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Aug 1, 2009 (Vol. 29, No. 14)

GEN Update on Promising Emerging Biotechnologies

  • ALUMINUM OXIDE NANOPORE FOR DNA ANALYSIS

    Bala Murali Venkatesan, fourth-year graduate student, department of electrical and computer engineering, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
    GEN Podcast, June 25, 2009.

    University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign researchers are developing a new solid-state nanopore sensor that they believe can move the reality of fast and affordable genome sequencing a step closer. The sensor, made by drilling a tiny hole through a thin film of aluminum oxide, could ultimately prove capable of performing DNA analysis with a single molecule. This would offer tremendous possibilities for personalized medicine and advanced diagnostics, according to the scientists.

  • THE EMERGING FIELD OF NUTRIGENOMICS

    Eugene Kolker, Ph.D., chief data officer, Seattle Children’s Hospital, head, bioinformatics and high-throughput analysis laboratory, Seattle Children’s Research Institute and Vural Ozdemir, M.D., Ph.D., research assistant professor in bioethics, department of social and preventive medicine, faculty
    of medicine, University of Montreal.
    GEN Podcast, April 2, 2009.

    Nutrigenomics is a rapidly growing discipline that focuses on identifying the genetic factors that influence the body’s response to diet and studies how the bioactive constituents of food affect gene expression. A key goal is the development of personalized diets for disease prevention.

    Nutrigenomics’ bidirectional approach to investigating how the genetic traits of an individual or population interact with diet offers many possibilities for targeted clinical interventions and preventive medicine. These may include either modifying diet or the biochemical response to food exposure to prevent disease in individuals shown to be susceptible to the consequences of unfavorable dietary/genomic interactions.



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Scientifically Studying Ecstasy

MDMA (commonly known as the empathogen “ecstasy”) is classified as a Schedule 1 drug, which is reserved for compounds with no accepted medical use and a high abuse potential. Two researchers from Stanford, however, call for a rigorous scientific exploration of MDMA's effects to identify precisely how the drug works, the data from which could be used to develop therapeutic compounds.

Do you agree that ecstasy should be studied for its potential therapeutic benefits?

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