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Genetic Linkage

African Ancestry and Dangerous Blood Clots

Inappropriate blood clotting can be a killer. Each year in the US, 300,000 to 900,000 people suffer a venous thromboembolism (VTE), which includes deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and pulmonary embolism (PE). African Americans have a 30–60% higher incidence of either or both than people of European ancestry.

The risk factors that come up on the usual health websites for VTE tend to be the environmental ones that apply to everyone. But mention of genetic factors tend to be those found primarily among people of European ancestry – even though African Americans are at higher risk. Read More 
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The Genetics of Nose-Picking

I’ve been bombarded lately with news releases reporting links between behavior and DNA.

In simpler times, genes encoded proteins, and the actions or absence of those proteins caused the trait or disease. But today, investigations from outside genetics – reported in psychology and politics journals, for example – are assigning genetic explanations to everything from liberalism to feelings about the death penalty to whether the sound of someone chewing is annoying.

Strange things can happen when non-geneticists publish genetics papers. So I thought I’d mention a few intriguing reports and propose a behavior to investigate: nose-picking. Read More 
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My Husband’s Rare Cancer

“Genotyping isn’t standard of care, so we don’t do it,” said the surgeon dismissively to me a week ago, as if I’d asked him to bleed my husband or feel his head bumps.

Since the surgeon had just removed a foot of Larry’s colon, I stifled the urge to shout Gleevec! Avastin! Herceptin! I’d asked about testing the cancer cells for variants of well-studied oncogenes and tumor suppressor genes. The mutational state of tumor cells at the time of removal, especially given the rarity of the cancer’s origin – the appendix -- might prove informative should further treatment become necessary, even if that’s not for many years. Read More 
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