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Genetic Linkage

Dueling BRCA Databases: What About the Patient?

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. Read More 
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After Gene Therapy: Hannah’s Journey Continues

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

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.  Read More 
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