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Don't Worry, Insurance Industry

In a recent column in the Washington Post, Ezra Klein posited that a $1,000 genome would mean the destruction of the health insurance industry. As people are able to see what their genome contains, they may buy different levels of health insurance based on their disease risk, Klein said.

But at the Gene Expression blog, Razib Khan says that while this notion makes logical sense, it also "oversells the science of prediction in biology, and underestimates the role of randomness in disease outcomes." Even lines of model organisms raised in controlled environments exhibit random phenotypic variation, he says. People with "clean results" would probably still purchase some kind of insurance to protect themselves against unforeseen eventualities. "People who don't smoke do get lung cancer, and people without a family history of heart disease and cancer do get heart disease and cancer," Khan says. "Many of the same people who espouse the power of genomics in predicting disease outcomes might be far more wary of such 'genetic determinism' when it comes to other sorts of life outcomes."

The Scan

Genetic Tests Lead to Potential Prognostic Variants in Dutch Children With Dilated Cardiomyopathy

Researchers in Circulation: Genomic and Precision Medicine found that the presence of pathogenic or likely pathogenic variants was linked to increased risk of death and poorer outcomes in children with pediatric dilated cardiomyopathy.

Fragile X Syndrome Mutations Found With Comprehensive Testing Method

Researchers in Clinical Chemistry found fragile X syndrome expansions and other FMR1 mutations with ties to the intellectual disability condition using a long-range PCR and long-read sequencing approach.

Team Presents Strategy for Speedy Species Detection in Metagenomic Sequence Data

A computational approach presented in PLOS Computational Biology produced fewer false-positive species identifications in simulated and authentic metagenomic sequences.

Genetic Risk Factors for Hypertension Can Help Identify Those at Risk for Cardiovascular Disease

Genetically predicted high blood pressure risk is also associated with increased cardiovascular disease risk, a new JAMA Cardiology study says.