Genetic Tests That Use Multiple Variants To Predict Disease Risk Are Gaining Popularity. But Are They Reliable?
The tests are expanded versions of ones that look at a single DNA mutation to assess the risk of getting common diseases. But many questions still remain, including what to even do with the results if a patient is found to be at higher risk. In other public health news: abortion access, gene-editing, lead in toys, and bullying.
What's A Polygenic Risk Score And How Good Is It At Predicting Disease?
The commercial landscape for genetic testing has come a long way from testing only for certain inherited genes directly linked to disease, such as BRCA genes whose mutations heighten risk for breast cancer. Myriad Genetics made its name with BRCA testing, but in 2017 the company also began marketing a different type of test, one that turns up multiple genetic variants found throughout a woman’s genome that together may point toward her risk of breast cancer. Earlier this year Ambry Genetics began marketing a similar test to estimate a man’s risk of prostate cancer. (Robbins, Garde and Feuerstein, 12/14)
Restricting Abortion Access
Access to abortion services is a contentious issue in the United States. Clinics in many states are at risk of shutting down and operate with heightened security. Doctors can be hard to find in states with restrictive laws around abortion clinics, so some doctors travel in from out of state to provide care. (12/11)
Standards Needed For Editing Of Human Germline
Three of the most influential scientific organizations in the world are calling for an urgent international effort to prevent scientists from creating any more gene-edited babies without proper approval and supervision. Global standards are needed quickly to ensure gene-editing of human embryos moves ahead safely and ethically, according to the presidents of the U.S. National Academy of Medicine, U.S. National Academy of Sciences and the Chinese Academy of Sciences. (Stein, 12/13)
New York Sues Target, Walmart Over Lead-Contaminated Toys
Target Corp, Walmart Inc and toy importer LaRose Industries were sued on Thursday over the sale of lead-contaminated children's toys, New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood said. The lawsuit, filed in New York state court in Albany, is over "Cra-Z-Jewelz" jewelry-making kits that were imported by LaRose and sold by Target and Walmart. Tests conducted by the attorney general's office found that the kits contained levels of lead that were up to 10 times higher than the federal limit, according to the complaint. (12/13)
The Associated Press:
First Lady Spreads Anti-Bullying Message At Kids' Hospital
Melania Trump spread her anti-bullying message on an annual Christmas season visit to a Washington children's hospital on Thursday, reading a story about a Christmas ornament named Oliver who is bullied by other ornaments in a family's collection. "Wishing you a Merry Christmas and a happy and healthy new year," the first lady said after she finished reading "Oliver the Ornament" at Children's National Health System. The author, Todd Zimmerman, sat a few feet away. (Superville, 12/13)