Pepsi selling Food containing Genetically Modified Products

Tests commissioned by Greenpeace, shown that Pepsico’s Doritos Corn Chips contains Genetically Modified Mon 863 and NK 603 variety corn ingredients.

Both Mon 863 and NK 603 are Monsanto’s genetically modified corn varieties. Mon 863 has a bacterial gene to give pest tolerance, while NK 603 has a bacterial gene for herbicide tolerance. An Independent analysis last year, done by the Committee for Independent Research and Information On Genetic Engineering and French National Committee For Risk Assessment of GMOs had concluded that both Mon 863 and NK 603 pose serious health impacts.

The find comes from India by Greenpeas after  an independent laboratory in germany conducted Tests on products picked up randomly from a supermarket in New Delhi.

Under existing Indian laws this is illegal practice. Every importer is required to label the products containing any GM content as well as get prior approval from the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee which falls under the environment ministry.

Surprisingly in 2007 United Arba Emirates have confirmed that 40% of the food in the UAE is genetically modified yet is sold to the end users without proper labelling.

While in Europe if an item contains more than 0.9 per cent of GMOs it is required to carry a label.

Its growing concern among many developing countries that import products from US where Monsanto dominates the food chain with its GM seeds. And it is going to create more controversy as Monsanto has aggressive plans in milk production. It already has a product on Bovine somatotropin a natural protein produced in the pituitary glands of all cattle which helps adult cows to produce milk. Monsanto’s version of Bovine somatotropin is a leading dairy animal health product in the United States and many other countries.

The 1000 Genomes Project to Study Human Genetic Variation to Support Disease Studies

The 1000 Genomes Project, led by an international research consortium, will
sequence the genomes of at least a thousand people from around the world to create the most detailed and medically useful picture to date of human genetic variation.

The international research consortium draws support from the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute in Hinxton, England, the Beijing Genomics Institute, Shenzhen (BGI Shenzhen) in China and the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

The other participants include from as many as 35 Institutions such as the

Sanger Institute, BGI Shenzhen and National Human Genome Research Institute’s Large-Scale Sequencing Network,  Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard; the Washington University Genome Sequencing Centre at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis; and the Human Genome Sequencing Centre at the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. European Bioinformatics Institute near Cambridge, UK, and the National Centre for Biotechnology Information in the USA

Using standard DNA sequencing technologies, the effort would likely cost more than £250 million. However, leaders of the 1000 Genomes Project expect the costs to fall to as little as £15 million by the use of new sequencing technologies.

The scale is immense. At 6 trillion DNA bases, the 1000 Genomes Project will generate 60-fold more sequence data over its three-year course than have been deposited into public DNA databases over the past 25 years.

Among the populations whose DNA will be sequenced in the 1000 Genomes Project are: Yoruba in Ibadan, Nigeria; Japanese in Tokyo; Chinese in Beijing; Utah residents with ancestry from northern and western Europe; Luhya in Webuye, Kenya; Maasai in Kinyawa, Kenya; Toscani in Italy; Gujarati Indians in Houston; Chinese in metropolitan Denver; people of Mexican ancestry in Los Angeles; and people of African ancestry in the southwestern United States.

 

Missing Evolutionary Link -how RNA progressed to share functions with proteins

Alan Lambowitz, director of The University of Texas at Austin’s Institute for Cellular and Molecular Biology and Senior researcher Paul Paukstelis and his team has found the missing links in evolution of life from the simple to the complex and involvement of RNA.

By crystallizing a fungus the team of researchers were able to visualize the process of moving from RNA to RNA and proteins and then to DNA.

The crystal structure provides a snapshot of how, during evolution, protein molecules came to assist RNA molecules in their biological functions and ultimately assumed roles previously played by RNA quoted by Purdue structural biologist Barbara Golden

The study is published at January edition of Nature

Alternative for Smallpox vaccine

University of California, Irvine researchers  Philip Felgner and Huw Davies with the Department of Medicine found that the modified vaccinia virus Ankara (MVA) produced the same antiviral response in human and animal studies as the current smallpox vaccine Dryvax.

Smallpox was declared eradicated worldwide in 1980; the last naturally occurring case in the world was in Somalia in 1977. and last I heard of it was when I watched the zombie movie I am Legend  last year,

In the study, Researchers applied blood serum samples taken from both humans and animals to microarray chips containing more than 200 vaccinia virus proteins, on which they simultaneously studied how the serum antibodies responded to all the vaccinia proteins

Details are on the UCI website press release 

UK Government-backed sociology study using Genetics raises privacy concerns

The Uk government backed UK Household Longitudinal Study to use genetics analysis of British citizens (previous post on UK BioBank) to assess impact of Genetics and lifestyle in health and medical treatment and how it affects people’s social and economic status over time, is turning into controversy. The expansion of the program to cover “nature versus nurture” questions through genetic and medical testing has raised fears among civil liberties campaigners.

More than 100,000 people, including children as young as 10, will be asked to provide saliva tests and DNA samples in a new annual survey of the lives, behaviour and beliefs of people in the United Kingdom.

I thought of how we are going to look at privacy concerns at such government backed studies, Take a look at the blog by Deepak Singh Your personal health: The internet and privacy

Even though participation is voluntary The plan has been denounced by civil rights campaigners. ‘I would not let my DNA details be taken in this way,’ said Richard Clayton, the barrister representing the rights group Liberty in its fight to prevent police from keeping DNA samples of suspects later cleared of wrongdoing as quoted on The Observer

Details of the study is available at the University Essex website of UK Household Longitudinal Study

George Bush Sings Glory to Open Source

The truth behind the new bill signed into law by President Bush on 26 December 2007, which states that the findings of NIH-funded research must be made freely available to the public within one year of publication.

But all is not Hunky dory , as more obvious once you go through the complete text of the LAW as published in Government website

And it clearly states that copyright law takes precedence over deposition into PubMed Central.

What does that mean, when you publish a research paper it usually belongs to the University or the institution that funded the project. ie if you did sign a copyright transfer agreement with your publisher or sponsor of your funding he can deny the article being published in open source website or journal.

The only surprise is that in future based on the new Law the Director of NIH can prevent publication by grant recipients in journals that don’t allow publications of articles into PubMed Central. Aha now thats not good news for scientists and many are not going to welcome it either

But how many would care NIH is not the lone sponsor of grants, and yes certainly none from healthcare/pharma companies would allow their articles be published at open source journals. that questions how helpful the law would become

But certainly Many Many thanks and Happy New Year to  SPARC and the Alliance for Taxpayer Access  for making the first step, and it sure is a big one

There is certainly going to evoke multiple responses from everyone, wired magazine says its bad news for the science publishing industry, who’ve rallied against initiatives such as PRISM, and other open source websites such as PLOS, to preserve the right of journal publishers to charge for access to federally-funded findings. that means they will find their ways

Am certainly one of those not so politically obsessed persons, and I dont know that many politically savvy lab rats. may be few of those working in stem cell research, cloning or any other controversial topics might be. but I am beginning to like Dubya more. Not a bad a move for someone more associated bad grammar

Cryptography with DNA binary strands

Biotechnological methods can be used for cryptography. DNA binary strands can be used for steganography to provide rapid encryption and decryption. It is shown that DNA steganography based on DNA binary strands is secure under the assumption that an interceptor has the same technological capabilities as sender and receiver of encrypted messages.

I thought this as an interesting article since my last post was about DNA based security

http://www.cs.mun.ca/~banzhaf/molcomp.html

AUTHORS: Andre Leier, Christoph Richter, Wolfgang Banzhaf and Hilmar Rauhe

SOURCE: BioSystems, 57 (2000) 13 – 22,Extended Manuscript from 6th DIMACS Workshop on DNA Computing, Leiden, 2000

AUTHORS: Andre Leier, Christoph Richter, Wolfgang Banzhaf and Hilmar Rauhe

DNA-based security solutions to Prevent fraud and theft

Applied DNA Solutions is NewYork company that offers DNA-based security solutions to Prevent fraud and theft

Applied DNA Sciences’ technology has been utilized to successfully mark nearly 1 billion items including DVDs and CDs, fine art, prestige wine, luxury and personal care goods botanical DNA encryption, embedment and authentication solutions that can help protect companies, governments and consumers from counterfeiting, fraud, piracy, product diversion, identity theft, and unauthorized intrusion into physical locations and databases.

ADNAS uses DNA segments from one or more botanical sources, rearrange them into unique encrypted sequences, and then implement one or more layers of anti-counterfeit techniques

MIT team discovers new DNA modification in bacteria acting as DNA Bookmark

Researchers from MIT have discovered that bacterial genes, known as the dnd gene cluster, gives bacteria the ability to employ DNA modification by adding sulfur to the sugar-phosphate DNA backbone as a phosphorothioate,

The same method used in laboratories worldwide to modify synthetic oligonucleotide.Why would bacteria conserve this system which requires five enzymes, each with different co-factors?”

Peter Dedon says the modification system might serve as either protection against foreign (unmodified) DNA, or as a “bookmark” to assist with transcription or replication of DNA.

New Microarray technology replacing PCR and speed up HTS

Dr. Richard Gibbs, director of the Baylor College of Medicine Human Genome Sequencing Centre and his researchers along with the help of  NimbleGen Systems the  company recently acquired by Roche Applied Science has developed a new technique that combines gene chip technology with the latest generation of gene sequencing machines to allow fast and accurate sequencing of selected parts of the genome

 The technology, called “sequence capture,” enables fast and accurate enrichment of thousands of selected genomic regions, either contiguous or dispersed, such as segments of chromosomes or all genes or exons uses , The study had uses NimbleChip™ microarrays in preparation for a high-throughput 454 Sequencing™.

The study Direct Selection of Human Genomic Loci by Microarray Hybridization presented on October 10, 2007, at the J. Craig Venter Institute’s Genomes, Medicine, and the Environment (GME) conference, Roche NimbleGen and 454 Life Sciences, working with Dr. Richard , will create a whole-genome human exome (all exons) microarray, with the goal of resequencing the entire human exome faster and cheaper.

Till now researchers relied upon PCR for selection of specific genomic regions for resequencing

Limitations of PCR  meant the length of sequence it can amplify was small, is difficult to scale or multiplex for the enrichment of thousands of fragments, and has limited performance in the repetitive regions typical of complex genomes, such as human.

The sequence capture microarray technology bridges the gap between next-generation DNA sequencing technology and current sample preparation methods by providing an adaptable, massively parallel method for selective enrichment of genomic regions of interest.

The new process is simpler, more accurate and efficient than the multiplex PCR . In one experiment, more than 6,400 exons (the part of the genetic code that carries the instructions for making proteins), were analyzed. Using the old technology this would have taken at least six months.

So Thats how Humans Evolved! – Now we can begin to answer the big question

Which of the thousands of long stretches of repeated DNA in the human genome came first? And which are the duplicates the question have been answered by a team of scientists from University of Washington School of Medicine and University of California, San Diego.The research published by Evan Eichler from the University of Washington School of Medicine provide the first evolutionary history of the duplications in the human genome that are partly responsible for both disease and recent genetic innovations.

Evan Eichler has analyzed segmental duplications in the human genome and have successfully pinpointed the ancestral origin of each and identified the newly named core duplicon.

The study presents a comprehensive global analysis of the evolution of segmental duplications in the human enome. The authors identify the origin of ancestral duplication loci, regions of clustered duplicons, and evidence upporting a punctuated model of evolution.

This work marks a significant step toward a better understanding of what genomic changes paved the way for modern humans, when these duplications occurred and what the associated costs are – in terms of susceptibility to disease-causing genetic mutations.

Apart from the above study  the recently completed (check previous blogs) Genome of the marsupial Monodelphis domestica reveals innovation in non-coding sequences the study helps to explain the evolutionary origins of human DNA and the role played by transposons

Genomes can duplicate long stretches of DNA from one chromosome and insert the duplication in another area of the genome. The resulting segments of DNA are called segmental duplications.  They are important because they hold evolutionary secrets

Finding answers to questions such as, Which set came first? What changes were innovated, when and why? What was sacrificed when an innovation took effect? What is the connection between disease and innovations within segmental duplications?, are important because researchers can then design specific medical treatments and can lead to ket discoveries in  Pharmacogenomics research

Download the Research Article

Affymetrix and Illumina in war path again as fresh patent litigation on microarray patents

Illumina and Affymetrix have been in a patent battle since 2004. In its second wave of patent infringement litigation cas against illumina filed in UK, Germany and US, Affymetrix has targeted technology offered by Solexa, the company acquired by Illumina in January 2007, as well as all of Illumina’s BeadArray(TM) products.

The new case is for patents 5,902,723, 6,403,320, 6,420,169, 6,576,42, 7,056,666, 0834575, 0853679, 0799897

Affymetrix previously sued Illumina for patent infringement in 2004 in the United States District Court for the District of Delaware. In March 2007, the jury returned a verdict in favor of Affymetrix.

Affymetrix has developed one of the industry’s strongest patent portfolios, featuring more than 400 patents granted in the U.S. and more than 40 patents granted in Europe.

More details on the case is available at Affymetrix Investor Website

Things have improved for Affymetrix this year, The company has aposted Q3 profits with the company’s revenues for the quarter increasing 12 per cent to $94.9m compared with $84.7m during the same period last year.

The results of these lawsuits could dramatically change the face of the DNA microarray market that has seen such growth due to the application of genetic information to drug discovery and ‘personalised medicine’.

 

Microsoft Research, HIV, SPAM – MS anti-spam techniques help research HIV vaccines

Ever heard of the Teiresias algorithm, for spam detection developed by Chung-Kwei at IBM – the algorithm was developed in the bioinformatics group of IBM to detect patterns in DNA

This algorithm is tested for SPAM detection- discussed in my  my earlier bioinformatics post

So you may be wodering whats thats got to do with this post, OK I am coming to it- 

Microsoft is helping  David Heckerman a Physician with a PhD in computers with spam-blocking team at Microsoft Research, to find drugs for HIV, by learning from how Anti SPAM softwares works

An e-mail featuring “Viagra,” for example, was a good bet to be spam–but things got complicated in a hurry.

if spammers saw that “Viagra” messages were getting zapped, they switched to V1agra, or Vi agra. It was almost as if spam, like a living thing, were mutating

This parallel between spam and biology got the attention of David Heckerman

Bill Gates, the company chairman “got really excited,” Heckerman says. Well versed on HIV from his philanthropy work, Gates lined up Heckerman with AIDS researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital, the University of Washington, and elsewhere.

Since then, the 50-year-old Heckerman and two colleagues have created their own biology niche at Microsoft, where they build HIV-detecting software. These are research tools to spot infected cells and correlate the viral mutations with the individual’s genetic profile. Heckerman’s team runs mountains of data through enormous clusters of 320 computers, operating in parallel. Thanks to smarter algorithms and more powerful machines, they’re sifting through the data 480 times faster than a year ago. In June, the team released its first batch of tools for free on the Internet.

watch the video to learn more about the work

Laying with the Lions

The following article is one of the best I just came across which talkes about advantages of better collaboration in pharma companies.

 

The study and articles are on Act Magazine website

 

ENCODE consortium: forming background of why 3 billions bp are required for a human to survive not just the set of genes.

ENCODE consortium today published one in nature and 28 papers in genome research involving 35 groups from 80 organizations around the world, which promise to reshape our understanding of how the human genome functions. The findings totally challenge the tidy collection of independent genes , but sees as a complex networking system, along with regulatory elements and other types of DNA sequences that do not code for proteins, interact in overlapping ways not yet fully understood.

“This impressive effort has uncovered many exciting surprises and blazed the way for future efforts to explore the functional landscape of the entire human genome,” said NHGRI Director Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D. “Because of the hard work and keen insights of the ENCODE consortium, the scientific community will need to rethink some long-held views about what genes are and what they do, as well as how the genome’s functional elements have evolved. This could have significant implications for efforts to identify the DNA sequences involved in many human diseases.”

Loads to come out of this …. few days back in nature cell biology there was a article stating small peptide regulators of actin-based cell morphogenesis encoded by a polycistronic mRNA in an eukaryote…

Plants too recognise its kin

Now wonder,  research proves that even plants recognise their kins. Researchers from McMaster University have found that plants go competitive when forced to share their own environment like pot, with strangers of the same species, but they’re accommodating when potted with their siblings.

How they do it???

When a different plant of same species is potted with a growing plant they start growing more roots, which allows them to grab water and mineral nutrients before their neighbours get them. when they share a pot with family i.e the sibiling 1st or 2 nd generation they don’t increase their root growth. Because differences between groups of strangers and groups of siblings only occurred when they shared a pot, the root interactions may provide a cue for kin recognition. The following is the paper that is being published on the same.

Dudley, S. A. and A. L. File (2007). Kin recognition in an annual plant. Biology Letters, in press.

How Many Scientists Does it Take To Fix a Gene?

The headline of the article that appeared in a news paper was interesting, I thought I will use the same headline to right about it.

The original text of the article can be read at cityonHillPress

While reading the article I also came thougth its worth to have a look at the book Building Biotechnology  written by  Yali Friedman who serves on the science advisory board of Chakra Biotech and the editorial advisory boards of the Biotechnology Journal and Open Biotechnology Journal.

 Yali also publishes a blog at BiotechBlog.com

4th Dimension in Biology

4D imaging of different microorganisms was the first step of 4D in biology. Recently now from the University of Calgary, sun centre for excellence for visual genomics have created the 4D virtual human (CAVEman) with flesh, and muscles, a breakthrough step ahead in the medical informatics. This 4D virtual human can be used for many new pathways for surgical studies. It can be used also to see the disease and genetic changes virtually, allowing to assess the various morphological changes occuring during a diseased or genetically affected individual. You can download Demo verrsion so of the 4D demos of heart , human skelton and many more,

Future of High Throughput Genome Sequencing

In Bangalore Bio 2007 LabIndia has introduced  SOLiD: Sequencing by Oligonucleotide Ligation and Detection which is the Future of High Throughput Sequencing.

“This is useful for those who want to do full genome sequencing. Whole genome projects will be more cost effective with this new instrument than they are today,” said Dr. Anupama Gaur, Team Leader Application Support, Labindia Instruments, Pvt. Ltd.

HistoGenetics has come up with Sequence Based Typing which has many advantages such as identifying many rare and new alleles. “Nearly 2000 alleles have been identified so far and it has been launched in the US and UK as of now” said Dr. Cereb Nezih, M.D., President and co-founder, Histogenetics, Inc.

Biotech tax bill is passed

The California State Assembly Wednesday unanimously passed a bill which could assist biotechnology companies at risk of losing tax deductions awarded because the industries’ long development cycles.

Allowing biotechnology companies to deduct (net operating losses) over 20 years, instead of 10, encourages investments in medical science and provides additional revenue for emerging biotechnology companies,” the bill’s author, Assemblywoman Sally Lieber, D-Mountain View, said in an analysis of the bill.

Read more

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