The Future is Genetics

I am not your typical geek but there is something about science, and particularly about genetics that excites me. I have always felt that Genetics is going to be big, and back at my first University it was unfortunately given almost nil importance. Understandably, because to make genetics exciting you need to be researching it and there is just not that amount of funding in Malta.

Here however, genetics is big and the buildings dedicated to Genetics even bigger. In Cardiff one of the top research fields is Psychiatric Genetics. Believe me, the stuff they discover on a day to day basis is enough to blow anyone away. The beautiful thing is the potential of this research. You can sense that in a couple of years this is not only going to be tangible, but clinically accessible.

Just to give you an idea of the brilliance of genetics here are things that happened this past week alone.

1. New technology can build mug shots from DNA. This means that DNA has just made forensics easier and justice that little bit fairer. Although this is far from accurate, Chinese researchers are getting closer to identifying over 20,000 different face features via genetics.

2. Yeast Chromosome.  The picture below (from nature.com) shows how scientists (some undergraduate students among them, imagine that!) have made up a completely synthetic yeast chromosome. The implications for this in the field of agriculture for starters are huge (unless you’re anti GMO) – we’re basically building a genome!

3. Down Syndrome changes. I proceed here with caution. Experiments on Mice (not humans) have reversed short-term memory loss by stimulating the cerebellum. This has huge implications for the way we consider how memory works in people with Down Syndrome. The fact that someone is researching this – an area people had always considered a mystery and ‘incurable’ is already a way forward – a positive one.

Until next time!

 

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