Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Spit In A Cup And See Your Future

Yup, it’s really that simple. This weekend come spit in a cup and learn about your DNA, which ultimately can reveal to you your future. How? Well, everyone has DNA. It is our genetic code; many refer to it as the “blue print” of human life. It makes you, YOU and me, ME. The difference between our DNA is the sequence of the chemical bases. All DNA is made up of four chemical bases: Adenine (A), guanine (G), cystine (C), and thymine (T). We each have an estimated three billion of these bases in our genome. They are organized in an infinite amount of sequences throughout our bodies and in turn it makes every individual unique. The sequence is specifically referred to as the genome. Our genomes are unbelievably huge! Your entire genome fills 200 1,000-page New York City telephone directories. And, if you unwrap all the DNA you have in your cells, you could reach the moon 6,000 times!

Your DNA sequence, or genome, can reveal a lot. Your sequence is completely unique to you. No one else in this world has the same DNA sequence as you do. However, some parts of your genome are like other peoples. This commonality, along with other research mechanisms, has allowed scientists to research what these sequences code for, in other words, how these sequences affect your body. Scientists have been able to identify specific sequences that flag diseases and health traits. Additionally, sequencing DNA can reveal information about ancestry and genealogy.

You have the opportunity to sequence a part of your genome this weekend at the Science Carnival featured at the Cambridge Science Festival. I know what you’re thinking, it sounds like a cool opportunity but it’s going to be complicated. I promise you it won’t be. You will use a common, easy way to extract your DNA –you will swirl salt water in your mouth and then spit it out into a cup. This extracts DNA from your cheek cells. You and a lab technician will amplify a fragment of your genome and then sequence it in a DNA sequencing machine….and, wa-la! You will be able to see the very code that dictates your body, makes you the person that you are, and ultimately determines important aspects of your future, like your health.

This amazing opportunity is being provided by DIYbio Boston at the Boston Open Source Science (BOSS) Lab on April 24th and 25th from 12-4pm. The process takes approximately six hours but it can be broken up over 2 days. There is a price you will have to pay, 40$. The BOSSlab is located at 339R Summer Street, Somerville, MA 02144. For more information on the event, please visit the event’s website at

To learn more cool facts about DNA, please visit this website where I found the cool facts I included in this article:

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