If the government can tell your kids what vaccinations they must receive, what's next? Can they tell parents what to feed them? Can the government mandate what TV shows kids are allowed to or must watch? Can government force kids to read certain books or attend certain functions? Where do you draw the line? Once you draw that line, why can't it be crossed or moved?
I understand the sentiment, but the major issue with vaccines, with respect to "parental choice", is that it is not a child-autonomous choice. Not vaccinating your child places others in danger. This is why we cannot have large numbers of people, children or otherwise, exempt themselves from vaccination that otherwise could receive it* without imposing a great danger to public health. Also, as a matter of fact, while we** don't mandate that children read particular books (that's religion's job), we do mandate that they, at least to a certain age, attend school - public, private, or home, so long as they are educated (again, for the betterment of society). And as a last point, we do have laws which set standards for how parents raise children; adding vaccinations to that list would not be a huge alteration of this societal notion.
* Exempting those who cannot have vaccinations for health-related reasons
** In the US
Gov. Christie quickly backpedaled on his "vaccine choice" comments, with the Governor's office stating, "The Governor believes vaccines are an important public health protection and with a disease like measles there is no question kids should be vaccinated," but amending: "At the same time different states require different degrees of vaccination, which is why he was calling for balance in which ones government should mandate."
How exactly does a virus change from a chimp version to a human version?
Long story short, it involves mutations in viral proteins that are responsible for counter-acting anti-viral proteins (termed restriction factors) in human cells, that differ slightly from the chimpanzee versions due to an ongoing genetic arms race between the host proteins that block viral infections, and the viral factors that counter-act them to retain virus infectivity. There are also changes in the viral envelope proteins to help evade adaptive immune responses (recognition by immune cells and antibodies)
I am not sure I believe their theory. It is also possible that people brought the disease to the new world. There is quite a bit of circumstantial evidence for human travel across the Atlantic by the Phoenicians and/or Romans. It is unlikely there was any regular trade, but over the centuries a few ships may have been blown off course, and made a one-way trip. For instance, the bottle gourd, which was used to store water on ships, crossed the Atlantic to Brazil right about that time. Most likely the seeds were brought there on a ship.
That would be easy enough to test, provided we had archeological samples of Phoenicians / Romans who were infected with M. tuberculosis (Mtb). Then, one could do the same phylogenetic analysis done in the paper that claded with the seal / sea lion Mtb sequences. Of course, the sequence analysis data provided in the paper would probably argue against your hypothesis, as Mtb sequences obtained from infected members of those civilizations would probably clade with modern European Mtb sequences rather than with seal / sea lion Mtb, which it would have to do in order to fit the data in this study.
You can't patent things invented from government research money. The whole point is that other people *can* build on your discoveries.
The key change made by Bayh-Dole was in ownership of inventions made with federal funding. Before the Bayh–Dole Act, federal research funding contracts and grants obligated inventors (where ever they worked) to assign inventions they made using federal funding to the federal government. Bayh-Dole permits a university, small business, or non-profit institution to elect to pursue ownership of an invention in preference to the government.
'The scientists behind the work at the Scripps Research Institute have already formed a company to try to use the technique to develop new antibiotics, vaccines and other products.'
Step 1: Use public funds to do innovative research into expanding the genetic code in microbes.
Step 2: Patent everything to make sure no one else can build on your discoveries.
Step 3: Create a company that promises all the keywords for a biotech e.g. antibiotics, vaccines, etc.
Step 5: ? Profit was Step 4.
Remember when science was about discovery and standing on the shoulders of giants?
What if a company makes and patents a cDNA that is later found to also exist naturally?
Have we sequenced every variant of every species?
Case in point, Monsato make GM crops that resist herbicides. What if the parts they are patenting, have analouges in some other plant in the wild?
Monsanto is, in part, doing exactly what you suggested. The genetic element that grants their crops resistance to glyphosate (Round-Up) was discovered in microbes growing in waste runoff containing glyphosate. The patent is on the plants that have been transformed / engineered to contain this naturally occurring resistance gene in their genome and express it to garner resistance to the herbicide.
The cDNA argument is much worse to ludicrous. The only thing one could imagine is patentable surrounding the issue of cDNA is the technique involved in its generation, but that ship has sailed long ago. The entire process of generating cDNA is by using materials all found in nature. The RNA template that is used to generate cDNA in these cases of naturally occurring genes is obviously naturally occurring* and the technology to even create cDNA in the first place is using a naturally occurring enzyme, reverse transcriptase (found in retroviruses like HIV to catalyze the conversion of their genomic RNA to DNA). Because all these elements exist in the natural world, it is certainly possible in say HIV infected humans that random gene mRNA molecules have been converted to cDNA, thus negating the argument of generating something that does not exist in the natural world. More importantly, the only facet of this whole process of generating cDNA that is artificial is placing the materials in a tube together, NOT inventing any novel chemicals or enzymes to catalyze the process!
* In cells, mRNA molecules are heavily modified, sections spliced out, nucleotides edited, the 5' end capped, the 3' end poly-adenylated, so with the arguments placed forth concerning cDNA, one can imagine in vitro transcription of a gene creates an RNA molecule that doesn't exist in nature and can therefore be patented. Ridiculous, right?
As far as I know, bacteria don't use epigenetics in the same way we would associate with eukaryotes. First off, bacteria don't have histones and are thus limited to DNA methylation in terms of types of epigenetic modifications they can employ (bacteria do have DNA-binding proteins that help package DNA, but I don't believe anyone has shown they are used to control gene expression in a heritable manner -- the definition of epigenetics). In terms of how bacteria use DNA methylation, there are two cases I am aware of: (1) distinguishing between newly synthesized and "template" DNA just after DNA replication to help fix errors (if the DNA repair machinary detects a mis-matching base-pair, it corrects based on the template, methylated strand; and (2) to distinguish between self and non-self DNA, particularly in anti-phage (viral) defense, so that enzymes that have evolved to destroy foreign DNA can avoid destroying the bacterial DNA.
In general, epigenetic markers are controlled by protein interactions, which can of course be very complex, including kinetic competitions between proteins that write the markers, and proteins that erase the markers. To build a genetic pathway that regulates epigenetic markers beyond simple sequence recognition (such as GAmTC methylation in E. coli that regulates the origin of DNA replication) is probably beyond the capability of current synthetic biology.
Observation -> Hypothesis -> Theory--> Test---> Scientific fact.
I'd only add:
Observation -> Hypothesis -> Theory -> Predictions -> Test -> Scientific fact.
Well, yes, the headline is misleading, but it's also a bit more than a "possible" ancestor.
The researchers in the study wanted to create a better phylogenetic reconstruction of the evolution of mammals than had been previously accomplished, to resolve whether divergence of placental mammals from non-plancental mammals (egg-laying / marsupials) occurred before or after the extinction of the Dinosaurs (the K-T boundary), and also to make predictions of the biology of that last common ancestor. Previous phylogenetic reconstructions had been done with molecular data (DNA or protein sequences), but molecular data is limited to extant species and makes a lot of assumptions about the rates of changes in DNA that get more unreliable the further back in time you go. This study combined molecular data with character traits they call 'phenomic' characters - from the paper: "4541 phenomic characters de novo for 86 fossil and living species." The resulting matrix of traits, both molecular and character, was used to generate a tree based on maximum parsimony - a method which minimizes the number of trait changes over time when building a tree. This resulted in a single, highest scoring tree predicting the evolution of these species and the changes in their traits over time. The resulting tree is then "clocked" (called 'time-calibration in the paper) to known rates of evolution for the molecular data (good for recent divergence of species) and by fossil data to give time ranges for the deeper sections of the tree. This last part is key, as you cannot get molecular data from fossils, and fossils allow you to map the existence of certain traits within a group to a certain point in the history of these organisms.
The result is a time-range in which the last common ancestor between placental and NON-placental mammals must have lived, given the data provided and the parsimony criterion. As the tree makes claims about when the phenomic characters evolved or were lost, it also predicts which phenomic characters the last common ancestor had.
More specifically, the chemical is a modified version of adenosine called cyclic AMP (cAMP). cAMP is generated by enzymes from ATP, the energy molecule of cells. It acts as a signal amplifier in cellular signaling cascades, and for the purposes of how caffeine affects the body, increased cAMP concentrations = more cellular metabolism. Think the adrenaline response at the cellular level.
Caffeine inhibits enzymes which break down cAMP and turn off the signal. No off switch = artificial build-up of cAMP in the cell = artificial high metabolism state.
Cocaine acts in a somewhat analogous manner, in that it doesn't increase the amount of neurotransmitters being released directly or directly stimulate neurons, but prevents released dopamine from being broken down and thus prolongs the signals artificially, leading to the psychological effects of cocaine use.