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Another Log to the DTC Fire

Parents don't currently have many choices when it comes to testing their unborn children for genetic disorders, says Scientific American's Melinda Wenner Moyer. But now, thanks to an enterprising DTC genetic testing company, parents may soon have a plethora of such tests to choose from. Using the discoveries of chemical pathologist Dennis Lo — who reported on a method of "sequencing individual fetal genes and counting individual fetal chromosomes in a mother’s blood to establish whether a fetus carries disease-causing mutations" in 1997, Moyer says — the San Diego-based firm Sequenom is developing a non-invasive fetal genetic test, which should be on the market within two years. "The big question is how these tests will affect parental decisions: Will couples abort affected fetuses? How will the prevention of rare diseases affect research funding for their cures?" Moyer asks. Experts believe the US government needs to step up to address such questions, and to generate guidelines for doctors administering the tests.

The Scan

Tens of Millions Saved

The Associated Press writes that vaccines against COVID-19 saved an estimated 20 million lives in their first year.

Supersized Bacterium

NPR reports that researchers have found and characterized a bacterium that is visible to the naked eye.

Also Subvariants

Moderna says its bivalent SARS-CoV-2 vaccine leads to a strong immune response against Omicron subvariants, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Science Papers Present Gene-Edited Mouse Models of Liver Cancer, Hürthle Cell Carcinoma Analysis

In Science this week: a collection of mouse models of primary liver cancer, and more.