Biology & Genetics articles

The next frontier in reproductive tourism? Genetic modification

The next frontier in reproductive tourism? Genetic modification

By Rosa Castro, Duke University. The birth of the first baby born using a technique called mitochondrial replacement, which uses DNA from three people to “correct” an inherited genetic mutation, was announced on Sept. 27. Mitochondrial replacement or donation allows women who carry mitochondrial diseases to avoid passing them on to their child. These diseases

How many genes does it take to make a person?

By Sean Nee, Pennsylvania State University. We humans like to think of ourselves as on the top of the heap compared to all the other living things on our planet. Life has evolved over three billion years from simple one-celled creatures through to multicellular plants and animals coming in all shapes and sizes and abilities. In

Parasitic flies, zombified ants, predator beetles – insect drama on Mexican coffee plantations

By Kate Mathis, University of Arizona. Ants are voracious predators and often very good at defending plants from herbivores. People have taken advantage of this quirk for centuries. In fact, using ants in orange groves is one of the first recorded pest control practices, dating back to A.D. 304 in China. In southern Mexico, Azteca ants

The future of genetic enhancement is not in the West

By G. Owen Schaefer, National University of Singapore. Would you want to alter your future children’s genes to make them smarter, stronger or better-looking? As the state of the science brings prospects like these closer to reality, an international debate has been raging over the ethics of enhancing human capacities with biotechnologies such as so-called

How old is too old for a safe pregnancy?

By Hannah Brown, University of Adelaide. This week, an Australian woman delivered a baby at the age of 62 after having in vitro fertilisation (IVF) abroad. Few women can naturally conceive a baby later in life without the help of IVF – and these are rarely first pregnancies. These women go through menopause later, and have

Are pop stars destined to die young?

By Greg Hall, Case Western Reserve University. Prince’s autopsy has determined that the artist died of an accidental overdose of the synthetic opioid fentanyl. The news comes on the heels of the death of former Megadeth drummer Nick Menza, who collapsed on stage and died in late May. Indeed, it seems as though before we can