[“CT image demonstrating spina bifida occulta (dashed arrow)” by Carstensen, Al-Harbi, Urbain, Belhocine (Unedited). License: CC BY 2.0]
Spina bifida is a neural tube birth defect where the baby’s backbone and its surrounding membranes fail to properly develop. About four babies in the United States are born with spina bifida each day. Scientists used Weimaraners (Canis lupus familiaris) to find genetic mutations that cause spina bifida. Interestingly, the samples were taken from household pets instead of laboratory animals. Researchers found one mutation in Weimaraners which is also present in humans, but not found in any other dog species. Scientists believe that this mutation could be one of many that causes spina bifida. They hope to better understand the condition by learning more about the genetic causes behind it.
Hi! I am yet another of the cYw writers this year. Science, especially chemistry and biology, has always interested me. I pursue these subjects in a variety of ways ranging from conducting independent molecular biology research investigating the therapeutic properties of cinnamon to interning in a hospital to helping publish a science magazine at my school. I love to write, so it is a great honor to be able to write for the cYw blog and communicate complex science topics in easy to understand language. There is so much I have learned about the scientific community, writing, and research throughout the process of developing my article. Indeed, boiling down complicated topics is an important step to a scientifically literate society. In my free time I enjoy hiking, doing environmental work, reading, listening to music, and volunteering in the community. Eventually, I hope to pursue a career in medicine.