Monday, November 1, 2010

The Genes of a Rocker

It's been interesting news to hear that Ozzy Osbourne has had his full genome sequenced. The Scientific American article featuring it was the most viewed story on the website last week! My favorite headline that covered the story was one that simply stated, "Genetics to solve why Ozzy Osbourne is still alive." Obviously many people are wondering how in the world someone like Ozzy could keep going after subjecting himself to decades of drug abuse and an extreme rock and roll lifestyle.

Last Friday, October 29th, Ozzy and Sharon Osbourne sat down with geneticist Nathaniel Pearson from Knome to publicly discuss about the results of Ozzy's sequenced genome at the TEDMED conference in San Diego. Knome is the genetics company who sequenced all of Ozzy's DNA, and Pearson gave a great SwM-worthy quote. "The genome in many ways is like a great musical score. The score varies from person to person. It's a beautiful metaphor."

Ozzy's personal musical score revealed a few interesting things. He is a distant relative of Stephen Colbert, sharing a common ancestor with him from about 1000 years ago.

Osbourne performing with John Stewart and Stephen Colbert at the Rally to Restore Sanity this past weekend. Genetics has let us know that him and Colbert go WAAAAAY back.

The most interesting finding of Ozzy's genome sequencing to SwM was that he has a variation of a gene called Arginine vasopressin receptor 1A or AVPR1A that was linked to musical aptitude in a study of 19 Finnish family genomes from last year. Does that mean that there some sort of genetic basis for musical ability that they've found in Ozzy's DNA? Is this why he makes music? I'd like to go into what this really means in more depth, so I'll be detailing the AVPR1A gene variation study and how it relates to Ozzy in a post later this week. Stay tuned!

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