DNA

Ancestry.com Announces COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Testing

If you’ve recently taken an AncestryDNA test, Ancestry.com is inviting you to supply some information that could assist in the fight against COVID-19.

Quoting an article in the Ancestry.com Blog:

“…Ancestry is launching a survey through our Personal Discoveries Project® to enable a genome-wide association study to explore how different people respond to this novel coronavirus. Our hope is that, through this knowledge, the pace of research into new preventive and therapeutic treatments for COVID-19 can be accelerated.

My DNA Test Claims that I Am Someone Else!

If you have your DNA tested and the test results indicate you are someone other than yourself, the cause might be something other than a mix-up at the DNA testing lab. Instead, it probably indicates the DNA that you are carrying in your body is not the DNA you were born with.

Did you ever have a bone marrow transplant? When you have an allogeneic bone marrow or stem cell transplant, the blood-producing cells in your bone marrow are killed off by radiation or chemotherapy and then replaced with functioning cells from the person who donated the bone marrow. The technical term for this process is allogeneic hematopoietic cell transplantation.

An allogeneic stem cell transplant is most often used to treat blood cancers, such as leukemia and lymphoma, and certain types of blood or immune system disorders.

This may explain “strange results” some people have found in their DNA tests.

Series Premiere Airdate Change: ABC News Presents New Prime-Time Series “The Genetic Detective”

I wrote about this new television series about a month ago at https://bit.ly/362qMiN. However, there has been a change announced since then. Originally slated for a May 19 launch, the series will now roll out on Tuesday, June 2.

The following is a new press release written by ABC News:

ABC NEWS PRESENTS NEW PRIME-TIME SERIES ‘THE GENETIC DETECTIVE’

CeCe Moore

Investigative Genetic Genealogist CeCe Moore Helps Police Uncover a Criminal Suspect’s Identity Through Crime Scene DNA, Research and Revolutionary Technology

Moore Takes on Her First-Ever Cold Case – the Double Homicide of Jay Cook and Tanya Van Cuylenborg – in Series Premiere, Tuesday, May 26 (10:00 – 11:00 p.m. EDT), on ABC [Update: now rescheduled to June 2.]

ABC News presents a new prime-time series, “The Genetic Detective,” that follows investigative genetic genealogist CeCe Moore and her work with DNA technology company Parabon NanoLabs. In the series, Moore and her team are revolutionizing crime solving by working with police departments and accessible crime scene DNA to help trace the path of a criminal suspect’s family tree, uncover their identity and bring them to justice. “The Genetic Detective” premieres Tuesday, May 26 (10:00 – 11:00 p.m. EDT), on ABC. [Update: now rescheduled to June 2.]

Forensic Genomics, a Dynamic New Peer-Reviewed Journal, is Launching in the Fall of 2020

The following announcement was written by Mary Ann Liebert, Inc.:

Forensic Genomics, a dynamic new peer-reviewed journal, will launch its preview issue at the annual International Symposium on Human Identification (ISHI) in September 2020.

Forensic Genomics elucidates modern advances in genetic testing, genome sequencing, and analysis which are enabling investigators to break through previously impenetrable barriers in forensic testing and enable advances in live and cold case investigations.

Published by Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. and spearheaded by Editor-in-Chief David Mittelman, PhD founder and CEO of Othram Inc., the Journal will be published quarterly in print and online with open access options; it will serve as the cornerstone publication of forensic genetics, genomics, and genealogy.

MyHeritage Updates the Theory of Family Relativity™

MyHeritage (the sponsor of this newsletter) has refreshed all the data for the Theory of Family Relativity™. This much-anticipated update can provide you with new and improved theories that explain how you and your DNA Matches may be related, give you answers about relationships that have baffled you, and offer new insights about your ancestors and family relationships.

If you are not familiar with MyHeritage’s Theory of Family Relativity™, the best description I have found is that it “leverages all the data available on MyHeritage, such as family trees and historical records, to provide you with plausible theories as to how you may be related to a given DNA Match.” The results are exactly what they are claimed to be: THEORIES, not proven facts. In short, the MyHeritage computers have compared millions of DNA records against your DNA sample and said, “These are possibilities, you might want to check these to verify whether or not they are your relatives.” These possibilities then need to be reviewed by you to determine if the theory is really a fact or not.

Your Risk of Getting Sick From Covid-19 May Lie in Your Genes

You have inherited many things from your ancestors, including a possible risk of catching the Covid-19 virus. According to an article by Kristen V Brown and Michelle Fay Cortez in the Bloomberg web site:

Some people experience Covid-19 as nothing more than a mild cold, and others exhibit no symptoms at all. Then there are the thousands who sicken and, often, die. Scientists are working hard to understand the underlying reasons for such huge discrepancies in symptoms and outcomes. No one knows the answer yet. One theory: It is locked deep in our genetic makeup.

The Genetic Detective: ABC News Series Follows Investigative Genealogist

The following announcement was written by ABC News:

CeCe Moore

From ABC News comes “THE GENETIC DETECTIVE” debuting TUESDAY, MAY 19 (10:00 – 11:00 p.m. EDT). The all-new series follows investigative genetic genealogist CeCe Moore as she uses her unique research skills to transform the face of crime solving. By working with police departments and crime scene DNA, Moore is able to trace the path of a violent criminal’s family tree to reveal their identity and help bring them to justice. “The Genetic Detective” is a co-production with ABC News and XCON Productions. Carrie Cook and Marc Dorian serve as co-executive producers for ABC News. Christine Connor is executive producer and Christopher K. Dillon is co-executive producer for XCon Productions. CeCe Moore is producer.”

Ken Burns Presents the Gene: An Intimate History

Siddhartha Mukherjee

What happens when a world-famous filmmaker reads a book written by leading physician, biologist, oncologist, and author and then decides to use the book as the basis for a 4-hour PBS special broadcast about genetics? The result is a documentary called The Gene: An Intimate History.

And, yes, quite a bit of this documentary will discuss the things that people inherit from their ancestors.

Ken Burns Presents the Gene: An Intimate History will be broadcast on April 7 and 14 on PBS. Pulitzer Prize-winning author Siddhartha Mukherjee, M.D., and acclaimed filmmaker Ken Burns have collaborated on the new documentary inspired by Mukherjee’s best-selling 2016 book, The Gene: An Intimate History.

Quoting from the show’s web site at https://www.pbs.org/kenburns/the-gene/:

N.J. Lawmaker Wants to Make DNA Test Results Your Personal Property

A proposed law in New Jersey would make the results of a DNA test the sole property of the person tested, a bid to give consumers who use popular genetic testing services more control over their personal data and their privacy.

Assemblyman Roy Freiman, D-Somerset, said that people have a right to know where their personal genetic data is going, even if it is used for good causes.

“We don’t want to impede upon breakthroughs in medical technology and advances and cures,” Freiman said, “but there’s also a balance of: what about the individual?”

You can read more in an article by Joe Hernandez in the WHYY web site at: http://bit.ly/2xzyV1c.

Historic Migration Patterns Are Written in Americans’ DNA

Genetic, geographic, and demographic data from more than 30,000 Americans reveal more genetic diversity within ancestry groups than previously thought.

The following is a press release written by the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard:

Studies of DNA from ancient human fossils have helped scientists to trace human migration routes around the world thousands of years ago. But can modern DNA tell us anything about more recent movements, especially in an ancestrally diverse melting pot like the United States?

To find out, researchers from the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) analyzed data provided by more than 32,000 Americans as part of the National Geographic Society’s Genographic Project. This project, launched in 2005, asked Americans to provide their DNA along with their geographic and demographic data, including birth records and family histories, to learn more about human migration.

DNA Testing Kits: What Are the Privacy Risks?

Call me paranoid but I do believe that some people who have their DNA tested are not aware of all the privacy issues. Quoting from an article by Victoria Mcintosh, a Certified Information Privacy Technologist, as published in the CompariTech web site at http://bit.ly/3csasuC:

“Since DNA is health information, many users may expect the data is protected by privacy legislation. HIPAA, for example, is the well-known health privacy legislation in the United States and in Canada health privacy laws exist in most provinces. If a doctor requests genetic testing, safeguards and limitations on use are enforced by law.

She Got a Hysterectomy Because of Family History. Then She Found Out She Was Adopted.

Perhaps you should have a DNA test BEFORE any surgery that appears to be for an inherited medical condition. Indeed, consumer genetic testing is resulting in some truly traumatic medical surprises.

You might want to read the article by Libby Copeland at http://bit.ly/2TnxXxq.

Texas Man Close to Exoneration after a DNA Computer Algorithm Leads to New Suspect

Many of us have read about the use of DNA to identify murderers and other violent criminals. However, DNA is equally good when used for the opposite purpose: to PROVE INNOCENCE.

For instance, Lydell Grant was in prison for murder. But an emerging form of DNA technology, which has also come under scrutiny, is helping to free him in an unprecedented case.

Nearly a decade into his life sentence for murder, Lydell Grant was escorted out of a Texas prison in November with his hands held high, free on bail, all thanks to DNA re-examined by a software program.

“The last nine years, man, I felt like an animal in a cage,” Grant, embracing his mother and brother, told the crush of reporters awaiting him in Houston. “Especially knowing that I didn’t do it.”

Cutbacks by Ancestry, 23andMe Signal a Shakeout for DNA Industry

From an article by Kristen V Brown in the Bloomberg magazine’s web site:

Anne Wojcicki, chief executive officer and co-founder of 23andMe Inc.

“Consumer DNA-testing firms are closing up shop and cutting jobs, as a lull in sales forces the industry to move beyond the genealogy tests that turned a handful of well-funded companies into household names.

“At least three companies have closed down or suspended their operations over the past year, while the two DNA-testing bellwethers, Ancestry.com LLC and 23andMe Inc., each cut approximately 100 jobs in recent weeks. Others have pulled tests from the market thanks to slow sales.”

The full article may be found at: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-02-25/the-rise-and-fall-of-home-dna-testing.

New Genetic Associations Identified for Heart Failure

Another victory for DNA studies as described in the 23andMe Blog:

Researchers at Johns Hopkins University have identified three genes associated with heart failure, a devastating condition that affects an estimated 23 million people worldwide.

The study, the largest to date genome-wide association study on heart failure, also found shared genetic associations between heart failure and known heart failure risk factors such as hypertension, diabetes, and atrial fibrillation. The scientists also found strong associations with pulmonary conditions and musculoskeletal traits.

Combining Genetics With Genealogy to Identify the Dead in Unmarked Graves

From an article written by the University of Montreal and published in the phys.org web site:

“In Quebec, gravestones did not come into common use until the second half of the 19th century, so historical cemeteries contain many unmarked graves. Inspired by colleagues at Barcelona’s Pompeu Fabra University, a team of researchers in genetics, archaeology and demography from three Quebec universities (Université de Montréal, Université du Québec à Chicoutimi and Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières) conducted a study in which they combined genealogical information from BALSAC (a Quebec database that is the only one of its kind in the world) with genetic information from more than 960 modern Quebecers in order to access the genetic profile of Quebec’s historical population. The results, published in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology, suggest the capabilities that this method may offer in the near future.”

Also:

Geneanet Launches a New Service: Geneanet DNA

Another DNA testing service has launched online. According to Geneanet’s home page:

“With Geneanet DNA, let’s build the first European DNA database together

“Millions of you have already taken a genealogical DNA test. And more and more of you are asking to be able to upload their DNA data to Geneanet for finding new relatives.

DNA Test Results are Life-Changing for a Connecticut Man

If you have your DNA tested, please make sure you are prepared for surprising changes, even confusion and huge emotional upheavals.

For instance, Enfield, Connecticut resident Ryan Simpson bought a DNA test kit when it was on sale. He later said, “I was not expecting to find anything other am I really Irish? Or am I really German? Or something like that.” Instead, he found out that the man he thought was his father was not even related to him. Simpson started asking his parents some questions.

The full story is available in an article by Caitlin Burchill in the NBC Connecticut web site at: http://bit.ly/2OTN8f8.

Question: who are your TRUE relatives? Are you mentally prepared to find out?

Layoffs at Genetic Testing Companies Reflect the Changing Market

This is a follow-up to articles I published recently: the layoff at 23andMe announced at http://bit.ly/2vhC1FH and the layoff at Ancestry announced at http://bit.ly/2SsW0t5.

An article by Nicole Wetsman in The Verge web site adds more information in a review of today’s DNA testing business and suggestions as to the underlying causes of these business setbacks. You can find Nicole Wetsman’s article in The Verge at http://bit.ly/2H2ZJYW.

This DNA Testing Firm Said it wanted to Bring Closure to Families of Murder Victims. Then It Blocked a Rival from Using Its Database to Solve Crimes.

An interesting story about competitive DNA firms may be found in an article by Peter Aldhous in the BuzzFeed News web site at: https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/peteraldhous/family-tree-dna-parabon-fbi-foia.