Genetic crystal ball? Forecasting 5 serious diseases with algorithm that checks 6.6 million DNA spots

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Scientists have created a powerful new tool to calculate a person’s inherited risks for heart disease, breast cancer and three other serious conditions.

By surveying changes in DNA at 6.6 million places in the human genome, investigators at the Broad Institute and Harvard University were able to identify many more people at risk than do the usual genetic tests, which take into account very few genes.

Of 100 heart attack patients, for example, the standard methods will identify two who have a single genetic mutation that place them at increased risk. But the new tool will find 20 of them, the scientists reported on [August 13] in the journal Nature Genetics.

The researchers are now building a website that will allow anyone to upload genetic data from a company like 23andMe or Ancestry.com. Users will receive risk scores for heart disease, breast cancer, Type 2 diabetes, chronic inflammatory bowel disease and atrial fibrillation.

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People will not be charged for their scores.

[The researchers] tried their algorithm on 20,000 patients who were seen at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Massachusetts General Hospital.

They found that those who had a high risk score for a heart attack were indeed four times more likely to have had a heart attack than other patients.

Read full, original post: Clues to Your Health Are Hidden at 6.6 Million Spots in Your DNA

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