Archive for the DNA Category
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Google Invests Another $2.6M in 23andMe
June 19, 2009
By a GenomeWeb staff reporter
NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Google has invested $2.6 million in 23andMe through a Series B financing, according to a US Securities and Exchange filing by Google yesterday.
Google has invested around $7 million thus far in the consumer genetics startup. Two years ago, Google invested $3.9 million in 23andMe through a Series A round of financing. It also purchased $500,000 of 23andMe’s Series A preferred stock from a private investor in 2007.
Sergey Brin, president of technology and a co-founder of Google is the husband of 23andMe Co-founder Anne Wojcicki. He previously invested around $10 million of his own money in 23andMe’s convertible debt financing, which was converted into Series B preferred stock as part of 23andMe’s Series B round.
Google noted in the SEC filing that the valuation of the Series B investment was determined by 23andMe and New Enterprise Associates — a venture capital investor in 23andMe — in which Google did not play a role.
23andMe has not yet disclosed how much in total it raised through the Series B round or the names of the other investors in addition to Google and New Enterprise Associates.
Google also disclosed in the filing that it had entered into a lease agreement with 23andMe, but it did not provide further details.
NOW THEY WANT TO COLLECT DNA ON AFRICAN AMERICANS:
From the ROOT:
To significantly boost the amount of genetic information collected about African Americans — which allows people to peer deeper into their ancestry and also to improve their medical care — a California-based genetic-testing company is offering free access to its Web-based service.
The company, 23andMe, is inviting 10,000 adults of African descent to sign up for a free account — waiving the $399 fee — and provide a saliva sample, agree that their genetic information can be used for research and answer a series of online health surveys. (For your free kit, visit 23andme.com/store, add a kit to your cart and upon checkout, enter this code for The Root readers: QDPEBG. This is a limited enrollment offer that runs through Dec. 31, 2011.)
The vast majority of genetic research published so far has been conducted in people of European ancestry, with a growing gap in the understanding of the interplay between genetics and health for African Americans.
“There are some social factors, with some reluctance to participate in studies because of a history of discrimination in research in the past. So many people bring up Tuskegee and say ‘We haven’t forgotten Tuskegee,’ ” said Joanna Mountain, Ph.D., senior director of research for 23andMe. Read rest here
HMMM…with the history of Eugenics targeting the sick and minorities, I would be somewhat skeptical of this FREE OFFER !
Watch Maafa21 to learn how Eugenics continues today
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In a scenario that a panel of scientists with the Academy of Medical Sciences warned bears resemblance to Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein,” British scientists have created more than 150 human-animal hybrid embryos in secret research conducted in British laboratories.
According to the Daily Mail, 155 “admixed” embryos, containing both human and animal genetic material, have been created over the past three years by scientists who said stem cells could be harvested from the embryos to be used in research into possible cures for a wide range of diseases.
The secret research was revealed after a committee of scientists warned of a nightmare scenario in which the creation of human-animal hybrids could go too far.
Professor Robin Lovell-Badge of the National Institute for Medical Research and co-author of a report by the committee of scientists, warned about the experiments and called for stricter oversight of this type of research. He especially zeroed in on human genetic material being implanted into animal embryos, and attempts at giving lab animals human attributes by injecting human stem cells into the brains of monkeys.
It was revealed that labs at King’s College London, Newcastle University and Warwick University were given licenses to carry out the research after the introduction of the 2008 Human Fertilisation Embryology Act that legalized the creation of human-animal hybrids, as well as ‘cybrids’, in which a human nucleus is implanted into an animal cell, and ‘chimeras’, in which human cells are mixed with animal embryos.
However, the scientists did not call for any additional legislation regulating such controversial research, but called instead for a panel of experts to oversee it. Prof Martin Bobrow, chair of the Academy working group that produced the report, said: “The very great majority of experiments present no issues beyond the general use of animals in research and these should proceed under current regulation.
“A limited number of experiments should be permissible subject to scrutiny by the expert body we recommend; and a very limited range should not be undertaken, at least until the potential consequences are more fully understood.”
Peter Saunders, the CEO of Christian Medical Fellowship, a UK-based organization with 4,500 UK doctors, expressed his skepticism about any such regulatory body.
“Scientists regulating scientists is worrying because scientists are generally not experts in theology, philosophy and ethics and they often have ideological or financial vested interests in their research. Moreover they do not like to have restrictions placed on their work,” observed Saunders.
In a question and answer session in Parliament led by Lord David Alton following the release of the report, it was revealed that the human-animal hybrid research has stopped due to lack of funding.
“I argued in Parliament against the creation of human-animal hybrids as a matter of principle,” Lord Alton said. “None of the scientists who appeared before us could give us any justification in terms of treatment. At every stage the justification from scientists has been: if only you allow us to do this, we will find cures for every illness known to mankind. This is emotional blackmail.”
“Ethically it can never be justifiable – it discredits us as a country. It is dabbling in the grotesque,” Lord Alton added. “Of the 80 treatments and cures which have come about from stem cells, all have come from adult stem cells, not embryonic ones. On moral and ethical grounds this fails; and on scientific and medical ones too.”
Josephine Quintavalle, of the pro-life group Comment on Reproductive Ethics (Corethics), told the Daily Mail, “I am aghast that this is going on and we didn’t know anything about it. Why have they kept this a secret? If they are proud of what they are doing, why do we need to ask Parliamentary questions for this to come to light?”
“The problem with many scientists is that they want to do things because they want to experiment. That is not a good enough rationale,” Quintavalle concluded.
In 2009, South Korean scientists have created four glow-in-the-dark beagles using cloning techniques that they say could help them develop cures for human diseases.
Genetic information will be available to most people in the developed world within 10 years, allowing better treatment and safer prescription of drugs.
Francis Collins, director of the US National Institutes of Health, believes mass genome sequencing of individuals would soon be possible at a cost of less than $1,000 per person (£670).
In an interview with The Times to mark the 10th anniversary of the sequencing of the human genome, he said bespoke genetic health care would identify those with a higher inherited risk of conditions such as heart disease, diabetes or cancer and reduce the diseases though drug treatment, early screening or diet and exercise.
Dr Collins told the newspaper: “Certainly within ten years I will be very surprised and very disappointed if most people in the developed world will not have their genomes sequenced as part of their medical record, and I would hope it will come even sooner.”
“The cost of sequencing is dropping … and I can’t believe it won’t drop to less than $1,000 within five years. Will that become the moment when it becomes compelling to do it for everyone?”
“There would be no need to take more blood samples; it’s just a click of your mouse to know whether that drug dose ought to be adjusted, or whether there’s a risk of a nasty side effect.”
It comes after The Sunday Telegraph revealed that geneticists believe malfunctioning genes behind major diseases, including cancer, heart disease and diabetes, can provide clues that will help pinpoint the causes.
Biology Department calls squirrel eugenics project ‘a huge success’
By Matthew Martell
Published: April 1, 2010
Chuck is the first of a series of genetically enhanced “super-squirrels” to emerge from the Biology Department’s SQUEEX project. Garrett Mukai | The Spectator
After six months of field research and laboratory work, a group of Seattle University biology majors announced Monday that their on-campus squirrel eugenics project has produced a successful prototype specimen.
The project–code named “SQUEEX” (SQUirrel Eugenic Enhancement Experiment)–was first proposed in May 2009 by a group of biology majors and was spearheaded by junior Marc Massey.
“When I first moved to Campion as a freshman, I was struck by the number of tamiasciurus douglasii living around the building,” Massey said. “I looked at my roommate and said, ‘Wow, this is squirrel Eden!’”
Squirrel populations have long been stable and healthy in Seattle, but according to Massey, the focus of SQUEEX goes beyond merely monitoring and controlling the number of squirrels on campus.
“Squirrels have plenty of food in an urban area like Capitol Hill, but they also face dozens of different types of predators in such an environment,” Massey said. “All over and around campus, there are so many threats the squirrels have to face everyday. There are raccoons, Seattle Police segways, fashionistas looking for alternative ways to add furs to their wardrobes, drunk dodgeballers–it’s hard out there for a squirrel!”
Observing the squirrels’ interactions with these predators, Massey and the SQUEEX team wanted to give their fine-furred friends some added protection against their natural enemies in the Emerald City.
“We knew squirrel populations were at risk of a drastic decrease thanks to their small size and adorable little cheeks, so we decided to develop a eugenics program to provide them with an urban advantage,” said Lindsay Gossack, senior biology, chemistry and Spanish major. “So we made a list of traits we figured would help the squirrels continue to flourish on capitol hill: super strength, lightning speed, even more adorable cheeks.”
The team’s work toward creating powered up SQUEEX squirrels began in October, when Massey was dispatched to men’s basketball practices to collect genetic material for the prototype litter of squirrels.
“We were talking among ourselves when the project was first starting, trying to figure out what genetic material we could use to really make the SQUEEX squirrels as formidable as possible,” Massey said. “And it came to us: Charles Garcia. He’s by far the strongest man on campus. We knew we needed him.”
Massey offered Charles Garcia, also known as the Belizean Baller, towels at each practice whenever he started to sweat, and would later wring them out into beakers that he would immediately take back to the lab for genetic processing.
Massey estimates it took roughly 70 towel-beaker samples to gather enough DNA for the first SQUEEX specimen, but once enough of the genetic material was collected, the team set to work on cultivating their first super-squirrel, Chuck, named in honor of his genetic forefather.
“We didn’t really know what to expect with Chuck,” Gossack said. “We were all a little worried. None of us had ever bred a test-tube squirrel before, and we weren’t sure how human DNA would mix with squirrel DNA. It was just this crazy period of worrying, like, ‘What if only one of his cheeks is adorable? Or what if he comes out all tattooed and seven feet tall?’”
Fortunately for the SQUEEX team, Chuck was a success. Massey said the birth was unspectacular, but when he fully matured, he was an inch longer, twice as fast, three times stronger and four times more adorable than an unmodified Seattle U squirrel.
“Seeing Chuck for the first time was just a ‘Wow’ kind of experience,” said James Lewers, laboratory manager. “He was at once the most adorable and terrifying squirrel I had ever seen.”
Robert Rutherford, biology professor and faculty adviser for SQUEEX, was just as astonished as Lewers the first time he encountered the full-grown Chuck.
“When Marc first approached me with the SQUEEX idea, I said I’d advise the project and wished him luck, but I wasn’t really expecting anything,” Rutherford said. “But my God, when I saw that adorable little squirrel, I was so proud of my students. Their project is a huge success.”
But even as the Biology Department is hailing SQUEEX as a huge stride forward in the field of squirrology, other members of the Seattle U community are protesting the team’s work, calling it unethical and dangerous.
“They think they’re trying to make positive change in the squirrel world, but did they ever think of the possible ramifications of their actions,” asked Sara Bernert, senior creative writing and theater major and a long-time member of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). “Their super-squirrels are going to wipe out their non-super peers. It’s simple Darwinism at work. You would think biology majors would realize that.”
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