Tag: Genetics

Your gout, your fault?

Is gout a consequence of lifestyle choices? Or is it mainly genetics?

/ December 13, 2018

Are placebo effects genetically determined?

We frequently write about placebo effects here at SBM because understanding placebo effects is essential to understanding a lot of clinical trial science and, most relevant to the topics of this blog, how those promoting unscientific medicine misunderstand and misuse placebo effects to promote quackery. Last week, The NYT published an article asking if placebo effects are genetically determined. The evidence supporting...

/ November 12, 2018

The Promise of CRISPR

CRISPR is the latest rock-star medical technology that promises to revolutionize medicine. Let's take a look at the hype and the reality.

/ August 23, 2017

Parkinson’s Disease: A Detective Story

I didn’t intend to review Jon Palfreman’s book Brain Storms: The Race to Unlock the Mysteries of Parkinson’s Disease, but after reading it I decided it was too good not to share. Palfreman is an award-winning science journalist who has Parkinson’s himself. He has done a bang-up job of describing Parkinson’s disease, its impact on patients, and how science is working to...

/ September 20, 2016

The Gene: An Intimate History

Six years ago I reviewed Siddhartha Mukherjee’s book The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer. It was hands-down one of the best books I have ever read on a medical topic. Now he’s done it again. His new book is titled The Gene: An Intimate History. Mukherjee is a superb writer. Much of what I said about his first book...

/ July 19, 2016

CRISPR and the Ethics of Gene Editing

If you have not heard of CRISPR yet, you should have. This is a truly transformative technology that allows for cheap and easy gene editing. It makes a powerful technology easily accessible. Powerful biological technology, like stem cells to give another example, always seem to provoke profound hope and fear. The ability to manipulate human biology comes with it the hope of...

/ December 2, 2015

The FDA and Personalized Genetic Testing

The company 23andMe provides personal genetic testing from a convenient home saliva sample kit. Their home page indicates that their $99 genetic screening will provide reports on 240+ health conditions in addition to giving you information on your genetic lineage. The benefits, they claim, are that you will learn about your carrier status and therefore the risk of passing on genetic diseases to your...

/ November 27, 2013

“Postnatal depression blood test breakthrough” or Churnalism?

“Postnatal depression blood test breakthrough” proclaimed the headline. The UK Guardian article then declared: British doctors reveal ‘extremely important’ research that could help tens of thousands of women at risk. Here it comes. Readers were going to be fed a press release generated by the study’s authors and forwarded undigested by the media but disguised as writings of a journalist.  If only...

/ August 2, 2013

Thumbthing Worth Reading

I intended to read Sam Kean’s new book The Violinist’s Thumb: And Other Lost Tales of Love, War, and Genius as Written by our Genetic Code  just for fun. I was expecting a miscellany of trivia loosely gathered around the theme of DNA. But I found something much more worthwhile that I thought merited a book review to bring it to the attention...

/ October 2, 2012

Autism and Prenatal Vitamins

Science has found no evidence that vaccines cause autism; but the true cause(s) of autism have not yet been determined. So far the available evidence has pointed towards a largely genetic cause with possible interaction with environmental factors. A new study supports that interpretation. It also supports previous evidence that autism is triggered prior to birth, rather than at the time of...

/ June 14, 2011