Sunday, September 30, 2012

The "Language Gene" (FOXP2) in Neanderthals

Hello everyone,

Here's a link to a really interesting NPR interview/article discussing the discovery of FOXP2 changes in the Neanderthal genome, changes previously known only in humans. This gene has been associated with speech and language development, leading to some very interesting questions about the appearance of language in the hominid lineage. Alternatively, if the claims of critics are correct and Neanderthals did not have language, what might this discovery say about our understanding of the polygenic nature of language? Here's a link to the original article in Current Biology.


Saturday, September 29, 2012

Archaic admixture in Africa?

Hey all,

      I liked this argumentative piece in the times that brings back some of the geneticists vs. paleoanthropologists disagreement we talked about earlier. Basically, Lachance and Tishkoff are arguing that there are signs of archaic human interbreeding with certain African populations but don't have a fully integrated fossil argument/record, only genetic analysis. Their full paper is here

See y'all Monday!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Why Fathers Matter

Here's a link to the article that was brought up in class today:

Advances in sequencing technologies

Hi All -

I wanted to share the technical perspective of genome-wide sequencing with a review of the advances of sequencing. It gives an overview of the stepping stones in DNA sequencing from Sanger sequencing to various modern methods.

Here is the link to the article, published in Biotechnology Journal a few months ago. Enjoy ..

PS here is another link if the one above doesn't work.


Sunday, September 23, 2012

This is a pretty interesting ethical/logistical question! I was originally searching for something about the European-ancestry bias in genetic databases, but found this instead--similar concept of something that will become more of an issue as we continue to increase the pace of genome sequencing and medical genetics becomes more of a commonplace element of daily life.

Whole Genome Sequencing and Cancer Treatments

Hi all,

I want to share a really interesting story about how whole genome sequencing was used to treat a patient's case of unresponsive leukemia. After a young cancer researcher discovered that he had unresponsive leukemia, he was able to use his medical connections to fully sequence the genomes of his cancer cells, his healthy cells, and his RNA. These sequences revealed that he had a mutation in his FLT3 gene that was causing an overproduction of a particular protein. He took a drug intended to treat kidney cancer that shuts town FLT3, and his cancer has since gone into remission. This is a very cool story with interesting implications about using increasingly accessible genome sequencing to individually tailor medical treatments.

The NYT article:

A related New England Journal of Medicine article:


Monday, September 17, 2012

The Role of "Junk DNA" in Disease

Hi everyone,

Recently there was a huge amount of news coverage on the international Encode research project results, which showed that "junk DNA" has a large and previously unknown role in disease. Here's a link to the New York Times' coverage of the story:

There are 574 comments on this NYT article alone; clearly, a huge amount of public interest was generated by this story. A brief scan reveals that many of the commenters focus on the apparent arrogance of scientists in labeling a segment of the genome 'junk DNA'. Further exploration led me to the link below, in which a biological anthropologist explains the origin of the term 'junk DNA', usefully clarifying that scientists are not quite so arrogant as the public may like to believe.


Sunday, September 16, 2012

Interesting tie-in of Language to analysis of human evolution!

Here's a couple of different studies on the matter: