FDA Allows 23AndMe to Use Its Genetic Kits to Test for Bloom Syndrome

In a significant boost for 23andMe, the Food and Drug Administration has allowed the direct-to-consumer genetics Silicon Valley startup to use its kit to test for a serious genetic disorder known as Bloom Syndrome.

In November 2013, the FDA ordered 23andMe to stop marketing and selling its kits as a way to test for genetic health information. This marks the first time the FDA has allowed for a home “carrier screening” genetic test. (Ars examined the state of direct-to-consumer genetic testing in April 2014.) Since the 2013 ban, 23andMe customers could only use the service as a way to find out more about their genealogy.

Source: FDA allows 23AndMe to use its genetic kits to test for Bloom Syndrome

While the ability to test for yourself can lead to quite some insight.  From my own experience, discovering family medical history can be difficult.  And given random mutation, it’s possible you might have something that wouldn’t be covered in family history.

Either way, watch Gattaca if you haven’t already.

How Much Coffee You Need Is a Genetic Trait

An international research team has found six new genes underlying our coffee-slurping ways.

The work, led by Marilyn Cornelis, a research associate at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, found a total of eight genes, two of which had been identified in prior work by Cornelis and others. Two of the new genes were related to metabolism of caffeine and two were related to its psychoactive effects.

Source: Java in the genes

While the finding may not be hugely surprising, they should prove useful. Pinpointing a genetic link to caffeine reaction could allows medics and nutritionists to more accurately identify who can and can’t cope with the stimulant in their diet—and provide advice accordingly to target benefits and minimize health risk.


Study: Is Bitter Sensitivity Genetic?

Scientists have been studying a particular taste receptor gene to understand why some of us may be more predisposed to liking bitter foods and hoppy beers. And a new study sheds new light on the bitter gene connection.

…Duffy says she herself must not have a version of the gene that enables bitter compounds to bind tightly. She describes herself as a “nontaster.” So when she eat greens or Brussels sprouts, she experiences them as sweet.

“To me, they’re naturally sweet,” Duffy says. And she enjoys them.

Compare this with people who have a version of the receptor gene that makes them very sensitive to bitter. For these individuals, the strong perception of bitterness overwhelms the natural sweetness in greens.

Source: From Kale To Pale Ale, A Love of Bitter May Be In Your Genes

It might also explain why some smell a bouquet/etc when tasting wine or whisky/scotch.  Since the human genome project, we’re moving towards a world resembling Gattaca, where we’ve mined the genome enough to know if your VO2 Max will determine your athleticism among other genetic indicators.  While it’d be good to know about predispositions to heart disease and cancer, insurance companies could leverage that information to deny you coverage because (understandably) you are a higher risk.   We’ve always found a way to stratify people…