Blog Comments

Kinetica Online is pleased to provide direct links to commentaries from our senior editor Dr. Steven Pelech has posted on other blogs sites. Most of these comments appear on the GenomeWeb Daily Scan website, which in turn highlight interesting blogs that have been posted at numerous sites in the blogosphere since the beginning of 2010. A wide variety of topical subjects are covered ranging from the latest scientific breakthroughs, research trends, politics and career advice. The original blogs and Dr. Pelech’s comments are summarized here under the title of the original blog. Should viewers wish to add to these discussions, they should add their comments at the original blog sites.

The views expressed by Dr. Pelech do not necessarily reflect those of the other management and staff at Kinexus Bioinformatics Corporation. However, we wish to encourage healthy debate that might spur improvements in how biomedical research is supported and conducted.

The Sum of Your Experiences

David Dobbs at Pacific Standard magazine writes that your experiences can shape the expression patterns of your genes, and cited studies undertaken with kidnapped European honeybees that were raised with African bees and vice versa. The kidnapped bees exhibited the gene expression and behavior of their foster colony. Dobbs also described environment induce genetic changes in humans and other animals. S. Pelech argues that while altered gene expression clearly contributes to the phenotypic changes in behaviour, a variety of other interacting molecular and cellular intelligence systems play equally important roles. He also discusses the case of the domesticated pig that goes "hog wild."

Surrounded by Viruses

Simon Anthony and his colleagues at Columbia University identified 58 viruses by genetic analyses in specimens sampled from the Indian Flying Fox, Pteropus giganteus, and based on this they extrapolated that there are at least 320,000 viruses waiting to be uncovered in other mammals. S. Pelech provides his own calculations for the number of mammalian viruses based also on the latest human virus data and comes up with a similar number. Read More...

Microbes of Cancer

Shin Yoshimoto from the Japanese Foundation for Cancer Research and colleagues reported that although mice fed a high-fat or a lean diet did not have differing rates of hepatocellular carcinoma, when mice on those diets were also exposed to a carcinogen, namely DMBA, mice on the high-fat developed liver cancer while those on the lean diet did not. The investigators implicated the gut microbiome has a hand in this effect as the fatty diet leads to changes in the levels of deoxycholic acid (DCA) present in the gut. S. Pelech wonders about the novelty of these findings as it has been known for more than 20 years that bile acids such as DCA and other derivatives produced by microbial action from cholic acid secreted by the liver into the gut are activators of protein kinase C (PKC) isoforms in intestinal epithelial and other types of cells. PKC isoforms are the best known targets for a diversity of tumour promoting compounds. Read More...

Return on Investment

A new report from United for Medical Research and Battelle claimed that while the US government invested about $14.5 billion between 1988 and 2012 in the Human Genome Project, it has reaped $59 billion in tax revenue and $965 billion in economic impact. The report further suggests that the investment has lead to 53,000 genomics-related jobs and $293 billion in personal income. S. Pelech notes the timing of the release of the report with the reduction of NIH research funding through the sequestration, and challenges some of the conclusions of the study. He notes that there has been essentially no growth in employment in any of the various genomics sectors in the last 5 years. Read More...

After the Test

Actress Angelina Jolie wrote in the New York Times that she decided to undergo a preventive double mastectomy after learning that she carries a mutation in her BRCA1 gene. Jolie's doctors estimated that she had an 87 percent risk of developing breast cancer and a 50 percent risk of ovarian cancer. S. Pelech questions whether it was really necessary for Angelina to undergo the radical surgery based simply on the presence of a mutation in her BRCA1 gene, and discusses how other tumour suppressor genes are much more frequently found in breast cancer patients. Read More...