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...
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...
Science & the Public
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...
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...
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...
Wouldn’t it be grand to have a test that could predict our risk of dreaded diseases like cancer? Signs of such a future exist, but it’s not here yet, as senior writer Tina Hesman Saey explains in the second of our three-part series on direct-to-consumer genetic testing. The tests available today fall short in delivering what we would actually want to know. The raw data are gibberish...05/30/2018 - 07:15 Science & Society, Genetics
Reviews & Previews
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.
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...
Direct-to-consumer genetic testing first came on the market about a decade ago, but I resisted the temptation to see what health information is hidden in my DNA — until now.
As a molecular biology writer, I’ve been skeptical that the field of genetics is mature enough to accurately predict health (see related article). What finally motivated me to send away my DNA in the mail was the...
In Nevada, 40,000 people are stepping up to the cutting edge of precision medicine. They are getting their DNA deciphered by the testing company Helix. The idea of the Healthy Nevada project is to link genetic and medical data with information about the environment to get a clearer picture of all the factors that influence health. The free tests are going like hot cakes.
When the Healthy...