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September 2, 2006


    Call it Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis or valids and invalids, it's all coming true. More frequently than ever, parents are choosing which embryo to implant and bear based on their genetic packages. The field, known as reprogenetics, is burgeoning. It's expensive - isn't everything? - and most health insurance won't cover the cost. But don't worry, that isn't stopping tons of parents-to-be.

    This New York Times article profiles a couple who has made sure their daughter will not carry her father's gene for predisposition to colon cancer. The question is, of course, how far will we go?

    Already, it is possible to test embryos for an inherited form of deafness or a mild skin condition, or for a predisposition to arthritis or obesity. Some clinics test for gender. As scientists learn more about the genetic basis for inherited traits, and as people learn more about their genetic makeup, the embryo screening menu and its array of ethical dilemmas are only expected to grow.

    Full Article: The DNA Age: Couples Cull Embryos to Halt Heritage of Cancer

    (Via NYT > National.)

    Cheeky Monkey

    Posted by MostlyForMe at 9:13 PM


    While your PS3 sits idle, Stanford's "Folding at Home" project plans to harness its processor to run simulations of protein folding. The results should lead the team of scientists closer to answers about curing Mad Cow disease, Alzheimer's, cystic fibrosis, and certain cancers including hereditary emphysema.

    According to the Folding at Home web site:

    ...it takes about a day [for a computer] to simulate a nanosecond (1/1,000,000,000 of a second). Unfortunately, proteins fold on the tens of microsecond timescale (10,000 nanoseconds). Thus, it would take 10,000 CPU days to simulate folding -- i.e. it would take 30 CPU years!
    So, while you're at the office, sleeping, or a little bit of both, let your PS3 do something useful.

    And when you get home, you can use your controller to zoom around a 3D image of the protein you just rendered. (check out a sample screenshot) All it requires is downloading some free software, and you're ready to help save the human race through sheer absenteeism.

    To sweeten the pot, not only will this research cure the aforementioned horrifying battery of diseases, but "learning about how proteins fold will also teach us how to design our own protein-sized "nanomachines" to do similar tasks." Curing cancer AND making nanomachines? Sign me up!

    Download the screensaver version for Windows, Linux or OSX.

    Full Article: Folding at Home: PS3 FAQ

    (Via Gizmodo.)

    Cheeky Monkey

    Posted by MostlyForMe at 8:10 PM