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Andrew Pollack Versus Personal Genomics? Not Quite

The story that Linda Avey told us was coming from New York Times reporter Andrew Pollack hit the presses on Friday. In it, Pollack examines why consumers have been "slow to embrace the age of genomics," by purchasing genetic testing services from companies like 23andMe, Navigenics, and DeCode Genetics. He notes that two and a half years after initiating its service, 23andMe is down to 40 employees from a peak of 70, and has only 35,000 customers — of which at least a quarter received free services or were charged a nominal $25. Pollack also reports that Navigenics and DeCode have fewer customers. According to Pollack, the fundamental issue is that current DNA scanning technologies are unable to offer meaningful — and fully vetted — disease risk predictions. In an e-mail to the Times, 23andMe co-founder Anne Wojcicki wrote that "business is moving ahead in a positive trajectory. We’ve hit some bumps in the road but we are learning and continuing to evolve. We did not start this company thinking it was going to be easy to create an entirely new market." Pollack says that experts maintain that as the cost of reading DNA continues to fall, "analyzing people’s genetic make-ups will no doubt become an essential part of health care," adding, "But that might take a few years and require sequencing a person’s entire genome, not just sampling selected bits, as the companies do now."

The Scan

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Researchers report in Science Advances on an interferon signature and long-term shifts in monocyte cell DNA methylation in Bacille Calmette-Guérin-vaccinated infant samples.

DNA Storage Method Taps Into Gene Editing Technology

With a dual-plasmid system informed by gene editing, researchers re-wrote DNA sequences in E. coli to store Charles Dickens prose over hundreds of generations, as they recount in Science Advances.

Researchers Model Microbiome Dynamics in Effort to Understand Chronic Human Conditions

Investigators demonstrate in PLOS Computational Biology a computational method for following microbiome dynamics in the absence of longitudinally collected samples.

New Study Highlights Role of Genetics in ADHD

Researchers report in Nature Genetics on differences in genetic architecture between ADHD affecting children versus ADHD that persists into adulthood or is diagnosed in adults.