Telling kids about breast cancer genetic testing
Angelina Jolie says after her preventive mastectomy, she can tell her children they don't need to fear losing her to breast cancer.
July 4th, 2013
11:19 AM ET

Telling kids about breast cancer genetic testing

When Angelina Jolie announced she had undergone a preventive double mastectomy, people asked why. The actress explained that she carried a mutation in a gene known as BRCA1 that increased her chances of developing breast and ovarian cancer.

Her operation opened the nation’s eyes to just how important it is to know about hereditary cancer. According to a new study, a majority of mothers who get genetic testing talk to their children about it, especially if these women get the good news that they don't have the gene mutations.

The research, conducted at Georgetown's Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center in Washington, found that most mothers who were considering genetic testing for the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutations already were thinking of talking with their children, especially if they had a family history of breast and ovarian cancer. They also noted that moms who did not discuss their test results with their children were more likely to regret that decision later on.


Shakespeare, thou art stored in DNA
January 23rd, 2013
01:01 PM ET

Shakespeare, thou art stored in DNA

The stuff we’re made of may be the means by which we store information that we want kept around long after we're gone.

Scientists have developed a technique of storing information in DNA, the molecule found in living creatures including humans that contains genetic instructions. The experiment is discussed in a new study in the journal Nature.

Researchers aren't using DNA from any living organism, or one that was once alive; instead, they are synthesizing it.


New prenatal genetic test gives parents more answers
A new genetic test can identify potential developmental delays in a fetus or determine why a pregnancy failed, researchers say.
December 6th, 2012
04:41 PM ET

New prenatal genetic test gives parents more answers

New applications of a genetic test could help parents learn more about the genetics of their unborn children.

Three studies released Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine highlight the use of microarray testing as the latest technology in chromosome analysis.  Researchers suggest using this test to identify potential intellectual disabilities, developmental delays, autism and congenital abnormalities as well as determining why a pregnancy failed.

During pregnancy a number of tests are suggested by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists based on the mother's age, medical history or ethnic or family background, along with results of other tests. Chromosomal microarray analysis is a genetic test that finds small amounts of genetic material that traditional testing such as karyotyping cannot detect.

The genetic material is obtained during a regular amniocentesis (where small amounts of amniotic fluid and cells are taken from the sac surrounding the fetus and tested during the second trimester of pregnancy) or another commonly used test called CVS, or chorionic villus sampling (where a small amount of cells is taken from the placenta during the first trimester).  FULL POST

New barcoding technique may predict prostate cancer severity
A new technique that could predict the severity of prostate cancer may be available within five years.
October 10th, 2012
12:45 PM ET

New barcoding technique may predict prostate cancer severity

A newly-developed gene barcoding technique may predict how severe a man’s prostate cancer is likely to be, according to new research from the Institute of Cancer Research (ICR) in London.

The findings are a "very important" development towards achieving a cure, says Johann de Bono, lead author of the study published this week in the British medical journal The Lancet.

The blood tests can select aggressive prostate cancers by their specific patterns of gene activity. By reading the pattern of genes switched on and off in blood cells, researchers can accurately identify which cancers had the worst survival rates. In response to this, doctors can adjust treatment accordingly.

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Filed under: Cancer • Conditions • Genetics

How you vote may be in your genes
Our genetic makeup may play a role in our political behavior, according to researchers.
August 28th, 2012
11:52 AM ET

How you vote may be in your genes

Ever wonder why we vote the way we do? Is it the influence of family? Or is it because of our culture or where we grew up? Could be, but now researchers are saying it might be in our genes.

Scientists have always wondered what drives our political behavior, and why some of us are passionate over some issues and not others. Now investigators have found it could be something deeper than the "I Like Ike" button your grandfather wore.

Traditionally, social scientists have felt that our political preferences were influenced by environmental factors as well as how and where we grew up. But recently, studies are finding it could be biological and that our genes also influence our political tastes.

In a review out of the United States Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, data showed that genetic makeup has some influence on why people differ on such issues as unemployment, abortion, even the death penalty.  By pinpointing certain genes in the human body, scientists can predict parts of a person's political ideology. FULL POST

'Love for Alyssa': Examining arthrogryposis
July 2nd, 2012
07:35 AM ET

'Love for Alyssa': Examining arthrogryposis

Arthrogryposis has presented many challenges to Alyssa Jadyn Hagstrom. At just 8 years old, the condition has left her with no use of her legs and arms, and limited use of her fingers.

Alyssa is the subject of photographer Jennifer Kaczmarek’s exhibition called “Love for Alyssa,” which aims to use photography, video and an online blog to raise funds for Alyssa’s and others’ medical needs. The project has put a spotlight on the little-known condition.

Arthrogryposis causes limited range of motion in children’s joints and affects one in 3,000 infants, according to Donald Bae, an orthopedic surgeon at Boston Children’s Hospital.

Personalized genetic testing not recommended
May 22nd, 2012
05:00 PM ET

Personalized genetic testing not recommended

Getting personalized genetic tests that can pinpoint your risk of developing a number of diseases like cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer's or heart disease are not yet "ready for prime time," according to a new recommendation Tuesday from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists

ACOG says while these tests could be important tools down the road, right now they should only be used in a clinical trial setting, where experts can put the information into a proper context.

The College published their opinion "Personalized Genomic Testing for Disease Risk" in the June issue of Obstetrics & Gynecology.  The advocacy group says the lack of rigorous scientific evidence that the tests are valuable and improve clinical care was the basis for the opinion.

Are mean people born that way?
April 18th, 2012
09:27 AM ET

Are mean people born that way?

Let's face it - everyone isn't nice. In fact, being nice is more difficult for some people than others. But is it possible that "niceness" is predetermined by our genes?

A new study in the journal Psychological Science suggests this: If you think the world is full of threatening people, you're not going feel compelled to be generous by doing things like volunteering and donating to charity. But if you have certain gene variants, you're more likely to be nice anyway.

Now hold on a minute - this doesn't give your mean neighbor an excuse to blame his DNA for not letting kids on the block play on his lawn.

It's a little more complicated than that.

April 9th, 2012
01:51 PM ET

Santorum's daughter to leave hospital

Former Sen. Rick Santorum's daughter Isabella was released from the hospital Monday night, a spokesman tells CNN. The GOP presidential candidate interrupted his campaign Friday, when his 3-year-old daughter was hospitalized for reasons the campaign did not disclose.

Isabella suffers from a chromosomal disorder called Trisomy 18, where extra genetic material is present on chromosome 18. The extra material interferes with normal development, according to the National Institutes of Health.

“We appreciate the outpouring of support and prayers," said spokesman Hogan Gidley. "The prayers worked, she’s doing much better, so we’re thankful for that.  It puts things in perspective.”

Santorum expects to return to the campaign trail Tuesday.

Filed under: Children's Health • Genetics

Genes found to increase childhood obesity risk
April 8th, 2012
01:01 PM ET

Genes found to increase childhood obesity risk

Researchers have identified two genetic variations that appear to increase the risk of childhood obesity.

The study authors took data from North American, Australian and European meta-analysis of 14 studies consisting of 5,530 obese children and 8,318 non-obese kids. The team compared the genetic data.  FULL POST

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About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.

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