On BioScience and Life and Such

Posts Tagged ‘DNA’

Qustions I can’t seem to find answers to

In Uncategorized on November 29, 2012 at 11:58 am

What is it with genetic information that is so scary. I honestly do not understand this.

The more we learn about the human genome the more we understand how little it by itself, determines. Sure, it is our genetic framework or DNA-recipe-book or whatever other analogy you want to use. But, for almost everyone of us, our DNA sequence itself does not mean much in terms of  personal or professional opportunities or even health. DNA-information is pretty useless without context basically.

DNA sequencing trace

DNA sequencing trace (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Still you apparently need laws and regulations and ethical boards and counselors to protect your genetic information. Not only from the public, but sometimes even from yourself.

Your lifestyle and health (and that of your family), your friends, your living environment – those are things that really, really matters – the true life-determinators or the context if you will. Which by the way, is useful information (that can be misused or exploited) also in the absence of knowledge of your DNA-sequence.

This information however, most people are allowed to  put on the internet for everyone to see. And they do so gladly.

This is puzzling to me.

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Me: Visible, Traceable, …. Miserable ?

In Uncategorized on November 18, 2008 at 3:07 pm

post to news.thinkgene.com

allelic length variation among 6 individuals

Image via Wikipedia

I am more and more visible. I blog, tweet and use services like friendfeed and LinkedIN. I started out with an alias, but now have my name out there. My picture I anticipate will follow soon. There are services I do not use, – like facebook, – it’s still to “unprofessional” for me (I like my web-presence to be mostly work-related).

As a consequence of this visibility, or more specifically, the subsequent information sharing, I am wiser now as a person than when I started my extended web presence about a year ago. Much wiser in fact. The personal gain has been tremendous.

Work-wise (sic !), we have been planning to set up human ID testing services which would imply creating  DNA-profiles for human identification. Such identification can be used in criminal cases, immigration cases, genealogy research, paternity testing and more.

I realize from learning the nitty gritty of DNA-profiling, and seeing how the technology develops (and becomes cheaper),  that I am (we all are) more and more traceable.

Thus, my body (DNA) as well as my soul (web-presence), is now out there for everyone to see

The big question then becomes: Is this virtual hereditary omnipresence dangerous to me ? Are we approaching George Orwells Big Brother scenario ?

I (maybe naively) say no, it is not dangerous. Because, to some extent I still choose when to be present on the web and to which groups I am visible. And, If I choose not to do illegal acts, – and If the system works the way it is supposed to, I would be kept out of any DNA-profile registry (if my profile is not registered, then my identity is not revealed by my DNA, and I can retain my anonymity).

If I end up in such a registry because I am falsely accused of something, or framed……or if someone decides to do a SNP scan of me without my knowledge……..or if my web-identity is misused……now that’s a different ballpark altogether, and I’ll try and explore the danger that lies in such abuse in future posts. Fact is though, in these cases we are talking about abuse and abuse is “dangerous” in any setting.

For now I’d like to make a point to the contrary: At least when it comes to sharing personal info on the web: It could in fact turn out to be damaging to my future career and reputation not to do it. Damaging, because web-sharing is rapidly becoming the norm (pointed out by Bora Zivkovic on friendfeed):

Exactly! 20 years from now a person who does NOT have drunk Facebook pictures online will be suspicious – what was there to be whitewashed? or is this person too timid or antisocial?

Nevertheless, I still choose not to sign up on Facebook since anyone valuing my personal life higher than my professional one when hiring is not worth working for.

And that’s just it, even if I’m being naive about this, I still have a choice not to share, – and as long as that choice is a free one, then there should be no reason to sound the big brother alarm.

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Uses of DNA nr. 22-26

In Uncategorized on November 11, 2008 at 11:47 am

post to news.thinkgene.com

Animation of the structure of a section of DNA...

Image via Wikipedia

This post follows previous posts 10 ways to use your DNA, 9 more ways to use DNA and Add this to the “uses of DNA” collection.

22. Find invading species in your garden pond. You may need some help to design the assay (species specific primers and probes). But from there it’s a straightforward road to eradicating unwanted organisms that you were unable to see.

23. DNA art made from genes possibly contributing to athletic skills, intelligence and love (??!). See Eye on DNA’s blog posting about the offer from DNA 11 (coincidentally, this is also a follow up to use of DNA nr. 11).

24. Clone your dog – two companies can offer cloning of your dog: BioArts and RNL Bio. The two companies have been arguing (like cats and dogs !) however, over who owns the rights to such cloning.

25. Make a quilt using DNA sequence. Artist Beverly St. Clair makes quilts where each patch corresponds to one of the four bases in DNA. Beautiful and intelligent at the same time …..

Picture from genomequilts.com by Beverly St. Clair. It depicts the DNA sequence GATCGCCCTT

26. Poo-ID. The Israeli city of Petah Tikva has decided to do something about their dog poo problem. The solution: create a DNA profile from the poo and then, find the owner in a registry of dog-DNA. See here for more info.

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Quote of the month June 08

In Uncategorized on June 19, 2008 at 11:06 am


So that’s it: to me, DNA represents the Next Great Hack — maybe the Last Great Hack; who knows what the world — what humanity — will look like on the other side of the biotech boom?

Thomas of Aminopop, when asked what DNA means to him by Dr. Hsien-Hsien Lei at Eye on DNA.

Ethical obviousness

In Uncategorized on January 9, 2008 at 3:27 pm

Just to clarify. Even though I sound like an opponent of genetic testing in my previous post………….. I’m not. And to emphasize this, here’s a quote that I sympathize with, from this post at genomeboy: “When people ask me whether I’m nervous about getting my DNA sequenced, my response is always the same: “My genome is the least of my problems.””

Although one could argue that since your genome is your be-all then your genome is your only problem, alternatively that you have no problems since your genome is you and yours..(……..sentence ended up in philosphical jibberish….)

Take home message: DNA-testing of consenting informed adults is fine for any test, – but ethical care should be taken when used in in prenatal care or in pre-symptomatic diagnostics of children unable to give their own informed consent….(…paragraph ended up in ethical obviousness…..)