Genetics Less than a minute

The Week in Genomics

By Rhonda Reinhart featured image Jonathan Bailey, NHGRI

New service can predict a baby’s health before it’s even conceived: By virtually mixing two people’s DNA to create a digital embryo, GenePeeks’ Matchright technology will allow parents to screen out genetic diseases. But because the technology can also be used to predict traits such as height and skin pigmentation, some worry that health may not always be the main concern. The service will be available in two U.S. fertility clinics later this month.

Insurance fears keep patients from genetic testing: Now that the cost of sequencing the human genome has dropped to $1,000 — down from more than $1 million just a decade ago — information about our DNA is more accessible to us than ever. But because the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) doesn’t apply to life, disability, and long-term care insurance, many people are eschewing the tests for fear of being denied coverage.

Study suggests autism begins in utero: According to a small study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, the brains of children with autism contain small abnormal patches in the cortex. Because the cortex forms before birth, these results suggest that autism begins during the second or third trimester, researchers say.