Tag Archives: Genetic Testing

Consumer DNA Screening for Cancer by “23 and Me” Wins FDA Approval

Consumer DNA Screening for Cancer by "23 and Me" Wins FDA Approval
Consumer DNA Screening for Cancer by “23 and Me” Wins FDA Approval

What if you could check your cancer risk in the comfort of your own home? One popular DNA testing company recently won approval to offer the first consumer test for genetic mutations linked to breast cancer.

In-Home DNA Screening

At a cost of $199, 23andMe’s DNA test is considerably less expensive than testing in a medical office, which can run into thousands of dollars. Existing customers of 23andMe are expected to have access to the test within the next few weeks.

BRCA gene mutations have been linked to a higher risk of developing breast cancer. While there are more than one thousand known mutations, the DNA test from 23andMe screens for three specific mutations that are found primarily in people of Ashkenazi Jewish descent.

It’s estimated that one in 40 Ashkenazi Jews has one of the mutations, which results in a 45 to 85 percent chance of women developing breast cancer by the age of 70 as well as a higher risk of ovarian cancer. Men can also carry one of the mutations along with a risk of breast cancer.

How Effective Is Consumer Genetic Testing?

Geneticist Eric Topol of the Scripps Institute cautions that 23andMe’s test is a start, but testing needs to be more comprehensive. Topol adds that, since the test is limited to three mutations, people may get a false sense of security when they are actually carrying other mutations outside the scope of the test.

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Will CRISPR Gene Editing Play a New Role in Cancer Treatment?

New Research Is Unlocking the Mystery of Cancer
New Research Is Unlocking the Mystery of Cancer

As science makes connections between DNA mutations and cancer, gene-targeted therapies have become a valuable way to make cancer treatment more effective. Now researchers are pondering how advanced genome editing technology might impact the future of cancer research and treatment.

Solving the Puzzle of DNA

All biological lifeforms are composed of three primary substances. DNA, the building block of genes, uses RNA as a messenger to control proteins, which are the cellular “worker bees.” RNA and proteins can be targeted with drugs, medicines and other treatments, but DNA is more complicated.

CRISPR is a process that lets scientists actually manipulate and make changes to genetic material in cells. In theory, CRISPR could be used to “edit” diseases such as cancer right out of patients.

Can Genetic Editing Improve Cancer Treatment?

Finding the precise genes that drive cancer development can be like looking for a needle in a haystack. With the help of CRISPR, researchers can replace normal genes with cancer-causing ones to get a better picture of how the mutations work and thereby create more effective treatment solutions.

According to Dr. Irene Chong, a clinical scientist at the Institute of Cancer Research in London, the precision of CRISPR holds possible ramifications for future cancer treatment. Doctors may eventually be able to target and correct genetic mutations that cause a predisposition to cancer.

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New Genetic Tests May Detect Some Asymptomatic Pancreatic Cancers Early

Rare but Deadly Pancreatic Cancer can Sneak up on Your Body's Immune system. Doctors and Researchers are Looking for Ways to Fight and Detect.
Rare but Deadly Pancreatic Cancer can Sneak up on Your Body’s Immune system. Doctors and Researchers are Looking for Ways to Fight and Detect.

Despite advancements in cancer treatment, pancreatic cancer continues to have one of the lower survival rates of all forms. Scientists are encouraged that a new test may increase the effectiveness of early detection and treatment.

Improving Early Detection of Pancreatic Cancer

Medical scans routinely uncover pancreatic cysts, which are small pockets of fluid. While most are benign, some can lead to pancreatic cancer. This poses a dilemma for doctors, who know the importance of early detection but are reluctant to recommend potentially unnecessary surgery.

Dr. Aatur D. Singhi and his team at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) set out to find a way to test pancreatic cysts before surgery, rather than after. The result was PancreaSeq®, a procedure in which fluid is removed from a cyst and tested for 10 different types of tumor genes.

Breakthroughs in Cancer Testing

The UPMC study is noteworthy for other reasons as well. It was the first to evaluate testing that incorporates next-generation genetic sequencing and the first to be conducted in a certified and accredited clinical laboratory rather than a research facility.

During testing, PancreaSeq® was 100 percent accurate in classifying subjects who had a common precursor to pancreatic cancer. In addition, it also identified cysts that would progress to cancerous lesions with 100 percent accuracy and did not include any false positives.

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