September 2018 with Nathan and Laura: Studying the Same Genes and the Matt Fender Story


Guests: Laura Hercher, Host, The Beagle Has Landed; Nathan Pearson, Founder and CEO, Root

Chapters:

0:00 The same genes

10:23 BRCA project

15:53 The Matt Fender story

26:45 Misled about PM?

32:06 Remembering Luca Cavalli-Sforza

And here we were thinking it was a slow month!

We have two big stories today: first this philosophy of biology question about whether it’s a bad thing that we’ve been stuck circling the wagons ‘round the same ole genes. Is it just an economic question? Or is it that these are the most active genes, and so we need a meritocracy, as Nathan puts forth?

As if on time to answer this question, there’s a new project out this month to synthetically engineer 4,000 copies of a very studied gene, BRCA, which has Laura and other genetic counselors excited. As she explains, it will help with the problem of reducing variants of unknown significance.

And second, we discuss the fallout of Laura’s tour de force article in the New York Times and follow-up Beagle podcast about a young web developer, Matt Fender, who had a real scare with his 23andMe data. Theral says the story sounded an alarm at just the moment many of the field's KOLs are becoming relaxed about regulating DTC tests. Nathan says the story shows that the system is working.



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