DNA

Jane Ades, NHGRI

Originally published on Wednesday, February 26, 2014. Updated to include audio from St. Louis on the Air.

James Cridland via Flickr

The top legal issue in the day’s news was the U.S.

In a decision that could have broad-reaching effects on the future of science and medicine, the Supreme Court ruled Thursday that:

-- "A naturally occurring DNA segment is a product of nature and not patent eligible merely because it has been isolated."

-- But, synthetically created "strands of nucleotides known as composite DNA (cDNA)" are "patent eligible" because they do not occur naturally.

English critic Samuel Johnson once said of William Shakespeare "that his drama is the mirror of life." Now the Bard's words have been translated into life's most basic language. British scientists have stored all 154 of Shakespeare's sonnets on tiny stretches of DNA.

It all started with two men in a pub. Ewan Birney and Nick Goldman, both scientists from the European Bioinformatics Institute, were drinking beer and discussing a problem.

Scott Supplesa

Pediatric leukemia is a cancer of the blood and bone marrow. There are about 3,000 new cases in the United States every year, typically in children between the ages of four and six.

With treatment, about three-quarters of affected children are able to beat the disease.

But for those with what’s known as “high risk” leukemia, the odds of survival are much worse.

Washington University pediatric oncologist Dr. Todd Druley has been trying to use genetics to understand why some leukemia is so hard to treat. He spoke with St. Louis Public Radio's Véronique LaCapra.

Flickr/USACEpublicaffairs

Corps plans to hire private companies to restore Birds Point

The corps set off explosions at three spots on the levee last May to relieve pressure on the floodwall in Cairo, Ill.  

The Southeast Missourian reports the corps will be looking in the next two weeks for three firms to bid on the projects.

The corps halted its floodway repairs in December after spending $20 million to shore up the levee to 55 feet of flood protection at each of the blasting spots.

Cancer study shows limiting alcohol reduces chances of developing breast cancer

A new study today finds that young women with a family history of breast disease can reduce their risk of developing breast cancer by avoiding alcohol. The research, published in the journal "Cancer", looked at more than nine-thousand young women starting in 1996 and tracked them through 2007.

Provided by Mo. Dept. of Corrections

Updated 2:37 p.m. with St. Louis Public Radio story.

Flickr/david_shane

Legislation Reducing Penalties for Initial Misdemeanors Headed to Nixon

Legislation headed to Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon would reduce the potential penalties for initial violations of misdemeanors such as driving without a valid license, failing to maintain vehicle liability insurance and being a minor in possession of alcohol. Instead of the possibility of jail time, the legislation only would allow fines up to $300.

An international team of researchers has sequenced the genomes of two species of orangutan.

Lead researcher Devin Locke of the Genome Center at Washington University said a primary motivation for studying the genes of orangutans is their close evolutionary relationship to humans.

“The lessons you learn from studying these species can be applied to understanding of our own evolution and the evolution of the human population as well,” Locke said.