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genetics

As part of a landmark new study, scientists in the US have successfully edited the DNA of human embryos in an effort to prevent babies being born with genetic mutations and diseases.

News of the groundbreaking, yet controversial experiment began to circulate last week, however more details were released to the public on Wednesday when the paper was published in the journal, Nature.

This is the first time this type of gene editing has been carried out in the United States, and while the results could pave the way for a total wipe out of inherited diseases, experts have warned of the need to answer the ethical and legal questions surrounding the work.

The controversy lies not in the potential correction of disease causing genes, but instead with the possible alteration of personal characteristics such as intelligence, height, facial structure and eye colour.

According to The Independent, Professor Peter Braude from King's College London observed that the results of the experiment means “the possibility of germline genome editing has moved from future fantasy to the world of possibility, and the debate about its use, outside of fears about the safety of the technology, needs to run to catch up.”

In order to conduct the study, scientists first fertilised eggs with sperm cells that included a gene that causes a heart condition known for causing sudden death in young competitive athletes.

As the eggs were fertilised, researchers applied a gene-editing tool, which works by cutting away the defective parts of the gene and allowing the cell to repair itself.

The experiment proved successful in preventing the spread of a disease that usually has a 50 per cent chance of being passed on in 42 of 58 embryos.

“Every generation on would carry this repair because we’ve removed the disease-causing gene variant from that family’s lineage,” said lead researcher, Dr Shoukhrat Mitalipov, from Oregon Health and Science University.

“By using this technique, it’s possible to reduce the burden of this inheritable disease on the family and eventually the human population.”

As it stands, using these types of treatments on humans is illegal, though some experts say they expect the law will soon change.

However, they have also warned that the legal and ethical frameworks need to catch up with the technology so as not to allow for the creation of designer babies.

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Ever wondered why you have that voice inside your head telling you to eat the last slice of cake? Or pushing you to hide the glass vase your broke on your mam?

Well, as it turns out, our genes may be to blame for all the naughty things we got up to over the years.

In a breakthrough discovery, scientists have discovered a mathematical model which determines the likelihood of you turning out good or bad.

The researchers at the University of Exeter studied the behaviour of various colony-living creatures, such as bees.

By looking at their models, they were able to better explain that genes have a play in whether you only look out for yourself, or look out for others.

The scientists also took into account environmental factors which play a MAJOR part – but depending on the genetic variations we're all born with, they found that individuals are pre-programmed with instructions on how to behave.

According to DNA India, up until now, scientists have been unable to fully explain how ‘genetic polymorphism*’ plays into the behaviour of individuals.

"Social evolution theory hasn't previously addressed genetic polymorphism," said Stockholm University's Professor Olof Leimar, who lead the study. "We have developed a model that allows us to explore this within a general framework alongside other behavioural influences.”

So all of them naughty things you did aren't really your fault, right?!

 

*Polymorphism: the presence of genetic variation within a population, upon which natural selection can operate.

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Tired of the gym? Want to get in shape? These college students reveal the real reason behind their perfect bodies.  Watch the video for more!

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There are a number of reasons why someone can end up with dry skin, from genetics to allergies and in some cases even asthma. But, a lot of the time, external factors are the biggest cause for dry skin.

Here are ways you can tackle it:

  • Use cleansers that are suited to your skin type.
  • Don’t over-scrub your face as it will strip your skin’s natural oils and leave you with a dry and uncomfortable feeling.
  • Always use a moisturiser after you’ve cleansed your face. Whether it’s in the morning or at night, your skin needs to be moisturised.
  • Make a habit out of exfoliating. This will remove any dead cells lying on the surface of the skin.
  • Since saliva has enzymes that draw the moisturise from your lips, it’s best you avoid licking them. Instead, use a balm whenever you feel your lips are dry.
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