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Prevent the Addiction?

With its genetic test, Prescient Medicine says it can identify people who may be at a higher risk of developing an opioid addiction, Fast Company reports.

Prescient tells Fast Company that about 10 percent to 20 percent of the population has a genetic makeup that predisposes them to addiction. It says that doctors could run its test on patients prior to prescribing them opioids. At-risk patients could then be offered a non-opioid treatment and, potentially, stave off an addiction before it starts.

According to Fast Company, Prescient's LifeKit Predict test examines 16 genes, many of which are part of drug metabolism and brain reward pathways and relies on an algorithm to provide a score of addiction risk.

As GenomeWeb reported in August, Prescient recently published an article in the Annals of Clinical & Laboratory Science that said that its LifeKit Predict had 97 percent sensitivity and 87 percent specificity for distinguishing opioid addicts and controls. One clinician noted to GenomeWeb that the sample size in the paper was quite small.

Another company, Proove Biosciences, has also sought to develop a similar test, but it has run into skepticism about the test's validity, Fast Company notes. GenomeWeb reported that similar questions have been raised about Prescient's test, though Prescient CEO and medical director Keri Donaldson notes that his company's test differs from Proove's.

The Scan

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.

Culture-Based Methods, Shotgun Sequencing Reveal Transmission of Bifidobacterium Strains From Mothers to Infants

In a Nature Communications study, culture-based approaches along with shotgun sequencing give a better picture of the microbial strains transmitted from mothers to infants.

Microbial Communities Can Help Trees Adapt to Changing Climates

Tree seedlings that were inoculated with microbes from dry, warm, or cold sites could better survive drought, heat, and cold stress, according to a study in Science.

A Combination of Genetics and Environment Causes Cleft Lip

In a study published in Nature Communications, researchers investigate what combination of genetic and environmental factors come into play to cause cleft lip/palate.