Genetic Future

Archives for March, 2009

deCODE Genetics, the major Icelandic biotech company behind personal genomics outfit deCODEme, has just released its financial results for 2008. Things really aren’t looking good: At December 31, 2008, the company had liquid funds available for operating activities, comprised of cash and cash equivalents together with current investments, of $3.7 million, compared to $64.2 million…

Personal genomics company 23andMe has just launched an online community of “mommy bloggers” – a move I can only describe as sheer marketing genius. I’ll give you a moment to let the vision sink in. Imagine a group of women hungry for information about the best way to ensure the future health and wellbeing of…

New Scientist has a fascinating piece in which reporters Peter Aldhous and Michael Reilly demonstrate – with a little cash, and more than a little effort – the possibility of obtaining large-scale genetic data from someone without their knowledge or permission. The reporters started with a glass that Aldhous had drunk water from; Reilly swabbed…

Neuroscientists Sam Wang and Sandra Aamodt have a guest post on Olivia Judson’s NY Times blog discussing the complex interplay between genes and environment in the determination of personality traits. A taste: So some of the effects that we call “genetic” (or “nature”) are the indirect result of people being drawn to particular environments because…

Pickrell, J., Coop, G., Novembre, J., Kudaravalli, S., Li, J., Absher, D., Srinivasan, B., Barsh, G., Myers, R., Feldman, M., & Pritchard, J. (2009). Signals of recent positive selection in a worldwide sample of human populations Genome Research DOI: 10.1101/gr.087577.108 I pointed yesterday to a new paper in Genome Research taking a genome-wide look at…

I’ll hopefully have more time to write about this tomorrow, but for now I’ll simply suggest that you go and read the free full text PDF of this advance online manuscript in Genome Research. This is the most important recent paper in the field of human evolutionary genetics – a thorough and careful analysis of the…

To complete my 23andMe trifecta this morning, here’s Steve Murphy frothing at the mouth about the company’s recent antics: Why is it so vital that physicians, nurses and others in the healthcare field try to stay above the law? Because patients lose trust in the system. They begin to think that their care givers are…

This casual aside on a recent post on personal genomics company 23andMe’s corporate blog caught my eye: Mutations in several other genes have also been associated with Parkinson’s disease, but these are extremely rare. Many have been found only in one or two families. While these mutations are so rare that they are not covered…

Drew Yates at ThinkGene has a delightfully cynical take on the personal genomics industry: I know 23andMe’s game, it’s the “break the mean with variance” game, and it’s the same Silicon Valley game that’s been played by internet media companies for the last decade. How to play: a network of superior talent and funding backs…

Yesterday I pointed to an article by New Scientist editor Michael Le Page advocating routine carrier testing for severe disease genes in parents-to-be, followed by IVF and pre-implantation genetic screening of embryos for couples unfortunate enough to both be carrying mutations in the same gene. I asked for well-reasoned objections to this approach from commenters.…