Blog Posts (153)
September 27, 2018
by Craig Klugman, Ph.D.
This week I was on a panel discussing the topic of genealogical searching—running a DNA sample found at a crime scene against criminal, public and commercial DNA databases with the goal of not finding a suspect, but to find a relative of the suspect.…
August 3, 2018
Lyme disease is caused by a type of bacteria that lives in mice, which are considered a “reservoir” for the disease-causing agent. Ticks bite the mice, pick up the bacteria, and then infect people when they bite them. (Ticks are called the “vector” for the disease.) If mice were immune to the bacteria, their immune …
Continue reading "Public input into gene-editing decisions"
July 19, 2018
Some of the cable news shows ran segments on the report released this week by Britain’s Nuffield Council on Bioethics, “Genome editing and human reproduction: social and ethical issues.” Full disclosure: I have not yet read the full report, only the short summaries (all of which are available for free download at the link here). …
Continue reading "Britain’s experts on gene-edited babies"
July 17, 2018
We are at a turning point in medicine where instead of supplementing patients with proteins or enzymes that their bodies fail to manufacture due to genetic abnormalities, we soon may be able to re-engineer the abnormal DNA, restoring the DNA’s ability to instruct the body to make those same proteins or enzymes. On our way …
Continue reading "Forcing RNA to, at least, Mumble…"
July 13, 2018
A couple of gene-editing news items from this week’s science literature: First, Nature reports that a group in my “back yard,” at the University of California San Diego, has tested gene editing using the CRISPR approach in mice. Recall that CRISPR is an acronym for a particular molecular mechanism, first discovered in bacteria, that is …
Continue reading "Raiding the CRISPR"
July 11, 2018
by Craig Klugman, Ph.D.
On the advice of a family friend, I went to see the new documentary, Three Identical Strangers.…
July 5, 2018
That’s only a slight paraphrase of a news feature article this week in Nature. The clearly-written article is devoid of scientific jargon, with helpful illustrations, open-access online, and readily accessible to the non-specialist. Check it out. Key points include: Scientists who do not find it ethically unacceptable to create and destroy human embryos solely for …
Continue reading "Labs are growing human embryos for longer than ever before"
June 15, 2018
Hat-tip to Dr. Joe Kelley for bring this to my attention… As readers of this blog will recall, there is keen interest in exploiting recent discoveries in genetic engineering to “edit” disease-causing gene mutations and develop treatments for various diseases. Initially, such treatments would likely use a patient’s own cells—removed from the body, edited to change the cells’ genes in a potentially therapeutic way, then... // Read More »
May 15, 2018
Last month, investigators used big data analysis, public DNA genealogy websites and “Discarded DNA” to identify the Golden State Killer (WSJ subscription needed), an individual believed responsible for over 12 murders, greater than 50 rapes and over 100 burglaries in California between 1974 through 1986. While justice may be served if the legal case remains solid, there are some interesting bioethical issues that warrant discussion.... // Read More »
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October 12, 2018 9:00 am
Polygenic risk scores represent a giant leap for gene-based diagnostic tests. Here’s why they’re still so controversial.
October 11, 2018 10:12 pm
“The takeaway is it doesn’t matter if you’ve been tested or not tested,” says Erlich, who is now the chief science officer at MyHeritage, the third largest consumer genetic provider behind 23andMe and Ancestry. “You can be identified because the databases already cover such large fractions of the US, at least for European ancestry.”
October 5, 2018 9:00 am
Wylie Burke, MD, PhD, professor and former chair of the Department of Bioethics and Humanities at the University of Washington, wrote an editorial in JAMA that described how there is still a great deal of uncertainty in genomic testing and advised clinicians to use genomics carefully. “Test results must be interpreted in the context of other clinical information, and uncertainties must be communicated to patients. Clinicians should anticipate variants of unknown significance as a frequent outcome of testing and counsel patients accordingly,” wrote Dr. Burke.
September 28, 2018 9:00 am
Members of the Havasupai Tribe, shown in 2010 looking at blood samples previously taken from them, had to fight for access to their samples, in an episode that fueled suspicion between scientists and several Native American communities.
September 21, 2018 9:00 am
- A new study reveals that up to 20 percent of genes classified as coding (those that produce the proteins that are the building blocks of all living things) may not be coding after all because they have characteristics that are typical of non-coding or pseudogenes (obsolete coding genes). The work once again highlights doubts about the number of real genes present in human cells 15 years after the sequencing the human genome.
September 20, 2018 9:00 am
Using genome editing to treat human diseases is very tantalizing. Correcting inherited genetic defects that cause human disease — just as one edits a sentence — is the obvious application. This strategy has been successful in tests on animals. But a few recent scientific papers suggest that CRISPR is not without its problems. The research reveals that CRISPR can damage DNA located far from the target DNA we are trying to correct.
September 11, 2018 9:00 am
Mountain View spit-kit DNA testing firm 23andMe wants to know how deep you want to go into your genome, and how much you’re willing to pay. The company currently sells $100 ancestry tests and $200 tests that cover ancestry and health. But according to a new report, 23andMe has been market-testing a deeper dive into personal genetics.
September 7, 2018 2:07 am
The first test of a new gene-editing tool in people has yielded early clues that the strategy—an infusion that turns the liver into an enzyme factory—could help treat a rare, inherited metabolic disorder. Today, the biotech company Sangamo Therapeutics in Richmond, California, reported data suggesting that two patients with Hunter syndrome are now making small amounts of a crucial enzyme that their bodies previously could not produce. But the company is still a long way from providing evidence that the new method can improve Hunter patients’ health.
September 5, 2018 1:25 am
In a study published Thursday in Science, a team led by Eric Olson at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center used Crispr to successfully modify the DNA of four young dogs, reversing the molecular defect responsible for their muscle wasting disease. DMD isn’t an obvious candidate for Crispr’s find-and-replace function; the dystrophin gene is the largest in the human genome, and there are thousands of different mutations that can all result in the disease. But Olson found a way to target an error-prone hot spot on exon 51, which he figured could, with a single slice, benefit approximately 13 percent of DMD patients.
August 10, 2018 9:00 am
First was the arrest in April of a California man who police say is the notorious Golden State Killer. Then came the arrest of a suspect in the 1986 killing of a 12-year-old girl in Washington state. Soon authorities were charging a man for the 1992 sexual assault and killing of a 25-year-old schoolteacher in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and another suspect for the 1988 rape and slaying of an 8-year-old girl in Indiana.
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