Why Fruit Flies Are the New Lab Rats

These Quick-Breeding Insects Have Similar Genetic Cellular Functions as Humans

Set out a bowl of fruit, and they will arrive: small, buff-colored flies with garnet eyes and an attraction to fermenting bananas. Annoying but not harmful, they are easy to dismiss as unimportant. But one species of fruit flies in particular—Drosophila melanogaster—is becoming important to an increasing number of patients and their families.

Fruit fly research has long provided fundamental insights that turn out to apply to humans. Fly research has helped us learn how fertilized eggs grow into mature adults, how cells in our bodies communicate with one another, and …

More In: genetics

Designer DNA Isn’t Just for ‘Designer Babies’

Dystopian Imagery Makes It Hard to Assess the Perils and Promise of Gene Editing

When we talk about gene editing technology, we often talk about—but almost never deeply consider—the concept of designer babies. Consider this article in The New York Times, titled “Gene Editing …

Why Scurvy Is Still a Snake in Our Nutritional Lost Paradise

To Absolve Mankind’s Genetic Original Sin, Drink Your Orange Juice

At some time in the evolution of the human organism, the gene that had allowed the body to synthesize vitamin C mutated, and the liver enzyme responsible for the synthesis …

Will Modern Genetics Turn Us Into Gene “Genies”?

Recent Discoveries Hold Great Promise for Medical Advancement, and Great Peril for Social Equality

With the ubiquitous ways we apply our knowledge of genetics today—in crop seeds, medicine, space—it’s hard to believe the story of the modern gene did not emerge until the mid-1800s. …

How Much of Mental Illness, or Brilliance, Is Hereditary?

The Gene: An Intimate History

Race and identity, sexuality, temperament, and even free will. Siddhartha Mukherjee tackles these themes in his newest book The Gene: An Intimate History, weaving the pattern of schizophrenia in his …