Hot Topics: Genetics

Blog Posts (153)

September 27, 2018

Investigative Genealogy: Guilty by Familial Association

by Craig Klugman, Ph.D.

This week I was on a panel discussing the topic of genealogical searchingrunning 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.…

September 7, 2018

RACeing to Deregulate: Can We Afford Less Oversight of Gene Transfer Research?

by Craig Klugman, Ph.D.

 “As gene therapy continues to change, so must the federal framework set up to oversee it.”-Francis Collins & Scott Gottlieb

In one of his first acts of office, Trump ordered executive agencies to reduce regulations.…

August 3, 2018

Public input into gene-editing decisions

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 …

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July 19, 2018

Britain’s experts on gene-edited babies

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). …

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July 17, 2018

Forcing RNA to, at least, Mumble…

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 …

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July 13, 2018

Raiding the CRISPR

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 …

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July 11, 2018

Secret Twin Experiments & Bioethics.net 15 seconds of fame

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

Labs are growing human embryos for longer than ever before

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 …

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June 15, 2018

A safety concern with gene editing

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

One Man’s Trash is Another Man’s DNA Treasure

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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Published Articles (66)

American Journal of Bioethics: Volume 18 Issue 8 - Aug 2018

Ethical Considerations in the Manufacture, Sale, and Distribution of Genome Editing Technologies Jeremy Sugarman, Supriya Shivakumar, Martha Rook, Jeanne F. Loring, Christoph Rehmann-Sutter, Jochen Taupitz, Jutta Reinhard-Rupp & Steven Hildemann

American Journal of Bioethics: Volume 18 Issue 4 - Apr 2018

Beyond Consent: Building Trusting Relationships With Diverse Populations in Precision Medicine Research Stephanie A. Kraft, Mildred K. Cho, Katherine Gillespie, Meghan Halley, Nina Varsava, Kelly E. Ormond, Harold S. Luft, Benjamin S. Wilfond & Sandra Soo-Jin Lee

AJOB Primary Research: Volume 8 Issue 1 - Mar 2018

Understanding variations in secondary findings reporting practices across U.S. genome sequencing laboratories Sara L. Ackerman PhD, MPH & Barbara A. Koenig

AJOB Primary Research: Volume 8 Issue 4 - Dec 2017

“Will they be good enough parents?”: Ethical dilemmas, views, and decisions among assisted reproductive technology (ART) providers Robert Klitzman

AJOB Primary Research: Volume 8 Issue 4 - Dec 2017

How should we deal with misattributed paternity? A survey of lay public attitudes Georgia Lowe, Jonathan Pugh, Guy Kahane, Louise Corben, Sharon Lewis, Martin Delatycki & Julian Savulescu

American Journal of Bioethics: Volume 17 Issue 7 - Jul 2017

Modernizing Research Regulations Is Not Enough: It's Time to Think Outside the Regulatory Box Suzanne M. Rivera, Kyle B. Brothers, R. Jean Cadigan, Heather L. Harrell, Mark A. Rothstein, Richard R. Sharp & Aaron J. Goldenberg

AJOB Primary Research: Volume 8 Issue 2 - Apr 2017

When bins blur: Patient perspectives on categories of results from clinical whole genome sequencing Leila Jamal, Jill O. Robinson, Kurt D. Christensen, Jennifer Blumenthal-Barby, Melody J. Slashinski, Denise Lautenbach Perry, Jason L. Vassy, Julia Wycliff, Robert C. Green & Amy L. McGuire

American Journal of Bioethics: Volume 17 Issue 5 - May 2017

Genetic Fingerprints and National Security Beau P. Sperry, Megan Allyse & Richard R. Sharp

American Journal of Bioethics: Volume 17 Issue 4 - Apr 2017

Psychiatric Genomics and Mental Health Treatment: Setting the Ethical Agenda Camillia Kong, Michael Dunn & Michael Parker

American Journal of Bioethics: Volume 17 Issue 4 - Apr 2017

Psychiatric Genetics in a Risk Society Nicole Martinez-Martin

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News (929)

October 12, 2018 9:00 am

The approach to predictive medicine that is taking genomics research by storm (Nature)

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

GENOME HACKERS SHOW NO ONE’S DNA IS ANONYMOUS ANYMORE (Wired)

“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

Making Sense of the Genome Remains a Work in Progress (JAMA)

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

To overcome decades of mistrust, a workshop aims to train Indigenous researchers to be their own genome experts (Science)

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

Human genome could contain up to 20 percent fewer genes, researchers reveal (Science Daily)

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

Here’s what we know about CRISPR safety – and reports of ‘genome vandalism’ (The Washington Post)

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

23andMe may offer costly premium DNA spit-test service (Mercury News)

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

New gene-editing treatment might help treat a rare disorder, hints first human test (Science)

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

CRISPR HALTED MUSCULAR DYSTROPHY IN DOGS. ARE HUMANS NEXT? (Wired)

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

It started as a hobby. Now they're using DNA to help cops crack cold cases (CNN)

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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