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DNA

Associated Press

With a name that sounds like futuristic fiction, Rapid DNA machines roughly the size of an office printer have helped solve rape cases in Kentucky, identified California wildfire victims and verified family connections of migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border.

Scientists who recently announced an experimental genetic test that can help predict obesity got immediate pushback from other researchers, who wonder whether it is really useful.

The story behind this back-and-forth is, at its core, a question of when it's worth diving deep into DNA databanks when there's no obvious way to put that information into use.

Scientists continue to speak out against the prospect of producing engineered embryos that could lead to "designer babies."

Leaders of the American Society of Gene and Cell Therapy sent a letter on April 24 to Alex Azar, the secretary of health and human services, adding their voices to the call for a moratorium on experiments that could alter the genes passed down to future generations.

A group of prominent scientists and bioethicists is calling for a global moratorium on any new attempts to bring gene-edited babies into the world.

"We call for a global moratorium on all clinical uses of human germline editing — that is, changing heritable DNA (in sperm, eggs or embryos) to make genetically modified children," the 18 scientists and bioethicists from seven countries write in an article published Wednesday by the journal Nature.

From Texas Standard:

A global controversy erupted after a Chinese scientist claimed to have used the gene-editing tool CRISPR to manipulate genes in the embryos of twin girls to try to boost their resistance to HIV. The idea of gene editing goes back to at least the 1960s, and it’s the topic of the new documentary “Human Nature,” which will premiere at the South by Southwest festival in Austin this month.

Dr. Zhijian "James" Chen
UT Southwestern Medical Center

A UT Southwestern Medical Center biochemist was recently named the winner of the 2019 Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences for his discovery of an enzyme that helps defend against infections and cancers.

A DNA test showing that Sen. Elizabeth Warren has Native American ancestry is "completely irrelevant to the process" of determining her tribal identity, the Cherokee secretary of state told NPR's Morning Edition.

Chuck Hoskin was also critical of President Trump, saying he "should not be calling her 'Pocahontas,' " and that he "should be looking into what the needs of Indian Country are, because the needs are there."

One of the enduring mysteries of biology is why so much of the DNA in our chromosomes appears to be simply junk. In fact, about half of the human genome consists of repetitive bits of DNA that cut and paste themselves randomly into our chromosomes, with no obvious purpose.

A study published Thursday finds that some of these snippets may actually play a vital role in the development of embryos.

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A biopsy involves removing tissue to find out if you have a disease or the extent of it. The FDA recently approved a less-invasive “liquid” biopsy for a certain form of lung cancer. But the possibilities are far greater.  

www.bbc.co.uk

In this edition of Vital Signs, a growing trend in social media called sunburn art: Using various materials and deliberate overexposure in the sun to create patterns on the body.

Dr. Travis Vandergriff is an attending Dermatologist with Parkland Hospital System and an Assistant Professor in the Dermatology department of UT Southwestern Medical Center. He explained how sunburn art works and why he considers it dangerous.

Brittney Tatchell / Smithsonian Institution

Nearly two decades after an ancient skeleton was discovered in Kennewick, Washington, scientists finally have a better idea about its hotly-debated origins. SMU anthropologist David Meltzer co-authored a recent study into what’s been dubbed the Kennewick Man. 

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The human genome has been in the spotlight for nearly a decade now, but some researchers say we can learn a lot about ourselves from sequencing the genomes of other animals — like snakes. A team of scientists led by a researcher at the University of Texas at Arlington sequenced the full genome of a Burmese python for the first time, and discovered just how extreme the reptile is.

Patrick Alexander / Flickr

Where are the bodies from the graves at the Dozier Boys School, a former reform school in south Florida in the news for reported beatings, going for research? The University of North Texas Center for Human Identification. Discovering the boys' identities and how some of them died will be part of a day's work for researchers at the center. We'll find out about advances in forensic science that lend hope to solving this case and so many others at noon as Think host Krys Boyd talks to Dr. Art Eisenberg,  Chair of the Department of Forensics and Investigative Genetics at UNT Health Science Center in Fort Worth.

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David Keith, probably best known for his role in the movie An Officer and a Gentleman, is now on the campaign trail for a DNA registry to identify dog droppings.

The Fort Worth police crime lab will resume DNA testing a decade after questions were raised about whether its tests were valid.

Two wrongfully convicted men sentenced to life for rape and attempted murder will start the formal process of regaining their freedom this morning. KERA’s Bill Zeeble reports prosecutors say they’ve also identified the real suspects.

Dallas, TX – A Texas House committee has heard testimony on why it's important for authorities to hold onto evidence in criminal cases - even those when the defendant pleads guilty.

The Criminal Jurisprudence Committee wants to improve Texas DNA testing.

Rebecca Bernhardt, policy director of the Texas Forensic Service, told the committee Tuesday that DNA evidence is sometimes destroyed as part of guilty plea agreements with defendants.