Sunday, September 29, 2013

Kary Mullis and the PCR: Three Decades of Innovation

Thirty years ago, in 1983, Kary B. Mullis conceived an experimental method for amplifying small quantities of DNA— the polymerase chain reaction (PCR)—that would go on to revolutionize the study of genetics, forensics, and biological anthropology. Over three decades, PCR techniques, fueled by advances in enzymology and automation, have continually improved and evolved to meet the changing needs and demands of life-science researchers.

Today, armed with an arsenal of potent reagents, reliable software, and robust instrumentation, PCR will be a vital part of new applications of next-generation sequencing, clinical diagnostics, and drug discovery. (Read more ... from The Scientist)

Kary Mullis' Eureka Moment
Prepared by  NobelPrize.Org

The Inventor. KARY B. MULLIS received a Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry from the Georgia Institute of Technology in 1966, and he earned a PhD degree in biochemistry from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1972. Mullis joined the Cetus Corporation in Emeryville, California, as a DNA chemist in 1979. During his 7 years there, he conducted research on oligonucleotide synthesis and invented the polymerase chain reaction (PCR). He is currently chief scientific officer of Altermune Technologies, Ltd, working on a method for pharmaceutically redirecting a ubiquitous human immunity intended for a trisaccharide known as the alpha-Gal epitope to some other site to which the patient could benefit from an immediate immunity. For his invention of the polymerase chain reaction, Mullis received the 1993 Nobel Prize in chemistry and the 1993 Japan Prize.

Click this link for the complete interview.

The PCR Timeline
As a tribute to the discovery of the PCR, Bio-Rad Laboratories had developed an infographic highlighting many important milestones in the PCR's Timeline. The file is free and available for download in PDF format.

Download this INFOGRAPHIC in PDF.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

PHL Genome Center opens new DNA sequencing facility to local researchers

Adapted Article
Written by Kim Luces
Originally Published Online GMA News

The Philippine Genome Center (PGC) DNA Sequencing Core Facility (DSCF) has found a temporary home on the second floor of the National Institute of Molecular Biology in UP Diliman, but is already opening its doors to research projects that will directly impact the nation's economy. 

The PGC will temporarily be housed here until the completion of the first PGC building in 2016, also located in the UP Science Complex.

The DSCF, which officially opened Tuesday, makes available sequencing and genotyping services to academic research groups in the country.

Don't copy other countries

This is where genomic studies on agriculture, health, biodiversity, forensics, and ethnicity will be done that cater specifically to the Filipino people.

“We cannot copy Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan, or even the US because the Philippines has its unique needs,” said Dr. Carmencita Padilla, Executive Director of PGC.

The PGC now operates two core facilities – DNA Sequencing and Bioinformatics. PGC has yet to find space for its third core facility, the Biobank – a repository for DNA samples.

The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) has granted PGC a total of P800 million, of which P520 million was released this year, according to Padilla.

The center already has a string of projects underway for the agricultural and medical sectors.

Recent DNA studies only scratch the surface of complex Pinoy genetics

Written by Kim Luces
Originally Published Online GMA News

DNA—or deoxyribonucleic acid—is not just the double-helical structure that codes genetic traits. It is also the repository of the biological history of a species.

Population-based genetic studies, for instance, have provided evidence that many Filipino groups share a genetic ancestry with the aborigines of Australia, from whom they may have been separated by the Austronesian expansion.

Research using DNA sequences of different individuals also show that Filipinos from over 100 ethno-linguistic groups spread across 18 regions of the Philippines are genetically distant from each other and from people in their regions' city centers.

However, the same data showed scientists that people from city centers, regardless of which region they come from, are genetically close to each other.

The data, acquired from studying parts of our genetic code, only scratches the genetic surface of a very complicated population.

Imagine what secrets we could uncover by sequencing complete sets of DNA.

The suggestion: A Filipino genome diversity project

Filipino geneticist, evolutionary biologist, and New York University Dean of Science Dr. Michael Purugganan suggested a Filipino Genome Diversity Project that would sequence complete sets of Filipino genomes to acquire more data about our history and health.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Ateneo tops Nat’l Genetics Quiz

Written by Crispin Mahrion Abacan
Originally Published Online LBTimes

Members of The UPLB Genetics Society (GeneSoc) wore blue shirts. Indeed, blue was the color of the day as the team from Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU) topped the 4th National Intercollegiate Genetics Quiz Contest (NIGQC) of the UPLB GeneSoc held at Drilon Hall-SEARCA, University of the Philippines-Los Baños, Sept. 14.

Ateneo de Manila University Team with the judges and organizers of NIGQC 2013 (Photo: GeneSoc)

Hadeza P. Cabaddu, Wrench Chester S. Canicosa and Antoni Andreu M. Martija of ADMU bested 9 other teams. They were the leading team during the group category in the average and difficult rounds.

“We’re really happy! The reviews we had done for three weeks were all worth it,” said Canicosa. ADMU received a cash prize of 15,000, a trophy, certificates of recognition, and team members each received medals.

“The questions were pretty-well balanced and very challenging. Practically, they are the best from each school. And I believe, all of them were challenged appropriately with the sets of question,” said Ronald Cruz, the moderator of the Ateneo Biological Organization who accompanied the students.

Kenji Rowel Q. Lim, Dominic S. Albao, and Liezel U. Tamon of UP-Diliman finished second place. Adrian L. Santos, Federico Cristobal C. de Jesus, and May Nadine Alessandra R. Uy of UP-Manila, the defending champion, were in third place. They received certificates of participation, medals, and a cash prize of 7000 and 5000 respectively.

Furthermore, Santos and de Jesus of UP-Manila, were recognized as top scorers for the individual easy round.

“Honestly, I didn’t expect to top the first part. Before the quizcon, we don’t know how we compare to other schools since we have different genetics curriculum. I guess we showed them that the curriculum we have is really competent despite having few genetics majors to teach us,” said Santos.

With the organization’s 30th year anniversary, the GeneSoc, through this event, aims to reach out and encourage the creative appreciation of the genetics field among college students.

“One of the UPLB’s GeneSoc’s objectives is to promote and create awareness about the science of Genetics in the Philippines. This year, since we will be celebrating our 30th anniversary, we thought of extending this awareness to college students in the country , hence , the comeback of the NIGQC,” said Gelina Rose A. Bambalan, NIGQC 2013 committee head.