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Comment Follow up will be interesting. (Score 4, Interesting) 78

Does this "fingerprint" bacterial cloud change with time? after antibiotic use? what about members of a family or people that recently began living together? It does not feel like this will have a practical use in the near future, but opens some interesting lines of study.

Comment Re:One has to wonder why they don't have that gene (Score 1) 54

Another reason not yet mentioned is that every adaptation is a trade off, and becomes a path that is easier to follow than beginning a new one in order to have the same advantage, chickens have a very well developed innate immunity (interferon, citoquines, etc) as well as a secondary immunity in the form of antibodies against viruses, unfortunately is not very effective against influenza. Nevertheless from the evolutionary point of view trying to improve those mechanisms of defense is much less resource intensive than beginning a new one based on genes (decoys in this case, or also interference RNA to give another example) Insects for example have the exact opposite problem since they have the direct gene based defense instead of the antibody based one.

Comment Re:1Gb/sec for around $40/month. (Score 1) 135

Its exactly like this with some extra options when making the contracts in special sales (I got a second hand Washing machine).
They do require you to install some useless things in your computer to use the service but at least has been problem free the whole time I have been using it.

Comment P-Z viruses as a tool? (Score 3, Interesting) 74

It is not clear how the new nucleotides act when transcribing proteins but assuming its at least as efficient as the 4 letter code it could be a very interesting option for artificial viruses. A virus engineered to be totally dependent on the new nucleotides could be used much more safely even inside humans where there is no supply of them, they could infect the cells, produce proteins and a huge immune response but not a single copy of their genetic material could be produced. Also in a controlled environment they would thrive (cheap production?) but without P-Z no danger of new virus production so safety would not need to be as strict.

Applications on real organisms probably will take much longer time, but the simplicity of virus would make it a natural first step.

Comment Solving the delivery bottleneck (Score 3, Insightful) 39

There are a lot of medical interventions that are very nice on paper but useless in practice because of the difficulty of delivering something fragile to a specific point in the body. This super-vesicles seem to be still too limited to address this problem perfectly but they seem like a big step forward, a couple of generations later this could very well make gene-therapy, siRNA inhibition, cell-specific drug therapies, etc. practical enough to be used as therapy.

Comment Is this really useful? (Score 1) 57

I mean, how many of the latest big epidemics has been transmitted by rodents? and even then how many of those depend on other factors not taken in account with this approach (arbovirus, change in ecology, etc.) Even if they really have a good model, putting as risky more than 150 species and a territory under heavy risk including half of the world would not be exactly useful to redirect resources.

Comment Re:I'll bet the effect is very mild. (Score 1) 187

I would be also interested in the number of participants, how they were divided, if the effect in dose-dependent, the statistical analysis and so on, unfortunately I have seen too many psychology papers that barely reach the P=0.5 but still are confident about their conclusions.

Comment Re:The thousand genes we don't know if are needed. (Score 1) 111

Because having a copy of a gene is only one possibility of compensation, in processes like innate immune response it is common to have more than one pathway of activation, and to a certain point the presence of one protein can compensate the lack of another even if they are not structurally similar. A blast search can't be used in that case to rule out the need of that specific gene in other people. I am simply saying that proving that some people can survive without some genes without really having studied them to a certain degree is not enough to say that is apparently unnecessary for survival, it may be so only on certain populations (the sample in the studio is understandably biased).

That is of course even without going into genes that could not be necessary all the time but increase the possibility of survival to specific events, for all we know the sample of individuals could represent only the 10% that survive a gene deletion because of a specific diet, certain amount of exercise, lack of exposure to a type of pathogen not common on Iceland, etc.

Comment Re:The thousand genes we don't know if are needed. (Score 4, Insightful) 111

Any of those genes could encode a protein whose function can be done by another protein that other people may or not express. Obviously the people identified did not need "that" specific protein to do its work but it may be completely possible that a majority of people do not have the compensating gene.

Until experimentation is done to evaluate the need of those genes you can say that those "may" not be indispensable, but saying that apparently they are not needed is too strong a conclusion for the work done.

"I may be synthetic, but I'm not stupid" -- the artificial person, from _Aliens_