can serve as an intermediary in establishing first contact with ones biological family. Kirkpatrick has served as an intermediary for clients in the past and said it can help slow down the process. Creating that buffer of space and time can ultimately lead to things going well in the end, she said.
An intermediary can also help in retrieving information from a biological relative, such as a family medical history, in instances where they do not desire further contact. Of course, this can come with trade-offs. Using an intermediary removes the pressure of an immediate response but also removes the real voice that is reaching out, Braverman said.
Keep your expectations in check: Having too high of expectations from the outset can easily lead to disappointment. To that end, experts suggested doing some self-reflection to understand what an adoptee or individual conceived via sperm or egg donation wants out of a possible connection, whether it be a relationship or something more simple like a family medical history.
Avoid making assumptions about what this biological relationship may mean to the other person, said Andrea Mechanick Braverman, a clinical professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Thomas Jefferson University.
When Madison eventually made contact with her biological family in the Dominican Republic, joy was quickly met with sadness. She found out that her birth mother had already passed away. Additionally, she also found that some of her relatives were more interested in how much money she had than in forming more meaningful relationships with her. For those and other reasons, Madison said she would not have been able to handle this whole experience without the support of a therapist.
Despite this, Madison said she doesnt regret taking the DNA test or establishing contact with her biological family. Im learning a whole other side of me and can embrace it, she said. It was the best thing to go down there and to have people say, Oh my God, you look just like your mother.
Posted: at 3:45 am
The threat of air pollution grabs our attention when we see it for example, the tendrils of smoke of Australian brush fires, now visible from space, or the poisonous soup of smog that descends on cities like New Delhi in the winter.
But polluted air also harms billions of people on a continuing basis. Outdoors, we breathe in toxins delivered by car traffic, coal-fired plants and oil refineries. Indoor fires for heat and cooking taint the air for billions of people in poor countries. Over a billion people add toxins to their lungs by smoking cigarettes and more recently, by vaping.
Ninety-two percent of the worlds people live in places where fine particulate matter the very small particles most dangerous to human tissues exceeds the World Health Organizations guideline for healthy air. Air pollution and tobacco together are responsible for up to 20 million premature deaths each year.
Airborne toxins damage us in a staggering number of ways. Along with well-established links to lung cancer and heart disease, researchers are now finding new connections to disorders such as diabetes and Alzheimers disease.
Scientists are still figuring out how air pollution causes these ailments. They are also puzzling over the apparent resilience that some people have to this modern onslaught.
Some researchers now argue that the answers to these questions lie in our distant evolutionary past, millions of years before the first cigarette was lit and the first car hit the road.
Our ancestors were bedeviled by airborne toxins even as bipedal apes walking the African savanna, argued Benjamin Trumble, a biologist at Arizona State University, and Caleb Finch of the University of Southern California, in the December issue of the Quarterly Review of Biology.
Our forebears evolved defenses against these pollutants, the scientists propose. Today, those adaptations may provide protection, albeit limited, against tobacco smoke and other airborne threats.
But our evolutionary legacy may also be a burden, Dr. Trumble and Dr. Finch speculated. Some genetic adaptations may have increased our vulnerability to diseases linked to air pollution.
It is a really creative, interesting contribution to evolutionary medicine, said Molly Fox, an anthropologist at the University of California, Los Angeles, who was not involved in the new study.
The story begins about seven million years ago. Africa at the time was gradually growing more arid. The Sahara emerged in northern Africa, while grasslands opened up in eastern and southern Africa.
The ancestors of chimpanzees and gorillas remained in the retreating forests, but our ancient relatives adapted to the new environments. They evolved into a tall, slender frame well suited to walking and running long distances.
Dr. Finch and Dr. Trumble believe that early humans faced another challenge that has gone largely overlooked: the air.
Periodically, the savanna would have experienced heavy dust storms from the Sahara, and our distant ancestors may have risked harm to their lungs from breathing in the silica-rich particles.
When the dust is up, were going to see more pulmonary problems, Dr. Finch said. Even today, Greek researchers have found that when Sahara winds reach their country, patients surge into hospitals with respiratory complaints.
The dense foliage of tropical forests gave chimpanzees and gorillas a refuge from dust. But the earliest humans, wandering the open grasslands, had nowhere to hide.
Dust was not the only hazard. The lungs of early humans also may have been irritated by the high levels of pollen and particles of fecal matter produced by the savannas vast herds of grazing animals.
Dr. Finch and Dr. Trumble maintain that scientists should consider whether these new challenges altered our biology through natural selection. Is it possible, for instance, that people who are resilient to cigarette smoke have inherited genetic variants that protected their distant ancestors from cave fires?
One way to answer these questions is to look at genes that have evolved significantly since our ancestors moved out of the forests.
One of them is MARCO, which provides the blueprint for production of a molecular hook used by immune cells in our lungs. The cells use this hook to clear away both bacteria and particles, including silica dust.
The human version of the MARCO gene is distinctively different from that of other apes. That transformation happened at least half a million years ago. (Neanderthals carried the variant, too.) Breathing dusty air drove the evolution of MARCO in our savanna-walking ancestors, Dr. Finch and Dr. Trumble hypothesize.
Later, our ancestors added to airborne threats by mastering fire. As they lingered near hearths to cook food, stay warm or keep away from insects, they breathed in smoke. Once early humans began building shelters, the environment became more harmful to their lungs.
Most traditional people live in a highly smoky environment, Dr. Finch said. I think it has been a fact of human living for us even before our species.
Smoke created a new evolutionary pressure, he and Dr. Trumble believe. Humans evolved powerful liver enzymes, for example, to break down toxins passing into the bloodstream from the lungs.
Gary Perdew, a molecular toxicologist at Penn State University, and his colleagues have found evidence of smoke-driven evolution in another gene, AHR.
This gene makes a protein found on cells in the gut, lungs and skin. When toxins get snagged on the protein, cells release enzymes that break down the poisons.
Other mammals use AHR to detoxify their food. But the protein is also effective against some of the compounds in wood smoke.
Compared to other species, the human version produces a weaker response to toxins, perhaps because AHR protein is not the perfect protector the fragments it leaves behind can cause tissue damage.
Before fire, our ancestors did not need to use AHR very often; in theory, their bodies could tolerate the limited damage the protein caused.
But when we began breathing smoke regularly and needing the AHR protein constantly, the gene might have become dangerous to our health.
Dr. Perdew believes that humans evolved a weaker AHR response as a way to find a sweet spot, a compromise that minimized the damage of airborne pollutants without causing too many side effects.
These adaptations were never perfect, as evidenced by the fact that millions of people still die today from indoor air pollution. But evolution doesnt seek perfect health.
All that matters from an evolutionary standpoint is that you reproduce, Dr. Perdew said. If you die in your forties, so what? Its kind of a cold, heartless way to think about it, but it is what it is.
Our species arrived at the Industrial Revolution two centuries ago with bodies that had been shaped for millions of years by this highly imperfect process.
Clean water, improved medicines and other innovations drastically reduced deaths from infectious diseases. The average life expectancy shot up. But our exposure to airborne toxins also increased.
If we compressed the last five million years into a single year, it wouldnt be until Dec. 31, 11:40 p.m., that the Industrial Revolution begins, Dr. Trumble said. We are living in just the tiniest little blip of human existence, yet we think everything around us is whats normal.
The Industrial Revolution was powered largely by coal, and people began breathing the fumes. Cars became ubiquitous; power plants and oil refineries spread. Tobacco companies made cigarettes on an industrial scale. Today, they sell 6.5 trillion cigarettes every year.
Our bodies responded with defenses honed over hundreds of thousands of years. One of their most potent responses was inflammation. But instead of brief bursts of inflammation, many people began to experience it constantly.
Many studies now suggest that chronic inflammation represents an important link between airborne toxins and disease. In the brain, for example, chronic inflammation may impair our ability to clear up defective proteins. As those proteins accumulate, they may lead to dementia.
Pathogens can hitch a ride on particles of pollutants. When they get in our noses, they can make contact with nerve endings. There, they can trigger even more inflammation.
They provide this highway thats a direct route to the brain, Dr. Fox, of the University of California, Los Angeles, said. I think thats what makes this a particularly scary story.
Some genetic variants that arose in our smoky past may offer some help now. They might allow some people to live long despite smoking, Dr. Finch and Dr. Trumble suggest.
But the researchers have studied another gene for which the opposite seems to be true: a variant that was once helpful has become harmful in an age of rising air pollution.
The variant, ApoE4, first came to light because it drastically raises the risk of developing Alzheimers disease. More recently, researchers have also discovered that ApoE4 increases the risk that exposure to air pollution leads to dementia.
But these studies were restricted to industrialized countries. When researchers looked to other societies such as farmers in poor villages in Ghana, or indigenous forest-dwellers in Bolivia ApoE4 had a very different effect.
In these societies, infectious diseases remain a major cause of death, especially in children. Researchers have found that in such places, ApoE4 increases the odds that people will survive to adulthood and have children.
Natural selection may have favored ApoE4 for hundreds of thousands of years because of this ability to increase survival. But this gene and others may have had harmful side effects that remained invisible until the sooty, smoky modern age.
Posted: at 3:45 am
If you stretched out the DNA in a single cell of your body, it would be approximately 2meters (6.6 feet) long, yet it packs into a space smaller than the width of a single hair. Just like travelers fitting their needs into a suitcase, some cells store the network of DNA, RNA, and proteins known as chromatin in ordered ways, while others are more chaotic. Sometimes which way a cell does it is a matter of life and death.
Professor Vadim Backman of Northwestern University compared the behavior of cells with neatly and messily packed DNA. In Science Advances, Backman reports that disorderly-packed cells are more flexible and can therefore better respond to external stresses that might otherwise damage them.
To be clear, Backman has not found any evidence that the status of your cell DNA is reflected in the tidiness of your possessions. Nevertheless, those of us who can't pack a bagneatly to save our lives might be high-fiving at the analogy: disorder wins, right? Not so fast. While the chaotic might have its advantages, chaotic evil is truly dangerous.
The problem, Backman has found, is cancer cells with disordered chromatin are more likely to survive chemotherapy and other treatments.
Cancer cells are masters of change, Backman said in a statement.They have to continuously adapt to evade the immune system, chemotherapies or immunotherapies. Abnormal chromatin packing drives cancer cells ability to do this.
In a sample of patients with lung, breast, and colon cancer, those whose tumor cells had neatly packed chromatin were more likely to beat the disease than those with more disordered malignancies.Knowledge is power, however. Backman's work could lead to treatments specifically targeted at cells with disorderly chromatin packing, or even ways to force cells to pack more neatly.
Those solutions are likely to be many years away. In the shorter term, simply knowing if a particular cancer's chromatin is disordered could help doctors assess the patient's survival prospects and choose the most appropriate option from existing treatments.
Backman believes he is revealing an understudied aspect of our biology. Genes are like hardware, and chromatin is software, he said. And chromatin packing is the operating system.
In the 67 years since the discovery of DNA's structure, we have made amazing advances not only in understanding our genes, but being able to edit them. The role of chromatin structure on gene expression, however, has remained a scientific mystery, the paper's co-author Professor Igal Szleifer added.
Two days after this publication, Backman had another paper in the same journal describing the tree-like folding structures chromatin uses to pack so much material into the cells' tiny spaces.
Cracking a cold case: Meriden PD using DNA testing to find mother who left newborn to freeze to death in parking lot 32 years ago – WTNH.com
Posted: at 3:45 am
MERIDEN, Conn. (WTNH) A cold case has been haunting the Meriden Police Department for 32 years, but officers are hoping a new partnership and DNA testing may cause their trail to warm up.
The case involves newborn David Paul. Police said the baby was left to freeze to death in the AGC parking lot on Evansville Avenue.
He was found dead on Jan. 2, 1988. According to the Harford Courant, his umbilical cord was still dangling from his stomach.
Each year, the department holds a memorial service for David, who was named by local clergy.
But this year, the memorial has something that past services didnt have: hope.
On Monday, the department announced it has been working with DNA Doe Project, a California-based company, to try and find Davids mother.
The company specializes in trying to identify unidentified victims from older cases in which its difficult to obtain DNA.
The announcement comes as a ray of hope to residents who remember the day David was found.
Tammy Hoffman lived next to the lot where David was found. She said she still remembers officers knocking on her door that tragic day.
It was a knock at the door, and it was one of the police officers that was responding and making us aware of the fact that a baby had been abandoned in the lot next door to my house, she recalled to News 8.
After hearing the news, Hoffman said shes hoping it can bring an end to this cold case.
I never did give up hope DNA doesnt lie, Hoffman said. Many times it can lead to a happy reunion amongst family members; people you didnt even know you were related to. It can help you find out what your genetics are, and it can also find out who the bad guy was.
And she knows that finding that bad guy is a top priority for the department.
Many officers will have that one case that they just wish they couldve solved, and I know for a lot of members of our Meriden police department this is that one case.
According to the Courant, in 2001 police sent 13 pieces of evidence to the FBIs crime lab in Quantico, Va., for DNA analysis. Among them were the blankets David was found wrapped in that fateful day.
Investigators believe his mothers DNA could be on them and hope that new DNA technology can help identify and track her down.
Posted: at 3:45 am
Data is a massive problem for the intelligence community. From the satellite images produced by the National Reconnaissance Office to the bulk communications data swept up by the National Security Agency, the intelligence community is collecting more information than ever before. But where to store it?
Data centers are massive warehouses and megawatts of power. The resource-intensive nature of these facilities makes them difficult to scale, and ultimately unprepared for a torrent of data.
Now, the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activitythe organization charged with tackling some of the intelligence communitys most difficult problemsthinks it has a solution: synthetic DNA. On Jan. 15, IARPA officially launched the Molecular Information Storage (MIST) program, an effort to use synthetic DNA to store exabytes (one million terabytes) of data.
IARPA has awarded multi-phase contracts to two teams pursuing a solution: up to $23 million for the Molecular Encoding Consortium and up to $25 million for Georgia Tech Research Institute.
The MIST program is a data storage moonshot to develop technologies that allow us to shrink an exabyte-scale data warehouse down to a tabletop form factor, with equally large reductions in operation and maintenance costs, said IARPA Program Manager David Markowitz. This would be a transformative capability for big data stakeholders in government and industry.
If successful, MIST will result in new devices capable of both writing data to and reading data from synthetic DNA media at scale. The goal is to make this technology commercially viable within three to five years.
To store data on synthetic DNA, digital files must first be converted from binary code to the format used for DNAsequences of A,C,T and G. DNA is then synthesized in short segments that are identified by a sort of barcode that identifies where that segment exists in relation to the entire sequence, allowing readers to recall or copy only the necessary data.
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With digital data growing at an exponential rate, there is increasing interest and excitement about using natures storage medium, DNA, to store digital data, said Emily Leproust, CEO and co-founder of Twist Bioscience, one of the companies working with the Georgia Tech Research Institute. With the governments commitment to fund this exciting new area of storage, we believe that as part of this consortium of specialists, we can truly revolutionize the DNA synthesis process, and reduce the cost of synthesis for DNA data storage by many orders of magnitude.
According to Twist Bioscience, the goal of their effort will be to create a device capable of writing enough synthetic DNA per day to reduce data storage costs to as low as $1 per gigabyte.
Fifty years ago, DNA data storage was considered science fiction today, it is science with a path toward broad implementation, Leproust said. We expect in the next three to five years, with the proper amount of government and industry investment, it will become a reality for long-term storage.
The Molecular Encoding Consortium is led by the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard and includes DNA Script and Professor Donhee Hams research group at Harvard University.
Meanwhile, the Georgia Tech Research Institute is teaming with the Twist Bioscience Corp., the University of Washington, Microsoft and Roswell Biotechnologies for their effort. These new systems will be tested independently by Los Alamos National Laboratory, Sandia National Laboratories and the U.S. Army Research Laboratory .
Posted: at 3:45 am
As skincare aficionados, were always on the lookout for the next best thing in anti-aging. While we love bakuchiol, ceramides, and retinol as much as the next person, sometimes it seems like our skin just needs more. Feel the same? One solution is to turn your attention to epigenetic skincare.
If youre sitting here reading this thinking, epige-what? youre not alone. While epigenetic skincare still needs to be more heavily researched, according to FightAging.org, the general consensus according to is that, since most people experience the appearance of aging due to the same external factors (think: diet, sun exposure, and the like), its possible to study the epigenome to uncover the patterns that are linked with age. By uncovering these patterns, cosmetic chemists can develop products that interact epigenetically to deliver your youngest, most radiantly-looking complexion.
Sounds pretty dreamy, right? To learn more about the high-tech approach, sit down, mute your notifications, and get ready to soak in a whole lot of science in an effort to say hello to your most effective skincare routine.
What is epigenetic skincare?
First things first, lets talk epigenetics as a whole. Scientifically speaking, Olays Principal Scientist, Dr. Frauke Neuser explains that epigenetics describes the study of gene regulation and behavior which happen without any alteration of the genetic code (DNA) itself. In laymans terms, BeautyStats founder and CEO Ron Robinson says, epigenetics is the science behind the fact that environmental factors can affect the expression of genes.
To illustrate this idea, Neuser points out how the genes in the skin that are responsible for collagen production become less active with age, but can also become less active due to external factors, like sun exposure and air pollution. As such, Epigenetic skincare is based on the concept that skincare ingredients can affect gene behavior and counteract undesirable increases or decreases in activity by switching certain genes on or off (although turning genes up or down, like a dimmer light switch, might be the better analogy), he says.
How does epigenetic skincare work differently than traditional formulas?
In short, epigenetic skincare is designed to dive far beyond traditional formulas to not only affect the cellular level but the genetic one, too. While epigenetic concoctions complement traditional formulas, Neuser explains that certain skincare ingredients work directly on skins behavior and appearance while also having the potential to affect skin cells at the gene activity levelwhereas others might only do one or the other. It is usually a combination of ingredients that can achieve the best benefits, he adds. For example, about two years ago, Olay added a new ingredient (carob seed extract) to its Regenerist Micro-Sculpting Cream, accompanying already present niacinamide (vitamin B3) and peptides, based on gene activity studies that showed complementary effects. Clinical studies confirmed the desired anti-aging benefits.
Whats worth noting, however, is that even though brands (Olays not the only one) are uncovering the perks of epigenetic skincare, Robinson points out that theyre not actually allowed to claim that the products work on the genetic level, as that gets into drug territory as determined by the FDA. Thats why so many epigenetic formulations speak to the cosmetic benefits of the product, as opposed to genetic.
What are the benefits of epigenetic skincare?
Along with deep dives into the skin comes the ability to address complexion concerns from an all-encompassing stance. In theory, the idea is to help skin help itself by regulating processes that naturally occur in skin, as opposed to purely relying on extrinsic actives to help and improve skin health and appearance, Neuser says.
In December 2016, scientists at the Salk Institute in La Jolla, California, found that, after focusing on epigenetic markers and intermittently altering the genes in mice with progeria, a genetic disease that affects both animals and humans, mice appeared younger and healthier. While mice and humans are two very different things, the researchers concluded that it could lead to positive anti-aging effects for humans, too. (Though, they do note that more research is necessary to reach clinical trials.)
This work shows that epigenetic changes are at least partially driving aging, says Paloma Martinez-Redondo, a Salk Institute research associate and co-author of the study. It gives us exciting insights into which pathways could be targeted to delay cellular aging.
And the Salk scientists arent the only ones who have found promise with epigenetic research. In a September 2018 article published in the SOFW Journal, principal authors found that by targeting epigenetic mechanisms, specific anti-aging ingredients can positively affect the skin, essentially reversing the aging clock to make way for a younger-looking complexion.
Are there any downsides or side effects of using epigenetic skincare?
Downsides are largely undocumented given the shallow pool of research of epigenetic skincare. However, given its tailored directly towards specific genes that affect aging, and it requires elaborate research to even launch, consumers can typically have faith in a quality product that wont cause irritation when they do come across one.That said, its important to understand that creating epigenetic skincare products is a super complex process, so there arent tons of options on the market, in the first place.
At Olay, we have been studying gene activity in skin for over 20 years, because identifying individual genes among the tens of thousands of genes present in our skin cells, and understanding how they work and interact, is the first big step on the epigenetic skincare journey, Neuser explains. Highly complex and sophisticated methods are needed to study gene activity and make sure any changes measured are really relevant and significant.
With that in mind, below youll find four highly-rated epigenetic skincare products. While more science is necessary on the subject, we think the sky-high reviews make testing this seriously-scientific self-care well worth it.
With over 50 million jars sold, its safe to say this drugstore product is a must. Its made with vitamin B3, amino-peptides, hyaluronic acid, and antioxidants to address aging concerns topically and deep down10 layers to be exact. While they cant promise gene mutation, they do ensure a noticeable change in the appearance of your skin when used regularly for 28 days straight.
BABOR has done extensive epigenetic research to create their entire Skionvage system, which is focused on the brands Power Peptide to help the skin resist outside factors like sun exposure, pollution, and free radicals as a whole. This cream, in particular, is a dream for reactive skin types, as it reduces redness and calms the complexion on a deep level.
Courtesy of Augustinus Bader
Its important to remember that body care requires skincare too, after all, we do have skin on our bodies. The Augustinus Bader body cream fulfills the basic requirement of moisturizing skin, but what makes this anti-aging body product stand out is that it uses its epigenetic technology to target and treat stretch marks and cellulite with continued use.
Courtesy of Sisley Paris
With heavy research into behavioral aging, Sisley launched this anti-aging serum that tightens, lifts, and smooths skin for a younger-looking appeal. While the price is high, the reviews make it seem well worth it.
Posted: at 3:45 am
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) An arrest has been made in a four-year-old cold case in Albuquerque, thanks to genealogy matching DNA taken after a crime, to DNA submitted by family members to an ancestry tracking company.
Angel Gurule, 23, is accused of raping a woman on a trail more than four years ago. Thursday, the Bernalillo County District Attorney says hes hopeful this new investigative approach is the start of cracking more cold cases.
There was DNA recovered from the scene, there was a description of the offender turned in to law enforcement, District Attorney Raul Torrez said at a news conference Thursday.
According to court documents, on Christmas Eve 2015, Gurule tackled and sexually assaulted a jogger on a trail along the Rio Grande near Rio Bravo. The victim then went to the Rape Crisis Center and went through a sexual assault examination.
The Bernalillo County Sheriffs Office opened an investigation but had no leads for years because no suspects ever showed up in the government database, known as CODIS, that contains DNA from convicted felons. That was until the DAs office got a federal grant last summer to use whats called DNA genealogy technology that dives into a bigger system of DNA from ancestry sites like 23 and Me.
Then, finally, in November of last year, Gurule was identified as a potential suspect in the rape after investigators found distant family members of his through an ancestry kit. Investigators tracked him down to Kaseman Hospital where he was visiting his wife.
When the couple left, investigators grabbed Gurules styrofoam cup to test his DNA, and it was a match. The sheriffs office arrested Gurule on Wednesday at his home just about a mile from where the attack happened.
He admitted to it. We even took him out to the actual trail and he walked us through where he saw the victim, where he attacked her, lead investigator Kyle Hartsock said.
At the time of the incident, Gurule was 19 and a recent graduate of Sandia High School where he was on the cross country team.
Gurule is also named as a suspect in the sexual assault of a 14-year-old girl in a separate case that happened just three months before the other rape. KRQE News 13 asked the DAs office about that case and whether anyone dropped the ball, but did not receive a response.
Thursday, a judge ordered Gurule to stay behind bars for now on a no-bond hold.
The DAs office says it will be asking state lawmakers for funding so they can help crack more cold cases with this genealogy testing. The labwork alone in this case cost $7,000.
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Genealogy matching used to make first arrest of its kind in New Mexico - KRQE News 13
Posted: at 3:45 am
DNA identifies mother of infant found frozen in 1988
Updated: 5:55 PM EST Jan 14, 2020
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NEWSROOM WITH THESE NEW DEVELOPMENTS. REPORTER: DNA LINK THAT CHILD TO DISTANT COUSINS AND POLICE SAY THE MOTHER HAS NOW CONFESSED, TELLING THEM SHES BEEN WAITING FOR 32 YEARS FOR POLICE TO KNOCK ON HER DOOR. KAREN KUZMAK ROCHE WAS 25 IN 1998 WHEN SHE LEFT HER NEWBORN BABY IN A CONNECTICUT PARKING LOT. SHE SAYS SHE CALLED THE FIRE DEPARTMENT, TELLING THEM TO LOOK FOR SOMETHING IN THAT PARKING LOT, BUT NEVER MENTIONED IT WAS A CHILD. POLICE DID NOT FIND THE BABY UNTIL DAYS LATER. OFFICERS NAMED HIM DAVID AND HELD A CEREMONY EVERY YEAR TO REMEMBER HIM. NOW, CRACKING THIS CASE THANKS TO FORENSIC GENEALOGY. >> WE LIVE IN A REVOLUTION IN HUMAN IDENTIFICATION. THERE ARE A LOT OF CONTROVERSIES OVER USING GENEALOGICAL DATA FOR THIS KIND OF CASE, BUT YOU CAN SEE WHERE IT GOES. I DONT BELIEVE THERES ANY CLOSURE, BUT THERE IS RELEASE. REPORTER: ROCHE IS NOT FACING ANY CHARGES AT THIS TIME. POLICE SAY THEY DID LOOK
DNA identifies mother of infant found frozen in 1988
Updated: 5:55 PM EST Jan 14, 2020
VIDEO: 32 years after the newborn was found frozen to death in a Connecticut parking lot, police now know who he was and have identified his mother.
VIDEO: 32 years after the newborn was found frozen to death in a Connecticut parking lot, police now know who he was and have identified his mother.
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DNA identifies mother of infant found frozen in 1988 - WCVB Boston
Posted: at 3:45 am
Cleveland It was in a cellar that I found my roots. Davina Shuman, a relative I never met, graciously gave me a glimpse of the family I never knew I had.
The Levys were a conservative, Jewish family from Cleveland. Their patriarch, Harry Levy, is my great-grandfather. In the spring of 1930, one of his four daughters we don't know which gave birth, out of wedlock, to my mother. Davina, one of Harry's legitimate grandchildren, says no one ever knew about this baby.
"It would be scandalous, really, in those days, for this family," Davina said.
My mom died knowing none of this. She was raised by another couple. There was no formal adoption or paper trail. So if not for DNA testing, my ancestry would have remained a secret. My results revealed two relatives, leading me to some new discoveries.
A recent survey showed about a quarter of the people who take these tests find some kind of surprising result. Or in my case, two surprising results. The test was more definitive regarding my grandfather. He was an Irish Catholic railroad worker named Frank Black.
His other daughter, Carol, is my new aunt. My uncle is also named Frank Black. Together, they told me all I needed to know about my grandpa. Frank said he had five wives. Carol said he was a drinker. Not exactly the astronaut or war hero I was hoping to find.
"We were the apples that fell off the tree and rolled away," Carol said.
It certainly does make you question who you are. I grew up an Eagle Scout who went to Catholic school. Now I find my grandpa was Casanova, and the Levys were Jewish.
"If your mother is Jewish, you are Jewish, no question," Davina said.
But my new relatives all told me none of that matters.
"I just want you to come for Thanksgiving," Davina said.
Look deep enough into your past and odds are you'll find a family tree full of flowers and broken branches and a lot of leaves you don't recognize. But I think it's important to embrace it all because whatever is there, it's exactly what your tree needed to grow the perfect you.
To contactOn the Road, or to send us a story idea, email us:OnTheRoad@cbsnews.com.
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How a DNA test revealed the family I never knew - CBS News