Skip to main content
Premium Trial:

Request an Annual Quote

Genome Exploration

Susan Young at MIT's Technology Review writes that when she received her personal genetic testing results from 23andMe, she didn't find anything "monumental in my report," though there were useful snippets of information contained in there. For instance, she says she now knows that she is sensitive to blood thinners and metabolizes caffeine slowly. 23andMe tells her that many people have reports like hers, with nothing major glaring out at them.

For many diseases, the report offers a range of risks, and such ranges, Young adds, can be difficult to interpret. And interpreting uncertain or tenuous relationships is why some critics oppose selling such tests directly to consumers. Proponents argue, though, that consumers should be given a bit more credit.

"Of the million DNA variants that 23andMe examines, fewer than 1,000 are part of the health report. The rest wait for evidence linking them to traits. … It would be a shame to restrict personal genetic tests now, before they have a chance to become more useful," Young writes. "Rather, consumers should be allowed to explore their genetic makeup to help figure out how the information can be used to make smarter medical decisions."

The Scan

Positive Framing of Genetic Studies Can Spark Mistrust Among Underrepresented Groups

Researchers in Human Genetics and Genomics Advances report that how researchers describe genomic studies may alienate potential participants.

Small Study of Gene Editing to Treat Sickle Cell Disease

In a Novartis-sponsored study in the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers found that a CRISPR-Cas9-based treatment targeting promoters of genes encoding fetal hemoglobin could reduce disease symptoms.

Gut Microbiome Changes Appear in Infants Before They Develop Eczema, Study Finds

Researchers report in mSystems that infants experienced an enrichment in Clostridium sensu stricto 1 and Finegoldia and a depletion of Bacteroides before developing eczema.

Acute Myeloid Leukemia Treatment Specificity Enhanced With Stem Cell Editing

A study in Nature suggests epitope editing in donor stem cells prior to bone marrow transplants can stave off toxicity when targeting acute myeloid leukemia with immunotherapy.