The start of a brand new year is a good time to take a moment and look back upon what was accomplished in the previous year. Many genealogy and family history companies are posting blogs on that topic This includes 23andMe, who put it all together in a blog titled “Our Top Five from 2016”. They featured information about their top 5 blogs that were written and posted in 2016.
One of the things mentioned in 23andMe’s blog involves CRISPR, which 23andMe describes as “a simple and quick way of snipping out deleterious sections of DNA and stitching in “corrected” sections.”
CRISPR is controversial. Some are concerned that using CRISPR to edit DNA could be a “Pandora’s Box.” There is fear that once the technology is used, there is no going back. Most of this concern revolves around the idea of using CRISPR to alter human embryos (after scientists in the UK were given permission to use CRISPR to edit the genomes of human embryos.)
On the other side of the story, CRISPR might have the potential for treating diseases and other conditions. In their blog, 23andMe points out that this is the third year in a row they have been singling out CRISPR. They note that CRISPR has been used to treat sickle cell anemia and lung cancer.
They also note that researchers who are working on treating HIV found that the virus could quickly develop mutations that resist editing. In 2017, you can expect 23andMe to continue singling out situations where CRISPR has been used for creating gene therapies.
In 2016, 23andMe launched two separate efforts meant to help alleviate some of the disparities that currently exist when it comes to medical research. For a long time, medical research was focused largely on people of European ancestry. Less than 5 percent of genetic research on disease includes people of African ancestry.
Both of the efforts made by 23andMe to include a more diverse group of people in medical research studies are NIH-funded studies. One effort is led by Kasia Bryc, a senior scientist and population geneticist at 23andMe. The study will use admixture mapping to identify genetic variants that are asscociated with disease in under-represented populations. This study uses 23andMe’s existing database, which includes a large number of African Americans and Latinos who have mixed ancestry.
The other study that 23andMe is working on is the African American Sequencing Project. This project is led by Adam Auton, a 23andMe senior scientist and statistical geneticist. The protect will help address health research disparities by creating a genetic resource for health research in African Americans that could improve understanding of diseases in minority populations.
Related Articles at FamilyTree.com:< Return To Blog