Monday, June 24, 2013

Richard Dawkins and the Electric Kool-Aid Acid MEME

Watch the following video all the way through. A metamorphosis of sorts unfolds before our very eyes.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Flooding in Northern India

More than 100 people have been killed in Northern India due to flooding. The Monsoon season has pushed the Ganges over its banks.  (Photo Credit - Associated Press)

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Free Genes - SCOTUS strikes down Myriad

The SCOUTUS blog is reporting the Supreme Court has struck down Myriad Genetic's patent claim on two human genes - BRCA1 and BRCA2.

The decision is being called  a compromise by some news sources but the crux of the ruling is this...
We merely hold that genes and the information they encode are not patent eligible under §101 simply because they have been isolated from the surrounding genetic material.
I am sure the lawyers for Myriad are scrambling to write new patents with slightly different wording to emphasize "cDNA" (which the court struggles with defining; in some instances they call it complimentary DNA in others composite DNA). However, it will be difficult overcome the following language in the present decision.
If the patents depended upon the creation of a unique molecule, then a would-be infringer could arguably avoid at least Myriad’s patent claims on entire genes by isolating a DNA sequence that included both the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene and one additional nucleotide pair. Such a molecule would not be chemically identical to the molecule “invented” by Myriad. But Myriad obviously would resist that outcome because its claim is concerned primarily with the information contained in the genetic sequence, not with the specific chemical composition of a particular molecule.

Justice Clarence Thomas wrote the ruling and there is a one paragraph opinion by Justice Scalia partially affirming the ruling.

Read the entire ruling here. (It is only 18 pages long)

This decision sets the "product-of-nature" precedent for the patent eligibility of all naturally occurring human genes. As I currently work as a biochemist in a plant biology lab I am curious to see if this applies to plant genes.

It is not clear whether cDNA copied from naturally occurring templates (human DNA) is patentable or just synthetic cDNA.

I will update this post as I learn more about the Supreme Court's ruling.

Monday, June 10, 2013

CLARITY - looking inside the brain

I stumbled across this video yesterday while bouncing around Twitter. Mitch Waldrop had posted the video a few months ago. The technology displayed here is dubbed CLARITY - a new method for looking inside animal tissues. In this case brains. It takes the grey mass you normally think of when you think "brain" and turns it into a jellyfish-like consistency, see-through and all. CLARITY was developed by a team of interdisciplinary researchers at Stanford University lead by Karl Deisseroth. I am constantly amazed at the pace of progress we are witnessing in biomedical science. Just brilliant!

Sunday, June 9, 2013

NSA Whistleblower - Edward Snowden

Lyrebird repertoire includes chainsaw

I know the resolution on this clip is low but it is completely worth watching. The Australian Lyrebird sings a song of irony for the world to hear. A clear feedback loop in the forest and a beauty to behold.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Leo the Lungfish!

My friend Davide takes care of a lungfish named Leonardo. Watch him clean Leo's tank!

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Epigenomics at the World Science Festival

If you have any curiosity about the emerging field of epigeneticists the following panel discussion is a must-watch.