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6-inch skeleton found in Chile not of alien: Study

Some of these mutations, though found in genes already known to cause disease, had never before been associated with bone growth or developmental disorders

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The skeleton found was not of an alien. IANS
  • The skeleton found in Chile is not of an alien
  • Instead of an alien, it could be an infant with a bone-ageing disorder
  • The discovery earlier held the interest of many

Ruling out the possibility of the extra-terrestrial origin of a mysterious six-inch skeleton discovered in Chile, scientists have found that it was of a female, likely a foetus, who had a rare, bone-ageing disorder.

Discovered more than a decade ago in an abandoned town in the Atacama Desert, the mummified specimen, nicknamed Ata, started to garner public attention after it found a permanent home in Spain.

Standing just six inches tall with an angular, elongated skull and sunken, slanted eye sockets, the Internet began to bubble with other-worldly hullabaloo and talk of ET. But the analysis by Stanford University School of Medicine scientists suggests that Ata was, without doubt, a human.

Earlier the skeleton was thought to belong to an alien. Pixabay

This was the skeleton of a human female that had suffered severe genetic mutations, according to the study published in the journal published in the Genome Research. Ata, though most likely a foetus, had the bone composition of a six-year-old, an indication that she had a rare, bone-ageing disorder, the study found.

To understand the genetic drivers at play, the researchers extracted a small DNA sample from Ata’s ribs and sequenced the entire genome. The skeleton is approximately 40 years old, so its DNA is modern and still relatively intact. Moreover, data collected from whole-genome sequencing showed that Ata’s molecular composition aligned with that of a human genome.

Wile a small percentage of the DNA was unmatchable with human DNA, that was due to a degraded sample, not extraterrestrial biology, said one of the researchers Garry Nolan, Professor at Stanford. The genomic results confirmed Ata’s Chilean descent and turned up a slew of mutations in seven genes that separately or in combinations contribute to various bone deformities, facial malformations or skeletal dysplasia, more commonly known as dwarfism.

Also Read: Do Aliens Exist? 10 Undeniable Reasons that will make you believe in Aliens!

Some of these mutations, though found in genes already known to cause disease, had never before been associated with bone growth or developmental disorders. Knowing these new mutational variants could be useful, Nolan said, because they add to the repository of known mutations to look for in humans with these kinds of bone or physical disorders.

“For me, what really came of this study was the idea that we shouldn’t stop investigating when we find one gene that might explain a symptom. It could be multiple things going wrong, and it’s worth getting a full explanation, especially as we head closer and closer to gene therapy,” said study co-author Atul Butte of the University of California-San Francisco. IANS

Next Story

Novel Device by Microsoft Can Store Digital Info as DNA

Further, the team also developed techniques to search for and retrieve only images that contain an apple or a green bicycle — using the molecules themselves and without having to convert the files back into a digital format

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Microsoft, Taiwan AI
A man walks past a Microsoft sign set up for the Microsoft BUILD conference at Moscone Center in San Francisco, April 28, 2015. VOA

Tech major Microsoft has successfully developed an end-to-end automated DNA storage device that can translate digital information into DNA and back to bits, the company said in a blog post.

The fully automated system to store and retrieve data in manufactured DNA is a key step in moving the technology out of the research lab and into commercial datacenters.

The novel system, developed in partnership with University of Washington, translated “HELLO” into DNA and converted it back to digital data in just 21 hours, reported the paper published in Nature Scientific Reports journal.

“Our ultimate goal is to put a system into production that, to the end user, looks very much like any other cloud storage service — bits are sent to a datacenter and stored there and then they just appear when the customer wants them,” Karin Strauss, principal researcher at Microsoft, wrote in the post on Thursday.

“To do that, we needed to prove that this is practical from an automation perspective,” Strauss added.

The system has so far stored one gigabyte of data in DNA, which includes cat photographs, great literary works, pop videos as well as archival recordings in DNA, which could be retrieved without errors, the researchers said.

microsoft
FILE – Microsoft Corp. signage is seen outside the Microsoft Visitor Center in Redmond, Washington, July 3, 2014. VOA

The automated DNA data storage system uses software that converts the ones and zeros of digital data into the As, Ts, Cs and Gs that make up the building blocks of DNA.

Then it uses cheap lab equipments to flow the necessary liquids and chemicals into a synthesiser that builds manufactured snippets of DNA and to push them into a storage vessel.

When the system needs to retrieve the information, it adds other chemicals to properly prepare the DNA and uses microfluidic pumps to push the liquids into other parts of the system that “read” the DNA sequences and convert it back to information that a computer can understand.

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Information is stored in synthetic DNA molecules created in a lab, not DNA from humans or other living things, and can be encrypted before it is sent to the system.

Further, the team also developed techniques to search for and retrieve only images that contain an apple or a green bicycle — using the molecules themselves and without having to convert the files back into a digital format.

“We are definitely seeing a new kind of computer system being born here where you are using molecules to store data and electronics for control and processing. Putting them together holds some really interesting possibilities for the future,” said Luis Ceze, Professor at the varsity. (IANS)