Family trees hidden in medical records could predict your disease risk

Who is your emergency contact? The answer to that question, standard in every doctor’s office, has now been used to predict the role of genes in hundreds of conditions, from diabetes to high cholesterol. A new study combined the emergency contact information of 2 million New Yorkers with their medical data to form family trees of heritability—all without ever looking at a patient’s DNA. The approach could be used by clinics widely to predict a person’s disease risks, if patients agree to let their data be used in this way. Read more.

Hispanic family sitting in waiting room

Researchers converge on possible cause for severe morning sickness

After paralyzing nausea and intrac­table vomiting caused her to lose the baby she was carrying in 1999, Marlena Fejzo decided to use her professional skills to understand her personal tragedy. A geneticist at the University of California, Los Angeles, Fejzo began to research hyperemesis gravidarum (HG), an extreme form of the “morning sick­ness” that afflicts most pregnant women. Jeopardizing the health of mother and fetus with dehydration and malnourishment, the little-studied condition hospitalizes at least 60,000 U.S. women a year. Read more.


A human has been injected with gene-editing tools to cure his disabling disease. Here’s what you need to know

For the first time, researchers have infused a person’s blood with gene-editing tools, aiming to treat his severe inherited disease, The Associated Press (AP) reported today. The 44-year-old patient has a rare metabolic disorder called Hunter syndrome. But how big is the advance—and what does it mean for using hot new technologies such as CRISPR to help people with other genetic diseases? Read more.