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Hello and happy upcoming Random Acts of Kindness Day!
While officially celebrated on February 17, random acts of kindness are occurring every day and should be celebrated everyday! Of course February is also the month we celebrate Valentine's Day, but did you know that February 14 is also National Organ Donor Day? That is a pretty big expression of kindness to donate an organ. Other notable dates this February include National Caregivers Day on February 21 and Rare Disease Day, this year on February 29.
February has also been a crucial month in the history of DNA. So crucial in fact that we will focus only on those related to viruses, as the world is gripped by the news of the current Wuhan corona virus outbreak. It was on February 1st 1944 that it was proposed that DNA, and not proteins as previously believed, was the source of genetic information. This event marked the birth of the modern era of molecular genetics. Incidentally, the discovery took place during research into an epidemic spread of pneumonia. Pneumonia, an inflammatory condition of the lung, results in alveoli being filled with fluid and impeding oxygenation, and used to be a great scourge of humanity. Currently, it can still be the leading cause of death among the very old, the very young, and the chronically ill.
In February 1954, the first mass inoculation of children against the polio virus began in Pittsburgh, USA. Since then, polio has nearly been entirely eradicated from the globe, and the final efforts are being concentrated in the last remaining pockets.
On February 6th 1976, swine flu claimed the life of a 19-year-old private who did not present serious symptoms. Fearing a possible deadly pandemic, and based on only this single case, the US President rolled out the largest vaccination program ever, with goal of targeting the entire population.
We are slowly closing in on a full year of monthly facts relating to Charles Darwin. This month, the name of Darwin is intertwined with another of the most famous names in the field of genetics. On February 8th in 1865, Gregor Mendel presented his paper "Experiments on Plant Hybridization" at a meeting for the Natural History Society of Brno, demonstrating the first rules of heredity, now referred to as the laws of Mendelian inheritance, and in essence, starting the field of genetics. Mendel sent 40 reprints of his article to prominent biologists throughout Europe, including Darwin. Ironically, Darwin never read the manuscript, one of the best supporting observations at that time for his own theory of evolution.
To demonstrate this near marriage of concepts by Mendel and Darwin, we turn to an illustration by a celebrated Canadian artist Raymond Biesinger (with permission), and a former fellow Edmontonian, who has worked with such prominent clients as the New Yorker, the Guardian, Die Zeit, Wired, GQ, the Economist, the New York Times and Men’s Health, to name a few. We are grateful to Raymond for sharing his art with us (previously featured in the New Scientist).
Short educational video
To continue with our theme on viruses, here is a short and simple video from Merogenomics on the virus life cycle as would be expected from a corona virus.
The second video is a short, cute video from a TED talk about Mendel’s contribution to understanding the principles of heredity. Enjoy!
Please let us know about any topics or interests in the area of DNA and inheritance that you would like us to cover because if it interests you, it likely interests many others, and we would love to cover it.
Recently we had someone contact us who had their genome sequenced at a fraction of the cost of what Merogenomics provides access to, but they were not able to confirm the diagnosis they were seeking. This first article goes in depth explaining the differences in DNA testing costs and what value can be obtained from the higher price points. It is a must read for anyone considering having their genomes sequenced.
The second piece is our second installment commemorating Valentine's Day with a topic related to intimate relationships. Last year we focused on the genetics of sexuality, this year we focused on love.
Merogenomics is gearing up for the launch of an ecommerce site and January was spent investing in developing the site. Discussions with a number of different DNA test providers are coming to a close, and Merogenomics will be shifting its priorities to notifying local Alberta clinics of the DNA testing options that can now be introduced to their patients. At the Merogenomics ecommerce store site, every visitor can select DNA tests of interest based on a specific target group. In the coming months we will expand on this topic, but for now, below is a sneak peek at a brief list of benefits defining each specific target group.
In commemoration of the international Rare Disease Day 2020, Merogenomics will host an event for local physicians about the merits of introducing private access to DNA testing for diagnosing genetic conditions. The event will focus on the type of testing available to doctors and patients, and the business strategies for clinics wanting to introduce this new sophisticated service. The event will take place on the evening of February 28th and is by private invitation only due to limited capacity. Please contact Merogenomics (reply to this email) if you are interested doctor, or if you would plan to attend the event with your physician colleague.
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