5 things to read instead of… falling for the hype
Two key issues have dominated the discussion in the world of genetics this week. First, evidence has emerged that mitochondrial donation (‘three parent’ IVF) is being offered to parents as a fertility treatment, even though there is limited evidence to support this application. And secondly, a study has revealed that genomics is failing on racial diversity, with two major genomic databases showing clear biases towards European genetics over African. So today we have a more thoughtful roundup for you, a look at some of the big questions being asked, the projects that focus on the people behind the conditions, and a reminder to not fall for all the hype, all of the time. Enjoy!
“Is the human genome sacred? Does editing it violate the idea that we’re made in God’s image or, perhaps worse, allow us to “play God”?”
Geneticist Ting Wu is masterminding outreach to different faith groups to bring them into the conversation around editing the human genome.
In an editorial for the Boston Globe, the Broad Institute’s Eric Lander asks if the promise of genomic medicine is overhyped. “I think the answer is a clear yes — and a resounding no,” he writes. “The contradiction highlights a thorny challenge in the ongoing conversation between scientists and the public.”
Who wouldn’t be excited by the prospect of “An all-singing, all-dancing examination of life with a cancer diagnosis”. The National Theatre in London, UK will be playing host to A Pacifist’s Guide to the War on Cancer, a new musical play that takes a look behind poster campaigns and pink ribbons at the reality of life with cancer.
If you are in London, you can catch the show from 14 October to 29 November.
“Lurking in the genes of the average person are about 54 mutations that look as if they should sicken or even kill their bearer. But they don’t.”
Erika Check Hayden takes a look at the Exome Aggregation Consortium, or ExAC, and the work that they are doing to unmask the ‘sheep in wolves’ clothing’ of the human genome; mutations that we once thought were dangerous or lethal, but are in fact innocuous.
And one from us…
FLG’s Carl Smith has a listen to the latest episode of the Radiolab podcast, which looks at the 14 day rule in embryology and the latest scientific studies that are challenging current policy on how long embryos can be cultured in vitro.