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Genetic Linkage

My Cat Has AIDS (Part 1)

Artie, our second FIV+ cat. (Credit: Dr. Wendy Josephs)
Juice was an impulse buy.

It was early July 2003, and we were headed to the mall for a gift for Carly, about to turn 15. We parked near a bus equipped as an animal shelter.

Inside, kitten-filled cages lined the walls, except for one, which had a large, orange and white cat stuffed into it. Carly made a beeline for him and the attendant hoisted him out and handed him over. I reminded Carly that we already had 5 felines, but we knew he’d be left behind as the kittens were adopted.  Read More 
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Retinal Stem Cells and Eye of Newt

Human RPE cells in culture look like cobblestones; 3% of them behave like stem cells, in dishes. Can they treat eye diseases from within? (Tim Blenkinsop)
More than a decade before Sally Temple, PhD, and her husband Jeffrey Stern, MD, PhD, discovered stem cells in human eyes, they suspected the cells would be there. They knew it from the salamanders.

A SPECIAL FONDNESS FOR AMPHIBIANS
When William Shakespeare included “eye of newt” ingredients of the Three Witches’ brew in Macbeth, he probably knew what he was doing. Dr. Temple, who grew up in northern England, said it’s long been common knowledge there that newts can regrow their parts. In the late 1800s, biologists began to study regeneration in salamanders.

By the 1950s, embryologists had discovered that certain amphibian eyes regenerate thanks to a single layer of cells, called the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE), which hugs the photoreceptors (the rods and cones).  Read More 
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The Crud: Viral or Bacterial?

A flu virus. (Credit: CDC)
My immune system is still on hyperdrive from what may have been the flu three weeks ago. I qualify my self-diagnosis because I never had a test to tell whether viruses or bacteria had invaded my body.

I’ve long wondered why such diagnostics aren’t, by now, in routine use. Molecular biology was pioneered on the genetic details of bacteria and their viruses in the 1970s, and by now most of our pathogens have had their genomes sequenced.  Read More 
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Comparing Adam Lanza’s DNA to Forensic DNA Databases: A Modest Proposal

Is there a genetic signature for violence? It's an old and controversial question. (NHGRI)
In 1729, Jonathan Swift of Gulliver’s Travels fame published a satirical essay called "A Modest Proposal." He suggested that a cure for poverty was for poor people to sell their children to rich people as food.

I’m borrowing Swift’s essay title to bring up another outrageous idea: analyzing forensic DNA databases for a genetic signature of criminality. Read More 
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