Skip to main content
Premium Trial:

Request an Annual Quote

Don't Know Enough for That

NPR writes that despite ethical discussions over the matter, generating "designer babies" is not that easy to do.

It notes that when researchers first set out to sequence the human genome, they'd hoped to easily pinpoint what variants in which genes led to particular diseases, but reality turned out to be messier: gene variants often seem to have small effects on disease risk. For instance, Stanford University's Jonathan Pritchard and his colleagues present in Cell this week a model that suggests that the heritability of most complex traits is due to the interaction of many weak trans-eQTL SNPs in genes distantly related to the trait at hand.

NPR notes that not everyone agrees with Pritchard's model: the European Bioinformatics Institute's Ewan Birney tells it that the model seems to suggest genetics is a "mush," though he hopes that with more knowledge, it will make more sense.

Still, he adds that "[i]f anybody thinks we can understand how to change genomes to improve things, they don't have an appreciation for the lack of knowledge that we have."

The Scan

Polygenic Risk Score to Predict Preeclampsia, Gestational Hypertension in Pregnant Women

Researchers in Nature Medicine provide new mechanistic insights into the development of hypertensive disorders of pregnancy, which may help develop therapeutics.

New Oral Nanomedicine Strategy Targets Gut-Brain Axis to Treat IBD

A new paper in Science Advances describes a platform to design polyphenol-armored oral medicines that are effective at treating inflammatory bowel disease.

Phylogenetic Data Enables New Floristic Map

Researchers in Nature Communications use angiosperm phylogenetic data to refine the floristic regions of the world.

Machine Learning Helps ID Molecular Mechanisms of Pancreatic Islet Beta Cell Subtypes in Type 2 Diabetes

The approach helps overcome limitations of previous studies that had investigated the molecular mechanisms of pancreatic islet beta cells, the authors write in their Nature Genetics paper.