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  • News

    Genealogy databases could reveal the identity of most Americans

    Protecting the anonymity of publicly available genetic data, including DNA donated to research projects, may be impossible.

    About 60 percent of people of European descent who search genetic genealogy databases will find a match with a relative who is a third cousin or closer, a new study finds. The result suggests that with a database of about 3 million people, police or anyone else with...

    10/12/2018 - 16:12 Genetics, Science & Society
  • Experiences

    What I actually learned about my family after trying 5 DNA ancestry tests

    Commercials abound for DNA testing services that will help you learn where your ancestors came from or connect you with relatives. I’ve been interested in my family history for a long time. I knew basically where our roots were: the British Isles, Germany and Hungary. But the ads tempted me to dive deeper.

    Previous experience taught me that different genetic testing companies can yield...

    06/13/2018 - 14:41 Ancestry, Genetics
  • Feature

    DNA testing can bring families together, but gives mixed answers on ethnicity

    Michael Douglas, a new resident of southern Maryland, credits genetic testing for helping him find his heritage — and a family he knew very little about.

    Douglas, 43, is adopted. He knew his birth mother’s name and had seen a birth certificate stating his birth name: Thomas Michael McCarthy. Over the years, Douglas had tried off and on to find his birth family, mostly by looking for his...

    06/13/2018 - 14:36 Genetics, Ancestry, Science & Society
  • News

    Why using genetic genealogy to solve crimes could pose problems

    Police are using a new type of DNA sleuthing, called genetic genealogy. Already the technique has caught murder and rape suspects in California and Washington. While solving the cases has given cause for celebration, the tactics used in catching the alleged culprits have many privacy and civil rights experts worried.

    Closing the Golden State Killer case (SN Online: 4/29/18) and the...

    06/07/2018 - 14:00 Genetics, Science & Society
  • Soapbox

    At-home telomere testing is not a reliable marker of aging, researcher says

    Stay younger, longer. Great idea. But direct-to-consumer test kits that promise to gauge a person’s biological age by analyzing a drop of blood are not worth the $100 or so investment, says oncologist Mary Armanios. The tests measure the length of telomeres, the bits of DNA that cap and protect the ends of chromosomes. But the consumer tests are unreliable and can be misinterpreted, Armanios...

    06/07/2018 - 10:00 Health, Genetics, Cells
  • Science & the Public

    Privacy and consumer genetic testing don’t always mix

    For a few hundred dollars and a spit sample, you too could take a journey of genetic self-discovery. You may learn some things, but what are you giving away?

    Today, hundreds of companies offer to analyze your DNA, or parts of it, to let you in on everything from your health risks and ancestry to more dubious traits like intelligence or athletic ability (SN: 5/26/18, p. 20). The direct-to...

    06/05/2018 - 07:00 Genetics, Science & Society
  • Feature

    What consumer DNA data can and can’t tell you about your risk for certain diseases

    Results from Family Tree DNA, a genetic testing company, helped Lara Diamond find a branch of her family she thought had been lost in the Holocaust. Those 2012 results brought dozens of new people into her life.

    Eager to find more relatives, Diamond, now 42, a professional genealogist in Baltimore, decided to try out all the companies that offer geneaological DNA testing to see what else...

    06/03/2018 - 06:00 Genetics
  • News

    Guidelines call for limits to whole genome testing for fetuses

    Decades ago, pregnant women had to wait about 40 weeks before knowing much about their baby. But swiftly moving technology offers increasingly detailed peeks into the womb.

    Beyond generating adorable 3-D ultrasounds of scrunched-up faces, researchers can now analyze a fetus’s full genome from a simple blood draw from mom. But these genome-wide prenatal tests are not ready for prime time...

    05/31/2018 - 07:00 Genetics
  • Reviews & Previews

    The history of heredity makes for a fascinating, and chilling, read

    She Has Her Mother’s LaughCarl ZimmerDutton, $30

    The Elephant Man, novelist Pearl S. Buck and Phoebus, god of the sun, all find their way into science writer Carl Zimmer’s latest book. In She Has Her Mother’s Laugh, Zimmer uses famous moments in history — and Greek mythology — to explain genetics and how researchers have come to understand heredity and try to manipulate it.

    ...

    05/29/2018 - 09:00 Genetics, History of Science, Science & Society
  • News

    Genetic sleuthing again IDs a murder suspect in a cold case

    For the second time in less than a month, DNA probes of family trees in a public database have helped police catch a murder suspect.

    On May 17, detectives in Washington arrested 55-year-old William Earl Talbott II of Seatac for the 1987 double murder of Jay Cook and Tanya Van Cuylenborg. A new DNA sleuthing technique called genetic genealogy led to Talbott’s capture. His arrest came just...

    05/23/2018 - 10:42 Genetics, Ancestry, Science & Society