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The immortal HeLa genome

Looking for a good read? Then check out The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks! This book is an amazing biography and journey of the HeLa Gemone and a favorite book among many life scientists.

Musings of a mitochondriac

Henrietta Lacks could never have imagined that tiny, invisible parts of her would enthrall, empower, and perplex scientists for decades. In 1951, she developed a particularly aggressive cervical cancer, which unfortunately could not be treated – Henrietta died just a few months later. But her cells lived on, becoming arguably one of biology’s most valuable tools for decades to come.

Yet until now, our knowledge of the genetics of these so-called HeLa cells was rather hazy. I’m happy to be part of the team that has just published the first genome sequence of a HeLa cell line. (We were a little shocked by the amount of coverage our press release generated, even including a NatureNews feature!) Here I’d like to explain why we did this and what we learned – and perhaps also importantly, what we did not learn.

(Part 2 of this post will be an interview…

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Sequencing from a Single Cell with Minimal Errors!

“most human genomes are sequenced from DNA extracted from multiple cells, which misses the differences between cells that could be crucial to controlling gene expression, cell behavior and drug response.” Nicolas Navin is now sequencing from a single cell with minimal errors! Molecular Biology has come a long way over the past decade!

memoirs on a rainy day


Nicolas Navin wanted to work out the sequence from individual cancer cells to see how they had mutated and diverged as the cancer grew. Back in 2010, he was a postdoctoral fellow at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in New York and exploring the genetic changes that occur during breast cancer.

Read more @ SciTechDaily

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Is Whole Genome Sequencing Data Private of Not?

“What information about an individual’s whole genome should remain private, and when should it remain private?” This blog post by One Crown Office Row addresses the issue of Whole Genome Sequencing and how it will affect the 7 billion people on the planet. How will we protect WGS data?

UK Human Rights Blog

DNA database impact on human rights

I have posted previously on the logistical difficulties in legislating against genetic discrimination.

The prospect that genetic information not only affects insurance and employment opportunities is alarming enough. But it has many other implications: it could be used to deny financial backing or loan approval, educational opportunities, sports eligibility, military accession, or adoption eligibility.  At the moment,  the number of documented cases of discrimination on the basis of genetic test results is small. This is probably due to the relatively few conditions for which there are currently definitive genetic tests, coupled with the expense and difficulty of conducting these tests. But genetic discrimination is a time bomb waiting to be triggered and the implications of whole genome sequencing (WGS) are considered in a very interesting and readable report by the US Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues  Privacy and Progress in Whole Genome Sequencing. 

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Global markets for biomakers to grow to $33.3 billion by 2015


In 2010, the total market for biomarkers is expected to be nearly $13.5 billion and is expected to grow to nearly $33.3 billion by the end of 2015 at a 5-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 19.8%.

Learn about the various types of biomarkers and get an analysis of global market trends with projections through 2015. This report provides a range of information including detailed product analyses within disease sub segments, technological issues, regulatory issues and company profiles…

Use this report to:

  • Quantify and qualify the market for products and services in the biomarkers segment
  • Evaluate the introduction of combination therapies in the biomarkers arena, an important market driver expected to contribute substantially to market growth through the 5-year forecast period
  • Allocate resources and make effective decisions regarding emerging players, technologies, and markets in relation to specific disease segments
  • Examine the industry structure with a special focus on how…

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How much modern genetics should be learnt in school?

Wellcome Trust Blog

Science moves so quickly that it would be impossible to alter GCSE and A level courses to include each and every discovery. But occasionally, new knowledge emerges that could be considered ‘game-changing’, requiring special consideration. Is modern genetics an example of a game-changer, and if so, what can be done to prepare future citizens for its applications, ask Peter Finegold and Matthew Hickman.

Genome sequencing is one technology that has already had a marked effect on the way bioscience research is done, and promises to alter our experience of healthcare in the future. Views expressed by crystal ball gazers have been caricatured at the extremes; either as head-in-the-clouds or head-in-the-sand. The loftier visionaries predict a utopia in which detailed DNA knowledge of individuals and populations will prevent some illnesses from developing and turn other, lethal conditions into ones that can be treated and lived with. Meanwhile the ‘ostriches’ fear that cheap…

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Genomics Software – An Overview

Genomics Software

Genomics software is used by scientists and clinicians to analyze genomes.  In other words, it is software that helps laboratory personnel to make sense of large amounts of DNA sequence data.

Since the throughput of sequencers has risen greatly in recent years, along with even more striking decreases in the cost of both sequencers and sequencing run, many more genomes are being sequenced than ever before.  This has created a situation where genomic data is generated faster than it can be analyzed.  Genomics software was a creature of necessity to help analyze, manage, and store these troves of genetic data.

Genomics software can serve a multitude of purposes.  It can provide primary analysis on sequenced genomes (generally QA and related stats), it can perform secondary analysis (things like mutation identification, finding short tandem repeats, and identifying other genomic abnormalities), or more rarely perform tertiary analysis (providing insight into the meaning…

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