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Scientists Remove Extra Chromosome From Down Syndrome Line
University of Washington scientists have successfully removed the extra copy of chromosome 21 from a culture of cells taken from a person with Down syndrome, opening possibilities for new treatments.
What's the Latest Development?
Researchers at the University of Washington have used a new medical procedure to remove the extra copy of chromosome 21 in cell cultures derived from a person affected by Down syndrome. The new technique is remarkable in its ability to completely remove the chromosome without affecting portions of the genetic code. "Gene therapy researchers have to be careful that their approaches do not cause gene toxicity," said Dr. David W. Russell. "This means, for example, that removal of a chromosome must not break or rearrange the remaining genetic code. This method shouldn't do that."
What's the Big Idea?
Down syndrome is a genetic abnormality caused by a trisomy, or the triplication of a chromosome. Researchers hope that by removing the extra copy of chromosome 21 from cell cultures, new cell therapies will emerge for some of the blood-forming disorders that accompany Down syndrome. "Researcher could [also] contrast, for example, how the two cell lines formed brain nerve cells, to learn the effects of trisomy 21 on neuron development, which might offer insights into the lifelong cognitive impairments and adulthood mental decline of Down syndrome."
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Andy Samberg and Cristin Milioti get stuck in an infinite wedding time loop.
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A recent analysis of a 76-million-year-old Centrosaurus apertus fibula confirmed that dinosaurs suffered from cancer, too.
- The fibula was originally discovered in 1989, though at the time scientists believed the damaged bone had been fractured.
- After reanalyzing the bone, and comparing it with fibulas from a human and another dinosaur, a team of scientists confirmed that the dinosaur suffered from the bone cancer osteosarcoma.
- The study shows how modern techniques can help scientists learn about the ancient origins of diseases.
Centrosaurus apertus fibula
Royal Ontario Museum<p>In the recent study, the team used a combination of techniques to analyze the fibula, including taking CT scans, casting the bone and studying thin slices of it under a microscope. The analysis suggested that the dinosaur likely suffered from osteosarcoma, a type of bone cancer that affects modern humans, typically young adults.</p><p>For further evidence, the team compared the damaged fibula to a healthy fibula from a dinosaur of the same species, and also to a fibula that belonged to a 19-year-old human who suffered from osteosarcoma. Both comparisons supported the osteosarcoma diagnosis.</p>
Evans et al.<p style="margin-left: 20px;">"The shin bone shows aggressive cancer at an advanced stage," Evans said in a <a href="https://www.rom.on.ca/en/about-us/newsroom/press-releases/rare-malignant-cancer-diagnosed-in-a-dinosaur" target="_blank">press release</a>. "The cancer would have had crippling effects on the individual and made it very vulnerable to the formidable tyrannosaur predators of the time."</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"The fact that this plant-eating dinosaur lived in a large, protective herd may have allowed it to survive longer than it normally would have with such a devastating disease."</p><p>The fossilized fibula was originally unearthed in a bonebed alongside the remains of dozens of other <em>Centrosaurus </em><em>apertus</em>, suggesting the dinosaur didn't die from cancer, but from a flood that swept it away with its herd.</p>
Dinosaur fibula; the tumor mass is depicted in yellow.
Royal Ontario Museum/McMaster University<p>The new study highlights how modern techniques can help scientists learn more about the evolutionary origins of modern diseases, like cancer. It also shows that dinosaurs suffered through some of the same terrestrial afflictions humans face today.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Dinosaurs can seem like mythical creatures, but they were living, breathing animals that suffered through horrible injuries and diseases," Evans said, "and this discovery certainly makes them more real and helps bring them to life in that respect."</p>
Join the lauded author of Range in conversation with best-selling author and poker pro Maria Konnikova!
UPDATE: Unfortunately, Malcolm Gladwell was not able to make the live stream due to scheduling issues. Fortunately, David Epstein was able to jump in at a moment's notice. We hope you enjoy this great yet unexpected episode of Big Think Live. Our thanks to David and Maria for helping us deliver a show, it is much appreciated.