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Genetic Linkage

Revising my genetics textbook: A PC exercise or an appropriate evolution of science and sensitivity? Or both.

Beyoncé is facing a lot of criticism for using an ableist slur in her new co-written song Renaissance. She used the word "spaz" twice in a derogatory reference to a neurological disorder in Heated, which dropped in late July.


Just a few weeks before, while promoting her new song GRRLS, Lizzo used the same slur. The tweet went viral, prompting a sharp rebuke by Hannah Diviney, who has cerebral palsy. Her tweet also viral, landed on the front page of the BBC, New York Times and the Washington Post. 


Lizzo took notice and changed the lyrics. "I never want to promote derogatory language," she wrote.


I've lapsed too in word choices, but I'm not a pop star – I write college life science textbooks. I'm currently revising the 14th edition of my human genetics textbook. I've written or co-written four textbooks, totaling 38 editions: intro biology, human anatomy and physiology, and human genetics. Other authors have taken over all but human genetics: I update it every three years. 


To continue reading go to Genetic Literacy Project, where this post first appeared. 

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Where Will the Next Pandemic Come From? Highlights from CDC’s Emerging Infectious Diseases

When monkeypox came from out of nowhere in the spring, it sounded like a joke to our collective COVID-fatigued brains. I think we've all got CDC fatigue too. When revised recommendations recently told us it was okay to do or not do what we've been doing or not doing for months, I don't think many people paid attention. I'm glad the agency is finally re-evaluating things.


What may not be as well known is that CDC publishes an excellent, open-access, international, peer-reviewed monthly journal, Emerging Infectious Diseases. Since 1995, EID has provided a window into future health concerns, for us and other animals, with historical and cultural background as well as current epidemiology, covering all sorts of things.


Underlying the research reports on eclectic infectious diseases in the journal are a set of shared and converging factors:
• global climate change shifting habitats
• metagenomics technology comparing genome sequences in environmental samples
• perhaps we're looking harder
• a much more epidemiologically literate public than pre-pandemic


So I thought I'd investigate the August 2022 issue of EID. The focus is zoonoses – diseases that jump from non-human animals to us.


To continue reading go to DNA Science DNA Science, where this post first appeared. 

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OrganEx Revives Pigs an Hour After Death, Holding Promise for Transplants

Transplant medicine could take a giant leap forward if donor organs could soak up oxygen for longer and decay delayed. A technology called OrganEx, described in Nature from a team at Yale, promises to do just that. The researchers stopped the hearts of pigs and an hour later used OrganEx, then cataloged the return of bodily functions. The new approach far exceeded the ability of existing technology to prolong organ viability.


Popular Pigs

Pigs have long been a popular animal model of human disease because they are about our size and their hearts and blood vessels are quite similar. They have also had fictional roles in medicine.



To continue reading go to DNA Science, where this post first appeared. 

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Did a Virus Type Used in Gene Therapy Cause the Recent Wave of Hepatitis in Kids?

The last thing the field of gene therapy needs is another setback. Two studies, not yet peer-reviewed, point to adeno-associated virus (AAV) as a suspect behind the unusual hepatitis that emerged in children in April 2022.

AAV has been critical to the development of gene therapy, as carriers of human genes in the single strand of DNA that is the viral genome.


AAV has been considered relatively harmless, as viruses go. It was discovered in 1965 as a tiny tag-along that will only replicate in human cells if adenovirus is also there at some point – hence the "adeno-associated." AAV infection can also accompany certain herpes infections. Several subtypes of AAV have since been identified; AAV2 and AAV9 are gene therapy favorites. And they're common. Eighty percent of us harbor AAV2.


To continue reading, go to DNA Science, where this post first appeared. 

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