Detectives trying to identify the infamous Zodiac Killer hope to use the same DNA-tracing technology that recently lead to an arrest in another decades-old serial killer case in California.But first, they need to obtain a profile of one of California's most elusive criminals. The Vallejo Police Department has submitted two envelopes that contained letters from the Zodiac Killer to a private lab in hopes of finding his DNA on the back of the stamps or envelope flaps that may have been licked.Results from the advanced DNA analysis, which previously had not been available in the case, are expected to be returned as early as the next few weeks. "They were confident they would be able to get something off it," Vallejo police Detective Terry Poyser told the Sacramento Bee. Poyser said he hoped the same technique that lead to an arrest in the Golden State Killer case could be used if a complete profile of the Zodiac is obtained. Authorities arrested Joseph DeAngelo last month on suspicion of … [Read more...] about DNA profile sought to solve mystery of Zodiac Killer
LOS ANGELES — Maverick Coltrin entered the world a seemingly healthy 8-pound boy. But within a week, he was having seizures that doctors could neither explain nor control. They warned that he would probably die within a few months.“I remember my world just came crashing down,” said his mother, Kara Coltrin, 24.In October, Coltrin and her husband, Michael, began taking hundreds of photos of their son, hooked up to tubes and his skin purplish gray. Family rushed to San Diego from across the country to meet him before he died.Then, in a last-ditch effort, doctors at Rady Children’s Hospital-San Diego decided to analyze his DNA in case it could reveal what was wrong.In one of his genes, they found a mutation that had caused a seizure disorder. The attacks could now be controlled with a few medicines.Today, Maverick is a chubby 6-month-old who bounces on his mom’s knee. He narrows his eyes at strangers, drawing his thick brows together, before easing into a … [Read more...] about Decoding your baby’s DNA: It can be done. But should it be?
When you think of DNA, odds are, you picture the famous double helix, a ladder-like structure elegantly twisted like a corkscrew. But DNA doesn't always assume this form. The existence of one shape of DNA in humans, in particular — a four-stranded knot of genetic code — has been controversial among scientists for years. Because this so-called i-motif loves acidic environments (a condition that scientists can create in the lab but doesn't naturally occur in the body), many scientists thought that it couldn't possibly exist in human cells. But in recent years, studies have pointed to the possibility that this bizarre form of DNA could, in fact, exist in living humans. Now, a new study published today (April 23) in the journal Nature Chemistry provides the first direct evidence that it does exist and that it may play an important role in regulating our genes. [Unraveling the Human Genome: 6 Molecular Milestones] "Before this, it was kind of an academic idea that DNA could … [Read more...] about A Mysterious New Form of DNA Was Just Discovered in Human Cells
John Sulston, a Nobel Prize-winning British scientist who helped decode the human genome, has died. He was 75.The Wellcome Sanger Institute, the successor to the cutting-edge genomic research center he once founded and directed, confirmed Friday that Sulston had died but did not say when or give the cause of death. Advertisement - Continue Reading Below Sulston shared the prize in 2002 for his contribution to work unraveling how genes control cell division. He traced the adult nematode worm, C. elegans, to decipher how cells divide and create something new — findings the Sanger Institute said were key to understanding how cancers develop."He had a burning and unrelenting commitment to making genome data open to all without restriction and his leadership in this regard is in large part responsible for the free access now enjoyed," Mike Stratton, the institute's director, said."We all feel the loss today of a great scientific visionary and leader who made historic, landmark … [Read more...] about Scientist Who Helped Decode the Human Genome Dies at 75
When it comes to data storage, efforts to get faster access grab most of the attention. But long-term archiving of data is equally important, and it generally requires a completely different set of properties. To get a sense of why getting this right is important, just take the recently revived NASA satellite as an example—extracting anything from the satellite's data will rely on the fact that a separate NASA mission had an antiquated tape drive that could read the satellite's communication software. One of the more unexpected technologies to receive some attention as an archival storage medium is DNA. While it is incredibly slow to store and retrieve data from DNA, we know that information can be pulled out of DNA that's tens of thousands of years old. And there have been some impressive demonstrations of the approach, like an operating system being stored in DNA at a density of 215 Petabytes a gram. But that method treated DNA as a glob of unorganized bits—you had to … [Read more...] about Inching closer to a DNA-based file system