Antarctic Fish & Osteoporosis (Abstract Science: June 10-14)
Also, New York passes law ending religious exemptions for school vaccines, and China announces hefty fines for unauthorized DNA collection
(ALN Magazine, Liz Doughman, 06/12/19)
Key adaptations used by a group of Antarctic fishes called notothenioids mirror the genetics of a host of human diseases, including osteoporosis, reveals a new study published this week in Nature Ecology & Evolution. Some of these adaptations could be important to the study of human disease, says the new research. For example, notothenioids don't used swim bladders to adjust their buoyancy in the water column, the study found. Instead, reductions in bone density allow the fish to 'float' in the water, requiring little energy. The research identified the gene mutation behind this evolutionary adaptation in the fish, which is the same mutation that causes osteoporosis in people.
(Washington Post, Eli Rosenberg, 6/13/19)
New York officially ended religious exemptions for school vaccines Thursday as the state grapples with its largest measles outbreak in years. The law gives unvaccinated students up to 30 days to show they’ve started their required immunizations. All states have laws requiring various vaccines for students and all allow for medical exemptions. Many also grant parents the right to exempt their children from the vaccines for religious reasons, and a smaller number for philosophical reasons.
(David Cyranoski, 6/14/19, Nature News)
China this week announced a new law restricting the collection and use of genetic resources from people in the country — including biological samples that yield DNA, such as blood, and data gleaned from sequencing them. There will be hefty fines for unauthorized collection or use of genetic material. The law, which goes into effect on 1 July, formalizes restrictions on such activities that have been in place since 1998. Scientists working for foreign organizations will still need to collaborate with a domestic research organization to do research with genetic material from Chinese citizens and to take DNA resources outside of China, and such collaborations require the science ministry’s approval.
—Stories compiled by Senior Scientific Writer Regina Kelder