Chromosomes are tightly wound coils of DNA. As you've no doubt heard or read, DNA is the fundamental building block of life on Earth; it is the instruction manual that tells organisms how to grow, survive, and reproduce.
My next point is not strictly a scientific development, per se, but I thought it was an interesting (and perhaps alarming) recent event related to the field. This April, on the 15th, the US Supreme Court will hear a case about patenting genes. Myriad Genetics discovered genetic mutations on BCRA 1 and BCRA 2 genes--mutations related to breast and ovarian cancer--in the 1990s and filed for a patent on DNA with those mutated sequences. They got the patent.
The upcoming argument in the Supreme Court is over the functionality of the DNA. The DNA Myriad Genetics patented is, officially, "isolated DNA", which means it has to be a single piece of genetic material outside the rest of the chromosome for it to fall under the patent. The Supreme Court will decide whether the DNA is functionally different from that in the human body--there is a "products of nature" doctrine which states that something with no "marked difference" to something naturally occurring cannot be patented.
Do you think genes should be patented? Or do you think patent offices should not allow specific DNA sequences to be "owned" by companies?
-----The Golden Eagle