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Genetics


Analysis and insight on the advancements in genetics. Stay updated as Singularity Hub discusses the most important trends in genetics research.

Largest Genetic Study to Date Unveils DNA Profiles That Lead to Cancer

Cancers are like malicious snowflakes. Each harbors a unique set of mutations in its genes, gradually turning them to the dark side. Eventually, with no regard for their neighbors, mutated cells destroy tissues, organs,...

A Startup Is Engineering Trees to Grow Faster and Capture More Carbon

Genetic engineering has given scientists the power to manipulate fundamental properties of living things, from humans to animals to plants. In plants, genetic tweaks have brought all manner of advancements, namely higher crop yields....

Redesigned CRISPR Gene Editing Tool Is 4,000 Times Less Error-Prone

CRISPR gene editing holds huge promise for tackling a wide range of inherited diseases, but concerns about unintended “off target” effects have slowed its rollout. A redesigned CRISPR system could finally have a practical...

Can We Resurrect Extinct Species? Scientists Put Jurassic Park to the Test

De-extinction grabbed our imagination in the 90s with Jurassic Park. Scientists have since asked: how possible is it? According to a new study, nearly impossible. But wait—it’s not all bad news. While bringing back a...

CRISPR On-Off Switch Will Help Unlock the Secrets of Our Immune System

T cells are fierce warriors. With just a hint of an attack—be it an infection or a nascent cancer—they rally, ramp up in numbers, and launch a full-scale defense. But they’re not invincible. Sometimes the...

Ancient DNA Helps Reveal Social Changes in Africa 50,000 Years Ago That Shaped the Human Story

Every person alive on the planet today is descended from people who lived as hunter-gatherers in Africa. The continent is the cradle of human origins and ingenuity, and with each new fossil and archaeological discovery,...

First Gene Therapy for Tay-Sachs Disease Successfully Given to Two Children

Two babies have received the first-ever gene therapy for Tay-Sachs disease after over 14 years of development. Tay-Sachs is a severe neurological disease caused by a deficiency in an enzyme called HexA. This enzyme breaks...

Rapid DNA Sequencing Tech Breaks the Speed Record for Reading Whole Genomes

For children suffering from rare diseases, it usually takes years to receive a diagnosis. This “diagnostic odyssey” is filled with multiple referrals and a barrage of tests, seeking to uncover the root cause behind...

Scientists Are Sequencing the Genome of Every Complex Species on Earth

The Earth Biogenome Project, a global consortium that aims to sequence the genomes of all complex life on Earth (some 1.8 million described species) in 10 years, is ramping up. The project’s origins, aims, and...

New Virus-Like Particles Can Deliver CRISPR to Any Cell in the Body

Gene therapy is a lot like landing a Mars rover. Hear me out. The cargo—a rover or gene editing tools—is stuffed inside a highly technical protective ship and shot into a vast, complex space targeting...

These Mice Pups Inherited Immunity From Their Parents—But Not Through DNA

The rules of inheritance are supposedly easy. Dad’s DNA mixes with mom’s to generate a new combination. Over time, random mutations will give some individuals better adaptability to the environment. The mutations are selected...

Super-Precise CRISPR Gene Editing Tool Is Set to Tackle Tough Genetic Diseases

For all its supposed genetic editing finesse, CRISPR’s a brute. The Swiss Army knife of gene editing tools chops up DNA strands to insert genetic changes. What’s called “editing” is actually genetic vandalism—pick a...

Scientists Completed the First Human Genome 20 Years Ago. How Far Have We Come, and What’s Next?

If the Human Genome Project (HGP) was an actual human, he or she would be a revolutionary whiz kid. A prodigy in the vein of Mozart. One who changed the biomedical universe forever as...

Gene Therapies Are Almost Here, But Healthcare Isn’t Ready for Sky-High Prices

Zolgensma—which treats spinal muscular atrophy, a rare genetic disease that damages nerve cells, leading to muscle decay—is currently the most expensive drug in the world. A one-time treatment of the life-saving drug for a...

New Mini-CRISPR Systems Could Dramatically Expand the Scope of Gene Therapy

CRISPR has revolutionized genome engineering, but the size of its molecular gene-editing components has limited its therapeutic uses so far. Now, a trio of new research papers detail compact versions of the gene-editing tool...

New ‘Universal Switch’ Lets Scientists Fine-Tune Gene Therapy

The dose makes the poison. That’s the central tenet of pharmacology. Even salt can kill you if you take too little or too much. The one transformative treatment that hasn’t followed this rule? Gene therapy. It’s...

Breakthrough CRISPR Gene Therapy Could Be a ‘One and Done’ Injection

CRISPR gene editing has had a big decade. The technology, which earned two of its discovers a Nobel Prize in 2020, can target and edit genes more easily than its predecessors. Still, as tantalizing...

A New Mystery Human Species Has Been Discovered in Israel

An international group of archaeologists has discovered a missing piece in the story of human evolution. Excavations at the Israeli site of Nesher Ramla have recovered a skull that may represent a late-surviving example of...

Why It Took 20 Years to ‘Finish’ the Human Genome—and Why There’s Still More to Do

The release of the draft human genome sequence in 2001 was a seismic moment in our understanding of the human genome, and paved the way for advances in our understanding of the genomic basis...

One CRISPR Treatment Lowered Cholesterol in Monkeys by 60 Percent

More than one in three American adults have high cholesterol, which can lead to serious health problems like heart disease and stroke. The best remedies we have right now are cholesterol-lowering drugs called statins,...

How One Round of Gene Therapy Fixed 48 Kids’ Immune Systems

Gene therapy has shown promise in recent years for treating a range of diseases, including sickle-cell anemia, hemophilia, various forms of inherited blindness, mesothelioma, and Duchenne muscular dystrophy. A new success story may soon...

A New Gene Editing Tool Could Rival CRISPR, and Makes Millions of Edits at Once

With CRISPR’s meteoric rise as a gene editing marvel, it’s easy to forget its lowly origins: it was first discovered as a quirk of the bacterial immune system. It seems that bacteria have more to...

23andMe’s Huge Covid-19 Study Draws Links Between the Virus and Our Genetics

Last spring, in a race against Covid-19, 23andMe launched an ambitious study to answer a question on everyone’s minds: who’s likely to get sick, or to get very sick? And being 23andMe, they hunted for...

A New CRISPR Tool Flips Genes On and Off Like a Light Switch

CRISPR is revolutionary. It’s also a total brute. The classic version of the gene editing wunderkind literally slices a gene to bits just to turn it off. It’s effective, yes. But it’s like putting an...

Scientist George Church Is Auctioning Off His Genome as an NFT

You’ve probably heard the acronym NFT over the last couple months. Non-fungible tokens have been all over the news, seeming to become a sensation—one worth a ton of money—almost overnight. Soon a new NFT...

First GMO Mosquitoes to Be Released in the Florida Keys

This spring, the biotechnology company Oxitec plans to release genetically modified (GM) mosquitoes in the Florida Keys. Oxitec says its technology will combat dengue fever, a potentially life-threatening disease, and other mosquito-borne viruses—such as...

Evolution: Lab-Grown ‘Mini Brains’ Suggest One Mutation Might Have Rewired the Human Mind

How we humans became what we are today is a question that scientists have been trying to answer for a long time. How did we evolve such advanced cognitive abilities, giving rise to complex...

We Sequenced the Oldest Ever DNA From Million-Year-Old Mammoths

Most people think of mammoths as the iconic woolly species from the last ice age, which ended around 12,000 years ago. But mammoths originated in Africa around five million years ago, then spread and...

The First Endangered American Animal Has Been Cloned

Last summer a horse named Kurt was born in Texas. Kurt wasn’t just any horse—he was a clone made from DNA that had been frozen for 40 years and came from an endangered wild...

How Much Do Our Genes Restrict Free Will?

Many of us believe we are masters of our own destiny, but new research is revealing the extent to which our behavior is influenced by our genes. It’s now possible to decipher our individual genetic...

This Baby Horse Was Cloned Using DNA That Was Frozen for 40 Years

When Dolly the sheep was born in 1996, she instantly achieved worldwide fame for being the first-ever animal to be cloned from an adult cell. Since then, she hasn’t had many competitors for the...

A CRISPR Baby Future? New Report Outlines Path to Human Germline Editing

What will it take for CRISPR babies to become medically acceptable? Earlier this month, an international commission of scientists released a highly anticipated report detailing the steps needed to turn a gene-editing fiasco into...

Scientists Gene-Hack Cotton Plants to Make Them Every Color of the Rainbow

Imagine this: You’re on a drive through cotton country. The sun’s out, top’s down. It’s a beautiful, totally normal day. Only, what was once a sea of white puff balls has transformed into a...

A Year After Gene Therapy, Boys With Muscular Dystrophy Are Healthier and Stronger

Two and a half years ago, a study published in Science Advances detailed how the gene editing tool CRISPR/Cas-9 repaired genetic mutations related to Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD). The study was a proof of...

A Newly-Discovered Tiny CRISPR Protein Packs a Giant Punch For Human Gene Editing

The CRISPR family just grew bigger. The newcomer? A tiny DNA-chomping Cas protein, tucked away inside giant viruses. That’s the recent finding from Dr. Jennifer Doudna’s lab, one of the original discoverers of CRISPR, at...

For the First Time, Scientists Fully Sequenced the Human X Chromosome

The sequencing of the human genome was one of the greatest scientific feats of the past century, but it’s a little-known fact that it’s still a work in progress with considerable gaps. New research...

A Renaissance of Genomics and Drugs Is Extending Human Longevity

The causes of aging are extremely complex and unclear. But with longevity clinical trials increasing, more answers—and questions—are emerging than ever before. With the dramatic demonetization of genome reading and editing over the past decade,...

Forget Exercise—These Mice Got Ripped With Gene Therapy

Trying to hack fitness is a multi-million-dollar industry; we’ve all seen at least one ad featuring a purported miracle product that claims it can make people lose weight and look great—without even trying. From...

Can Genes Explain Why Coronavirus Seriously Sickens Some and Spares Others?

In the early 1980s, a deadly epidemic was gaining momentum. Caused by a virus dubbed HIV, AIDs has since infected and killed millions of people around the world. But not everyone who is exposed...

$100 Genome Sequencing Will Yield a Treasure Trove of Genetic Data

What would the implications be if decoding your genes cost less than a pair of designer jeans? We might soon find out after a Chinese company claimed it can sequence the human genome for...

Gene Therapy Is Successfully Treating a Common Form of Inherited Blindness

K.L. always knew he might be completely blind before reaching adulthood. Even as a child he realized something was wrong with his eyes. Although he could see enough to navigate the world in daytime, as...

The Top Biotech Trends We’ll Be Watching in 2020

Last year left us with this piece of bombshell news: He Jiankui, the mastermind behind the CRISPR babies scandal, has been sentenced to three years in prison for violating Chinese laws on “scientific research...

Gene Therapy for Sickle-Cell Anemia Looks Promising—but It’s Riddled With Controversy

Gene therapy is fighting to enter mainstream medicine. With sickle cell disease, the fight is heating up. Roughly two years ago, the FDA made the historic decision to approve the first gene therapy in the...

How Far Are We from (Accurately and Safely) Editing Human Embryos?

We can already edit genes in human embryos. We can even do it in a way to pass the edits down generations, fundamentally changing a family’s genetic makeup. Doing it well, however, is far more...

Designer Babies? Simulation Shows They Won’t Happen Anytime Soon

Roughly a year ago, the creation of CRISPRed twins reignited fierce debate and trepidation about our oncoming era of designer babies. The experiment, designed to protect the babies against HIV, failed miserably. But He...

Everything You Need to Know About Superstar CRISPR Prime Editing

All right, let’s do this one last time. My name is CRISPR. I was made from a bacterial defense system, and for years I’ve been the one and only gene editing wunderkind. I’m pretty...

CRISPR Just Created a Hornless Bull, and It’s a Step Forward for Gene-Edited Food

There’s a practice in farming not often talked about. To prevent accidental harm to human handlers and other cattle, bulls generally have their horn-producing cells surgically removed before the horns permanently attach to their...

With These 4 Breakthroughs, We’ll Be Able to Write Whole Genomes From Scratch

The ability to read genomes has transformed our understanding of biology. Being able to write them would give us unprecedented control over the fabric of life.  Rapid advances in DNA sequencing and gene editing technology...

Russia Could Take the Lead on Human Gene Editing

There's broad consensus that genetically modifying humans isn't a good idea, at least not anytime in the near future. But it seems Russia has less qualms about the idea, which could leave it to...

First Human CRISPR Trial in the US Aims to Cure Inherited Blindness

Gene editing is advancing at a faster pace than most of us can keep up with. One significant recent announcement was gene editing tool CRISPR’s application to non-genetic diseases thanks to a new ability...

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