Eye on DNA Headlines

Eye on DNA Headlines for 15 February 2008

by Dr. Hsien-Hsien Lei
Posted February 15, 2008 in DNA Testing, DNA and Genealogy, Eye on DNA Headlines

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Eye on DNA Headlines for 29 January 2008

by Dr. Hsien-Hsien Lei
Posted January 29, 2008 in Eye on DNA Headlines

genetic fashion

*I work for DNA Direct as a genetic information specialist.

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Eye on DNA Headlines for 24 January 2008

by Dr. Hsien-Hsien Lei
Posted January 24, 2008 in DNA and Disease, Eye on DNA Headlines, Genetically Modified Foods and Organisms, Personalities with DNA

  • Gene Genie Issue #24 is up at Biomarker-Driven Mental Health 2.0.
  • Sue Trinidad at Women’s Bioethics Blog wants to know how far genetic researchers can take your DNA beyond your initial informed consent.
  • sam karlinSam Karlin of Stanford University who created BLAST with Stephen Altshul died in December of a massive heart attack.

    “Because of the common descent of all living things, it is often possible to learn a lot about a new DNA sequence by finding out what is known about other sequences that are similar,” (Russ) Altman said. BLAST compares the new sequence to an enormous database of sequences. “It estimates the significance of the match between the input sequence and the ‘hits’ that are pulled out. This is where Sam’s contribution was—he worked out the statistical theory for how to judge which matches really meant something. So BLAST is basically the Google of biological research.”

  • The newest (42nd) member of The DNA Network is Genetic Future by Australian researcher Daniel MacArthur. His latest post looks at the ethical challenges of whole-genome sequencing. Welcome, Daniel! We’re glad to have you.
  • Four reasons why genetically modified food is inevitable. (HT: Mark Evans)
  • Hypertensive patients with a copy or more of the T2238C variant of the atrial natruiretic precursor A (NPPA) gene may have a decreased risk of coronary heart disease (CHD), stroke, all-cause death, combined CHD, and combined CVD if treated with the diuretic chlorthalidone (also known as Clorpres, Tenoretic, and Thalitone). Those with the most common TT genotype appear to do better when treated with a calcium channel blocker (amlodipine aka Norvasc). (Medical News Today)

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Eye on DNA Headlines for 18 January 2008

by Dr. Hsien-Hsien Lei
Posted January 18, 2008 in DNA Testing, DNA and Disease, Eye on DNA Headlines

  • dna bridgeProactive Genomics has launched a $300 prostate cancer genetic test based on research published in the New England Journal of Medicine (January 2008). SNPs at five chromosomal regions were found to be associated with prostate cancer: 17q12 (rs4430796), 17q24.3 (rs1859962), and 8q24 regions 1 (rs16901979), 2 (rs6983267), and 3 (rs1447295). The company looks as if they have plans to expand into the genetics of common diseases as well as personal genomics. More from The New York Times.
  • Genetic Testing is now the official journal of Genetic Alliance. (press release)

    The journal covers all aspects of genetic testing, including molecular, biochemical, and varied sets of clinical situations; ethical, legal, social, and economic aspects of genetic testing; and issues concerning effective genetic counseling.

  • My first stop for information about autism is Autism Vox where today, Kristina Chew looks at geneticist Michael Wigler and his “unified genetic theory of autism.”
  • Look who I found at Big Think! There is a video of George Church, Harvard prof. of genetics answering the question: What is the state of global medicine today? as well as one where he’s musing on The Genomic Revolution. If you feel like responding, you can do so via writing, video, or audio slide show. (via TechCrunch)
  • Sperm produced by mice exposed to air pollution have been found to have more genetic mutations and DNA methylation. Not to worry – just use cloned sperm!
  • Just Science 2008 is now accepting participants.

    By signing up you stipulate that you will post at minimum 1 scientific post per day between February 4th and 8th of 2008. Additionally, you may not post any non-science entries for this period so that we may offer only science on our aggregated feed.

(>> Start a discussion!)


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Eye on DNA Headlines for 3 January 2008

by Dr. Hsien-Hsien Lei
Posted January 3, 2008 in Eye on DNA Headlines, Jobs Involving DNA

  • Guardian Unlimited’s Alok Jha compiles a list of the scientific highlights of 2007 and includes genome-wide studies and the genetically modified food.
  • “We, Formosans, are all Aborigines,” proclaims Professor Francis Lai of Lowell Massachusetts in the Taipei Times. He claims that scientists have found that Hoklo and Hakka-speaking Taiwanese share 85% of their genome with Formosan Aborigines. Prof. Lai believes this debunks the myth that Taiwanese have Han Chinese ancestry. So perhaps I am more exotic than I thought!
  • dna shoah projectIf you or someone you know lost family during the Holocaust, you may be interested in the DNA Shoah Project. The DNA database will be used to identify the remains of Holocaust victims, reunite siblings and close relatives separated by World War II, and conduct genetic disease research (with consent).
  • Suzanne In of Bitesize Bio has a great list of alternative careers for scientists. I have personally engaged in #5 business development, #8 science copy writing, #9 medical/technical writing, #10 science journalism, and #13 teaching. That leaves me about 10 to tackle although I think I’ll leave the lawyer one to Blaine.
  • I’m going to be keeping an eye on io9, a new science fiction blog that’s part of the Gawker network. Lots of stuff that way out there, just like much of DNA tech. More about io9 at Biology in Science Fiction.

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Eye on DNA Headlines for 26 December 2007

by Dr. Hsien-Hsien Lei
Posted December 26, 2007 in DNA Testing, DNA in General, Eye on DNA Headlines

DNA Archive PDF

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Eye on DNA Headlines for 20 December 2007

by Dr. Hsien-Hsien Lei
Posted December 20, 2007 in Eye on DNA Headlines

  • HamsterPowerLondonist has a yuletide touch-up photo that is proof we should be wary of genetic modification. YIKES!
  • Gene Genie #22 is up at Sandwalk.
  • A boy undergoing gene therapy for X-SCID has developed leukemia in London. He is the first among ten children treated at Great Ormond Street who has developed cancer although in 2002, four of eleven children in France undergoing the same treatment also developed leukemia.
  • The December 8th Dilbert comic strip featured this line:

    Carol used his DNA container for a snack jar, so be careful.

    Click here to learn what the whole thing is all about. And Scott Adams reveals his true naughty intentions.

  • Alan Boyle of Cosmic Log interviews Dr. J. Craig Venter. I found this bit the most interesting:

    Is there such a thing as too much information? Are there some people who don’t want to know what’s in their genes?

    In my experience, there are two groups of people: those who really want to know, and those who are afraid to know. I haven’t heard of any people who want to go halfway and see just some of their genes. Some of the same people who are afraid to know are also afraid to go to the doctor’s office, because they might get bad news by being diagnosed with a disease. But one of the major things that I’m trying to teach people is that knowledge is power. If you know this information early enough, you have a chance actually to make a change that’s meaningful to you. If you get the information too late because you waited to go to your physician, you’re in a different category.

    Which category do you belong to?

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Eye on DNA Headlines for 17 December 2007

by Dr. Hsien-Hsien Lei
Posted December 17, 2007 in DNA and Disease, DNA and the Law, Eye on DNA Headlines

  • Illumina, provider of SNP genotyping BeadChips to companies like 23andMe and deCODEme, is in the spotlight at the San Diego Business Journal. Over the past five years, Illumina has grown 250 percent and now has operations in five countries.
  • So far, it’s pretty obvious that 23andMe is winning the PR campaign with celebrities and other noted technorati signing up for their services. Andrew Meyers of Buzzyeah wants to join them and is asking for donations. Frankly, I’m astounded that he’s already raised $300. Andrew promises to blog all if he is able to get his genome scanned.
  • sciam 50The SciAm 50 Awards have been announced. I’m a little embarrassed to say that I don’t know most of the names on the list but I do recognize the X Prize Foundation at #3.
  • Topping the genetics headlines today is the discovery of genetic variants at the CRAC1 (HMPS) locus on chromosome 15q13.3 that are associated with an increased risk of colorectal (colon) cancer. The CRAC1 aka HMPS gene was previously associated with colon cancer in the Ashkenazi population. This study has found that it also moderately increases cancer risk in the general population from an average 5% lifetime risk in the UK to 7% for people with both “bad” copies of the genetic variant. (via The Guardian)
  • Dayton Daily News has created a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about DNA in forensic investigations. I found this Q&A particularly interesting:

    Q How do forensic scientists determine if there is DNA evidence and how do they examine it in the lab?

    A Generally, we’re looking for a body fluid, mainly blood, semen and saliva. There are tests to identify these body fluids. We can also take samples on evidence that might contain skin cells. Usually, we are looking for evidence discarded at the scene which might contain DNA from the perpetrator. Next we take these samples through the DNA process to see if we obtain a DNA profile.

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Eye on DNA Headlines for 6 December 2007

by Dr. Hsien-Hsien Lei
Posted December 6, 2007 in DNA and Disease, Eye on DNA Headlines, Personalities with DNA

  • elizabeth blackburnCongratulations to Dr. Elizabeth Blackburn of UCSF who has won the L’ORÉAL-UNESCO For Women in Science Award. She is a pioneer in telomere and telomerase research and is also a strong contender for a Nobel Prize.

    Dr. Blackburn’s research examines the function of the enzyme as it relates to cell aging and mutations that can cause cancer. During DNA synthesis, telomerase restores the ends of eukaryotic chromosomes, called telomeres, and Dr. Blackburn’s research has found that mutant variations of telomerase impair cell division, which can contribute to aging and cancer.

  • The Economist explores consumer genomics and genetic sequencing in this week’s issue.
  • Nine genetic markers for schizophrenia have been uncovered using whole genome homozygosity association (WGHA) analysis. Published in PNAS, the study genotyped 500,000 markers in 178 schizophrenia cases and 144 healthy controls.

    Four of these 9 “risk ROHs” contained or neighbored genes associated with schizophrenia (NOS1AP, ATF2, NSF, and PIK3C3).

  • Four times as many imprinted genes have been identified in a recent study at Duke University. Most of the imprinted genes found in this study are within genomic regions associated with cancer, diabetes, autism, and obesity.
  • A small study of 102 men and 101 women found that those with one form of the AVPR1a gene were more likely to be generous when playing an online game involving money. Israeli researchers found that those with generous AVPR1a gene variant gave away 50% more money on average. I wonder if deCODEme or 23andMe will find that a disproportionate number of their customers have the “generous” AVPR1a genetic variation. ;)

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Eye on DNA Headlines for 3 December 2007

by Dr. Hsien-Hsien Lei
Posted December 3, 2007 in DNA and Disease, DNA and Genealogy, Eye on DNA Headlines

globeandmail.com: The Boy in the Moon

  • Writer Ian Brown has begun a three part series in The Globe and Mail–The Boy in the Moon–about his son, Walker, who was born with cardio-facio-cutaneous syndrome (CFC). Now 11 years old, Walker is one of only 300 people worldwide with CFC, a rare single gene disorder. Four genes have been associated with CFC, BRAF, MEK1, MEK2 and KRAS, with most affected individuals having a sporadic mutation in BRAF. (HT: Eric)
  • Speaking of doggie DNA, K9 Genetics Corp is offering DNA analysis for dogs to help determine the best formulation of Personalized Chow and Personalized Treats for them. Nutrigenomics for dogs!! A new DNA development every day, I tell ya. (HT: Trish)
  • Amanda Bower of Fast Company trial runs Navigenics and finds out she has “some of the lowest risk” of disease that they’ve seen. Now how many people would they have seen so far since Navigenics isn’t officially accepting customers yet?
  • Tim Agazio of Genealogy Reviews Online has put together a round-up of his DNA testing articles covering his experiences with Family Tree DNA and DNA Ancestry (a partner with my company, DNA Direct). Worthwhile reading if you’re considering venturing into the land of DNA and genealogy.
  • Whole genome scans and genetic testing are being likened to “health horoscopes“! Wonder if that’s trademarked?
  • Throw some confetti for the folks at Personal Genome Project! They’ve got a newly designed website with some graphics created by DNA Network member Ricardo Vidal. Jason Bobe, who’s in charge of PGP community and planning, has more on the redesign. If you’re at all interested in signing up to learn more about your genome as well as getting the chance to donate your DNA to science, you have to check out the Personal Genome Project.

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