Gene Genie #13: Into the Future



Welcome to edition #13 of the Gene Genie. There were many interesting and exciting submissions for this issue, so I hope you do a little exploring and learn something new about genes, personal genetics, and personalized medicine.

Splicing Genes. Let’s start off with something fun. I don’t know if we’ll ever try to splice our genes with those from famous or successful people, but here’s at least one conversation that might result!

With new genetic discoveries being announced every day, how does one keep up-to-date? Well, luckily we have a few helpful suggestions from our fellow bloggers. Scienceroll gives us 7 Tips: How to be up-to-date in genetics/genomics? And Clinical Cases and Images – Blog adds to the discussion with 6 Tips on Staying Up-to-Date in Genetics (and Any Specialty).

Genetically Naked? Berci at Scienceroll wrote a wonderful overview of the Personal Genome Project and gathers together many of the recent discussions about the Project. Reading the post, we are reminded of what a monumental risk and loss of privacy the First 10 are undertaking.

If you’ve ever sat and thought about Personal Genetics, and you know you have, you’ve probably asked yourself how in the world all the information can be presented to an individual in a useful way. For instance, if my genome contains some gene variant that has been associated with cancer, how worried should I be? Jason Bobe at The Personal Genome has a few suggestions at Richter Scale and Your Genomic Portfolio.

Personalized medicine takes a (tiny) step forward. David Hamilton at VentureBeat discusses the FDA approval of Selzentry, a new AIDS drug from Pfizer. The drug, however, only works against a particular sub-strain of HIV which binds to a T-cell surface protein called CCR5. Most HIV strains use CXCR4 or a combination of the two. So, not only will OUR genomes be important for personalized medicine, so will the genomes of every pathogen that has infected us. David also discusses a new drug aimed at increasing HIV replication in Koronis: Mutating HIV into extinction.

An Alzheimer-related gene? Sudip Ghosh at GNIF Brain Blogger discusses a study in Lancet that suggests that the presence of ApoE4 leads to having a thinner entorhinal cortex, which might predispose carriers to neurodegenerative disorders (including Alzheimer’s disease). Interestingly, the results are based on imaging of the brains of 239 children and adolescents.

Gene Increases Emotional Memory Recall. FuturePundit points to a recent study which suggests that a genetic variant of ADRA2B, a receptor that binds the neurotransmitter of noradrenaline, may increase the carrier’s ability to remember emotional memories. The variant was present in 12% of people with African ancestry, and in 30% of Caucasians. Neurophilosophy gives a description of the very interesting tests the researchers used to arrive at their conclusions in The neurogenetics of traumatic memories.

HERVs and Multiple Sclerosis, part 2. CAD provides an in-depth analysis of a new paper that is the first study to make a really strong case for the involvement of endogenous retrovirus in human disease – in this case, multiple sclerosis. Expression of Syncytin-1, a gene derived from a human endogenous retrovirus, appears to lead to damage of the myelin coating of nerve fibers.

I have a two-year-old son, and lately I’ve been noticing that he strongly favors his left hand. Penny, the new blogger at Genetics and Health, highlights the discovery of the gene LRRTM1 in Gene for left-handedness is found. Medgaget provides more information on the study in The Leftie Gene.

Newborn Genetic Screening vs Right to Privacy. As we learn about the relationship between our genome and disease, we will be able to screen for inherited predispositions. As Hsien reports, every year about 5,000 infants in the U.S. are diagnosed with a congenital disorder while an additional 1,000 children go undetected because genetic screening isn’t routine or incomplete in their state. However, genetic screening of newborns raises its own ethical questions.

Ethical and Legal Issues Surrounding Large-Scale Genomic Databases. As the genetic future gets closer and closer, the ethical, social, and legal dilemmas will become more real and more pressing. I recently discussed a great review article by Professor Henry T. Greely at Stanford Law which discussed a few of the challenges facing genomic biobanks.

And finally, for a little good advice to start the week, Alvaro at Sharpbrains suggests that you Exercise Your Brain! Enjoy Learning!

Issue #14 of the Gene Genie will be at MicrobiologyBytes on August 26th. You can always submit your blog article for the next edition at the carnival submission form. Past posts and future hosts can be found on the blog carnival index page.

48 Responses

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  4. David Hamilton 12 August 2007 / 11:54 am

    Heh. That’s my trackback in position #2, although for some reason it looks like WordPress just grabbed Matt Marshall’s picture. He’s the proprietor of VentureBeat, while I hang my hat at VentureBeat Life Sciences (

  5. Berci Meskó 12 August 2007 / 12:16 pm

    Thank you, Blaine, for the great edition! Nearly 20(!) posts in a nice selection. I hope you’ll host GG in the future as well.

  6. Blaine Bettinger, Ph.D. 12 August 2007 / 5:52 pm

    Thanks everyone, it was fun hosting Gene Genie, and I hope to do it again.

    I just wanted to make two quick notes: David Hamilton is the author of VentureBeat Life Sciences. Second,the Koronis drug doesn’t actually increase the replication of HIV, it just takes advantage of the virus’ fast replication to boost its mutation rate. I apologize for the errors.

  7. AC 14 August 2007 / 2:51 am

    You’ve been tagged: The Bayblab is proud to host the first ever blog carnival on cancer research. A blog carnival is an event where a community of bloggers come together to explore a common subject of interest. Not only does it create a tool to exchange ideas, but it is a good way to exchange links and increase readership. The rules are simple, write a post about any aspect of cancer research, for example where you see your field contributing to cancer treatment in the future, and submit a link to your story to the comment section of this post ( by August 24th. Also, please copy and paste this message to the comment sections of as many relevant blogs as you can. Let the fun begin!

  8. Sam 7 February 2008 / 12:18 pm

    I dont know alot of science behind HIV replication,but the little i know is HIV replicates at a high rate,causing errors in the process.Isn’t it common sense then,that if one particle has an error,then you introduce a drug that specifically causes more errors to every replicated particle repeatedly and irreversibly,-that drug is acclerating the already existing mutation potential?

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