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Genetic Code

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NEWS
May 13, 1988 | By Boyce Rensberger, Washington Post Inquirer wire services contributed to this article
Molecular biologists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have discovered the nature of a second genetic code essential to life and how it functions in all living cells alongside the well-known first genetic code. The second code governs the final assembly of proteins inside living cells and works with the original genetic code, the researchers reported. Scientists had known for decades that a second code must exist, but no one could determine how it worked. The MIT discovery reveals the nature of the code's language but has not deciphered it fully.
NEWS
October 6, 1987 | By Jim Detjen, Inquirer Staff Writer
Jack Trotter is a bright, curious 10-year-old who likes Cub scouts, T-ball and astronomy. He hopes to build his own robot and would like, someday, to become a professional actor. But the slender, blond boy from Hockessin, Del., faces a serious handicap caused by a defect in his genetic code. Like 50,000 other Americans, he suffers from a rare disease, known as epidermolysis bullosa, or EB, that causes the outer layer of his skin to fall off. If he turns a doorknob too hard, the skin on his palm will blister and peel.
NEWS
January 25, 2008 | By Faye Flam INQUIRER STAFF WRITER
In a major step toward the creation of artificial life, scientists are reporting today that they assembled the entire genetic code for a simple bacterium from scratch. The technique used to duplicate a real organism's DNA could allow the fashioning of novel organisms designed to, say, pump out new biofuels or absorb carbon dioxide, the researchers said. And by exploring the boundaries between the living and inanimate worlds, the work may change our understanding of the nature of life itself.
NEWS
May 21, 2010 | By Faye Flam INQUIRER STAFF WRITER
For the first time, scientists have assembled a full genetic code from laboratory chemicals and used it to create a living organism. They did it by transplanting their synthetic DNA into the empty husk of a microbe and watching it come to life. Some say the achievement could advance the development of new vaccines and drugs and lead to novel organisms designed to break down pollutants, eat carbon dioxide, or pump out biofuel. Others see this as Frankenstein's monster in a petri dish - a profound new entity that will change our understanding of the boundary between life and nonlife.
NEWS
February 28, 1999
The failure of the Cartegena biosecurity treaty has left a perilous void in international law. . . .. On one hand, there is the possibility of an epocal leap in our ability to cure a great number of diseases . . . on the other is the threat of losing control of a delicate technology that can touch the deepest foundations of life itself. . . .The advent of millions of new transgenic bacteria, viruses and plants could have immense ramifications for this planet; it resembles ecological roulette.
NEWS
March 13, 2006 | By Faye Flam INQUIRER STAFF WRITER
It was a nice idea that we're all genetically 99.9 percent identical, but new research says it's not so simple. The old thinking held that coiled in our cells, we all carry the same instruction book with just a few alternative spellings. But upon closer scrutiny, it appears our DNA is full of long strings of genetic code that are copied sometimes hundreds of times, the number of copies varying wildly from person to person. And each of us is apparently missing quite a few large chunks of DNA. Other large segments of genetic code are misplaced on their chromosomes or pasted in backward.
NEWS
May 21, 2010 | By Faye Flam, Inquirer Staff Writer
For the first time, scientists have assembled a full genetic code from laboratory chemicals and used it to create a living organism. They did it by transplanting their synthetic DNA into the empty husk of a microbe and watching it come to life. Some say the achievement could advance the development of new vaccines and drugs and lead to novel organisms designed to break down pollutants, eat carbon dioxide, or pump out biofuel. Others see this as Frankenstein's monster in a petri dish - a profound new entity that will change our understanding of the boundary between life and nonlife.
NEWS
November 16, 1993 | BY MARC KOHLER
enetics is the branch of biology that deals with heredity and variation in animal and plant species. Genetic code is the order in which four chemical constituents are arranged in huge molecules on DNA. What a wonderful world in which we live! Genetic researchers are about to unleash upon mankind a veritable "Pandora's box. " To think that medical researchers have been able to isolate disease-carrying genes is incredible. Alcoholism, cystic fibrosis, mental retardation and even the predisposition for homosexuality can now be discovered before the birth of the child by testing the blood and even the amniotic fluid.
NEWS
August 5, 2001 | By Robert P. George and Patrick Lee
At the heart of the debate over federal funding of embryonic stem-cell research is the question of whether human embryos are human beings. A widespread argument says that they are not. This argument, however, is demonstrably flawed. Ronald Bailey, science editor of Reason magazine, argues that the possibility of cloning human beings from ordinary "somatic" cells, such as skin cells, means that human embryos are no different in substance and value from such cells. But nobody maintains that skin cells are human beings, Therefore it is an error, Bailey concludes, to suppose that embryos are human beings.
NEWS
April 7, 2000 | By Faye Flam, INQUIRER STAFF WRITER
It is not as though an upstart company beat NASA to the moon. Though Celera Genomics yesterday claimed to have beaten a $3 billion government-sponsored project designed to read out the entire human genetic code, scientists say the two-year-old company has not landed yet. The information collected by Celera is in pieces and the company's scientists still must assemble them to equal what the government has set out to do with its Human Genome...
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NEWS
May 19, 2014 | By Meeri N. Kim, For The Inquirer
Imagine a document 25,000 words long - about 100 pages, double-spaced - with one small error. Within the text of our genetic code, a single change like this can lead to a life-threatening disease such as sickle-cell anemia or cystic fibrosis. Most of these single-gene disorders have no cure. But using a new technique, doctors may one day be able to correct the genetic typo by replacing a harmful mutation in the genome with healthy DNA. Introducing CRISPR (clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats)
NEWS
September 10, 2012 | By Faye Flam, Inquirer Columnist
Last week, in response to a media blitz promoting a $288 million DNA project called ENCODE, headlines announced that most of our DNA formerly known as "junk" was actually useful. A number of scientists both inside the study and out took issue with this claim - which centered on the 98 percent of our DNA that isn't officially part of any gene. Sorting the workers from the freeloaders in our DNA is crucial to understanding how our genetic code works, how it drives human evolution and influences our traits and health.
NEWS
August 13, 2012 | By Faye Flam, Inquirer Columnist
After a triumphant landing, the Curiosity rover is ready to search Mars for signs of past life or suitability for life. Several readers have raised concerns that NASA scientists might fail to recognize life if it isn't based on carbon or is otherwise radically different from our kind of life. It's true that biologists don't have a single agreed-upon definition of life, and often end up with a laundry list of characteristics instead. That's been a concern for NASA, and so in the 1990s, the space agency convened a panel to try to define life, said Steve Benner, a biologist from the Foundation for Applied Molecular Evolution (FfAME)
NEWS
November 15, 2011
H. Gobind Khorana, 89, who rose from a childhood of poverty in India to become a biochemist and share in a Nobel Prize for his role in deciphering the genetic code, died Wednesday in Concord, Mass. His death was announced by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where Mr. Khorana was a professor emeritus. Mr. Khorana, who received his early schooling from his village teacher under a tree, advanced his education through scholarships and fellowships to become an authority on the chemical synthesis of proteins and nucleic acids, the large molecules in cells that carry genetic information.
NEWS
October 17, 2011 | By Faye Flam, Inquirer Columnist
One recurring theme in reader questions, especially from creationists, is that Darwinian evolution can't explain big changes - the invention of fur or feathers, kidneys or brains. These readers don't see how such innovation could possibly come about through random spelling errors in DNA, no matter how many millions of years they had to accumulate. ". . . the concept of 'descent with modification' cannot generate more complex systems . . . the old adage that if you give 1,000 monkeys 1,000 years to randomly type we could get the works of Shakespeare is false.
NEWS
July 11, 2011 | By Faye Flam, Inquirer Staff Writer
To biologists, polar bears and grizzlies are distinct species - not only do they look different, but a grizzly could never survive in the polar bears' icy habitat, where swimming talent is required as well as the ability to hunt seals and whales. But don't tell that to the bears. New DNA evidence shows that polar bears carry genetic material that came from, of all places, Ireland, where grizzlies, a.k.a. brown bears, once roamed around 30,000 years ago. The finding, published in last week's Current Biology, could change our picture not only of polar bear evolution but of the role of cross-species breeding more generally in shaping the living world.
NEWS
February 24, 2011 | By Nathan Gorenstein, Inquirer Staff Writer
A federal appeals court in Philadelphia will decide whether it is constitutional for the government to take DNA samples from people arrested, but not convicted of a crime, and keep the specimens on file like fingerprints. The case applies only to defendants in federal criminal cases, not those convicted of a crime. The federal government started taking DNA samples in 2005. Assistant U.S. Attorney Laura Irwin, from Pittsburgh, argued that the DNA-sampling program was no different from fingerprinting.
NEWS
February 23, 2011 | By Faye Flam, Inquirer Staff Writer
Spending $3 billion on the so-called Human Genome Project was supposed to yield cures for Alzheimer's disease, cancer, heart disease, and the rest of humanity's ills, or so its proponents said in February 2001, announcing its official completion. A decade later, this catalog of humanity's genetic code has not yet led to any miracle cures. But while we're waiting for them, some scientists suggest the data can help us better understand the human race and our relationships to one another - even working toward a cure for racism.
NEWS
May 21, 2010 | By Faye Flam INQUIRER STAFF WRITER
For the first time, scientists have assembled a full genetic code from laboratory chemicals and used it to create a living organism. They did it by transplanting their synthetic DNA into the empty husk of a microbe and watching it come to life. Some say the achievement could advance the development of new vaccines and drugs and lead to novel organisms designed to break down pollutants, eat carbon dioxide, or pump out biofuel. Others see this as Frankenstein's monster in a petri dish - a profound new entity that will change our understanding of the boundary between life and nonlife.
NEWS
May 21, 2010 | By Faye Flam, Inquirer Staff Writer
For the first time, scientists have assembled a full genetic code from laboratory chemicals and used it to create a living organism. They did it by transplanting their synthetic DNA into the empty husk of a microbe and watching it come to life. Some say the achievement could advance the development of new vaccines and drugs and lead to novel organisms designed to break down pollutants, eat carbon dioxide, or pump out biofuel. Others see this as Frankenstein's monster in a petri dish - a profound new entity that will change our understanding of the boundary between life and nonlife.
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