DNA ‘Snapshot’ facial modeling–and predicting future Alzheimer’s risk

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/SNPSHT-Example-1-1024×972.jpg” thumb_width=”150″ /]It sounds like something from an episode of ‘Law & Order’ (US or UK), but extracting facial appearance and ancestry from a forensic DNA sample isn’t fiction anymore. Parabon NanoLabs was funded by the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) to develop Snapshot originally to dismantle improvised explosive device networks in Iraq and Afghanistan. The methodology was then transferred to DNA analysis. Parabon uses data mining and advanced machine learning to predict how the single nucleotide polymorphisms of the genome will make someone appear. This appearance profiling includes eye color, skin color, hair color, face morphology, and detailed biogeographic ancestry (see left above). The forensic art alone can age up or down the subject, adding or subtracting glasses and facial hair. These factors have successfully focused investigations for over 80 law enforcement agencies. According to Armed with Science, Parabon is now transferring the technology to predict an individual’s lifetime risk of Alzheimer’s–certainly a revolutionary use in healthcare technology.

23andMe’s FDA coup hazardous to personal DNA data security?

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/DNA-do-not-access.jpg” thumb_width=”150″ /]Genetic test developer 23andMe’s wins with the FDA [TTA 20 Feb] served to clear the path for their current Bloom Syndrome and future kits as Class II devices. It’s long been believed that the company’s real diamond mine is in selling the DNA data gained through the kits, and with consent, to major pharma and medical companies. Proof: recent collaboration announcements with Genentech and Pfizer on genetic research. But how will this data be safeguarded? It may not be a significant concern now, but “Personal DNA information will become far more critical and more important to safeguard than the details of our life circumstances”. Hackermania’s Running Wild with AnthemHealth-sized data breaches (more…)

Ear implant crossed with gene therapy for auditory repair (AU)

A hopeful Pointer to the Future for those with hearing loss–or, in fact, with nerve damage of other types–is the research out of the University of New South Wales (UNSW) on their developing a DNA-based genetic treatment, delivered by a cochlear implant, to restore hearing in deafened guinea pigs. The recombinant DNA enters the cochlear cells to produce neurotrophins, proteins that cause auditory nerve endings to regenerate, improving pitch perception and tonal range. Unfortunately the effect lasted only a few months, so that further work is required before the treatment even nears human trials. Study co-author Gary Housley also cited other implant-extending usages, such as deep brain stimulation used in Parkinson’s disease treatment and retinal implants. Published this month in Science Translational Medicine (abstract only, subscription required for full access.) The Verge, Engadget (short UNSW video included)