Tag Archives: genetic

The Journey of Man – Spencer Wells

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The Journey of Man
A Genetic Odyssey
Spencer Wells

Genre: Life Sciences

Price: $1.99

Publish Date: October 31, 2012

Publisher: Random House Publishing Group

Seller: Penguin Random House LLC


Around 60,000 years ago, a man—genetically identical to us—lived in Africa. Every person alive today is descended from him. How did this real-life Adam wind up as the father of us all? What happened to the descendants of other men who lived at the same time? And why, if modern humans share a single prehistoric ancestor, do we come in so many sizes, shapes, and races? Examining the hidden secrets of human evolution in our genetic code, Spencer Wells reveals how developments in the revolutionary science of population genetics have made it possible to create a family tree for the whole of humanity. Replete with marvelous anecdotes and remarkable information, from the truth about the real Adam and Eve to the way differing racial types emerged, The Journey of Man is an enthralling, epic tour through the history and development of early humankind.

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The Journey of Man – Spencer Wells

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Behave – Robert M. Sapolsky

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Behave

The Biology of Humans at Our Best and Worst

Robert M. Sapolsky

Genre: Life Sciences

Price: $18.99

Publish Date: May 2, 2017

Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group

Seller: Penguin Group (USA) Inc.


Why do we do the things we do? Over a decade in the making, this game-changing book is Robert Sapolsky's genre-shattering attempt to answer that question as fully as perhaps only he could, looking at it from every angle. Sapolsky's storytelling concept is delightful but it also has a powerful intrinsic logic: he starts by looking at the factors that bear on a person's reaction in the precise moment a behavior occurs, and then hops back in time from there, in stages, ultimately ending up at the deep history of our species and its genetic inheritance. And so the first category of explanation is the neurobiological one. What goes on in a person's brain a second before the behavior happens? Then he pulls out to a slightly larger field of vision, a little earlier in time: What sight, sound, or smell triggers the nervous system to produce that behavior? And then, what hormones act hours to days earlier to change how responsive that individual is to the stimuli which trigger the nervous system? By now, he has increased our field of vision so that we are thinking about neurobiology and the sensory world of our environment and endocrinology in trying to explain what happened. Sapolsky keeps going–next to what features of the environment affected that person's brain, and then back to the childhood of the individual, and then to their genetic makeup. Finally, he expands the view to encompass factors larger than that one individual. How culture has shaped that individual's group, what ecological factors helped shape that culture, and on and on, back to evolutionary factors thousands and even millions of years old. The result is one of the most dazzling tours de horizon of the science of human behavior ever attempted, a majestic synthesis that harvests cutting-edge research across a range of disciplines to provide a subtle and nuanced perspective on why we ultimately do the things we do…for good and for ill. Sapolsky builds on this understanding to wrestle with some of our deepest and thorniest questions relating to tribalism and xenophobia, hierarchy and competition, morality and free will, and war and peace. Wise, humane, often very funny, Behave is a towering achievement, powerfully humanizing, and downright heroic in its own right.

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Behave – Robert M. Sapolsky

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Scientists may have found a way to eliminate antibiotic-resistant infections

Scientists may have found a way to eliminate antibiotic-resistant infections

By on 19 May 2015commentsShare

You know how sometimes humans freak out about genetic engineering? It’s time to freak out again! Except this time it’s a good thing: Scientists are figuring out how to use new gene-editing technologies to eliminate antibiotic resistance in bacteria.

The Tel Aviv-based researchers, whose work was published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Science yesterday, used a new method of gene therapy called CRISPR to selectively slash the DNA of an antibiotic-resistant strain of E. coli. The method uses a virus as its vector to infect the bacteria’s cells (it doesn’t affect human cells at all) and target the exact sequence of genetic base-pairs that confers antibiotic resistance. When it locates that sequence, the virus latches on and excises the offending gene with surgical precision. With the one-two punch of CRISPR and conventional antibiotics, even the toughest infections might soon be easily mopped up.

It’s worth repeating that when it comes to GMO panic, some of that fear is founded while some is a knee-jerk uneasiness with anything that seems “unnatural” — and all of it is a little confused. As Grist’s Nathanael Johnson has pointed out, genetic engineering is a tool, and like any tool — a shovel, a gun, a Facebook post — it can be used for good things or bad ones or just scary sci-fi stuff that we don’t know enough about to start Frankenstein-ing around with.

I happen to believe eliminating antibiotic-resistant infections that infect 2 million people a year would be a very good thing indeed.

Source:
This New Gene Editing Technique Could Turn The Tide on Antibiotic Resistance

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Scientists may have found a way to eliminate antibiotic-resistant infections

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This Map Shows Why The Midwest Is Screwed

Mother Jones

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The ongoing drought in California has been, among other things, a powerful lesson in how vulnerable America’s agricultural sector is to climate change. Even if that drought wasn’t specifically caused by man-made global warming, scientists have little doubt that droughts and heat waves are going to get more frequent and severe in important crop-growing regions. In California, the cost in 2014 was staggering: $2.2 billion in losses and added expenses, plus 17,000 lost jobs, according to a UC-Davis study.

California is country’s hub for fruits, veggies, and nuts. But what about the commodity grains grown in the Midwest, where the US produces over half its corn and soy? That’s the subject of a new report by the climate research group headed by former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, former US Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, and billionaire environmentalist Tom Steyer (who recently shut down rumors that he might run for Senate).

The report is all about climate impacts expected in the Midwest, and the big takeaway is that future generations have lots of very sweaty summers in store. One example: “The average Chicago resident is expected to experience more days over 95 degrees F by the century’s end than the average Texan does today.” The report also predicts that electricity prices will increase, with potential ramifications for the region’s manufacturing sector, and that beloved winter sports—ice fishing, anyone?—will become harder to do.

But some of the most troublesome findings are about agriculture. Some places will fare better than others; northern Minnesota, for example, could very well find itself benefiting from global warming. But overall, the report says, extreme heat, scarcer water resources, and weed and insect invasions will drive down corn and soybean yields by 11 to 69 percent by the century’s end. Note that these predictions assume no “significant adaptation,” so there’s an opportunity to soften the blow with solutions like better water management, switching to more heat-tolerant crops like sorghum, or the combination of genetic engineering and data technology now being pursued by Monsanto.

Here’s a map from the report showing which states’ farmers could benefit from climate change—and which ones will lose big time:

Risky Business

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This Map Shows Why The Midwest Is Screwed

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Maine’s loony Tea Party governor signs GMO-labeling law

Maine’s loony Tea Party governor signs GMO-labeling law

MaineDOE

Maine on Thursday became the second state in the nation to require food manufacturers to put labels on products containing genetically modified ingredients — sort of.

Gov. Paul LePage (R) signed “An Act To Protect Maine Food Consumers’ Right To Know about Genetically Engineered Food,” which mandates the following:

any food or seed stock offered for retail sale that is genetically engineered must be accompanied by a conspicuous disclosure that states “Produced with Genetic Engineering.”

The law would also prevent any products containing GMOs from being labeled as “natural.” That should seem obvious, but big food manufacturers are currently pressuring the federal government to allow them to use such labels on genetically modified foods.

But Maine’s new law has a catch, similar to the catch in a GMO-labeling law passed in Connecticut last month. The Maine law won’t take effect until at least five nearby states adopt similar rules. That’s because the states are unwilling to go it alone in the courts against Big Ag and Big Food. The Kennebec Journal reports:

Proponents of the bill said the provision would quell concerns about an almost-certain lawsuit by industry groups and Monsanto, which vowed to challenge the laws in Maine and Connecticut on the basis that they violate the free speech and interstate commerce provisions of the U.S. Constitution.

Maine Attorney General Janet Mills told lawmakers last year that the bill was almost certain to face a legal challenge, and said she could not guarantee that her office could defend its constitutionality.

The Journal reports that the bill “brought together such factions as libertarian Republicans and liberal Democrats, creating strong support.”

It did more than that: It got approval from “America’s craziest governor,” as Politico called LePage this week, “a man who can make even the most hot-headed conservative talk radio hosts seem reasonable.”

We’ll let you decide whether that’s a good or bad omen for the GMO-labeling movement.


Source
LePage signs bill to label genetically modified food, Kennebec Journal

John Upton is a science fan and green news boffin who tweets, posts articles to Facebook, and blogs about ecology. He welcomes reader questions, tips, and incoherent rants: johnupton@gmail.com.

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Maine’s loony Tea Party governor signs GMO-labeling law

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You Own Your DNA, But Who Gets to Interpret It?

Mother Jones

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Yesterday the FDA ordered 23andMe to immediately stop selling its DNA testing service until and unless it gets agency approval. This is the end game of a very long cycle: regulatory reviews of genetic testing have been going on, in one form or another, for more than 15 years, and along the way there have been repeated bipartisan calls for more rigorous rules to ensure that consumers get accurate and judicious information. In 2010, for example, the GAO conducted an undercover investigation of four genetic testing companies and concluded that “GAO’s fictitious consumers received test results that are misleading and of little or no practical use.”

Nonetheless, the FDA’s action yesterday produced a flurry of criticism, especially from the libertarian right. Alex Tabarrok is typical:

The FDA wants to judge not the analytic validity of the tests … but the clinical validity, whether particular identified alleles are causal for conditions or disease. The latter requirement is the death-knell for the products because of the expense and time it takes to prove specific genes are causal for diseases….Here is why I think the FDA’s actions are unconstitutional. Reading an individual’s code is safe and effective. Interpreting the code and communicating opinions about it may or may not be safe—just like all communication—but it falls squarely under the First Amendment.

I’m pretty sure this is nowhere near so cut and dried. The relevant distinction here is between medical information and medical advice: the former is protected speech while the latter isn’t. And while your genome may be medical information, interpreting your genome and explaining whether it puts you at risk for different diseases is very close to medical advice. And not just general medical advice, of the kind that Dr. Oz purveys on television. It’s specific, personal medical advice, of the kind that only licensed physicians are allowed to provide.

That’s the argument, anyway. If 23andMe is going to perform a lab test and then send you a personal letter suggesting that you, personally, are or aren’t at high risk for some disease, it’s acting an awful lot like a doctor. But for better or worse, only doctors are allowed to act like doctors, and the FDA thinks that complex and sometimes ambiguous test results should be communicated to patients by licensed MDs who know what they mean.

It turns out there’s more to this particular case, of course: the FDA’s letter makes it pretty clear that they’re fed up with 23andMe, which has apparently been almost arrogantly unresponsive to standard requests for documentation:

As part of our interactions with you, including more than 14 face-to-face and teleconference meetings, hundreds of email exchanges, and dozens of written communications, we provided you with specific feedback on study protocols and clinical and analytical validation requirements, discussed potential classifications and regulatory pathways (including reasonable submission timelines), provided statistical advice, and discussed potential risk mitigation strategies.

….However, even after these many interactions with 23andMe, we still do not have any assurance that the firm has analytically or clinically validated the PGS for its intended uses….Months after you submitted your 510(k)s and more than 5 years after you began marketing, you still had not completed some of the studies and had not even started other studies….FDA has not received any communication from 23andMe since May. Instead, we have become aware that you have initiated new marketing campaigns, including television commercials that, together with an increasing list of indications, show that you plan to expand the PGS’s uses and consumer base without obtaining marketing authorization from FDA.

Ouch. By happenstance, this brought to mind a Felix Salmon post from yesterday. It was about GoldieBlox, another high-flying Silicon Valley startup that apparently believes federal laws apply only to ordinary mortals—not to rebelliously innovative and disruptive companies that are going to change the very way we interact with the world. Salmon describes the “Silicon Valley way” like this: “First you make your own rules — and then, if anybody tries to slap you down, you don’t apologize, you fight.”

This sure sounds an awful lot like 23andMe. I’m actually sort of agnostic about the issue of whether personal genome services should fall into the category of highly regulated diagnostic tests. The line between information and advice is genuinely gray here. But regardless of that, this isn’t something that suddenly popped up out of nowhere. It’s been on the FDA’s radar for a long time, and 23andMe was well aware of the FDA’s requirements. They sure look an awful lot like a Silicon Valley company that figured they could stall them forever and never pay a price.

Source – 

You Own Your DNA, But Who Gets to Interpret It?

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The 4-Hour Body – Timothy Ferriss

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The 4-Hour Body

An Uncommon Guide to Rapid Fat-Loss, Incredible Sex, and Becoming Superhuman

Timothy Ferriss

Genre: Health & Fitness

Price: $13.99

Publish Date: December 14, 2010

Publisher: Crown Publishing Group

Seller: Random House Digital, Inc. (Books)


Thinner, bigger, faster, stronger… which 150 pages will you read? Is it possible to: Reach your genetic potential in 6 months? Sleep 2 hours per day and perform better than on 8 hours? Lose more fat than a marathoner by bingeing? Indeed, and much more. This is not just another diet and fitness book. The 4-Hour Body is the result of an obsessive quest, spanning more than a decade, to hack the human body. It contains the collective wisdom of hundreds of elite athletes, dozens of MDs, and thousands of hours of jaw-dropping personal experimentation. From Olympic training centers to black-market laboratories, from Silicon Valley to South Africa, Tim Ferriss, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The 4-Hour Workweek, fixated on one life-changing question: For all things physical, what are the tiniest changes that produce the biggest results? Thousands of tests later, this book contains the answers for both men and women. From the gym to the bedroom, it’s all here, and it all works. YOU WILL LEARN (in less than 30 minutes each): How to lose those last 5-10 pounds (or 100+ pounds) with odd combinations of food and safe chemical cocktails. * How to prevent fat gain while bingeing (X-mas, holidays, weekends) * How to increase fat-loss 300% with a few bags of ice * How Tim gained 34 pounds of muscle in 28 days, without steroids, and in four hours of total gym time * How to sleep 2 hours per day and feel fully rested * How to produce 15-minute female orgasms * How to triple testosterone and double sperm count * How to go from running 5 kilometers to 50 kilometers in 12 weeks * How to reverse “permanent” injuries * How to add 150+ pounds to your lifts in 6 months * How to pay for a beach vacation with one hospital visit And that's just the tip of the iceberg. There are more than 50 topics covered, all with real-world experiments, many including more than 200 test subjects. You don't need better genetics or more discipline. You need immediate results that compel you to continue. That’s exactly what The 4-Hour Body delivers. From the Hardcover edition.

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Wheat Belly – William Davis

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Wheat Belly

Lose the Wheat, Lose the Weight, and Find Your Path Back to Health

William Davis

Genre: Health & Fitness

Price: $12.99

Publish Date: August 30, 2011

Publisher: Rodale

Seller: Rodale Inc.


A renowned cardiologist explains how eliminating wheat from our diets can prevent fat storage, shrink unsightly bulges, and reverse myriad health problems. Every day, over 200 million Americans consume food products made of wheat. As a result, over 100 million of them experience some form of adverse health effect, ranging from minor rashes and high blood sugar to the unattractive stomach bulges that preventive cardiologist William Davis calls “wheat bellies.” According to Davis, that excess fat has nothing to do with gluttony, sloth, or too much butter: It’s due to the whole grain wraps we eat for lunch. After witnessing over 2,000 patients regain their health after giving up wheat, Davis reached the disturbing conclusion that wheat is the single largest contributor to the nationwide obesity epidemic — and its elimination is key to dramatic weight loss and optimal health. In Wheat Belly , Davis exposes the harmful effects of what is actually a product of genetic tinkering and agribusiness being sold to the American public as “wheat” — and provides readers with a user-friendly, step-by-step plan to navigate a new, wheat-free lifestyle. Informed by cutting-edge science and nutrition, along with case studies from men and women who have experienced life-changing transformations in their health after waving goodbye to wheat, Wheat Belly is an illuminating look at what is truly making Americans sick and an action plan to clear our plates of this seemingly benign ingredient.

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Wheat Belly – William Davis

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