Genetically modified high school grads, stem cell treatment for diabetes, and deciphering memory engrams.

A couple of years ago I did an article on the disclosure that mitochondrial genetic modifications were carried out on thirty embryos in the year 2001 to treat mitochondrial diseases that would probably have been fatal later in life. I also wrote in the article that this does not constitute full scale genetic modification ala the movie Gattaca. It is true that mitochondria are essential to human life but they do not seem to influence any traits that we usually think about, such as increased intelligence or hair color, as they are primarily involved in metabolism. In other words, mitochontrial …

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Post-biological proof of concept lab experiments and genetic anomalies.

Yesterday afternoon I posted an article about synthetic nucleic acids and processing of arbitrary information from the field of synthetic biology. To recap briefly, by adding synthetic components to bioengineered bacteria researchers have been able to represent and manipulate information with XNA, a variant of DNA which involves synthetic compounds in addition to the four naturally found in DNA. One of the commenters on that post is working somewhere in that field and mentioned a few of the things that can be done with those custom-designed nucleic acids. This reminded me of another article I've had in my to-write queue …

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Biodegradable surgical implants and surreptitious DNA archival.

After badly breaking a load-bearing part of your body it's not uncommon for an orthopedic surgeon to install a couple of after-market bits of hardware to hold the bones together while they knit. This usually takes the form of a couple of titanium alloy screws, though plates, rods, and tubes are not unknown. The downside of using something made out of metal to put things back together is that the screw holes left behind after the implants are removed require additional time to heal. Plus, the holes further compromise the structural integrity of the bone until they fill in. In …

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