Genetic Future

Archives for March, 2009

A couple of weeks ago I pointed to an article by bioethicist Jacob Appel arguing that genetic screening for severe disease mutations should be mandatory for parents undergoing IVF, and that not doing so is tantamount to child abuse. Today the same theme is taken up by New Scientist biology editor Michael Le Page, but…

John Hawks recounts a recent conversation about bioinformatics: I was talking with a scientist last week who is in charge of a massive dataset. He told me he had heard complaints from many of his biologist friends that today’s students are trained to be computer scientists, not biologists. Why, he asked, would we want to…

Nalls, M., Simon-Sanchez, J., Gibbs, J., Paisan-Ruiz, C., Bras, J., Tanaka, T., Matarin, M., Scholz, S., Weitz, C., Harris, T., Ferrucci, L., Hardy, J., & Singleton, A. (2009). Measures of Autozygosity in Decline: Globalization, Urbanization, and Its Implications for Medical Genetics PLoS Genetics, 5 (3) DOI: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1000415 A new study indicates that increases in mobility,…

I just noticed that GeneTests, a voluntary listing of US and international laboratories offering in-house genetic tests, has released an updated version of their graph of commercially available tests: You can see immediately that as the number of tested diseases continues to climb, the number of testing laboratories has plateaued – at least partly the…

Over at the 23andMe blog The Spittoon, company co-founder Linda Avey expands on her vision for a novel model of genomic research, in which personal genomics customers contribute their genetic and health data to fuel research into the inherited and environmental triggers for disease. This is a model that 23andMe has been building towards for…

I posted a while back on two duelling essays in Nature on the intensely controversial subject of whether scientists should be permitted to study group differences in cognition. Nature now has a series of correspondence on the topic in its latest issue. Firstly, there are rebuttals from the authors of the two original essays: Steven…

Genetic genealogist Blaine Bettinger explores the results of his ancestry testing from 23andMe, and compares it to previous results from a much lower-resolution test. The main message: the hundreds of thousands of genetic markers used by 23andMe (and other personal genomics companies, e.g. deCODEme) to infer genetic ancestry  provide a much more detailed and accurate…

Fan Liu, Kate van Duijn, Johannes R. Vingerling, Albert Hofman, AndrĂ© G. Uitterlinden, A. Cecile J.W. Janssens, Manfred Kayser (2009). Eye color and the prediction of complex phenotypes from genotypes Current Biology, 19 (5) DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2009.01.027 In a recent post I noted that genetic tests to predict adult height are still a long way off…

Keith Robison notes that commercial DNA sequencing is now cheap enough to seriously consider generating and analysing a bacterial genome sequence as an undergraduate group-work project. I think it’s a fantastic idea in principle, and would certainly give students a flavour of the reality of modern genomics – but the prospect of coordinating hundreds of…

Jan Aerts discusses the problem of incorporating information on large-scale genomic rearrangements into genome browsers. Genome browsers such as UCSC and Ensembl are fantastic for presenting many types of genomic information, such as the position and orientation of protein-coding genes or the location of small-scale genetic variants. However, their linear arrangement makes it very difficult…