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Holocaust Survivors' Trauma Lives On in Kids' Genes

Study may explain why offspring are more at risk for stress disorders

(Newser) - Holocaust survivors pass on trauma through their genes, making their children and possibly even grandchildren more susceptible to PTSD and other stress disorders, according to new research . The Guardian reports researchers looked at 32 Jewish men and women who survived traumatic experiences at the hands of Nazis during World War... More »

Tongue-Rolling Myth Totally 'Debunked'

Biologist John McDonald aims to set the record straight

(Newser) - For anyone who can still proudly recall one factoid learned in high school biology—that the ability to roll one's tongue is genetic—bad news: You learned it wrong. John McDonald, an evolutionary biologist, is out to debunk what he calls a myth about the genetic roots of tongue-rolling,... More »

Causes of Cerebral Palsy Not What We Thought

Canadian study looks at the DNA of stricken children

(Newser) - Parents of children with cerebral palsy, take note: Your child's illness may be in the genes. A surprising new study in Nature is linking cerebral palsy to genetic variants and challenging the notion that environmental factors are solely responsible, the Globe & Mail reports. "Nobody really wanted us... More »

Study: 'Poorly Understood' Hemp Is Not Marijuana

But it took more than 12 years to find the gene that distinguishes them

(Newser) - Note to legislators: Hemp is not weed. So say scientists at the University of Minnesota who, reporting last week in the journal New Phytologist , have discovered a single gene that distinguishes the hemp plant from its psychoactive cannabinoid cousin marijuana. They say it took 12 years to single out the... More »

Does Creativity Up Your Risk of Mental Illness?

Iceland researchers say there's a genetic link, other scientists say it's flimsy

(Newser) - The "mad genius" is back in fashion with a new claim that there's a genetic link between creativity and genius, the Guardian reports. A study published in Nature Neuroscience analyzed 86,000 Icelanders to flesh out genetic variations that double one's risk of schizophrenia and more than... More »

What Your Sleepwalking Means for Your Kids

Sleep terrors appear to increase the chance of sleepwalking, too

(Newser) - Kids whose parents sleepwalked are more likely to do it themselves—and sleep terrors may be a precursor to sleepwalking as well, according to a new study out of Montreal published this week in the journal JAMA Pediatrics . Not that sleepwalking, also called somnambulism, is necessarily a big deal. "... More »

Science Just Got Closer to Elephant-Mammoth Hybrid

But so far, it's just cells in a petri dish

(Newser) - For the first time since the woolly mammoth went extinct, its genes are working again, Popular Science reports. Sure, it's only in a lab; woolly mammoths haven't wandered the planet for about 4,000 years. But the effort at Harvard has brought the return of the animal a... More »

Scientists: Let's Halt Gene-Editing in Humans

Ethical, safety concerns surround Crispr-Cas9 technique

(Newser) - A breakthrough gene-editing process developed in 2012 could potentially be used to eradicate genetic diseases in humans—or make a person more intelligent or attractive. The Crispr-Cas9 or "DNA scissors" technique involves making DNA-altering changes to sperm, eggs, or embryos that could then be inherited by future generations. For... More »

Driving Vast Majority of Autism: Genes

Environmental factors likely still play some role

(Newser) - In somewhere between 74% and 98% of autism spectrum disorder cases, genes are to blame. So say researchers out of King's College London in the journal JAMA Psychiatry after studying both identical and fraternal twins. In fact, hundreds of genes could contribute to the development of autism, although because... More »

DNA Analysis Fills in Piece of Dolphins' History

It suggests they moved into the Mediterranean roughly 18K years ago

(Newser) - Bottlenose dolphins may be an iconic draw to the Mediterranean, but they're not exactly indigenous. So say researches out of the University of Lincoln in the UK, who report in the journal Evolutionary Biology that the water-dwelling mammals didn't arrive until the end of the last Ice Age... More »

In Southern Genes, 'Black' and 'White' Get a Little Gray

Many white people have black ancestry, vice versa

(Newser) - A simple cheek swab can reveal a lot about your DNA, and for 6 million Americans who identify as white, mostly in the South, that swab has revealed African ancestry hidden in their genes, the Washington Post reports. One in 10 Southerners have at least 1% African origins, and the... More »

Google's Big New Project: Autism Research

Company aids in sequencing thousands of genomes

(Newser) - To learn more about the genetics behind autism, researchers are planning to sequence the genomes of thousands of people—and they've enlisted a partner who knows a thing or two about sifting through scads of data. Using its Genomics tool, Google will host on its servers and index the... More »

Parchment Itself Holds Clues to Past

Researchers investigate DNA of writing surface

(Newser) - Plenty of historical knowledge comes from writings on parchment—but now, researchers are learning about the past using the parchment itself. DNA analysis of the writing surface is revealing genetic information about the animals used to make it, and how their genomes differ from similar animals today, according to research... More »

Your Cat Is Pretty Much a Wild Animal

Genetically speaking, at least

(Newser) - If your cuddly feline appears to think he's a vicious wildcat—well, he's actually got it almost right. A study finds that genetically, our house cats aren't very different from their wild cousins, despite thousands of years of domestication, Time reports. "We believe we have created... More »

Easter Islanders Not as Isolated as Thought

Genetic data suggests travel to and from South America 20-plus generations ago

(Newser) - Easter Island, or Rapa Nui, is such a remote speck of rock in the Pacific Ocean that it has been nicknamed "navel of the world." Yet a review of genetic data of 27 natives suggests the islanders made contact with outsiders hundreds of years before the first Europeans... More »

Moms' Stress in Ice Storm Shows Up in Kids' DNA

Effects seen in aftermath of huge storm in Canada in 1998

(Newser) - Just how bad was an epic 1998 ice storm in Canada? You can read all about it in the DNA of kids who were born around that time. An intriguing study in PLoS One finds that women who were especially stressed during the storm gave birth to kids whose immune... More »

Scientists Are Decoding the Genetics of Height

They've now identified nearly 700 genetic variants related to height

(Newser) - Scientists are knee-deep in a freakishly large study (part of the aptly named GIANT Consortium) to better understand the genetics at play in human height. They tell Reuters that height can tell us a lot about various aspects of human health—including diseases like "obesity, diabetes, asthma that are... More »

Kids Could Look Like Mom's Ex, Not Like Dad

At least in the fruit fly population, telegony study claims

(Newser) - Guys may unknowingly be leaving their mark on the world: Scientists from the University of New South Wales in Australia have taken on what was widely considered to be the discredited theory of telegony—the idea that a woman's children might resemble not just her current sexual partner, but... More »

Got a Hangover? Blame Your Genes

Researchers base finding on study of twins

(Newser) - When it comes to a bad reaction to alcohol, it seems not everyone is created equal. Genetics, researchers suggest, could be to blame for almost half the difference among people in whether we suffer the day after drinking. In a survey, study authors asked some 4,000 people on the... More »

Blood Test Might Reveal Suicide Risk

Gene key to our stress response: researchers

(Newser) - Scientists say they have a new way of determining suicide risk, and it's based on genetics—requiring only a blood test. Researchers running postmortem genome scans of brain samples found that the brains of those who'd committed suicide had less of a gene called SKA2, as well as... More »

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