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Sex Determination at Seven Weeks

In a meta-analysis appearing online this week in the Journal of the American Medical Association, Johns Hopkins University's Stephanie Devaney and her colleagues review the "overall test performance of noninvasive fetal sex determination using cell-free fetal DNA." In analyzing 80 data sets from 57 studies, the team found that, "despite interstudy variability, [test] performance was high using maternal blood." Devaney et al. found that while test performance increased with gestational age — such that "sensitivity and specificity for detection of Y chromosome sequences was greatest using RT-qPCR after 20 weeks' gestation," they write — 94.8 percent sensitivity and 98.9 percent specificity were achievable at just seven to 12 weeks. Brigham and Women's Hospital's Louise Wilkins-Haug, who was not involved in the research, tells The New York Times that this study "has wide-reaching implications." Study co-author Diana Bianchi tells the Times that an "important aspect of the study is how this advances prenatal care." Bianchi adds that she's now studying consumers' motivations to purchase prenatal genetic sex determination services — which can run up to $250 or more, are not currently reimbursed by health insurers — because she says it's "very important to educate health care providers that pregnant women are buying these tests."

The Scan

Another Resignation

According to the Wall Street Journal, a third advisory panel member has resigned following the US Food and Drug Administration's approval of an Alzheimer's disease drug.

Novavax Finds Its Vaccine Effective

Reuters reports Novavax's SARS-CoV-2 vaccine is more than 90 percent effective in preventing COVID-19.

Can't Be Used

The US Food and Drug Administration says millions of vaccine doses made at an embattled manufacturing facility cannot be used, the New York Times reports.

PLOS Papers on Frozen Shoulder GWAS, Epstein-Barr Effects on Immune Cell Epigenetics, More

In PLOS this week: genome-wide association study of frozen shoulder, epigenetic patterns of Epstein-Barr-infected B lymphocyte cells, and more.