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Illumina sued by Maryland diagnostics firm over genetic testing patents

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By Brendan Pierson1 Min ReadDiagnostics company Illumina Inc has been sued by rival Ravgen Inc for allegedly infringing two patents covering non-invasive genetic testing technology.Maryland-based Ravgen, represented by lawyers including Michael Farnan of Farnan and John Desmarais of Desmarais, said in a complaint filed Thursday in Delaware federal court that Illumina’s Verifi and VeriSeq tests, which look for fetal chromosome abnormalities, and its TruSight test, which looks for cancer markers, infringe the patents.To read the full story on Westlaw Today, click here: bit.ly/3lFY1i2

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Washington University to offer genetic counseling master’s program | Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis

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Training program for genetic counselors will help meet demand for such professionals Getty ImagesWashington University School of Medicine in St. Louis is offering a new master’s program in genetic counseling. With genetic testing becoming more common, there is an increasing need for such professionals.

Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis is offering a new master’s program in genetic counseling, a field that has been growing in importance as genetic testing becomes more common. Patients are gaining access to more and more information about their genes and genetic risk of disease, and consequently, the demand for trained genetic counselors is on the rise. Such experts help patients understand genetic test results and what it may mean for them and their families.
The first round of applications for the program is due Dec. 15. Classes will begin in fall 2021.
“There is a shortage of genetic counselors nationally, and at the same time, the amount of genetic testing that patients undergo has continued to rise,” said Patricia Dickson, MD, the Centennial Professor of Pediatrics and director of the Division of Medical Genetics and Genomics. “We’re excited to have an accredited genetic counseling program in our state and in St. Louis to help fill that need. It’s going to have tremendous benefits for people in our region who need genetic testing.”
Having a genetic counseling training program at Washington University will support the School of Medicine’s precision medicine initiative, complementing the university’s leadership in …

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The role of the microbiota in human genetic adaptation

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View ORCID ProfileTaichi A. Suzuki, View ORCID ProfileRuth E. Ley*Department of Microbiome Science, Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology, Tübingen, Germany.↵*Corresponding author. Email: rley{at}tuebingen.mpg.de

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Science  04 Dec 2020:Vol. 370, Issue 6521, eaaz6827DOI: 10.1126/science.aaz6827

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What It’s Like Working with a Genetic Counselor After a Breast Cancer Diagnosis

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After a breast cancer diagnosis, you’ll find yourself immersed in a new world — one in which your oncologist and medical team rattle off a bunch of unfamiliar terms and your calendar fills up with appointments. In that crucial post-diagnosis moment, you may want to consider genetic testing. Why? As many as 10 percent of breast cancer cases are hereditary, which means your parents passed on a genetic mutation to you, and you could potentially pass it on to your children. With genetic testing, you can learn if there’s a hereditary aspect to your breast cancer diagnosis, and that knowledge may help protect your loved ones and guide your treatment decisions (more on that later).However, navigating the world of genetic testing isn’t always straightforward. “Genetics are complicated and nuanced,” says Joy Larsen Haidle, MS, a genetic counselor and cancer expert at the National Society of Genetic Counselors (NSGC). And that’s where genetic counselors come in. These professionals can help you understand if genetic testing makes sense for you and, if so, which test would be best. And if you decide to move forward with testing, they can help you interpret the results and weigh treatment options. Here, three women who saw genetic counselors in the wake of a breast cancer diagnosis share what to expect if you opt to follow their path, and what you should know about the process. If you’re younger, your doctor will likely recommend seeing a counselor.Jessica Raber was diagnosed with …

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Singapore medtech company develops portable genetic test for COVID-19

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Singapore-incorporated medtech company Cell ID Pte. Ltd. has developed a palm-sized portable genetic test kit that uses an app on a laptop to detect, anywhere, at any time, if a person has COVID-19. Dubbed the Quiz PCR Biochip, the test uses biotechnology to perform two tests at a time outside of the laboratory.Positive results are confirmed in as fast as five minutes and negative results are returned within an hour. A QR code on the biochip also offers traceability which allows healthcare providers to quickly identify, and electronically deliver the test results to the person being tested.
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To operate the test, less than two hours of training is required. The test requires a tiny amount (10µl) of a nasal swab or saliva specimen to be applied to the biochip, which when plugged into a laptop, runs a real-time reverse transcription loop-mediated isothermal amplification (RT-LAMP) assay for the qualitative detection of SARS-CoV-2 RNA. Two genetic tests are able to run concurrently using the same or different protocol – polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests or RT-LAMP assay.
The efficacy of the biochips has been tested in Singapore in collaboration with local healthcare agencies (Sengkang General Hospital & Woodlands Health Campus) at two quarantine facilities (EXPO and a foreign workers dormitory) between July and October 2020.
WHY IT MATTERS
Conventional PCR tests can take up to 12-24 hours for COVID-19 positive results to appear, plus it is a laboratory …

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Small and large birth weight linked to genetics of mother and baby—except in tiniest babies

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Genetics of mother and baby contribute to most cases where babies are born very large or very small, according to new research.
A large scale study, led by the University of Exeter and Cardiff University, has found the strongest evidence to date that genetics play a major role in most cases when babies born at full term are in the top or bottom 10 percent of the weight spectrum.
However, in the three percent of babies with the smallest birth weights, genetics seemed to play a less important role. This indicated that other factors may be contributing to the babies’ small size. The research looked at 190 common genetic variations that are known to affect birth weight, yet it is possible that rare genetic changes in the baby reduce growth in the smallest three percent. Other important factors could include the health of the mother or fetus or of the placenta, which transfers nutrients and oxygen to the baby.
The study was a collaboration also involving the University of Bristol’s Children of the 90s, Imperial College London, and the University of Oulu in Finland. The research was supported by Wellcome Trust and the H2020 program of the European Commission.
The weight of babies at birth is important, as those born at the extreme ends are at higher risk of complications. Smaller babies are more likely to be admitted to neonatal units and at higher risk of death, while larger babies are at higher risk of complications during birth.

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Reprogramming rejuvenates nerve cells and restores vision in mice

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For years now, biologists have been practicing a kind of time travel. You can take a speck of human skin, and with the right genetic tweaking, turn back its inner clock until it becomes its embryonic self, stripped of its identity and ready to become just about any human body part at all. Since the method was published in 2006, transforming adult cells into stem cells has allowed all sorts of advances. Researchers can grow organs in dishes. They can replicate what happens in the womb without the regulatory headache of acquiring fetal tissue. It became an everyday tool at lab benches around the world and won a Nobel Prize.
But for David Sinclair’s purposes, that wasn’t good enough. His interest was in reversing the slings and arrows of old age, using that genetic time machine to create something that would actually be therapeutic. When cells were rewound to an embryo-like state, they did what embryonic cells do: Divide like crazy. Outside the intricate control of the prenatal environment, that gave rise to cancer. The mice used in such experiments died within days. “We wanted to take the age of a tissue backward, but find a way to stop it from going too far back,” said Sinclair, a professor of genetics at Harvard Medical School.

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Two new genetic traits coming in December

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Dairy producers will soon have two new traits of significant economic value to consider in their breeding programs.Feed Saved in Holsteins and Heifer Livability in both Holsteins and Jerseys will be launched by the Council on Dairy Cattle Breeding (CDCB). Feed Saved and Heifer Livability will be available as individual traits with the triannual genetic evaluations on December 1, and they are expected to be incorporated into the Net Merit genetic index when it is updated in 2021.Improving heifer survival ratesGenetic progress has been ongoing to reduce cow deaths in milking herds through the Cow Livability and Productive Life traits. Now, Heifer Livability will support enhanced survival rates in young stock. An analysis of heifer records from herds on official Dairy Herd Information (DHI) testing showed 96% of heifers survive from two days to 18 months of age, the period for which Heifer Livability (HLIV) is based. The HLIV evaluation is expressed in percentage points above or below the breed average, with larger positive values being more favorable.Heifer Livability reveals a heifer’s overall resistance to causes that lead to death, most commonly digestive and respiratory diseases (USDA APHIS, 2018). Improving heifer survival rates has clear benefit for producers, with the average cost of heifer loss estimated at $500 (Neupane et al, 2020).Hay burners versus hay convertersCows vary in the ability to convert feed to milk, and the Feed Saved trait will document those differences. Feed Saved will allow producers to breed for more feed-efficient cows, improve dairy sustainability, and save on feed …

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Accumulated genetic variations: What they are and why they matter to a complete health picture 

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Genes are by no means a crystal ball, but they can be used to forecast susceptibility to a variety of conditions, from cancers and heart disease to chronic inflammatory conditions. As such, they can help healthcare professionals and patients make better care decisions.
Generally speaking, when people today think about genetic predispositions, they think about their parents and family trees. However, those inherited genetic variations bequeathed by our parents and grandparents are only a portion of a complete genetic picture – and often not the most revealing one. The genetic variations most commonly linked to disease are actually?not?the ones from your parents; rather, they are acquired as one ages.
Mom and Dad Can’t Take All the Heat for All Health ChallengesUnlike inherited genetic predispositions, accumulated genetic changes (otherwise known as “somatic”) are the result of environmental influences, such as smoking, chemicals or ultra-violet radiation. They can also stem from common errors cells make as they duplicate themselves over time. The expansion of these detrimental variations cause damage to DNA within blood cells, a phenomenon known as clonal hematopoiesis (CH), which increases susceptibility to many diseases, including many types of cancer.
Germline variations in genes still indicate potential vulnerabilities, with one in five healthy adults estimated to carry an inherited marker. However, these genetic abnormalities represent a static metric. Once individuals are tested for inherited variations, they will never need to do so again. What’s more, many of the predispositions that surfaced through this testing can be addressed …

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Opinion: CT student explores connection between genetics, neuroscience and political identity

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Opinion: CT student explores connection between genetics, neuroscience and political identity

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Political polarization in America is not a new concept. Political parties exist for a reason, because the parties have, at their core, very different moral, ideological, and economic guidelines for understanding the world. If everyone agreed on how the country should be run, the party system would not exist.

It is no secret that in recent years political division has heightened. A Pew Research Center study conducted one month before the 2020 election found that 89 percent of Republican President Donald Trump’s supporters said they would be very concerned about the country’s leadership and future if Democrat Joe Biden were elected.

Conversely, 90 percent of Biden supporters said they would be very concerned about the country’s leadership and future if Trump were elected. These numbers underscore what makes 2020 politics appear so different from political division of the past: we are eliminating space for common ground and eroding our ability to come together under a national identity outside of a two-party battleground. Why? One reason seldom talked about in mainstream political debate is the extent to which our political preferences are, in part, shaped by our neurology and genetics.

Our understanding of neuroscience has greatly expanded in recent years. Studies indicate there …

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