Discovered: Some of our DNA is four-stranded, and that's not a good thing. the brain's selfishness center; men who can't smell don't have much sex; hearing loss foreshadows mental decline.
Quadruple-helix DNA discovered. Cambridge University researchers just made a discovery that upends one of our most fundamental understandings about genetics. In grade school, everyone learns about the ladder-like double-helix structure of DNA—well as it turns out, some of the DNA in our bodies is built from four strands, and it could play a role in cancer. These quadruple-helix strands have been artificially created in labs, but Cambridge chemistry professor Shankar Balasubramanian and his colleagues have located them for the first time in human bodies, inside cancer cells. The G-quadruplex molecule they've isolated have an abundance of guanine. These square-like strands of DNA replicate much more quickly than double-helix formations, making the quadruple-helix discovery particularly notable for cancer researchers. "This research further highlights the potential for exploiting these unusual DNA structures to beat cancer, and the next part of this is to figure out how to target them in tumor cells," says Julie Sharp from Cancer Research UK, a group that funded the research. [BBC News]
A strategic bump on the head can cure overly selfish people. A new paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences purports to have pinpointed a region of the human brain associated with selfishness. How did the scientists come to that conclusion? By studying people who'd received damage to the basolateral amygdala. When this area was compromised, subjects were likely to trust complete strangers with large amounts of money. They generously entrusted strangers with twice the amount of money as the control group, who had no damage to the basolateral amygdala. [Science News]