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They May Have Some Value After All

Last year, the director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Office of Public Health Genomics received several critical comments on a blog post he wrote, generally advising consumers against purchasing commercial genetic testing services because they were unlikely to provide information of medical value, he said.

Now, in post co-authored with his CDC colleague Katherine Kolor, Muin Khoury updates his position on commercial genetic testing services slightly. Khoury says that while he believes they still do not provide medically valuable information, DTC genetic tests "can offer a unique process for consumers to use a 'genomics lens' to learn about determinants of health and disease and to enhance both family and patient-provider interactions."

Khoury and Kolor add that while their position on such services "remains largely unchanged," and that they are "still concerned about the limitations of these tests in risk assessment and disease prevention for common diseases," they say thats knowledge can inspire healthy change.

"By educating ourselves about the evolving knowledge of genomic and environmental determinants of common diseases and the current limitations of genomics, we can take charge of our own health, broaden our knowledge base, and continuously seek reliable and credible sources of health related information in the midst of tremendous background noise, unsubstantiated claims and rapidly changing science," the authors write.

In their post, Khoury and Kolor urge consumers to consult their healthcare providers to discuss and share their genetic testing results, "especially in the case of reported mutations with high risk for certain genetic conditions or carrier state for these conditions."

The Scan

Pig Organ Transplants Considered

The Wall Street Journal reports that the US Food and Drug Administration may soon allow clinical trials that involve transplanting pig organs into humans.

'Poo-Bank' Proposal

Harvard Medical School researchers suggest people should bank stool samples when they are young to transplant when they later develop age-related diseases.

Spurred to Develop Again

New Scientist reports that researchers may have uncovered why about 60 percent of in vitro fertilization embryos stop developing.

Science Papers Examine Breast Milk Cell Populations, Cerebral Cortex Cellular Diversity, Micronesia Population History

In Science this week: unique cell populations found within breast milk, 100 transcriptionally distinct cell populations uncovered in the cerebral cortex, and more.