Health Highlights: Oct. 4, 201310/04/13
Here are some of the latest health and medical news
developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:
Experts Condemn Gene Test as Means to 'Designer Baby'
Experts are criticizing a U.S. company's patent for a database
that uses DNA testing to reveal to parents traits they may pass on
to their future children.
California-based 23andMe claims that its Family Traits Inheritor
Calculator can predict children's risk of inheriting certain kinds
of diseases as well as characteristics such as height, weight, eye
color and even personality,
The database makes these determinations from saliva samples
submitted by potential parents. The company said it offers people
"an enjoyable way to dip their toes into genetics."
But critics have called the project "ethically and socially
"It would be highly irresponsible for 23andMe or anyone else to offer a product or service based on this patent," said Marcy Darnovsky, executive director of the Center for Genetics and Society.
"It amounts to shopping for designer donors in an effort to produce designer babies," he told BBC News. "We believe the patent office made a serious mistake in allowing a patent that includes drop-down menus for which to choose a future child's traits."
New Gene Scan Pinpoints Causes of Rare Diseases
A newer gene sequencing technique can reveal genetic flaws that
cause unexplained health problems in some patients, researchers
Investigators at the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston used
the newer type of sequencing -- just the DNA segments that contain
the instructions for all the proteins required by the body -- on
250 adults and children patients with mystery diseases and found
that 62 of them had gene flaws, the
The findings were published online Wednesday in the
New England Journal of Medicine.
The Baylor team has used the gene sequencing technique on 1,700
patients so far and found gene flaws in 1 out of 4, study leader
Dr. Christine Eng told the
That rate is much higher than the less comprehensive gene tests
currently in use, according to Rebecca Nagy, a scientist at Ohio
State University and president of the National Society of Genetic
"For some of these conditions there could be treatments that are lifesaving," she told the AP.
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