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The Biology of “Stranger Things’’

The Netflix series “Stranger Things,” although terrific, might ditch the clichéd doctor-scientist in charge and get themselves a developmental biologist, stat. The disseminated beast that is invading, sliming, and gobbling the residents of a small Indiana town

Revealing the Subtext in DNA Sequences

Whenever the first copy of a book I’ve written arrives on my doorstep, I’m afraid to look at it. I still haven’t leafed through the 12th edition of my human genetics textbook, delivered more than

Electronic Northern Analysis of Genes and Modeling of Gene Networks Underlying Bovine Milk Fat Production

Milk fat is one of the most important economic traits in dairy animals. Yet, the biological machinery involved in milk fat synthesis remains poorly understood. In the present study, expression profiling of 45 genes involved in lipidShow More Summary

Two New Ways to Treat A Deadly Disease: Spinal Muscular Atrophy

I don’t think I’ll ever tire of covering new ways to treat genetic diseases that I’d always thought hopeless. Teamed with expanded newborn screening, the brave new treatments may even be able to prevent symptoms.

What Should Gene Therapy Cost?

By the time that the FDA’s advisory committee gave a near-instantaneous and unanimous thumbs-up for gene therapy to treat a form of hereditary blindness on October 12, tears were freely flowing. Fittingly, it was World Sight

Fighting for first

I'm battling reviewers of one of my society journals to publish my first paper from my postdoc. I've been at this since mid January and I'm waiting to hear what is going on after the second round of revisions. This shitte is getting insane, all for a little short report. I almost never want to […]

As Blindness Gene Therapy Nears FDA Finish Line, A Shout-Out to Activist Families

On a spectacular September Sunday in 2008, 8-year-old Corey Haas, a cane in one hand and his mother’s hand in the other, stepped tentatively on the pathway leading into the Philadelphia zoo. Hearing kids yelling

Brain Cancer in Kids: Tailoring Treatment Based on Mutations

I’ll admit it, I was sucked in. “Sharon was given a few months to live if her cancer wasn’t treated,” somberly intones the voiceover. Then the non-descript older woman sitting tall on a plain chair

Poliovirus To Treat Brain Cancer: A Curious Chronology

Certain things have a natural order. Breakfast before lunch. Infancy before adolescence. Autumn before winter. So I was surprised to read an article last week in Science Translational Medicine about experiments at Duke University treating cancer

White Supremacy: The Dark Side of Eugenics

Whenever I work on a new edition of my human genetics textbook and reach the section on eugenics, at the end of an evolution chapter, I’m relieved that it’s history. But this summer, as I

Gene Therapy and September Scenes

Today I’m giving an invited lecture at Georgia College, “Gene Therapy: A Forever Fix”? I’ve given the talk many times, since my book The Forever Fix was published in 2012, but this is the first time

A Genetic Disease With a Domino Effect: Multiple Sulfatase Deficiency

Willow is a beautiful name. Meaning slender and graceful, like the tree, it evokes images of a little girl running through the woods with streams of hair behind her. But Willow Cannan, who lives in

Were Ancient Humans Healthier Than Us?

A curious thing happened when researchers at Georgia Tech used modern human genome sequences to look back at the possible health of our long-ago ancestors – they found that while the Neanderthals and Denisovans of 30,000

Genome Cloaking Preserves Privacy While Enabling Diagnosis

Sequencing genomes to diagnose puzzling symptoms presents a conundrum: how to interpret whether a person’s genotype causes the syndrome without comparison to many other human genome sequences? Put another way, a gene variant (mutation) that

Are Stem Cell Companies Abusing ClinicalTrials.gov?

I’m often asked about the safety of treatments that purport to inject stem cells into painful body parts. The reputation of stem cells seems to exceed the reach, with companies touting treatments that aren’t FDA

Charlie Gard Post-Mortem: Could He Have Been Saved?

Charlie Gard would have turned one year old tomorrow. The day before the British infant died of a mitochondrial disease on July 27, a short article in MIT Technology Review teased that Shoukhrat Mtalipov and his team

Luxturna: A Giant Step Forward for Blindness Gene Therapy – A Conversation with Dr. Kathy High

Three years ago, at a fundraiser near Philadelphia for the Curing Retinal Blindness Foundation, I stood, dumbstruck, as young teen Christian Guardino took the stage and belted out Don’t Stop Believing. Christian had recently undergo...

Salvation: Sexual Stereotypes in Sappy Summer SciFi Series

I was so looking forward to the third season of Wayward Pines, which DNA Science covered in the summers of 2015 and 2016, but alas it was not to be. I’ll have to wait another year

Cystic Fibrosis Among Asians: Why Ethnicity-Based Genetic Testing is Obsolete

A hypothetical heterosexual couple living in the US or UK takes tests to learn if they are carriers of the more prevalent recessive diseases. They’re relieved to find out that cystic fibrosis (CF) isn’t something

Can CRISPR Conquer Huntington’s?

I set a high bar for writing about mouse studies. I don’t include them in my textbooks or news articles, and only rarely blog about them. But when experiments in mice shine a glimmer of

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