The Sciences

Daily Data Dump

Gene ExpressionBy Razib KhanApr 14, 2010 3:16 PM


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The Hunt for the Prozac Gene. For the record I don't think most peoples' depression today is rooted in biological factors. Rather there are some biases toward over-medication in American society, and "better living through chemistry" has made a come back (I used to much more pro-SSRI before I started seeing people I knew really well who were given anti-depressants almost as a precautionary matter by their doctors). Duffy-Negative Blood Types No Longer Protected from P. Vivax Malaria. One difference between physical technology (wheel) and biological technology (domesticate breeding) is that the latter has to face the fact that "nature catches up." In other words, biological impediments to human flourishing are adaptive thanks to evolution. In contrast, the utility of the wheel has not declined because the laws of physics have "adapted" to make it less efficacious. The paper reviewed in the press release suggests that the admixture between Duffy-negative and Duffy-positive (the latter of which is the state outside of Africa) ancestral populations among the Malagasy allowed for the emergence of the resistant strain. If I understand correctly the latter population served as an incubator of extant variation which eventually produced a strain which invaded the former. In contrast in areas where Duffy-negative is fixed the total number of pathogens is very low, so adaption has a smaller range of extant variation to select from. Population history may matter more in determining the arc of adaptation than we've thought. Another blow against evolutionary dynamics as thermodynamics. Staffers' accounts paint more detailed, troubling picture of Massa's office. No surprise, more than "tickle fights." Mutation effects often depend on genetic milieu. Another strike at fixating too much on a gene as if it is an island; genetic background matters. This is why population identity as determined by evolutionary history (i.e., "race") may still be important in understanding the effect of a gene on trait value even after we get total genomes sequenced. We won't have omniscience as to interactions and other parameters for a while yet unless you believe Ray Kurzweil. Maternal Deaths Decline Sharply Across the Globe. Life is getting better for most of the world. Something to keep in mind when we Americans bemoan the lack of real wage gains for the past 1.75 generations. Epicurius asserted that the pleasurable life was but the full stomach. How things have changed.... (Update: This may be a case of better living through better measurement.)

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