Genetics Hub

Richard Dawkins Answers 'How Does Evolution Explain Homosexuality?' - VIDEO


In honor of Darwin Day, celebrating Charles Darwin’s contributions to evolutionary theory, reputed evolutionary biologist and ethologist Richard Dawkins fielded a question regarding how evolution explains homosexuality. Dawkins elaborated on homosexuality’s role in natural selection and how the homosexual gene has continued to survive and pass on to future generations despite the rules of natural selection with some tantalizing hypotheses.

Watch Dawkins explain his hypotheses, including one regarding homosexual male societal roles within hunter-gatherer societies, AFTER THE JUMP

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UK Lawmakers Pass Bill Allowing Creation of Babies from DNA of 3 People: VIDEO



If the bill becomes law, the UK will become the world’s first country to legalize the creation of embryos using DNA from three different people.

LONDON, UK — Great leaps forward in science usually take place in laboratories, not among the green upholstered benches of Britain’s House of Commons.

But genetic history was made there Tuesday when lawmakers voted to approve a procedure that could prevent life-threatening diseases by replacing some of an egg cell’s damaged DNA with that from a healthy donor.

If the bill becomes law, the UK will become the world’s first country to legalize the creation of embryos using DNA from three different people.

Headlines around the world have touted the vote as the dawn of “three parent babies” — an attention-grabbing but not totally accurate characterization.


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Group of Scientists Believe They Have Unlocked Hereditary Question of Why People are Gay

A group of scientists from the National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis say they believe they have the answer to why people are gay, and believe it is an "epigenetic" one linking fathers to lesbian daughters and mothers to gay sons. And they say they can prove whether their theory is right within six months, US News reports:

GenomeLong thought to have some sort of hereditary link, a group of scientists suggested Tuesday that homosexuality is linked to epi-marks — extra layers of information that control how certain genes are expressed. These epi-marks are usually, but not always, "erased" between generations. In homosexuals, these epi-marks aren't erased — they're passed from father-to-daughter or mother-to-son, explains William Rice, an evolutionary biologist at the University of California Santa Barbara and lead author of the study.


Rice and his team created a mathematical model that explains why homosexuality is passed through epi-marks, not genetics. Evolutionarily speaking, if homosexuality was solely a genetic trait, scientists would expect the trait to eventually disappear because homosexuals wouldn't be expected to reproduce. But because these epi-marks provide an evolutionary advantage for the parents of homosexuals: They protect fathers of homosexuals from underexposure to testosterone and mothers of homosexuals from overexposure to testosterone while they are in gestation.

"These epi-marks protect fathers and mothers from excess or underexposure to testosterone — when they carry over to opposite-sex offspring, it can cause the masculinization of females or the feminization of males," Rice says, which can lead to a child becoming gay. Rice notes that these markers are "highly variable" and that only strong epi-marks will result in a homosexual offspring.

Adds Rice: "We've found a story that looks really good. There's more verification needed, but we point out how we can easily do epigenetic profiles genome-wide. We predict where the epi-marks occur, we just need other studies to look at it empirically. This can be tested and proven within six months. It's easy to test. If it's a bad idea, we can throw it away in short order."

More here.

Report: Doctors Engineering Fetuses to Prevent Intersex, Tomboy, and Lesbian Children

The Journal of Bioethical Inquiry recently published a paper detailing an increasing amount of off-label medical intervention used by U.S. doctors to prenatally engineer fetuses with steroids in order to prevent intersex, tomboy, and lesbian babies, according to a Northwestern University report compiled largely with findings obtained from Freedom of Information Act requests:

WombThe pregnant women targeted are at risk for having a child born with the condition congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH), an endocrinological condition that can result in female fetuses being born with intersex or more male-typical genitals and brains. Women genetically identified as being at risk are given dexamethasone, a synthetic steroid, off-label starting as early as week five of the first trimester to try to “normalize” the development of those fetuses, which are female and CAH-affected. Because the drug must be administered before doctors can know if the fetus is female or CAH-affected, only one in eight of those exposed are the target type of fetus.

The off-label intervention does not prevent CAH; it aims only at sex normalization. Like Diethylstilbestrol (DES) -- which is now known to have caused major fertility problems and fatal cancers among those exposed in utero -- dexamethasone is a synthetic steroid. Dexamethasone is known -- and in this case intended -- to cross the placental barrier and change fetal development. Experts estimate the glucocorticoid dose reaching the fetus is 60 to 100 times what the body would normally experience.

According to Northwestern, the report provides evidence that proponents of the intervention are interested in reducing rates of "behavioral masculinization" and the NIH has funded experiments to this end.

There is "a nearly 20 percent 'serious adverse event' rate among the children exposed in utero." Mothers have been told that it is safe but there is no scientific evidence, and the FDA cannot prevent the procedure being advertised as safe because the advertising is done by "a clinician not affiliated with the drug maker."

90 percent of those exposed to the procedure cannot benefit, and medical societies have been saying this for a decade.

According to Northwestern, "The paper is authored by Alice Dreger, professor of clinical medical humanities and bioethics at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and is co-authored by Ellen Feder, associate professor of philosophy and religion at American University, and Anne Tamar-Mattis, executive director of Advocates for Informed Choice."

WA GOP State Senator: Gays Deserve Rights, Homosexuality Genetic

Washington GOP state senator Dale Brandland and former Whatcom County sheriff Dale Brandland told the Bellingham Herald this weekend why he voted to approve the domestic partner bill that was passed by the senate last week:

Brandland "I guess from my perspective, I've come to the conclusion that people are born gay. I don't think this is something that they just pick up along the way. Once I came up with that kind of conclusion, it wasn't difficult for me to understand that gay people are going to develop feelings for people of the same sex and will want to get into meaningful relationships. I thought it was inappropriate to deny them some of the basic rights that relationship entails."

The paper continues: "Brandland's 'yes' vote didn't please Randall of the Faith and Freedom Network. Randall quoted the senator on the organization's blog post-vote and then called Brandland 'a gay activist's fantasy' who, along with the two other Republicans who voted in favor, 'had abandoned their own Republican party and voted against traditional marriage.' Brandland has said in the past that he considers himself a more fiscally conservative and socially liberal Republican. But he doesn't support marriage for gay couples. 'I basically said I was in favor of going as far as civil unions,' he said"

The measure passed the senate by a vote of 30-18 and appears poised to pass in the House as well.

Family Guy Explores the 'Gay Gene'


On Family Guy's friday night episode, Peter was injected with the "gay gene" and made into a lavender bandanna-wearing, knee-crossing, limp-wristed, shrieking falsetto type of gay.

Watch it, AFTER THE JUMP...

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