Posts tagged: genetics

How our evolutionary past could help guide drug therapies of the future

T U R K A I R O_Flickr cc

It is now well established that different human populations may exhibit very different responses to therapeutic drugs. However, to what extent this may have been influenced by our evolutionary history is less well known. In this guest blog, Ripudaman K Bains from University College London outlines why understanding our past can help inform our future, and describes her recent work published in BMC Genetics with colleagues from Addis Ababa University, Henry Stewart Group and Uppsala University on molecular diversity and population structure at the Cytochrome P450 3A5 gene in Africa.

One of the most significant accomplishments of the genomics revolution has been an improvement in our understanding of why certain populations have elevated risks for developing specific diseases. …

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Hunting with hounds: tracking down the genetic basis of disease in dogs


A dog’s breed standard is the set of criteria used to define the archetype of each breed. My personal favourite belongs to the Beagle, which includes as part of the official definition:

The man with the lead in his hand and no dog
in sight owns a Beagle

Strict adherence to these breed standards defines each of the many different pedigree classes seen in conformation dog shows, where each breed competes to be crowned as its most perfect representation.

Such remarkable diversification is unprecedented in the animal kingdom given the level of genetic diversity seen in the species, and has largely come about through concerted efforts by human breeders to adapt them to …

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North America’s rarest songbird is a phoenix from the flames


In 1755 curators at the Ashmolean museum in Oxford (UK) threw the last remaining tissue specimens of the dodo onto a fire. Unfortunately for this most hapless of flightless creatures, this means that we are still not entirely certain what this giant tropical pigeon truly looked like.

The dodo represents perhaps one of the most extreme examples of a population crash ever witnessed, slipping from discovery to extinction in only around 80 years. Of course the blame for this lies firmly in the hands—and stomachs—of humans, as hungry sailors devoured their way through the entire species when they set anchor in the Mauritius.

However, human activity can also have unintended consequences for vulnerable species.


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