Monthly Archives: December 2018

Year in Science: Genetic breakthroughs make dreams (and nightmares) come true

In science, it was the best of times, and the worst of times.
2018 was a year when researchers focused in on ways to head off disease by reprogramming a patient’s own cells, but also crossed what many thought were ethical red lines in genetic experimentation. It was the first year in which women won a share of the Nobel Prize for physics as well as for chemistry, but also a year when the #MeToo issue came to the fore in the science community.
And it was the year that marked the passing of British physicist Stephen Hawking, who was arguably the world’s best-known living scientist.

Appeals court denies Avery request to remand for new scientific testing

MANITOWOC COUNTY, Wis. (WBAY) – A Wisconsin appeals court has denied Steven Avery’s motion to stay the appeal and remand the case to the circuit court for the purpose of new scientific testing on bones found in a Manitowoc County gravel pit.

Scientists unravel the mystery of what regulates DNA replication

DNA replication was first described in the late 1950s, and scientists have been working ever since to explain just how this critical process is regulated. Researchers at Florida State University have finally solved the mystery.

Five Amazing Things We Learned About History From Ancient DNA In 2018

FORBES-Every year ancient DNA research deepens our understanding of history a bit more, and 2018 was truly a remarkable year for ancient DNA research. By February the total number of genomes characterized from ancient individuals surpassed 1,300. I want to highlight five of what I think are the most interesting discoveries made this year, although I had to cheat a bit by grouping multiple papers together under each topic.

Photos And DNA Tests As Indonesians Search For Lost Relatives

CARITA, INDONESIA: Grief-stricken Indonesians queued with photos or waited on DNA tests Wednesday, to find out if their missing loved ones were among bodies being held in a hospital morgue after a devastating tsunami tore families apart.

Attorney for suspect in Vanessa Marcotte murder asks judge to throw out DNA evidence

WORCESTER — Citing language barrier issues, the attorney for the former Worcester deliveryman charged in a 2016 killing of Leominster native Vanessa Marcotte in Princeton while jogging is asking a judge to throw out DNA evidence from the case.

California’s Brown orders new DNA testing in old murder case

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — California Gov. Jerry Brown ordered new DNA tests that a condemned inmate says could clear him in a 35-year-old quadruple murder case, which has drawn national attention.
On Monday, Brown ordered tests of four pieces of evidence that Kevin Cooper and his attorneys say will show he was framed for the 1983 Chino Hills hatchet and knife killings of four people. The items that will be tested are a tan T-shirt and orange towel found near the scene and the hatchet handle and sheath.

DNA evidence leads police to charge Iowa man with 1979 murder of 18-year-old woman

Thirty-nine years to the day that a woman was killed and left in her family’s car in the parking lot of an Iowa mall, officials announced Wednesday a suspect was arrested in her murder after DNA at the crime scene was reexamined.
The Cedar Rapids Police Department said Jerry Lynn Burns, 64, was arrested at his job in Manchester after “persistent and determined” investigative work that included a scientific DNA analysis for the killing of Michelle Martinko.

The Mediterranean’s deadliest shipwreck just got deadlier

ROME — Before their lives ended in an underwater deathtrap, before they lined up 100 to a row on a Libyan beach to board a boat with no anchor, the young men from the parched villages of the Sahel had names.
Two forensic investigators, one crisscrossing Africa and another in a university laboratory in Italy, are on a quest against the odds to keep Italy’s promise to find those names. They are tracing the identities of the migrants killed when an overloaded fishing boat went down off the coast of Libya on April 18, 2015, in the Mediterranean’s deadliest shipwreck in living memory.

Florida Circuit Court Rules DNA Evidence Produced by STRmix Analysis Is Admissible in First-Degree Murder Case

A Florida Circuit Court has ruled that evidence produced through the use of STRmix™ – the sophisticated forensic software used to resolve mixed DNA profiles previously thought to be too complex to interpret – is admissible in Florida v. Reshaunte Jermaines Anglin (Case No. 2017-CF-7816-XX, Section F9), a 2016 case in which the defendant is charged with first-degree murder, robbery with a firearm, and evidence tampering.

Indiana mother reunited with son she gave up for adoption more than 60 years ago

BLOOMFIELD — A southern Indiana man who was adopted as a newborn and spent decades looking for his birth mother is getting the best Christmas present of his life.
RTV6 first spoke to Nick Schneider back in June, just before a new Indiana law took effect opening more than 50 years of adoption records.

Ancient DNA can help bring aboriginal Australian ancestors home

The bones of thousands upon thousands of indigenous people sit in museums across the world. Their descendants want them back, but they must often fight for years to convince scientists the remains belong to their ancestors. And in some cases, information about where the ancestors are from has been lost. Now, a new study from Australia shows ancient DNA can reliably link aboriginal ancestors to their living descendants, opening up the possibility of using genetics to proactively return ancient remains to their communities.

Kerala now has an ID card and DNA database for all its captive elephants

In November, the Supreme Court had directed 17 states to conduct a census of elephants in captivity by December 2018. This was in response to public interest litigation (PIL) to implement the provisions of the Wildlife (Protection) Act 1960, which was meant to protect elephants in captivity. The Kerala government, in a project conducted along with the Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Biotechnology (RGCB), has gone one step further.
The government not only conducted a census of the then-521 elephants in captivity but also conducted a DNA fingerprinting and created a DNA bank and Unique Identification Cards for all captive elephants in the states. On Tuesday, the RGCB handed over the DNA bank, a preliminary version of the ID cards as well as a report to Forest Department’s Chief Wildlife Warden PC Kesavan.

Murrieta Genomics and Encrypgen Enable People to Own and Control Their DNA Information

“In many cases, people who get their genome sequenced have no control over how their data is used,” stated Deepankar Roy, PhD, co-founder and science officer for Murrieta Genomics. “The companies doing the sequencing anonymize the data and then sell it to researchers repeatedly. We encourage the sharing of important research data – but on the individual’s terms.”

Dramatic advances in forensics expose the need for genetic data legislation

Many people first became familiar with DNA testing through its use in the OJ Simpson murder trial in 1994. Now, 24 years later, there have been two dramatic advances in the capability of forensic genetics that mark the start of a new era.
The first is the amount of information we can predict about a person from DNA found at a crime scene, and the second is the way police can use open genealogy databases to identify people.