Sunday, November 29, 2020

The Link Between Your Genes and COVID-19


        According to this article it is possible that genes can determine one's risk factor for COVID-19. If scientists discover ways to link genetics and COVID-19 together then finding cures and drugs to treat the virus will become much easier. Simple genetics testing founded from universal healthcare can help detect genes that cause people to be more susceptible to COVID-19. The genes can also tell us when and how to fight the virus. In my opinion genetic testing can help us find COVID cures faster.

Idaho Police Reopening Cold Cases to Solve With Genetic Geneaology

     In the article posted by Post-Register, it was mentioned that the police force in Idaho will be putting efforts into improving their forensic services. More specifically the forensic service they are putting money into is a new technique called forensic molecular genealogy. The Idaho police force intends to use this technique to solve previously closed cold cases. The usual problem that is encountered with the DNA database is that the criminals DNA is not on file; however with genetic genealogy DNA samples are compared to samples provided for open-access and criminals samples. Therefore, there would be a higher probability that the criminal could be found. I found this article to be very well-written, and I look forward to hearing whether they were able to solve any of the cold cases they reopened. In my opinion I believe the use of genetic genealogy in the forensic field is very novel. However, I find the security behind open-access DNA samples to be suspicious, as it is speculated the information donated may be sold to other companies.  

SARS-CoV-2's Origin


In an article from The Science Times, the origins of the SARS-Cov-2, the virus that causes coronavirus disease, is discussed. The two leading possibilities of its origins at the moment are that the virus is natural or it is man made. New research from the Wiley Online Library shows that features of the genetic structure, specifically the viruses' chimeric structure and furin cleavage site. This doesn't prove where the virus originated from though, its structure only shows that the possibility that this is man made can't be ruled out. I hope researchers can come up with more evidence to find out where the virus came from. I also hope it isn't man made because that would be a messy situation if it was. 

Company Uses DNA to Sketch Criminal Faces


    A company called Parabon Nanolabs sparked controversy in May 2019 for comparing DNA profiles of criminal suspects on genealogy databases and connecting family trees to track them down and build their profiles. Genealogists at Parabon Nanolabs utilzed a free DNA database website called GEDMatch, intended to find long-lost relatives, to generate data to find suspects. In 2011, the company was granted access and funding to use a technique called DNA phototyping where a person's appearance is reconstructed from their DNA (Nature Research, 2020). In constructing their appearances, most labs search for relationships in an individual's SNPs (single-polynucleotide morphisms) and physical characteristics (Nature Research, 2020). As a result, other companies are now developing and researching DNA phototyping in less controversial ways. GEDMatch previously permitted access to these profiles to law enforcement to help solve crimes. However, the company lost its source of DNA data due to backlash of genealogists and privacy experts in a Utah case as the largest criticism received were concerns of privacy (Nature Research, 2020).


Genetically modified wheat and barley to help in the future


This article discusses the new variations seen within wheat and barley genomes respectively, that will allow for the future of agriculture to thrive based on the ability to modify these organisms. The various research groups conducting the projects discuss the difficulty behind these specific genomes is due to their complexity unlike corn or rice, along with the fact that there are various genomic structures that are associated with various traits. The various groups working on the project has allowed for the discovery of hidden genetic variation within these crops, and the research will allow for the production of these next generation crops. The traits discussed allow for various acclimations the plants would not normally have, such as cold resistance, yield, and drought tolerance, and with these additions now these crops may have the ability to keep up with other major crops in terms of production. The reason this is interesting is because while maize is known to already be modified in other various ways to support life in different environments, I did not know that these specific grains were relatively more difficult. It is very interesting to see that while something may appear simple in nature by proxy, it is not and I think the information with regards to these grains specifically will be incredibly helpful for the future of food. With the ability to produce in changing climates, production may not decrease with the changing climate and the article provides a sense of hope in that regard for the future to come.

Link between Miscarriages and Maternal Genes

Miscarriages are the the most common complication of pregnancy, affecting 15% of pregnancies. Two thirds of this 15% are undiagnosed and unrecognized. Studies found a plethora of different associations, placental biology, asthma depression, and irritable bowel movements, smoking, mental health, general well-being. Miscarriage can lead to depression and cardiovascular disease. This was a large study involving genetic info from 420,000 women.

Genetics and Vision Complications

 DNA health testing to detect eye diseases? - All About Vision

Eyes are a very important organ from the vision system. Different people struggle with the different illnesses that are for their eyes. For example, cross-eyes, lazy eye, nearsidedness, farsightedness, and even astigmatism. now the question is, "Does genetics have anything to do with these various eye complications?". Genetics ophthalmologic researches now have evidence that vision issues among children and adults are genetically determined.  In addition, researchers explain that more 60% or more of infants with blindness are inherited by eye diseases. This topic has always been on my mind since I was diagnosed with nearsidedness in the 3rd grade. I always wondered if I got it from my mother. Turns out, that I actually did. Genetics really does do wonders.,hyperopia%20(farsightedness)%20and%20astigmatism.

The Fascinating Genetic Story of Cavendish Bananas


To start, what is a cavendish banana? A cavendish banana is the banana that is sold in supermarkets, portrayed in movies and children’s books; the standard banana that people think of. But what is interesting about these bananas is that they are not found in nature. This is because cavendish bananas have been selectively bred by humans for a long time, to maximize their white flesh and minimize the size and amount of seeds. The picture below shows a cavendish banana (on the left), next to what is believed to be what humans derived modern bananas from (on the right). This means that cavendish bananas are a genetically modified organism. Generally, when people think of genetically modified organisms, or GMOs for short, a negative image is created, where they think some evil scientist is injecting chemicals into different plants, and that these chemicals are poisonous. The reality is humans have been genetically modifying plants since the dawn of agriculture, and that most GMOs are harmless. Humans have been selectively breeding plants to get the most out of the food that was eaten, meaning that those foods were genetically modified.

Cavendish bananas being GMOs is not even the most interesting part of their genetic story. That would come from the fact that the seeds are practically non-functioning. If I were to plant banana seeds from a cavendish banana, no banana plant would result. To get more bananas, the cavendish banana plant has to be cloned. This means that all the bananas that are consumed are nearly genetically identical to one another. I find this very interesting, the fact that all of the bananas that I have ever eaten had pretty much the exact same genetic makeup. This leads to an aspect that concerns me, which is that since all of these banana plants have the same genetic makeup, there is practically no diversity in the banana plants. This means that it would take only one disease that specializes in killing banana plants to essentially wipe them all out.