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Your Genes Determine You As a Tea or Coffee Person

"The findings suggest our perception of bitter tastes, informed by our genetics, contributes to the preference for coffee, tea and alcohol," Cornelis said

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Your genes make you tea or coffee lover: Study. Pixabay
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Are you a tea or coffee person? The answer may lie in your genetic predisposition towards bitter tastes, say researchers.

It could be because bitterness acts as a natural warning system to protect us from harmful substances.

The study, led by researchers from US-based Northwestern University, and QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute in Australia, explored reactions to three bitter substances — caffeine, quinine and propylthiouracil (PROP) — to understand how they affect people’s preference for drinking tea, coffee and alcohol.

The findings showed that people who were more sensitive to caffeine and were drinking a lot of coffee consumed low amounts of tea.

In other words, people who have a heightened ability to taste coffee’s bitterness — and particularly the distinct bitter flavour of caffeine — learn to associate “good things with it”.

“You’d expect that people who are particularly sensitive to the bitter taste of caffeine would drink less coffee,” said Marilyn Cornelis, assistant professor of preventive medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.

tea
The findings showed that people who were more sensitive to caffeine and were drinking a lot of coffee consumed low amounts of tea. Pixabay

“The opposite results of our study suggest coffee consumers acquire a taste or an ability to detect caffeine due to the learned positive reinforcement (stimulation) elicited by caffeine.”

The study, published in the journal Scientific Reports, also found that people sensitive to the bitter flavours of quinine and of PROP — a synthetic taste related to the compounds in cruciferous vegetables — avoid coffee.

For alcohol, a higher sensitivity to the bitterness of PROP resulted in lower alcohol consumption, particularly of red wine.

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“The findings suggest our perception of bitter tastes, informed by our genetics, contributes to the preference for coffee, tea and alcohol,” Cornelis said.

Scientists applied Mendelian randomisation — a technique commonly used in disease epidemiology — to test the causal relationship between bitter taste and beverage consumption in more than 4,00,000 men and women in the UK. (IANS)

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China Starts Investigation After Scientists Claims To Edit Genes In Babies

The Scientist said he began his work in the second half of 2017 and enrolled eight couples.

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China, gene
He Jiankui speaks during an interview at a laboratory in Shenzhen in southern China's Guangdong province. VOA

Chinese health and medical ethics authorities started an investigation on Monday into claims by a scientist who released videos on YouTube saying he had altered the genes of twins born earlier this month, creating the first gene edited babies.

The Southern University of Science and Technology in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen, where the scientist, He Jiankui, holds an associate professorship, said it had been unaware of the research project and that He had been on leave without pay since February.

He Jiankui defended what he claimed to have achieved, saying he had performed the gene editing to help protect the babies from future infection with the AIDS virus.

c-section, postpartum depression, gene
A newborn, one of 12 babies born by C-section, cries inside an incubator at the Bunda Hospital in Jakarta, Indonesia, Dec. 12, 2012. VOA

But his university said it was a “serious violation of academic ethics and standards” and scientists around the world condemned it as monstrous and dangerous.

The university issued a statement after He said in five videos posted on Monday that he used a gene-editing technology known as CRISPR-Cas9 to edit the genes of twin girls.

China’s National Health Commission said it was “highly concerned” and had ordered provincial health officials “to immediately investigate and clarify the matter”.

“We have to be responsible for the people’s health and will act on this according to the law,” it said in a statement.

Shenzhen’s medical ethics committee said it was investigating the case. The Guangdong provincial health commission was also looking into it, according to Southern Metropolis Daily, a state media outlet.

China, genes
China’s Southern University of Science and Technology It said He is on unpaid leave until 2021. Pixabay

He said in one YouTube video that the editing process, which he called gene surgery, “worked safely as intended” and that the resulting twins were “as healthy as any other babies.” It was impossible to verify the claims as He did not provide any written documentation of his research.

CRISPR-Cas9 is a technology that allows scientists to essentially cut-and-paste DNA, raising hope of genetic fixes for disease. However, there are also concerns about its safety and ethics.

“If true, this experiment is monstrous,” said Julian Savulescu, a medical ethics specialist at Britain’s University of Oxford.

Kathy Niakan, an expert at the Francis Crick Institute in London, said: “If true…this would be a highly irresponsible, unethical and dangerous use of genome editing technology.”

China’s Southern University of Science and Technology It said He is on unpaid leave until 2021.

“Southern University of Science and Technology strictly requires scientific research to conform to national laws and regulations and to respect and comply with international academic ethics and standards,” it said.

Genes
He Jiankui defended what he claimed to have achieved, saying he had performed the gene editing to help protect the babies from future infection. Wikimedia Commons

Asked for his comment on the university’s statement, He said he had been on voluntary leave for several years to focus on his research, without specifying dates.

In the videos, He defended his work, saying in one: “I understand my work will be controversial, but I believe families need this technology. And I’m willing to take the criticism for them.”

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In an earlier email to Reuters, He said that he planned to share data about the trial at a scientific forum this week. He said he planned for it to also go “through the peer review process, and through a pre-print soon.” A pre-print is a publication of findings made before the research is published in a peer-reviewed journal.

In an earlier telephone interview and emails with Reuters, He said he was aiming to bestow on the gene edited babies “lifetime protection” against HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

He said he began his work in the second half of 2017 and enrolled eight couples. All of the potential fathers involved were HIV-positive. Five chose to implant embryos, including the parents of the twin girls, identified only by the pseudonyms Mark and Grace. The babies’ names are Lulu and Nana, He said in one video. (VOA)