Stories tagged genetic testing

At least one clinic in the US is using preimplantation genetic testing (PGD) and in vitro fertilization (IVF) to allow parents to select traits such as the hair and eye color of their children. The clinic director expects a trait-selected baby to be born next year. (This technique has been used for years to help select embryos free sex-linked and other genetic diseases, but the deliberate selection of non-medical traits is new.)

More on PGD

A study done by researchers at Virginia Commonwealth University shows that 8 in 10 Americans "believe genetic testing should be made easily available to all those who need it." The same study shows that 57% of Americans think research using embryonic stem cells should be allowed.

Buzz stories tagged "genetic testing"

Nov
20
2008

Nicolas "Sly dog" Copernicus: What's he thinking about? What's he looking at? The stars? Young research assistants? His future as a cyborg?
Nicolas "Sly dog" Copernicus: What's he thinking about? What's he looking at? The stars? Young research assistants? His future as a cyborg?Courtesy Regional Museum of Turun
Lost for hundreds of years, the final resting place and remains of the father of modern astronomy, Nicolas Copernicus, have been found in the Frombork Cathedral in northern Poland.

Copernicus was born in 1473 in Torun, Poland, and he was the first European to suggest that the Earth rotated on its own axis once a day, and revolved around the sun once a year. Followers of the Ptolemaic theory, which had the universe revolving around the Earth, were all, “Say what?!” And some of them were even, like, “Oh no you di’n’t” and snapped in Z-formation at him. Copernicus was all “Believe it, y’all.”

But then Master C died in 1543, and seventy-three years later a pope condemned his work as contrary to scripture, and a lot of people were all “Copernicus who?” And we all forgot exactly where he was buried.

The Bishop of Frombork, however, had the notion that DJ N.C. Astronomy might be hiding out in the tombs beneath the cathedral. A few years ago, archaeologists found a body that more or less matched Copernicus’ description (male, about 70 years old, dead), but it was only recently that geneticists were actually able to confirm the identification of the remains—DNA taken from the skeleton matched DNA taken from two strands of hair found in a book known to have belonged to Copernicus.

Debate on the issue has now centered on best way to resurrect Copernicus. German researchers, for the most part, are strongly in favor of the zombie method, while their polish counterparts argue that the strength and processing power of a cyborg frame would better suit the crumbly astronomer. French scientists are dead set on cloning a younger, sexier body for Master C. The Bishop of Frombork, meanwhile, just wants to put something nice together for the tomb.

Any thoughts?

UPDATE 11/21—I just came across this article this morning. It's mostly the same information that was in the other article I linked to, but there's a cool image of the facial reconstruction from Copernicus' skull. The final image really does look like Copernicus as an old man.

Sep
22
2008

What to know and when to know it: Two mammography images show the difference between a non-cancerous (left) and cancerous (right) breast.
What to know and when to know it: Two mammography images show the difference between a non-cancerous (left) and cancerous (right) breast.Courtesy National Institutes of Health
Record numbers of women are opting for a test that checks if their genetic make-up makes them stronger candidates for breast cancer. Last year about 100,000 women were tested. Doctors generally recommend against testing anyone under the age of 25, the same age that mammograms are first recommended. That’s because little can be done to screen or prevent breast cancer before that age.

But a growing movement among young women wants to find out how their genetic make-up could impact their risk for breast cancer. And they want to find out that news at an earlier age.

It’s a hot ethical question in clinics across the country today, which is explained in full detail here.

On the one side, pro-testing people point out that young people armed with this information could make lifestyle choices that could reduce their cancer risk. There is some evidence that young women with a positive genetic test have quit smoking, for example. Others have limited alcohol intake or avoided using birth control pills, two other factors that can raise breast cancer risk.

On the other side of the debate, researchers say that young women have enough health issues to deal with at an early age. Ringing alarms for something they can’t be “officially” tested for until later in life is just one more worry that they really don’t need to deal with at the time.

The tests themselves cost around $3,000. More and more medical insurance companies are providing coverage for the test.

If the test shows a faulty gene, the patient’s risk of developing breast cancer is three to seven times higher. In a few cases, parents have tested the genes of their pre-adolescent children. One girl test was just four years old.

What do you think? Is this good genetic curiosity or being a genetic busy-body? Is it important to find out this information if nothing can be done to treat the situation for a number of years? Share your thoughts here with other Buzz readers.