Reading genes: How much of your future do they reveal?

PolygenicRiskScoring
Image credit: Lauren Solomon/Broad Communications

The journal Nature Genetics recently published an enormous study demonstrating yet again how multiple sites on the genome can play a role in determining our fates.

[Researchers] showed that they could use these 1,271 spots in the genome to compute a score that predicts — mildly, and on average across a group — [someone’s] likelihood of completing college. That’s all from a cheek swab. How is this possible? The research technique used here is called a genome-wide association study.

[These predictions can be] wildly misinterpreted, even abused, in the wrong hands. There are fears that they’ll give rise to an industry that feels more like genetic astrology than genetic prediction.

A big hope behind GWAS: If scientists can identify spots on the genome associated with a disease or a behavior, they can begin to trace the pathways from genetics to organ tissues to symptoms. And along that pathway, they can possibly find places to intervene and discover new cures.

Related article:  Why Americans respond to drug placebos more than any other nationality

In the more immediate future, some researchers say, doctors will use the tests to predict who is most likely to develop diseases. There was a recent GWAS effort to help make significant predictions about who is most likely to develop coronary artery disease in their lifetime. If these polygenetic tests are used at an early age, some doctors hope, patients can be given early preventive measures.

Read full, original post: How scientists are learning to predict your future with your genes

Outbreak
Outbreak Daily Digest
Biotech Facts & Fallacies
Talking Biotech
Genetics Unzipped
Nigeriacotton

Video: We can ‘finally’ grow GMOs—Nigerian farmer explains why developing countries need biotech crops

Nigerian farmer Patience Koku discusses the GMO crop trials she is conducting on her farm, and why growers can "rise ...
mag insects image superjumbo v

Disaster interrupted: Which farming system better preserves insect populations: Organic or conventional?

A three-year run of fragmentary Armageddon-like studies had primed the journalism pumps and settled the media framing about the future ...
dead bee desolate city

Are we facing an ‘Insect Apocalypse’ caused by ‘intensive, industrial’ farming and agricultural chemicals? The media say yes; Science says ‘no’

The media call it the “Insect Apocalypse”. In the past three years, the phrase has become an accepted truth of ...
breastfeeding bed x facebook x

Infographic: We know breastfeeding helps children. Now we know it helps mothers too

When a woman becomes pregnant, her risk of type 2 diabetes increases for the rest of her life, perhaps because ...
organic hillside sweet corn x

Organic v conventional using GMOs: Which is the more sustainable farming?

Many consumers spend more for organic food to avoid genetically modified products in part because they believe that “industrial agriculture” ...
benjamin franklin x

Are most GMO safety studies funded by industry?

The assertion that biotech companies do the research and the government just signs off on it is false ...
gmo corn field x

Do GMO Bt (insect-resistant) crops pose a threat to human health or the environment?

Bt is a bacterium found organically in the soil. It is extremely effective in repelling or killing target insects but ...
favicon

Environmental Working Group: EWG challenges safety of GMOs, food pesticide residues

Known by some as the "Environmental Worrying Group," EWG lobbies for tighter GMO legislation and famously puts out annual "dirty dozen" list of fruits and ...
m hansen

Michael Hansen: Architect of Consumers Union ongoing anti-GMO campaign

Michael K. Hansen (born 1956) is thought by critics to be the prime mover behind the ongoing campaign against agricultural biotechnology at Consumer Reports. He is an ...
News on human & agricultural genetics and biotechnology delivered to your inbox.
Optional. Mail on special occasions.
Send this to a friend