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The Distance

The Chinese University of Hong Kong's Dennis Lo tells The Observer that, back in 1997 when he and his colleagues published their finding that fetal DNA could be found in the mother's bloodstream, he was astonished that people "didn't realize how far this technology could go. They thought you could use it only to tell the sex of the baby."

Now there are a number of prenatal diagnostic tests on offer from a number of companies, including Sequenom, which licensed Lo's findings, and some researchers are moving toward sequencing the whole genomes of fetuses.

The Observer notes that Lo seems wary of such a move and wonders whether parents could be counseled properly. "Do you tell them about a disease their child might get in 40 years' time when we don't know what medicine will be like then?" he says. Lo instead suggests a more targeted approach focused on a few serious genetic diseases.

The Scan

Foxtail Millet Pangenome, Graph-Based Reference Genome

Researchers in Nature Genetics described their generation of a foxtail millet pangenome, which they say can help in crop trait improvement.

Protein Length Distribution Consistent Across Species

An analysis in Genome Biology compares the lengths of proteins across more than 2,300 species, finding similar length distributions.

Novel Genetic Loci Linked to Insulin Resistance in New Study

A team reports in Nature Genetics that it used glucose challenge test data to home in on candidate genes involved in GLUT4 expression or trafficking.

RNA Editing in Octopuses Seems to Help Acclimation to Shifts in Water Temperature

A paper in Cell reports that octopuses use RNA editing to help them adjust to different water temperatures.