Gene and Tonic: The ACA Turns Five, Ten Reasons to Have Your Genome Sequenced, and Humbled by the Ancients


Actually there was no news this week.  It turns out the whole industry took the week off to watch the stunning Ken Burns documentary on cancer.  

No, that’s not true.  We did find some news.  

How about this?  The Affordable Care Act turned five this past week.  Happy Birthday, ObamaCare!  So we thought we’d share some important numbers about the ACA:

11.7 million:   the number of Americans who have signed up for 2015 coverage.

46%:   the increase in enrollment from 2014 to 2015.

0.3%:  the increase in new patient/doctor visits.  (Remember, one of the criticisms was that there weren’t enough doctors to pull this off.)

5:  the number of Supreme Court Justices it takes to screw it up for the newly insured in the current case against the ACA.

4:  this is the number of words that the case is all about.

828:  This is the number of pages that Congress used to provide a clear context as to what those four words mean.

A decision on the bill’s fate is expected later this year.

Also later this year, on November 21, it's Know Your Genome Day.  It was announced this week that on that day anyone can go to Dallas, Texas, have their whole genome sequenced, and receive a clinical interpretation of it. The event is hosted by Genome Magazine--this is a new magazine out for patients and consumers--and by the sequencing company, Illumina.  But the event sponsors haven’t made it clear yet just why you should have your whole genome sequenced.

So we came up with ten reasons of our own why you should have your genome sequenced:

1.  So you can find out that you married your first cousin.

2.  To prove to your business partner that you’re really only 3% Neanderthal.

3.  To find out there’s a strong possibility that you might die at some point in the future. 

4.  So you'll have definitive proof that your parents really are to blame.

5.  To get Angelina Jolie to leave you alone.

6.  To prove that you really are an alien.

7.  So that the sperm you donated in college can come back and haunt you in the form of your own kid.

8.  To be the star of that dinner party next month.

9.  To make Craig Venter and Francis Collins even more full of themselves.

10.  To ensure the good folks in our industry a job.

Do you have your own reasons?  Please share them with us in the comment section below or on Twitter.

Finally, some humbling news for today’s biomedical researchers.  CBS News reported on a thousand year old remedy for eye infections that works stunningly well.  The remedy was found in a 10th Century medical volume called Bald’s Leechbook.  It’s one of the earliest known medical textbooks.   This is a true story.  The remedy calls for garlic and onion, wine, and bile from a cow’s stomach--wait a minute isn’t this what I have for dinner once a week?  Researchers mixed the recipe together, let it sit for nine days and tried it against the antibiotic resistant MRSA bacteria.  The ancient remedy wiped out the MRSA, killing 99.9% of the bacterial cells.

The “ancient-biotics” team, as they’re calling themselves, plan to continue researching old texts for cures.  

Have a great weekend, everyone.

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