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Genetics Hub



04/19/2007


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.

More:

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'

Peter

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...

Continue reading "Family Guy Explores the 'Gay Gene'" »


News: Burger King, Ryan Lochte, Wikipedia, Steven Klein, Iowa

road.jpg Chilean pro-family" group Muevete Chile launches campaign to stop government from approving same-sex unions.

Flame_2road.jpg FLAME: Burger King to sell cologne that smells like a Whopper, with notes of flame-broiled beef.

road.jpg Wingnut on crusade against Wikipedia because people keep editing his page to say he's gay: "Joseph Francis Farah is an Evangelical Christian American journalist and noted homosexual of Lebanese and Syrian heritage."

road.jpg Researchers collaborate with last living member of the original Kinsey team, 92-year-old Paul Gebhard, to revisit The Kinsey Report and studies of bisexuality 60 years later. Gebhard: "'Overall, Kinsey would be disappointed.'...Gebhard said Kinsey and his research team avoided looking for causes for sexual orientation out of concern that the findings could be used against people. Through sexual history interviews, they instead sought to capture snapshots of human sexual experience, which proved to be fluid, according to their research, with individual sexual preferences or orientation often moving along the heterosexual-homosexual scale during one's lifetime."

road.jpg Guess who's coming to The Office?

Kleinroad.jpg Steven Klein shoots Madonna en route in Rio.

road.jpg Scientists: Society should embrace drugs that boost brain power.

road.jpg Australian man ordered to pay $40,000 in criminal compensation for gay bashing: "The court was told [Daniel] Proud repeatedly kicked and punched [Gary] Jamieson after he made advances during a fireworks display on the Cairns Esplanade in the early hours of January 1, 2006. In June 2006, Proud was jailed for 42 months, to be released after 14 months, after he pleaded guilty to assaulting Jamieson and causing him grievous bodily harm. Then acting Chief Judge Tony Skoien was told that after the attack, Proud told police he hated homosexuals. The court was told Jamieson suffered a seizure and arterial bleeding to the brain."

road.jpg British tennis player Andy Murray strips down in Miami.

road.jpg Abraham Lincoln's Big Gay Dance Party opens in San Francisco.

Lochteroad.jpg Swimmer Ryan Lochte steps out of Phelps' fashion shadow.

road.jpg NYC police officer who shoved cyclist for no reason is indicted.

road.jpg City leaders in Sioux City, Iowa delay action on resolution declaring opposition to same-sex marriage: "Mayor Mike Hobart pushed for the delay to allow time for a the state Attorney General’s office to weigh in with advice “on whether we have the jurisdiction and authority to pass the resolution,” which was proposed by City Councilman Brent Hoffman. Hoffman asked other council members to publicly to support the definition of traditional marriage as being between a man and a woman. Nearly 60 people came to Monday’s council meeting to hear the debate, which was 'tabled indefinitely,' according to Hobart."

road.jpg We all know someone with this gene.

road.jpg Ecumenical Catholic Church shrinks as other denominations begin to accept gays and lesbians: "When Archbishop Mark Shirilau founded the Ecumenical Catholic Church in 1987, he did so to provide a religious home for gays and lesbians. Now, with the Episcopal Church ordaining gay priests and the United Church of Christ performing same-sex weddings, the Riverside-based denomination is losing members. As more mainstream churches reach out toward gays and lesbians, many gays are leaving churches like Shirilau's. The largest gay Catholic group, Dignity, lost nearly half its active members in the past decade."


News: Senegal, Orlando, Jake Gyllenhaal, Genetics, Edmund White

road.jpg Company to offer service sequencing an individual's complete genetic make-up for $5,000.

Mbayeroad.jpg Senegalese entertainer who was forced from his country after appearing in magazine photos of a 'gay wedding', has found refuge in New York: "I'm fabulous. I feel good."

road.jpg Orlando to become first central Florida city to offer benefits to partners of gay employees: "Orlando city commissioners are expected to approve the plan on Monday. There are currently 18 Orlando city employees who would benefit from the measure, which would cost the city about $37,000. 'It's going to be a good thing. It shows we're progressive. It will help us attract good people. Benefits are an important package if you're going to work for government, and this will help us compete with other government agencies,' Orlando City Commissioner Patty Sheehan said."


road.jpg He Bopped: Robert Downey Jr. on his former compulsions..."I was a compulsive, serial masturbator, but it was the best thing I could have been. I utilized that organ and rode it for everything it was worth."

road.jpg Columbia International University in South Carolina warns Soulforce they'll be arrested should they try to enter campus today.

Obamabookroad.jpg Brad Pitt shows his support for Obama.

road.jpg Report reveals that lesbian soldier Ciara Durkin, who died under 'mysterious circumstances' at an Afghan airbase, took her own life, and sent text messages before she did it: "According to the report, Ms Durkin was found lying against shipping containers behind the chapel. It found that she shot herself in the head while sitting on the ground, leaning back against the containers. Just before she died, text messages were sent from her phone to a friend saying she was going to take her own life. The report does not draw any conclusions as to why the soldier took her own life, but sworn statements from fellow soldiers on the base suggest she was dealing with a range of stressful issues."

road.jpg Madonna Sticky & Sweet Tour arrives in the U.S.

Mackenrothroad.jpg Signing smack: Project Runway's Jack Mackenroth's thoughts on New York fashion week: "I know some of the designers from other seasons were talking smack about the Project Runway finalists and all their families were right in front of them. I was hanging out with Martin Ritchie, the deaf model on Janice Dickinson’s Modeling agency and we were signing that the Rock and Republic collection was terribly boring so anyone who new sign language within eye view may have 'overheard' us."

road.jpg Hillary Clinton steps in for Joe Biden at HRC dinner in Washington D.C...."[McCain's] not a maverick. He's a mimic." HRC statement on death of Biden's mother-in-law.

road.jpg O.J. Simpson guilty on 12 charges in robbery-kidnapping case.

Jakeroad.jpg Jake Gyllenhaal goes solo in London.

road.jpg John Barrowman just wants a little respect.

road.jpg Rolling Stone eviscerates McCain: "In its broad strokes, McCain's life story is oddly similar to that of the current occupant of the White House. John Sidney McCain III and George Walker Bush both represent the third generation of American dynasties. Both were born into positions of privilege against which they rebelled into mediocrity. Both developed an uncanny social intelligence that allowed them to skate by with a minimum of mental exertion. Both struggled with booze and loutish behavior. At each step, with the aid of their fathers' powerful friends, both failed upward."

road.jpg British MP once caught up in internet underwear scandal appointed Deputy Leader of the Commons.

road.jpg Edmund White on his new biography of Rimbaud, and Rimbaud's relationship with Paul Verlaine: "I think it’s quite clear that Rimbaud was the top in the relationship, and I think that’s something that straight people don’t usually grasp very well. They often see the younger boy as being a sort of stand-in for a girl—maybe that comes out of the classical Greek model. But this idea of a tyrannical younger boy frightening and controlling an older married man is something that people who are gay and who’ve lived in gay life recognize as a possible variation of that situation."

road.jpg Ugandan government promises strengthening of anti-gay laws.


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