biotechnology

Last week, we embarked on an adventure with BLAST. BLAST, short for Basic Alignment Search Tool, is a collection of programs, written by scientists at the NCBI (1) that are used to compare sequences of proteins or nucleic acids. BLAST is used in multiple ways, but last week my challenge to you, dear readers, was to a pick a sequence, any sequence, from a set of 16 unknown sequences and use BLAST to identify that sequence. This ... Read more
Many regions in the United States, and the world for that matter, are seeking to entice biotech companies to relocate. As Lorraine Ruff and David Gabrilska describe in their Genetic Engineering News Article, "Metrics for Economic Development," the exhibitors at meetings like BIO work hard to:
".. entice founders and CEOs with a wide spectrum of inducements: institutional and technological excellence, free ... Read more
How did the human genome ever get finished if every one of the three billion bases had to be reviewed by human eyes? In the early days of the human genome project, laboratory personnel routinely scanned printed copies of chromatograms, editing and reviewing all DNA sequences by eye. For more background, see the post on qualitative measures of DNA quality. Later on, when the genome sequencing turned into a race, and the pace of DNA sequencing began to increase, some genome ... Read more
I mean phone call. Because, if I thought he remembered me, I would call and say "thank you." Because of the time I spent in his lab, I know that cloning started long before Dolly. The first vertebrate animal was cloned over 50 years ago. And it wasn't a sheep. Raising Rana pipiens Several years ago, I had the good fortune to work as a student intern for one of the kings of cloning, Robert McKinnell, now an emeritus professor in the Cell Biology and Genetics Department at the University of Minnesota. Reminiscing on history a bit, ... Read more
What do genetic testing and genealogy have in common? The easy answer is that they're both used by people who are trying to find out who they are, in more ways than one. Another answer is that both tests can involve DNA sequence data. And that leads us to another question. If the sequence of my mitochondrial DNA is only two bases different from Cleopatra's, am I really a distant relative? And how do I really even know that my mitochondrial DNA is only two bases different in the first place? What does having a DNA sequence really mean? Students ... Read more

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