The culture that is Boston or the culture that is China/ Or both?

by on June 16, 2017 at 12:34 am in Current Affairs, Law, Medicine, Science | Permalink

Boston-based DNA sequencing company is offering to decode the complete genomes of newborns in China, leading some to ask how much parents should know about their children’s genes at birth.

Veritas Genetics says the test, ordered by a doctor, will report back on 950 serious early- and later-life disease risks, 200 genes connected to drug reactions, and more than 100 physical traits a child is likely to have.

Called myBabyGenome, the service costs $1,500 and could help identify serious hidden problems in newborns, the company says.

But some doctors say the plan is a huge overstep. “I think it’s vastly premature to peddle a completely unproven set of data, especially to a vulnerable population like neonates,” says Jim Evans, a professor of genetics at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill.

The problem is that the risk posed by many disease genes remains uncertain. Even if a child has a mutation in a gene, he or she may never be affected, prompting debate among doctors about whether it’s useful to inform parents.

The Veritas test also steps into uncharted territory by making predictions about how children will look and act: how wide their nose will be, whether they will overeat or have a “novelty seeking” personality, and even whether they are likely to go bald decades in the future.

Evans is sharply critical of any effort to predict traits. Especially with psychology, he says, genetic factors aren’t well understood. “You run the risk of predestination based on bad science,” he says. “Frankly, I think it’s a little bit crazy to do genetic tests on your newborn to find out if 40 years from now they are going to be bald.”

Here is the full story, it has further interesting points.

1 prior_test2 June 16, 2017 at 12:58 am

What, no plausibly deniable plaudits praising a small step to our better eugenics future?

All it takes is faith, after all. And a willingness to get past the road bumps of history.


2 Potato June 16, 2017 at 1:40 am

Selling genetic information is the same as the holocaust.

Interesting leap of logic.

Care to elaborate ?


3 Crikey June 16, 2017 at 1:06 am

If they are giving inaccurate information, or, and this is important, giving information that there is no reason to be accurate — without making its inaccuracy clear — then they are engaging in fraud, same as if I sold you an empty game console box on ebay.

Assuming the information is actually accurate, I think we can be confident most parents will attempt to use it to help their children, even if they fall short of goal. If the parents hate their children as a result of the information, well, they probably would have found some other excuse to hate them.

Of course, some poor bastards will suffer as a result.


4 chuck martel June 16, 2017 at 6:26 am

It’s scientism and believing that tests like this are meaningful is the first step toward their being abused by both business and government. Some people accept the usefulness of any microscopic theory as long as its advanced by an academic in a white lab coat.


5 rayward June 16, 2017 at 7:11 am

The full story doesn’t say whether genome sequencing can be done on a fetus. If it can, what would be more objectionable if the sequencing revealed less than what’s desired by the parents: aborting the fetus or exterminating the newborn child? Of course, short of exterminating the newborn would be abandonment or neglect of the less than perfect child. Is this entire line of inquiry morally repugnant or is it essential for creating a more intelligent and productive species on a planet with limited resources and capacity for supporting the species.


6 rayward June 16, 2017 at 7:29 am

For those who follow such things, here’s the latest in the continuing series on race and intelligence. If Asians are more intelligent than us, should we encourage the production of Asian babies and discourage the production of the rest? And what actions would be acceptable in discouraging the production of the rest?


7 Why Aren't We Already Intelligent? June 16, 2017 at 9:18 am

If intelligence is a useful trait, then surely the genes for it would have already spread throughout human populations? Surely anyone who says one particular population of humans has a significant genetic advantage with regards to intelligence, is also saying intelligence is not very useful, otherwise that genetic advantage would have spread to other populations.


8 The Lunatic June 16, 2017 at 9:59 am

“Useful” is not an objective, universal descriptor of anything. It’s always a matter of “Useful for what?”

And genetic selection is about useful-to-reproduction-under-current-conditions, not useful-for-human-ends. We all might be far, far better off in human terms if people were more intelligent; if that doesn’t specifically pay off in more descendants who have more descendants, evolution doesn’t care that everybody would be 400% happier if we all were as smart as Einstein.


9 sort_of_knowledgeable June 16, 2017 at 11:54 am

Well general intelligence has spread throughout the human population. An extra 5 or 10 points of intelligence may not always have been such a great advantage, especially if it came with some slight disadvantage such weaker eyesight or immune system to a tendency piss people off.


10 Careless June 17, 2017 at 3:20 pm

If intelligence is a useful trait, then surely the genes for it would have already spread throughout human populations?

If height/beauty/strength were useful traits, then surely the gens for it would have already spread throughout the human populations?

Except they’re all positively correlated with sexual success, and they’re not evenly distributed. Just like the genes for intelligence aren’t


11 Niroscience June 16, 2017 at 8:27 am

“think it’s vastly premature to peddle a completely unproven set of data, especially to a vulnerable population like neonate”

A) just call them babies when you’re talking to a journalist.
B) I don’t think the babies are the target audience of the product…


12 Axa June 16, 2017 at 9:23 am

The keyword to understand the mess of an article is “risk”, which appears 9 times.

Then, it’s time to look at the differences between screening and diagnostic tests. A positive result in a screening test means “at risk” while a positive result in a diagnostic test means “actual problem”. This difference is mentioned very casually in the article “Even if a child has a mutation in a gene, he or she may never be affected”. So, we can infer genome sequencing is just an screening test and results are just probabilities.

The real use of genome sequencing is almost ignored: helping people with undiagnosed illness. If the doctor knows nothing about the origin of an illness, even gene sequencing biased to positive results is a very welcome aid.


13 The Lunatic June 16, 2017 at 9:25 am

The clergyman doesn’t want commoners reading the Scriptures and forming their own ideas? What a surprise.


14 rayward June 16, 2017 at 10:56 am

Ask William Tyndale what he thinks.


15 Luis Pedro Coelho June 16, 2017 at 11:39 am

The culture that is North Carolina


16 June 17, 2017 at 12:01 am

Previously an article suggested that surgeons selection should be tested on
sweating. It is a waste of resources to test the suitability of being surgeons
after they have been trained.

What are at issues are the ability to learn and their performance on life and
death matters under extreme stress. This can be tested before they are trained
as surgeons. Though this should not be compulsory the info should be provided
as advisory before the long and expansive path to be trained as surgeons,
or when they were born. Is there any patterns of performance under stress?

The OECD PISA project had data on over 540000 students globally and the info
on performance under the proxies for stress like anxiety levels, competition,
etc are available. This is not white coat lab data. If there is no structure
on their performance the data points should be randomly distributed. As it
stands the distribution of the data roughly exibited a sloping downward pitch
fork. Some populations thrives under stress while others with degraded
performance. The many European populations tended to be on the pitch fork
handle at the lower stress regions while the populations mostly descended from
the Viking like Swede, Dane, Norwegian, and historical penal colonies like
Australian and Kiwi, and Canadian (not sure why it is here), and the East
Asians are on the relatively higher upper performance fork. That raise a
question if this is genetics.

23andMe blog summarizes the alleles at this SNP as

rs4680(A) = Worrier. Met, more exploratory (creative ?), lower COMT enzymatic activity, therefore higher dopamine levels; lower pain threshold, enhanced vulnerability to stress, yet also more efficient at processing information under most conditions

rs4680(G) = Warrior. Val, less exploratory, higher COMT enzymatic activity, therefore lower dopamine levels; higher pain threshold, better stress resiliency, albeit with a modest reduction in executive cognition performance under most (gentle) conditions

and the global distribution of them,

Interestingly that the African also have higher percentage with warrior gene.
Thus my gut feeling is that it is more about ‘grit’, ‘hard working’, ‘doing exam’ and ‘competition in market place’ rather than IQ. Big surprise to those promoting ‘grit’ in US, the East Asians might have more ‘grit’ as well.

Is there any wonder why there are many surgeons from India in USA?


17 Ricky Tylor June 17, 2017 at 1:16 pm

It’s nice to know about the culture there and it is very important that we know about these things because that way we will be able to understand things better and also able to do well. As a trader, I am working with OctaFX broker who help me with staying aware of the happening around with their day to day market updates which are not just free but also very effective and now they have added market insights feature, so that is all super helpful.


Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: