In 2010, scientists plopped the genetic material of one Mycoplasma bacterium into another type to create the self-replicating cells shown above. Six years later, they've come out with an even simpler synthetic organism that has fewer genes. Thomas Deerinck, NCMIR/Science Source hide caption

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Scientists Build A Live, No-Frills Cell That Could Have A Big Future
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Neanderthals, represented here by a museum's reconstruction, had been living in Eurasia for 200,000 years when Homo sapiens first passed through, and the communities intermingled. The same genes that today play a role in allergies very likely fostered a quick response to local bacteria, viruses and other pathogens, scientists say. Pierre Andrieu/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

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Itchy Eyes? Sneezing? Maybe Blame That Allergy On Neanderthals
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A juvenile California two-spot octopus (Octopus bimaculoides). Michael LaBarbera/Nature hide caption

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Octopus Genome Offers Insights Into One Of Ocean's Cleverest Oddballs
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The H1N1 swine flu virus kills some people, while others don't get very sick at all. A genetic variation offers one clue. Centre For Infections/Health Pro/Science Photo Library/Getty Images hide caption

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Scientists Urge Temporary Moratorium On Human Genome Edits
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A technician tests samples from Ebola-infected patients at a field lab, run by Doctors Without Borders, in Kailahun, Sierra Leone. Tommy Trenchard for NPR hide caption

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Ebola Is Rapidly Mutating As It Spreads Across West Africa
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Graduate student Jennifer Klunk of McMaster University examines a tooth used to decode the genome of the ancient plague. Courtesy of McMaster University hide caption

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Ancient Plague's DNA Revived From A 1,500-Year-Old Tooth
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The sexually transmitted cancer is common in street dogs around the world. Noel Celis/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

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The skull of a female Neanderthal, who lived about 50,000 years ago, is displayed at the Natural History Museum in London. Rick Findler/Barcroft Media/Landov hide caption

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Camel jockeys compete at a festival on the outskirts of Saudi Arabia's capital Riyadh, a focal point for the Middle East respiratory syndrome virus. Fayez Nureldine/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

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Henrietta Lacks and her husband, David, in 1945. Courtesy of the Lacks family hide caption

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Morning Edition talks with NIH's Dr. Francis Collins
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A woodcut from the 1800s, Healing the Lepers, depicts the common tableau of Jesus healing a leper as his disciples look on. Images from the History of Medicine hide caption

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The baobob fruit is one of the 100 traditional African food crops that a group of scientists want to learn more about to improve nutrition. Alexander Joe/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

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Clostridium difficile bacteria produce a toxin that damages the intestine and causes severe diarrhea. Courtesy of David Goudling/Nature Genetics. hide caption

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