This last century has seen an escalation in advancement of technology. In about one hundred years, man has gone from the horse and buggy to super sonic flight. These advancements have also been implanted in the health industry as seen in the almost doubling of the life expectancy of man.It also appears as though this escalation will only continue. One field where these advancements are moving at a very high speed is the field of genetics and biotechnology. The last ten years have seen some of the greatest landmarks in genetic genealogy research. The pattern in this field indicates that the discoveries and applications of those discoveries will continue to grow at an exponential rate.

With the increase in genetic knowledge there has also been an increase in the variety and ease of genetic testing available. Genetic testing refers to any sort of test which involves the study of the genome. When genetics was in its infancy, tests were expensive and took a long period of time to perform. Recent advances have significantly decreased the costs and time needed to perform genetic testing. This decrease in cost and time has made genetic testing available to more of the general public.

Genetic testing has also been used for determining family relationships. The simplest relationship to determine with a genetic test is a paternal or a maternal relationship. Today, genetic testing can also be used to determine other, more distant relationships. Genetic testing is available for full siblings, half siblings, grandparents and cousins. This allows family relationships to be determined even if one or more of the family members is deceased. As research continues, the ability to dive deeper into your family tree is becoming possible. With the use of Y-chromosome and mtDNA (mitochondrial DNA) testing more can be learned. The use of these genetic tests has allowed genealogists to verify their family trees and in some cases discover new branches that were not previously known. Genetic testing is even being used to understand the roots of family trees. This includes the use of genetic tests to look for Native American ancestry, and ancestry from different parts of Europe and Asia.

As knowledge and research in the area of genetics and biotechnology continue to advance, genetic testing will become even more accessible. This increase in use of genetic tests will give people more access to information. This information can be used to help solve crimes, increase the quality of health care, and provide information into your personal or family history.

For the modest fee of only $50,000, grieving cat owners used to be able to have little Fluffy recreated. Alas, they will no longer have that option, at least for the time being.

The company that offered the cloning service, Genetic Savings and Clone, was launched in 2000 by billionaire and University of Phoenix founder John Sperling. Sperling had hoped to have his hunting dog Missy cloned, but scientists were never able to accomplish that feat. Nonetheless, Sperling decided to go into the business of trying to help others recreate their dearly departed pets.

Unfortunately, even for the most devoted of pet owners, there’s a limit to how much they’ll pay to have their dearly departed feline recreated. Genetic Savings and Clone’s hefty $50,000 price tag was just too much to generate much interest in their services. The company recently reduced the price to $32,000, but still there were no takers. The company sent letters to its customers last month letting them know that they will have to close at the end of the year. The letters said that Genetic Savings and Clone has been "unable to develop the technology to the point that cloning pets is commercially viable."

The company’s telephone answering system now contains a message saying that it is no longer taking orders, and it refers customers interested in having their pets’ genetic material frozen to ViaGen, Inc., a biotechnology company based in Austin, Texas.

The first cat that was cloned for commercial purposes was Little Nicky, who was requested by a woman in Texas who was saddened by the loss of her cat Nicky, who had died the previous year at age 17. Little Nicky was created from the original Nicky’s DNA, and cost the woman $50,000.

Since the company began, it was able to successfully clone five cats, but only two of them were sold to paying customers. Reproductive cycles of pets are too unpredictable for consistent and inexpensive cloning, according to Bonnie Beaver, past president of the American Veterinary Medical Association.

The ethical and scientific debate over cloning technology has become more and more heated since the sale of Little Nicky, with animal rights activists complaining that cloning cats isn’t necessary because there are thousands of stray cats euthanized each year because they don’t have homes. Those groups were thrilled to hear about Genetic Savings and Clones having to close its doors. Activists say that because cloning techniques are still primitive, the procedures fail more often than they succeed. "For every successful clone, dozens fail and die prematurely, have physical deformities, and face chronic pain and suffering," said Wayne Pacelle, head of the Humane Society of the United States.

Animal rights activists believe that cloning is at odds with basic animal welfare considerations. "It's no surprise the demand for cloned pets is basically nonexistent, and we're very pleased that Genetics Savings & Clone's attempt to run a cloning pet store was a spectacular flop," said Pacelle. "It's not just a bad business venture, but also an operation grounded on the misuse of animals."

Cuba has approved what is believed to be the world's first registered lung cancer vaccine and is offering it to Cuban and foreign patients in its hospitals.

The therapeutic vaccine CimaVax EGF extends life with few side effects, and is another step in Cuba's expertise in biotechnology. It was unveiled on Monday at Havana's center of molecular immunology.

It has been shown to boost survival rates by an average of four to five months, and in some cases much longer. It does not prevent lung cancer. Unlike chemotherapy, CimaVax EGF is said to have few side effects because it is a modified protein which attacks only cancer cells.

"It's the first such vaccine registered in the world," said Gisela González, who headed the project begun in 1992. The drug is in various clinical trials, some in Canada and Britain, and is expected to be approved next in Peru.

Several companies had been licensed to market the vaccine, but it will be made in Cuba, said González. It has been approved for trial in the United States but use there is at least two years away, she added.

The vaccine triggers an immune response which, in addition to extending life, can ease symptoms such as difficulty breathing and lack of appetite. The idea was to "maintain or consolidate" the effects of chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

Tania Crombet, the centre's director of clinical investigations, said foreigners were welcome for treatment, though its cost had not yet been set. "It's possible to provide this vaccine to any patient. Because it's available in Cuba, it's approved by the Cuban drug agency, so we can receive patients from outside."

As well as helping the health services of other countries with its abundance of doctors, Cuba has used its clinics to draw thousands of overseas patients each year. Its scientists are respected by foreign peers as producing good results on tiny budgets. Fidel Castro championed biotechnology in the 1980s; by the 1990s Cuba had produced and marketed vaccines for meningitis B and hepatitis B.

Scientists were yesterday embroiled in an international row over genetically modified cotton after a study in China suggested for the first time that the crop was permanently damaging the environment and that insects were building up resistance to it.

The study by the Nanjing institute of environmental sciences, part of the Chinese government's environmental protection administration, draws together laboratory and field work undertaken by four scientific institutions in China over several years.

It suggests that GM cotton, which incorporates a gene isolated from the bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt), harms the natural parasitic enemies of the cotton bollworm, the pest that it is designed to control. It also indicates that populations of pests other than cotton bollworm had increased in Bt cotton fields and some had replaced it as primary pests.

However, the leading GM company Monsanto, which controls more than 80% of the Bt cotton grown worldwide, dismissed the research. The industry has always cited GM cotton as its biggest success, because it can increase yields by up to 60% and reduce the need for pesticides by 80%.

But worryingly for the industry, the scientists also found that the resistance of Bt cotton to bollworm decreased significantly over time. GM cotton, they said, will require increasing amounts of traditional chemicals to control pests within a few years.

The report, which was published by Greenpeace International, says bollworm control is no longer complete by the third and fourth generations of the pest, and control falls to 30% after 17 generations. The scientists concluded that Bt cotton would probably lose all its resistance to bollworm after being planted continuously for 8-10 years.

Zhu Xinquan, the chairman of the Chinese society of agro-biotechnology, said new GM organisms and products would benefit agriculture and other industries, but people should always beware of the long-term and underlying impacts on the environment.

China is the largest grower of GM cotton after the US, with about 1.5m hectares (3.7m acres) under cultivation, the great majority by small farmers. An estimated two thirds of the plantings are Monsanto cotton, the rest domestically developed strains. The Chinese government has heavily backed GM crop research and plans to quadruple budgets within three years.

Yesterday the report was dismissed by both US and other Chinese scientists. Monsanto said: "It lies outside the broad scientific view of Bt cotton as well as the practical experience by millions of farmers in eight countries where Bt cotton is growing. The report serves as another example of baseless claims made by anti-GM activists like Greenpeace."

The Chinese academy of sciences is understood to be preparing a paper for China's leadership that refutes the allegations in the Nanjing study, and chastises the state environment protection agency for working with Greenpeace. Its findings were also disputed by Professor Guo Sandui, the inventor of Chinese Bt cotton. "Greenpeace is absolutely ignorant about genetically modified cotton and doesn't know how to protect the environment," he said.

However, in India, the forum for biotechnology and food security, a collective of agricultural scientists, farmers and others, used the report to urge an inquiry into the role of Indian government's department of biotechnology in supporting applications by Monsanto to grow GM cotton.

The Indian government controversially authorised commercial plantings of GM cotton in April, following disputed environmental testing.

While we in the west continue in our narcissistic obsession with our own genome and the futuristic possibilities of human cloning, scientists in the developing world are more interested in the crops that put food in hungry mouths. This month a group of them laid bare the complete genome sequence of rice in what may prove to be a turning point for science in the developing world.

Rice is the staple crop for 3 billion people, mostly in Asia, so it was no surprise when Japan fired the starting gun for the genome race in 1991. But big markets generate big profits, so the major agrochemical corporations were soon among the runners. In the end, the Swiss-based multinational biotechnology giant, Syngenta, was a fairly predictable winner. But before environmentalists or globalisation demonstrators protest at yet more science in the pockets of big business, they should note that the other winner was the Beijing Genomics Institute (BGI).

Only four years ago, the BGI was an empty brick building. But through the dynamism of its director, geneticist Yang Huanming, and with seed money from the state, Yang's hometown municipal government, and even loans from employees, family and friends, it became a world-class research institute. Soon, several hundred employees were working two 12-hour shifts to keep the sequencing machines running 24 hours a day. With little more than ping-pong to distract them from decoding the rice genome, science in the developing world took on multinational biotechnology, and won - or at least drew.

But the rice genome is far more than a David versus Goliath story. More than a billion people live on less than $1 a day and that usually buys rice. The crop is prone to many diseases and much of it ends up in the belly of an insect. An outbreak of brown plant-hoppers disease cost Java 70% of its rice crop in the 1970s. Climate change is a major worry in marginal lands. Droughts brought by the 1997-98 El Nino inflicted losses across Asia.

Genetic engineering to generate varieties resistant to disease, pests, drought or salinity could revolutionise third world farming. The release of the sequence will help researchers eager to improve crop yields.

Many aid organisations - often influenced by western green campaigns - say GM technology does little to address the real causes of world poverty and hunger. They said the same decades ago when famine was predicted to follow population explosion. The population explosion materialised but the famine didn't. While others argued for social reform, pioneering plant breeders, such as Norman Borlaug, developed high-yielding varieties of maize, wheat and rice. Global harvests soared and have continued to rise at a rate of 2% per year. The green revolution saved millions from starvation, but is grinding to a halt as plant breeders run out of natural genetic variation. To keep pace with population growth, breeders need to tinker with genes. That is why China spent $100m on GM technology in 1999.

Biotechnology is more appropriate for the developing world than most high technologies. At the click of a mouse, a researcher in Addis Ababa or Kuala Lumpur can download the fruits of billion-dollar research projects. And although western manufacturers charge prohibitive prices for their gene-cloning reagents, local manufacturers can often produce the same products cheaply and efficiently. Yang Huanming found a local glass-maker who could make a piece of sequencing kit for a fraction of the price of the import. Unable to acquire US-made supercomputers, BGI scien tists bought locally and developed their own software.

China's ratio of six researchers or engineers for every 10,000 population may seem puny against the 70 or so in the United States, but it is more than 10 times the typical ratio for the poorest countries in Africa or Asia. But China isn't alone in its interest in biotechnology. A coalition of laboratories from Sao Paolo in Brazil has completed the DNA sequence of a bacterium that causes disease in citrus fruits. Researchers from Brazil, India and Mexico are involved in a global consortium to sequence the banana genome. The UN-commissioned human development report 2001 concluded "many developing countries might reap great benefits from genetically modified food crops and other organisms".

GM technology can benefit the poor, but the western anti-technology lobby is busy trying to prevent its use. Publication of the rice gene genome shows how science, in the hands of developing world scientists, can be a liberating influence formankind. It's about time western lobbyists let them get on with it.

One of the most respected scientists and futurists in America teams up with an expert on human longevity, to show how we can tap today's revolution in biotechnology and nanotechnology to virtually live forever.

Startling discoveries in the areas of genomics, biotechnology, and nanotechnology are occurring every day. The rewards of this research, some of it as spectacular as what was once thought of as science fiction, are practically in our grasp. Already it is possible to analyze our individual genetic makeups and evaluate our predisposition for breast cancer or other deadly diseases on a case-by-case basis. And once we've isolated these genes, the ability to repress or enhance them through biotechnology is just around the corner. Soon, for example, it will be feasible for 10% of our red blood cells to be replaced by artificial cells, radically extending our life expectancy and enhancing our physical and even mental abilities beyond what is humanly possible today. In Fantastic Voyage, Ray Kurzweil and Terry Grossman will show us how amazingly advanced we are in our medical technology, and how incredibly far each of us can go toward living as long as we dare imagine.

With today's mind-bending array of scientific knowledge, it is possible to prevent nearly 90% of the maladies that kill us, including heart disease, cancer, diabetes, kidney disease, and liver disease. Ray Kurzweil and Terry Grossman start the reader on a fantastic journey to undreamed-of vitality with a comprehensive investigation into the cutting-edge science on diet, metabolism, genetics, toxins and detoxification, the hormones involved with aging and youth, exercise, stress reduction, and more. By following their program, which includes such simple recommendations as drinking alkaline water and taking specific nutritional supplements to enhance your immune system and slow the aging process on a cellular level, anyone will be able to immediately add years of healthy, active living to his life.

Shares of biotechnology companies have declined, after the much anticipated American Society of Clinical Oncologists meeting in early June in New Orleans. This sector has been on a roll ever since Genentech (NYSE: DNA) vaulted 45% on May 19, 2003 following positive news from Phase III trials of Avastin in colorectal cancer patients. Is the recent correction a good time to fish or cut-bait?

Before you decide to dump or load up on biotech stocks, it is worthwhile to look at the 3C's driving this sector: Cancer, Cycle-time, and Consolidation.


A hot-bed of activity, cancer research has attracted lot of attention. The buzzword is 'targeted drugs'. Unlike traditional forms of cancer treatment which do not discriminate between healthy and malignant cells, targeted drugs act more like smart weapons. They take on the molecular mechanisms involved in the growth of cancer without hurting the surrounding healthy tissue, and offer the possibility of making the disease a manageable, chronic condition.

Tarceva, an experimental drug developed by OSI Pharmaceuticals (Nasdaq: OSIP) and licensed to Genentech and Roche (ROG.VX) is one of the more highly profiled targeted drugs. The drug shows promise in extending the lives of lung cancer patients when used in combination with Avastin. Tarceva’s efficacy against pancreatic cancer is being investigated in a Phase III trial and results are due in the second half of 2004.

ImClone's (Nasdaq: IMCL) Erbitux, that is already approved for treating colon cancer, is another targeted drug that is in the limelight. According to data presented at the ASCO meeting, head and neck cancer patients treated with Erbitux and radiation had a median survival rate nearly twice as much as those who received radiation alone.


Thanks to an efficient Food and Drug Administration, the time required for FDA review has shortened. With priority review having been granted by the FDA to Gilead Sciences' (Nasdaq: GILD) Viread/Emtriva combination anti-HIV pill, a decision is expected in September, four months earlier than the originally expected January 2005.

Companies for their part are also aggressive in reducing cycle-time. Genentech, for example, was ready to launch Avastin literally within hours of getting FDA approval. Helped by favorable test results, Elan (NYSE: ELN) and Biogen Idec (Nasdaq: BIIB) filed for their multiple sclerosis drug, Antegren, in May 2004, a year earlier than expected.


The organic growth of biotechnology companies has proven to be a long and uncertain process. While biotechnology firms seek to merge between themselves, pharmaceutical companies are also targeting biotechnology companies.

Last year Biogen and Idec, merged to form Biogen Idec. The Biogen Idec merger was driven by the need to reduce risks, derive scale advantages, and enhance domain expertise. This year, Amgen (Nadsaq: AMGN) has announced its intent to buy 79% of Tularik (Nasdaq: TLRK) it does not already own. Tularik shores up Amgen’s pipeline by bringing in five products in various stages of clinical testing with T67, the liver cancer drug, in Phase III trials. Recently, QLT (Nasdaq: QLTI) and Atrix (Nasdaq: ATRX) have agreed to merge to move closer to becoming a fully integrated biopharmaceutical company.

Major pharmaceutical firms faced with the double whammy of weak drug development pipelines and upcoming patent expirations are looking to purchase biotech firms to rev up their growth engines. Recently, Belgium based UCB (UCBBt.BR) has offered to buy U.K.’s largest biotech firm, Celltech (NYSE: CLL).

The potential of targeted drugs, shortening of cycle-times, and possibilities of buyout provide a powerful case for investing in the biotechnology sector. So how does one play the biotech cycle?

Investing in biotech stocks has never been for the faint-hearted. News from clinical trials can make or break a company’s share price. One needs to only look at the 'Slim-Jim' type one-day moves in OSI Pharmaceuticals to the upside and Genta (Nasdaq: GNTA) to the downside, to get the picture.

Many biotech companies have high cash burn rates. Even the profitable ones have relatively few marketed products. For companies in this universe, the value is predicated on cash flows that are forecasted to come through several years out. As such, it makes sense to invest in a basket of biotech companies rather than one single entity.

Today's marketplace offers several opportunities for investing in the biotechnology sector. First, there is Fidelity Select Biotechnology (Nasdaq: FBIOX), an actively managed, no load sector fund. With over $2 billion in assets, this is by far the largest open ended mutual fund that focuses on biotechnology. From April 30, 2003 through May 31, 2004, FBIOX has advanced 36.6%. As of March 31, 2004, FBIOX held 60 stocks with the top 10 holdings accounting for about 64% of the portfolio. Top holdings in this fund included names like Genentech, Biogen Idec, Gilead Sciences, Cephalon (Nasdaq: CEPH), and Millennium Pharmaceuticals (Nasdaq: MLNM). A noticeable absentee among the fund’s top 10 holdings was industry heavy weight, Amgen.

There are two exchange-traded funds (ETFs) that focus on the biotechnology industry as well: iShares Nasdaq Biotechnology (AMEX: IBB) and Biotech HOLDRs (AMEX: BBH). There are some subtle, yet important differences to consider between the two exchange-traded funds. From April 30, 2003 through May 31, 2004, the IBB has advanced only 31.9% compared to the 45.3% gain for the BBH.

The iShares are designed to track the Nasdaq Biotechnology Index and include over 100 biotech companies that trade on the Nasdaq. As of March 31, 2004, the top 10 holdings in the iShares had a combined weighting of about 36% with Amgen by itself having a 17% weighting. A notable absentee in the iShares is Genentech whose shares trade on the NYSE.

The Biotech HOLDRS, on the other hand, are Depositary Receipts that represent an undivided beneficial ownership in the common stock of 18 biotech companies. This ETF is concentrated; as of June 10, 2004, the top 5 industry heavyweights, Amgen, Genentech, Biogen Idec, Gilead Sciences, and Chiron (Nasdaq: CHIR) had a combined weighting of about 79%. One twist of the HOLDRs is that they have to be traded in round lots of 100 shares; one lot of the BBH at about $140 per share takes a cool $14,000.

In sum, while bottoms are hard to pick, there is a case to be made for being long this sector. Among the options available, Fidelity Select Biotechnology and iShares appear more attractive. For one, they offer better diversification. Further, exposure to development stage companies is higher. Some of the development stage companies have appeal as takeover candidates whereas the industry leaders in the HOLDRS are more likely to be buyers than sellers.

Biochemistry specialization is into four distinct sections - macromolecular metabolism, nutritional biochemistry, molecular biology, and physical biochemistry. After graduating in these programs, you can look forward to work in the field of healthcare and medicine.

The biotechnology sector is in great demand in online science degrees Program. The article gives you information about various degrees and its career prospects.

Through online biochemistry degrees, you can learn about the molecular makeup of the living world. The degree helps in studying the effects of chemical and biological reactions on biological systems, practices for obtaining, studying and recovering information, and the role and arrangement of molecules and biological systems.

You can start your program by beginning a survey of subjects like physiology, cell and molecular biology, and microbiology. Later, you can study advanced areas like enzyme actions, gene regulation, metabolism, and cell communication. You can then specialize in one or more of these areas of study. The programs help students to understand the cell as a functioning chemical system. It examines the communication between cells and the internal chemistry of cells.

Biochemistry specialization is into four distinct sections - macromolecular metabolism, nutritional biochemistry, molecular biology, and physical biochemistry. After graduating in these programs, you can look forward to work in the field of healthcare and medicine. You can also pursue graduate degrees or advanced studies in various biochemistry fields. There is also a high demand for jobs in biotechnology firms, scientific publishing, medicine, molecular biochemistry, pharmacology, or veterinary medicine.

Biochemistry degree involves research and study in chemistry, physics, and biology. The curriculum include plant biotechnology, molecular evolution, bioorganic chemistry, the plant genome, signal transduction and biochemical regulation, general biochemistry, genome maintenance and stability, methods in gene regulation, neuroscience, and physical biochemistry.

Ashford University offers General Biology Degrees. Berdan Institute, Illinois Institute of Technology, Keiser University, and Medix offer biochemistry degrees too. Lehigh University offers online degrees like Master of Science in Molecular Biology. You can learn about molecular biology, evolutionary microbial, and animal and plants molecular heredity. The courses also teach you about cells biology, regulating of genes expressions, development of genetics, and virology.

At Saint Joseph, you can get a Masters in Biology. The courses are taught through CD-ROM’s which feature image, video, and audio lecturing material. The University of Maryland offers Master's in Life Science. University of Nebraska at Kearney offers Master's in the Science of Biology along with credit time programs.

At University of Maryland University College, you can pursue Bioinformatics, Biotechnology Management, BTPS in Biotechnology, and MS in Biotechnology Studies. The MS in biotechnology studies program gives you a thorough foundation in management and policy issues which are unique to the biotechnology industry. You will have a greater understanding of the technologies in use in the biotechnology industry. Stanford University offers Master of Science in Biomedical Informatics, Certificate in Bioinformatics, and Computational Genomics Certificate Program. Read more on Online Science Degrees.

The onset of technologically advanced software and hardware platforms for the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries has resulted in more than a few drug manufacturers enlisting the talents of information technology professionals. Systems management issues between various protocols as well as the operating system functionality of cutting edge software have created an atmosphere where laboratory technicians spend a large portion of their time managing biotechnology infrastructures. While many larger firms already have information technology personnel that work exclusively on corporate related networks, few if any were called upon to bridge the gap between scientific software and traditional hardware. Most software manufacturers who offer genetic modeling or chemical composition software rarely consider the cross platform restrictions of their products, hence the need for well trained information technology professionals.

Throwing another wrench into the works is the development and widespread use of open source software. Open source software protocols are expansive and easily altered by nature. Many open source software developments carry no licensing restrictions. While the software itself can be extremely beneficial to biotechnology and pharmaceutical firms, the havoc it can wreak on hardware systems leaves much to be desired. While information technology professionals aren't likely to write or alter code for unilateral workability, they can be called upon to structure data transfers between open sources programs that will allow the information garnered from one to be placed into another without damage to the overall system.

Many educational providers are starting to offer IT degree programs dedicated to information technology development for the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries. These programs train information technology personnel for the industry specific needs that often arise when dealing with cross platform data evaluation systems. As the complexities of software increase, so likely will the need for qualified IT professionals to make it run smoothly. Those who are already firmly entrenched in the IT world as well as those who plan to make a career of IT would do well to pay attention to the growing need for specialized technical personnel in this expanding market.

Biotechnology is the integration of engineering and technology to the life sciences.

Biotechnologists frequently use microorganisms or biological substances to perform specific processes or for manufacturing. Examples include the production of drugs, hormones, foods and converting waste products.

There are many sub-branches involved in the biotech industry. A few of the more common branches include; molecular biology, genetic engineering, and cell biology.

A new and exciting sub-branch requiring biotechnologists is the field of nanotechnology. Nanotechnology gives us the capability to engineer the tiniest of objects, things at the molecular level. Nano means a billionth of a specific unit in Greek. Nanotechnology includes the study and manipulation of materials between 1 and 100 nanometers.

To give you an idea, DNA is approximately 2.5 nanometers. Red blood cells are 2.5 micrometers (1,000 times larger). And a sheet of paper is about 100,000 nanometers thick!

As you can imagine, it is very difficult to scale and mass produce objects within the realm of nanotechnology. Their minute size makes them nearly impossible to manipulate. But scientists and engineers have teamed up to make the seemingly impossible a reality.

Which means those with the proper training will be highly sought after in the future. The National Science Foundation estimates that the U.S. alone will need up to 1 million nanotechnology researchers. It is estimated that the need for nanotechnology workers will reach 2 million by 2015.

Therefore, if you're considering getting into the field of biotech, you may want to gear your background in nanotechnology if your school offers it or seek employment in this exciting new career field after graduating.

No matter what sub-branch you wind up specializing in, biotechnologists often collaborate with others in the laboratory and bounce ideas off one another. This can create a pleasant work environment; one that involves sharing with others and working together to achieve a great goal.

Organic fruits are products that are free of synthetic pesticides, artificial fertilizers, irradiation, and biotechnology. They are more nutritional because plants produce more vitamins and antioxidants when grown without using pesticides and fertilizers.
Organic farmers usually conserve energy and help to protect the environment by growing their foods organic. Not using fertilizers and pesticides reduce pollution of groundwater. Organic agriculture reduces the greenhouse effect and global warming. Organic meat comes from animals that were raised without being fed antibiotics or growth hormones.

When you are shopping for organic foods you should look for the USDA seal. On meat and dairy products, this seal tells you that you are buying antibiotic and hormone-free products.


Noncoding RNA genes produce transcripts that exert their function without ever producing proteins. Noncoding RNA gene sequences do not have strong statistical signals, unlike protein coding genes. A reliable general purpose computational genefinder for noncoding RNA genes has been elusive.


We describe a comparative sequence analysis algorithm for detecting novel structural RNA genes. The key idea is to test the pattern of substitutions observed in a pairwise alignment of two homologous sequences. A conserved coding region tends to show a pattern of synonymous substitutions, whereas a conserved structural RNA tends to show a pattern of compensatory mutations consistent with some base-paired secondary structure. We formalize this intuition using three probabilistic "pair-grammars": a pair stochastic context free grammar modeling alignments constrained by structural RNA evolution, a pair hidden Markov model modeling alignments constrained by coding sequence evolution, and a pair hidden Markov model modeling a null hypothesis of position-independent evolution. Given an input pairwise sequence alignment (e.g. from a BLASTN comparison of two related genomes) we classify the alignment into the coding, RNA, or null class according to the posterior probability of each class.

We have implemented this approach as a program, QRNA, which we consider to be a prototype structural noncoding RNA genefinder. Tests suggest that this approach detects noncoding RNA genes with a fair degree of reliability.


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