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Maybe There Are Medical Implications

According to LiveScience's Jeremy Hsu, incoming University of California, Berkeley, freshmen who elect to be genotyped as part of the school's controversial "Bring Your Genes to Cal" program, "may get more than they bargained for if it turns up a gene deficiency responsible for what is known as 'the Asian flush.'" Individuals of East Asian decent, Hsu notes, can have two common variants for the ALDH2 gene, which codes for an alcohol-metabolizing enzyme. "One variant, ALDH2*1, functions normally, but ALDH2*2 has an inactive protein that renders the enzyme useless," he writes. Those who carry two copies of ALDH2*2 "suffer from Asian flush," and commonly experience nausea and heart palpitations upon alcoholic consumption, while carriers of a single copy of the allele "experience less severe versions of Asian flush." This, Phillip Brooks — a molecular neurobiologist at the NIAAA — told Live Science "increases your risk of esophageal cancer for the same amount of alcohol consumed, compared to someone who is able to fully metabolize the acetaldehyde."

The Scan

Pig Organ Transplants Considered

The Wall Street Journal reports that the US Food and Drug Administration may soon allow clinical trials that involve transplanting pig organs into humans.

'Poo-Bank' Proposal

Harvard Medical School researchers suggest people should bank stool samples when they are young to transplant when they later develop age-related diseases.

Spurred to Develop Again

New Scientist reports that researchers may have uncovered why about 60 percent of in vitro fertilization embryos stop developing.

Science Papers Examine Breast Milk Cell Populations, Cerebral Cortex Cellular Diversity, Micronesia Population History

In Science this week: unique cell populations found within breast milk, 100 transcriptionally distinct cell populations uncovered in the cerebral cortex, and more.