Molsys introduces first of its kind mass learning platform exclusively for Genomics
The NASA Twins 17 April, 2019
- Dr. Sonia Bedi
Astronaut brothers, Scott and Mark Kelly, are new subjects of NASA’s Life-science program to understand how the human body responds to spaceflight over a long time. These twin brothers, with identical genome composition and similar life experiences, presented a golden opportunity to NASA to study how low-gravity and high-radiation environment could affect a human body. The study included a battery of tests comparing genetic, biochemical and other changes between these two brothers where one of them, Scott, flew for 340 consecutive days on the international space station during the study, whereas the other twin stayed back. Scott had clocked in 520 days in space whereas Mark had flown in space for a total of 54 days, interspersed into four years. The verdict of the study indicated that the genetic changes observed in Scott before the space travel had reversed on his arrival to Earth. The researcher concluded such alterations might have been triggered due to the switch in the environment.
On the contrary, exposure to high radiations in the outer space did lead to some DNA damage in Scott's genome. However, the most remarkable observation of this study was Scotts lengthened telomere during the spaceflight which shortened within 48 hours of his return to Earth. His telomere is now shorter than the pre-flight length which predisposes him to increased risk of cardiovascular disease or cancer.
As this study involved just two people, further rigorous experiments need to be performed to come to a definite conclusion of genetic changes in the human body during space journeys. Nonetheless, this finding throws light on the mysterious ways of molecular workings in the human body and how little we understand the ways of the body.
To read more, click on the following link: https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-019-01149-y
The “Three-parent” baby 16 April, 2019
- Dr. Sonia Bedi
A recent uproar on the social platforms regarding the Greek “three-parent” baby provides us an opportunity to understand the immense power of Bio-technological tools in current times. The “Three-parent” baby is a result of an assisted reproductive technology, which is a culmination of mitochondrial replacement therapy (MRT) and In-vitro fertilization (IVF). This innovative technique is an answer to the prayers of all the mothers carrying disease causing mutations in mitochondrial DNA (MtDNA) desiring to have a healthy baby. The MRT technique entails modification of human oocytes and zygotes to prevent the transmission of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) diseases from mother to child. This prevention is ensued by exchanging diseases mitochondria of the prospective mother with those of a healthy, unrelated donor (the third parent). The first successful implementation of this technique was in the case of Jordanian parents, where the mother carried the genes for Leigh syndrome (the disease causing genes reside in the mitochondria) with a healthy baby boy in 2016. The U.K became the first country approving and legalizing this technique (case-by-case basis) in 2015. Since then 15 applications have been received by the U.Ks Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority (HFEA), of which 14 have been approved. So far, only a few countries like Ukraine and Greece have approved this technique and using nuclear transfer technology for infertility cases. A major debate looms over USA to legalize this path-breaking technique, as 1000 to 4000 births per year have been reported for mitochondrial diseases. Though this technique addresses the desire of a women to have a genetically related child with reduced risk of mtDNA disease, it raises a controversial question on ethical, social and policy issues.
Mitochondrial Replacement therapy (MRT) via spindle transfer method employed for the first “three parent” baby in 2015 by US-based team of Dr John Zhang (New hope Fertility Centre, New York city). Image sourced from https://www.sciencenewsforstudents.org/article/how-make-three-parent-baby.
Live birth derived from oocyte spindle transfer to prevent mitochondrial disease. Zhang et al, 2017. Reproductive Biomedicine online.
New Era of Medical Genetics and Molecular Diagnostics 15 April, 2019
- Dr. Sonia Bedi
A marvel of 21st-century engineering, Parallel sequencing, empowers clinicians by providing a genome-wide view of a patient’s genetic make-up making the diagnosis of genetic disorders and identification of various diseases including cancer efficient, fast and cheap.
Read more on: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41436-019-0450-0
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Changes to this Statement
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