Episodes
Do our genes control how we respond to COVID? The question has been nagging at the world since the pandemic began. Now we have the answer - and it's yes. In this programme, geneticist Nathan Pearson uncovers the specific bits of DNA that make you more likely to catch coronavirus, as well as the bits that might make you sicker.... Like this podcast? Please help us by supporting the Naked Scientists
Published 04/14/21
How do we cope at the extremes of low temperature? Across the world, groups of people have historically made their home in icy and inhospitable landscapes... and even today, groups of thrill seekers push their bodies to the limits by going swimming in water close to freezing. In this month's programme, genes that help us handle - and even enjoy - being very cold. We've got two stories from the ancient ice, including the oldest ever DNA; plus, two modern genes found to be helping us out in...
Published 03/17/21
We're looking at the most critical variants of the coronavirus, and finding out how to tell whether they're flummoxing COVID vaccines. Plus: the cost of catching a serial killer; DNA with four strands instead of two; and a mutant fish whose fins have started turning into limbs! Like this podcast? Please help us by supporting the Naked Scientists
Published 02/24/21
Meet the small DNA differences that make their mark by existing in the magical period of early development. We'll hear how mutations in the very first stages of human embryos have bizarre consequences for identical twins; and how even earlier in the process, sperm use selfish genes to get ahead of the competition. Plus, an immunologist untangles mRNA COVID vaccines, from efficacy numbers to delayed booster shots... Like this podcast? Please help us by supporting the Naked Scientists
Published 01/15/21
The first group of people in the world have received a 'genetic' vaccine against the coronavirus. What is it, and how does it work? Naked Scientist Chris Smith breaks it down and addresses your concerns. Plus, why some genes have to change rapidly just to stay the same; a new way to keep functional genetic information private; and three new species of penguin arrive on the scene... Like this podcast? Please help us by supporting the Naked Scientists
Published 12/17/20
It's a regular Noah's Ark: from the coronavirus strains that have been spreading through minks, to a new DNA test that can track poached elephant ivory, to the genetics of a very useful - and very inbred - cat. Plus: scientists have discovered a brand new genetic disease, via an unlikely approach and an even unlikelier coincidence... Like this podcast? Please help us by supporting the Naked Scientists
Published 11/13/20
This week: a risk factor for severe COVID that comes from Neanderthals; using genes to track the millions transported as slaves across the Atlantic; a doctor runs through the list of what coronavirus mutations are worth watching out for; and learning population genetics from a video game... Like this podcast? Please help us by supporting the Naked Scientists
Published 10/16/20
This week, a message from Naked Scientists listener Loretta. "I'm curious if your show might cover some of the most interesting case studies of organisms developing tolerance to severe toxins, what genetic insight this gives us about adaptation and natural selection more broadly, and what some of the tradeoffs might be when evolving to have such tolerances." We're answering her question: how do animals - and even humans - eat poison, and get away with it? Like this podcast? Please help us by...
Published 09/14/20
Tweet tweet! We're talking birds, and the incredible things they can do. Today we're spotlighting five of the coolest recent stories in bird genetics: hummingbirds powering their lightning-fast flight; a gene that controls migration; why males have different colours to females; how light pollution makes sparrows sicker; and the bird trapped for thousands of years under the Siberian ice... Like this podcast? Please help us by supporting the Naked Scientists
Published 08/19/20
The same thing that makes the patchwork colours on a tortoiseshell cat, also - according to some - is why human females live longer, see colour better, and even more often survive the coronavirus. It's all thanks to having two X chromosomes. Females compensate by switching one of them off, and the result is two distinct groups of cells in the body, each preferring one of the two X's. Welcome to the weird world of female mosaicism... Like this podcast? Please help us by supporting the Naked...
Published 07/15/20
We take a look at the trendy world of fermented foods. Are they actually good for you? And if so, why? Plus, the latest genetics news: from bacteria that live inside cancer cells, to gene sequencing the dead sea scrolls... Like this podcast? Please help us by supporting the Naked Scientists
Published 06/15/20
Are you one of the many people who take ACE inhibitors or ARBs to treat high blood pressure? Or to help with heart issues or diabetes? In the UK, this is about one in seven people, making these are some of the most common prescription drugs out there; and recently there have been worries that they might make a coronavirus infection worse. The link between the drugs and the virus is a molecule inside everyone's bodies called ACE2. On today's show, meet ACE2, the protein in the spotlight: the...
Published 05/14/20
In this episode we're taking apart the tiny creature behind this global pandemic. From how looking at the genes of the coronavirus can help figure out the animal it comes from; to the exact ways it's spreading around the world; and even how a hidden mutation is threatening to lead vaccine-makers on a wild goose chase. Plus, Gins & Genes goes virtual; stay tuned to hear what's inside our guest's downstairs toilet... Like this podcast? Please help us by supporting the Naked Scientists
Published 04/15/20
One of the biggest tech booms of the past half decade has been direct to consumer DNA tests. The results come in the post, and with them come both answers and new questions: questions that tens of thousands of people now have to figure out how to ask. In this episode, a new book from journalist Libby Copeland about a sociological phenomenon and its effects, both grand and intimate... Like this podcast? Please help us by supporting the Naked Scientists
Published 03/14/20
Listener Vivek got in touch with a question about a rare genetic disease his son has, called FOXG1 Syndrone. In fact, it's so rare - and so newly-discovered - that only about six hundred people in the world have been diagnosed. Kids with FOXG1 have severe developmental delays; in Vivek's words, "everything that can go wrong - it's gone wrong with him." But the parents of FOXG1 children have been unusually tenacious when it comes to shaping the course of science. In this programme we meet...
Published 02/20/20
We got a Christmas present from listener Anna: a small plastic tube full of dead flies. They've recently been infesting the hospital where she works. She wants us to figure out what they are, and what caused the infestation. Can DNA crack the case? Plus, the return of Gins & Genes... Like this podcast? Please help us by supporting the Naked Scientists
Published 01/14/20
There are very few African studies in genetics. Most of the existing data are based on Europeans. This is why a number of institutions have collaborated to survey thousands of people's genomes in rural Uganda. In this episode we cover the results of Africa's biggest ever genetics study; and the controversy that happened when they tried to take the next steps. Like this podcast? Please help us by supporting the Naked Scientists
Published 12/14/19
This month we're diving into the stuff that makes up two thirds of the Earth's surface. Can you use genetics to figure out what's in the water? We put the science to the test by making a geneticist guess our mystery fish. Plus, a story about whales and dolphins: what do you lose when you leave the land? Jump in, the water's fine. Like this podcast? Please help us by supporting the Naked Scientists
Published 11/14/19
Half a million genomes. That's how many the UK Biobank has, stored as blood samples in freezers up in Manchester. And in September 2019 they announced a project to sequence every single one of them. It's the obvious next step for the UK Biobank, the research study that began in 2006 and now consists of an enormous biological database: the personal and medical information of its 500,000 volunteers. That data is available to any researcher who applies to use it. But how is this, the biggest...
Published 10/14/19
It's a doggy dog world... in this episode we're talking pugs, bulldogs, and French bulldogs. They've all been bred for flat faces, but their airways haven't shrunk alongside their skulls - meaning that they often struggle to breathe. How has this happened? After evolving for millions of years, why are their airways literally too big to fit into their heads? Have they been betrayed by their own genes? Naked Genetics is on the case. Plus, the origin of puppy dog eyes, and we sequence the genome...
Published 09/14/19
Naked Genetics is back with new episodes every month! Today we're taking a step back. Where does genetics actually come from? How did we get to today's world of genome sequences and gene editing? It all started with an 19th-Century monk, working in his garden - but who was he really, and how did it take thirty years for him to be recognised? If you think you know this story, you might be surprised.
Published 08/13/19
Join Harvard DNA pioneer George Church and Chris Smith in conversation as they discuss gene cloning, DNA sequencing, decoding the mammoth genome, the risks posed by fossil viruses lurking in extinct genomes, the prospects of xenotransplantation and safety of gene therapy, and the risks of human CRISPR. The discussion was recorded on March 15th, live in front of a studio audience at the Hello Tomorrow Summit, in Paris, 2019...
Published 03/24/19
In November, He Jiankui claimed that two genetically engineered children have been born. Did he really do it? And if so, what are the ramifications for the babies and for the field? Georgia Mills explores the controversy in a special edition of Naked Genetics.
Published 12/21/18
We're returning to the scene of the crime with another look at the latest techniques in the world of forensic genetics - can we really predict physical features or even ethnicity from your DNA, and what does this mean for our criminal justice system? Plus, is the 'CSI effect' real? And our gene of the month would be more at home at a rave than a lab.
Published 04/14/18