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Glenn Nichols, surrounded by his hospice team. The author is in yellow.

Genetic Linkage

Dueling BRCA Databases: What About the Patient?

April 23, 2017

Tags: BRCA, breast cancer

The news release Monday morning grabbed my attention:

“Study finds wide gap in quality ofBRCA1/2variant classification between Myriad Genetics and a common public database.”

Myriad Genetics had been exclusively providing the tests, for $3000+ a pop for full BRCA gene sequencing, for 17 years before the Supreme Court invalidated key gene patents back in 2013. Since the ruling a dozen or so competitors have been offering the tests for much lower prices. Meanwhile, Myriad has amassed a far deeper database than anyone else, having been in the business so much longer. And it’s proprietary. (more…)

After Gene Therapy: Hannah’s Journey Continues

April 20, 2017

Tags: giant axonal neuropathy, gene therapy, Hannah Sames, Steve Gray

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Thirteen-year-old Hannah Sames looked beautiful a few weeks ago at the annual Hannah’s Hope Fund gala near her hometown and mine. She’d put on 15 pounds since her gene therapy for giant axonal neuropathy (GAN) 9 months ago. Hannah wheeled around the teen-packed ballroom, her kinky tendrils draping her smile, chatting with guests.

I looked at her in wonder. Were the extra pounds a response to gene therapy, or just a normal adolescent growth spurt? Were her new abilities to pull herself up from a sitting position and to pick up a crouton with her fingers a consequence of subconsciously trying harder? Or were they, too, due to the 120 trillion gene-bearing viruses sent into the fluid bathing her spinal cord?

It’s too soon to tell. (more…)

Octopuses, Squid, and Cuttlefish: RNA Editing Instead of Genome Evolution?

April 19, 2017

Tags: octopus, squid, cuttlefish, cephalopod

It isn’t surprising that the intelligent alien life forms that communicate with Amy Adams’ linguistics professor character Louise Banks in last year’s film Arrival resemble octopuses minus an arm. Octopuses and their close cousins the squid and cuttlefish are legendary for their intelligence and sophisticated behaviors. The septapods of film fame eject their ink in patterns to converse with their human friend. (more…)

instruction
Project to engage students in helping families with rare genetic diseases
Book Club Reader's Guide
Many challenging questions to stimulate thought and discussion.
Instructor's Guide
38 discussion questions to get students thinking and talking about gene therapy, including the science, ethical issues, and the drug approval process.
Narrative science
The Forever Fix is the uplifting true story of 8-year-old Corey Haas, who was cured of hereditary blindness just 4 days after gene therapy.
College Textbooks
A spectacularly-illustrated, clearly written human anatomy and physiology textbook, used in pre-health profession programs throughout the U.S.
A highly engaging, clearly written, beautifully illustrated introduction to the science of human genetics for the non-scientist. Now in its 11th edition, 12th to be published in September 2018.
Nonfiction
An ideal starting point for anyone who wants to know more about genes, DNA, genomes, and the genetic ties that bind us all.

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