5. March 2015 22:11
Before they are more than a couple of days old, 98 percent of the roughly 4 million babies born in the U.S. each year have a small sample of blood taken and screened for a variety of inherited conditions. Caught early, many of these conditions can be successfully treated, preventing death and disability.
Newborn screening is one of the great public health success stories in this country, but what happens to the samples after the screening process is completed raises serious and tro... [More]
5. March 2015 22:08
In 2015, genes have many uses.
Soon after every baby in California is born, a hospital worker extracts and logs its genetic information. It will be tested for diseases and then stashed permanently in a warehouse containing a generation of Californians’ DNA.
For those charged with a felony – or, potentially, just arrested – a sliver of genetic code will be taken and placed in a state database that has grown rapidly in the last decade.
As scientists have mapped the p... [More]
4. March 2015 23:48
Five years ago when Key West, FL, had its dengue outbreak, the regional mosquito-control agency stepped up truck and aerial spraying using larvicide and handheld adulticide foggers and ovitraps, even going door-to-door to find mosquito breeding sites.
Now, the Florida Keys Mosquito Control District hopes a preventive measure can stave off a future outbreak of dengue or another mosquito-borne viral disease, chikungunya. The district wants to deploy mosquitoes genetically m... [More]
4. March 2015 23:45
What happens to our digital selves after we die? Our Airbnb properties might keep hosting strangers. Our Twitter feeds will live on in the Library of Congress as a permanent record of our weirdest musings. And on Facebook, our designated custodians can continue to manage our profiles after we pass, managing the pictures, videos and status updates that serve as our digital epitaphs.
But what about our most personal digital information: our genes? Millions of Americans are sharing, o... [More]
3. March 2015 23:29
Monarch butterflies are in trouble. These popular insects, which have captured the public imagination with their several-thousand mile migrations, have been steadily disappearing for the past 20 years. Now, Monsanto says it wants to help turn the tide. Can the seed and pesticide giant seen by many as responsible for the monarchs’ decline make a difference for these pollinators? Or will its next batch of genetically engineered (GE) crops make matters worse?
Here’s the ba... [More]
2. March 2015 22:10
The Supreme Court on Monday let stand the conviction of a rapist whose prosecution rested on DNA swiped from the armrests of an interrogation-room chair.
Without comment, the justices refused to review a 4-3 decision from Maryland's top court that upheld the life sentence and conviction of Glenn Raynor. The dissent on the Maryland Court of Appeals said a probable-cause warrant was needed and painted a grim picture of the future:
The Majority’s approval of such polic... [More]
25. February 2015 23:18
Britain will become the first nation to legalise a "three-parent" IVF technique which doctors say can prevent some inherited incurable diseases but which critics fear will effectively lead to "designer babies".
After more than three hours of debate, lawmakers in parliament's upper house voted on Tuesday for a change in the law to allow the treatments, echoing a positive vote in the lower house earlier this month.
The treatment, called mitochondrial transfer, is known as "three-parent... [More]
24. February 2015 01:20
There were no known eyewitnesses to the murder of a young woman and her 3-year-old daughter four years ago. No security cameras caught a figure coming or going.
Nonetheless, the police in Columbia, S.C., last month released a sketch of a possible suspect. Rather than an artist’s rendering based on witness descriptions, the face was generated by a computer relying solely on DNA found at the scene of the crime.
It may be the first time a suspect’s face has been put before t... [More]
23. February 2015 20:39
Anybody who has watched a crime drama knows the trick. The cops need someone's DNA, but they don’t have a warrant, so they invite the suspect to the station house, knowing some of the perp’s genetic material will likely be left behind. Bingo, crime solved. Next case.
A human sheds as much as 100 pounds of DNA-containing material in a lifetime and about 30,000 skin cells an hour. But who owns that DNA is the latest modern-day privacy issue before the US Supreme Court.&... [More]
23. February 2015 20:36
A Senate bill that would block businesses from obtaining details of someone’s genetic makeup has been watered down too much, its supporters charge.
The bill, S-201, was aimed at preventing employers, businesses and insurance companies from gaining access the results of genetic testing for any Canadian. Armed with such data, employers could use it to turn down a new hire, and insurance companies could reject applications based on genetic ... [More]