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Genetics Roundup

February 13, 2008

Researchers develop an effective new method for inserting genes into cells.


Spray-on genes. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

For years, scientists have been modifying the genes of bacteria, plants and other organisms to produce useful products. Now, researchers in Japan have developed an easy way to add new DNA into a cell, using a water spray. They accelerate microscopic water droplets with an electrical field, and shoot them into the cells like tiny bullets. The resulting holes let in the new DNA, and quickly heal. In addition to creating genetically modified organisms, the technique might also be useful in correcting disease-causing genes in humans.

In other genetics news, an international team of scientists has announced a plan to sequence the genome of one thousand people. By comparing the genes of such a large group, the team hopes to learn more about variation in the human species, and why diseases strike some people but not others.
I’m Bob Hirshon for AAAS, the Science Society.