Here’s what caught our attention in the news this week:
Foods fortified with folic acid play an integral role in reducing the risk for pregnancies affected with brain and spinal cord defects, namely spina bifida. Different breads and cereals have been made to contain folic acid since 1988. Now, the FDA has also approved foods made with corn masa to be fortified with folic acid, in order to address the rate of pregnancies with neural tube defects in the Hispanic community, which have proven more difficult to reduce.
Senators Elizabeth Warren and Mike Enzi have recently introduced the Genetic Research Privacy Protection Act –a bill that would ensure the safekeeping of research participants’ genetic information. Genetic information collection is important for large-scale studies that could drive better understanding of the genetic basis of diseases like cancer. There is, however, fear that participants could lose their jobs or be denied insurance coverage based on their genes if their information is not kept private.
Scientists in Singapore are developing a microfilter as part of a new non-invasive test for detecting chromosomal abnormalities. This technology would separate maternal and fetal DNA and the fetal DNA would then be analyzed for genetic anomalies. The scientists believe their microfilter could also potentially be used to monitor the number of tumor cells circulating in a patient’s blood as they progress through treatment.
A study published in Nature Biotech uncovered a handful of people who, according to their genes, should show signs of genetic disease but are healthy. Traditionally, genetic diseases have been studied by looking at mutations that lead to the disease. In this case, the researchers intend to find mutations that may play a role in preventing the manifestation of disease.
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