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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

Transcriptomic, Epigenetic Study Appears to Explain Anti-Viral Effects of TB Vaccine

Researchers report in Science Advances on an interferon signature and long-term shifts in monocyte cell DNA methylation in Bacille Calmette-Guérin-vaccinated infant samples.

DNA Storage Method Taps Into Gene Editing Technology

With a dual-plasmid system informed by gene editing, researchers re-wrote DNA sequences in E. coli to store Charles Dickens prose over hundreds of generations, as they recount in Science Advances.

Researchers Model Microbiome Dynamics in Effort to Understand Chronic Human Conditions

Investigators demonstrate in PLOS Computational Biology a computational method for following microbiome dynamics in the absence of longitudinally collected samples.

New Study Highlights Role of Genetics in ADHD

Researchers report in Nature Genetics on differences in genetic architecture between ADHD affecting children versus ADHD that persists into adulthood or is diagnosed in adults.