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Sequencing the Unborn

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the time-to-reboot-gattaca dept.

Biotech 146

sciencehabit writes "What if you could read much of your child's medical future while it was still in the womb? Taking a major step toward that goal, one fraught with therapeutic potential and ethical questions, scientists have now accurately predicted almost the whole genome of an unborn child by sequencing DNA from the mother's blood and DNA from the father's saliva (abstract)."

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Odd (2)

taktoa (1995544) | more than 2 years ago | (#40237457)

I don't see how this is possible, given that genetic recombination happens. Unless the parents are very genetically similar (ick), there should be billions of possibilities.

Re:Odd (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40237505)

I think this is the relevant part of the article: "In most cases, for a particular genetic sequence on a specific chromosome, the variants from each pair should be represented equally in the woman's blood. But in an expectant woman, whose child has received only one variant as part of its genetic inheritance, her blood will contain a little more of that variant because of the free-floating fetal DNA. If the mother's patterns of genetic variants, or haplotypes, are known, statistics allow researchers to conclude what variants she passed on to her offspring. In 2010, Lo showed that with both parents' haplotypes known, it would be possible to predict the child's genome from the DNA in an expectant mom's blood."

Re:Odd (4, Informative)

interkin3tic (1469267) | more than 2 years ago | (#40237777)

To summarize: it's not yet possible to isolate only embryonic DNA from the mothers' blood, so using the father and mother's DNA sequences, they can tell which sequences are from the mother and which one are from the embryo.

Without the father's sequence, the confidence in the sequencing probably goes down, but is still possible.

Re:Odd (1)

LifesABeach (234436) | more than 2 years ago | (#40237821)

I'm thinking that it would be kind of nice if genetic therapies could be initiated for those of us that are "out" of the womb.

Re:Odd (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40237513)

The first line of the abstract suggests that something of the fetal DNA is present in the mother's blood. IANAB, but the fact they take a blood sample from the mother and not just a saliva sample like from the father suggests that there is some more information contained here than just the mother's DNA.

Re:Odd (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40237537)

I don't see how this is possible, given that genetic recombination happens. Unless the parents are very genetically similar (ick), there should be billions of possibilities.

This problem is my area of research (didn't RTFA, just assuming this is how they did it). There is cell free fetal DNA circulating in mothers and the challenge is isolating enough of it for deep sequencing without contamination from mom. I'm assuming they are using dad's DNA to help 'choose' between competing reads to figure out which ones are mom and which ones are fetal in origin. A less sophisticated version of this approach has been used to test for TS21 (Down's syndrome).

Wait, what? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40237681)

This problem is my area of research (didn't RTFA, just assuming this is how they did it).

Am I the only one who thinks this is kind of amusing?

Re:Wait, what? (1)

LifesABeach (234436) | more than 2 years ago | (#40237841)

It could bring a whole new meaning to "Soccer Mom."

Re:Odd (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40238229)

Taking some of the mother’s blood and the father’s saliva to work out the baby’s DNA sounds like a great way to avoid the risks of amniocentesis [wikipedia.org] or chorionic villus sampling.

TFA's Scientist's take on Gattaca problem (1)

idontgno (624372) | more than 2 years ago | (#40237473)

"I don't think it would be ethical to use this to screen for late-onset diseases like Alzheimer's or cardiovascular diseases, for example."

To which I have to say, "No shit, Sherlock".

Let's hope those ethical concerns have some weight when this process rolls out as a voluntary, or perhaps even mandatory, screening process.

Re:TFA's Scientist's take on Gattaca problem (4, Insightful)

CodeHxr (2471822) | more than 2 years ago | (#40237543)

The caveat to this is that "ethical" is opinionated and everyone's is different. Even if the laws of your area are completely aligned with exactly how you feel about the ethical implications, there will be other areas that have vastly different laws. Even within any given area, there will be people who think the law doesn't apply to them and take things into their own hands.

Re:TFA's Scientist's take on Gattaca problem (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40237663)

Into their own hands? You mean like G. Zimmerman? You mean we could test for morons like that and eliminate them before they are born. That sounds GREAT! Like frosted flakes...which someone who is not genetically predisposed to diabetes can eat.

Hell, maybe you meant Batman. Shit. We could stop Batman in the womb.

The future is looking bright.

Re:TFA's Scientist's take on Gattaca problem (1)

LifesABeach (234436) | more than 2 years ago | (#40238307)

If one were to consider AC's, then certain genetic therapies might gain momentum?

Re:TFA's Scientist's take on Gattaca problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40238881)

TITTIES

Re:TFA's Scientist's take on Gattaca problem (2)

cayenne8 (626475) | more than 2 years ago | (#40238203)

The caveat to this is that "ethical" is opinionated and everyone's is different.

For sure.

I mean, I would nave absolutely NO problem with wanting to terminate the pregnancy if I found out the kid was going to be retarded, or crippled....anything that would keep it from starting out with a 'normal' childhood. In fact, I'd welcome it...I think many people might like this option, especially if you're a bit older having kids....which is happening more and more these days.

Different strokes for different folks....I respect those who would have a different opinion on this...but that's mine.

so who decides? (2)

Chirs (87576) | more than 2 years ago | (#40238459)

What about the people that terminate because it's a girl?

Re:so who decides? (0, Flamebait)

lacaprup (1652025) | more than 2 years ago | (#40239103)

Girl, retard.... what's the difference? Once you're killing the unborn and don't have a problem with it, the reason why you do it shouldn't matter at all. If I don't get a blond-hair, blue-eyed boy, then it's the glue factory fot that horse.

Re:TFA's Scientist's take on Gattaca problem (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40237579)

In my experience, any ethical concerns with regards to science will be met with "How dare you try to force your morals on me? This is {for the good of the species, in the name of science, perfectly reasonable and you're a moron for questioning it}". Then there will probably be something about the mother's right to choose whether she wants to raise an "imperfect" child and it will become a big social battle.

Re:TFA's Scientist's take on Gattaca problem (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40237581)

Forget about traditional ethical concerns, the later in onset and more multi-factorial the disease, the less informative genetics and genomics is. Even if genetic loci can explain 10% of phenotypic variation in a given cardiovascular phenotype, who cares (aside from, perhaps, a poorly run insurance company)? Any number of biochemical markers of disease are MUCH more predictive than genotype for a host of such diseases. Your BMI, your random and fasting blood glucoses all predict your risk of T2DM MUCH more accurately than the sum of all genetic loci known to contribute to the disease.

Re:TFA's Scientist's take on Gattaca problem (0)

flaming error (1041742) | more than 2 years ago | (#40237765)

The informative-ness of genetics doesn't change as we age.

Source code is source code, regardless of how long the app has been running or what crappy inputs it's been fed.

Re:TFA's Scientist's take on Gattaca problem (2)

spazdor (902907) | more than 2 years ago | (#40237831)

no, but the informative-ness of your medical history grows monotonically as you age.

Re:TFA's Scientist's take on Gattaca problem (3, Interesting)

interkin3tic (1469267) | more than 2 years ago | (#40237697)

I disagree with you both. I find nothing ethically wrong with abortion or screening for diseases. How about we let parents decide whether it's ethical for them?

Re:TFA's Scientist's take on Gattaca problem (1)

readin (838620) | more than 2 years ago | (#40237839)

I disagree with you both. I find nothing ethically wrong with abortion or screening for diseases. How about we let parents decide whether it's ethical for them?

For how long?

Re:TFA's Scientist's take on Gattaca problem (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40237855)

I'm sorry, but I'm afraid our screening process has determined your son is going to be a huge fag.

Re:TFA's Scientist's take on Gattaca problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40238247)

Assuming the decision were the parents', I guess that's not a huge issue for him.

I'm more concerned with the increasing social pressure, even if the process is elective, to remove all forms of variation from the gene pool. Considered individually and given the choice, when push came to shove, nobody would elect to have a deaf or blind child. Now there's very few people with genetic deafness or blindness, were those who have it anyway are really outcast and born into a world with little facility or concern for them. After all, their parents knew what it would mean and they did it anyways, "just to be different". "Damn hippies."

And then, of course, the old "pro-life" argument of, "Who have you just removed from the world? The next Beethoven?"

Re:TFA's Scientist's take on Gattaca problem (4, Insightful)

LordLimecat (1103839) | more than 2 years ago | (#40238173)

How about we let parents decide whether it's ethical for them?

Thats begging the question: Its only OK to let the parents decide whats ethical, if your stance on abortion is correct. If it isnt, your argument would be akin to "why not let the parents decide if they want to abandon their newborn".

Not trying to be flame/troll bait here (even tho I likely will be modded as such), but the entire argument from most prolifers is that the fetus is every bit as human as a newborn is. Unless you start off by assuming theyre wrong (again, begging the question), you cant just say "well, lets let the parents decide whether thats true"-- because we DONT take that stance with a baby post-birth.

Re:TFA's Scientist's take on Gattaca problem (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40238315)

Well, I just don't care for turning women into baby-making machines and telling them they don't control their own bodies. Freedom of an already born, thinking individual > life of an unborn human leeching off of a women. For me, anyway.

Re:TFA's Scientist's take on Gattaca problem (2)

LordLimecat (1103839) | more than 2 years ago | (#40238889)

Well, I just don't care for turning women into baby-making machines and telling them they don't control their own bodies.

And that, friends, is what we call a false dichotomy.

Im fairly certain that there are a plethora of choices that dont involve an abortion-- even if you dont count the "day-after" pill.

Re:TFA's Scientist's take on Gattaca problem (2)

jrroche (1937546) | more than 2 years ago | (#40239253)

Im fairly certain that there are a plethora of choices that dont involve an abortion-- even if you dont count the "day-after" pill.

What? There are two choices. The woman carries the child to term or she doesn't. If a woman is pregnant, the only choice other than abortion is to carry the child to term, unless you count an unintended miscarriage as a choice, which, if unintended, it could not be. ...wait, are you thinking of that DS9 episode where Bashir transplants Keiko's baby into Kira? You know that's not real, right?

Re:TFA's Scientist's take on Gattaca problem (0)

LordLimecat (1103839) | more than 2 years ago | (#40239961)

Once she is pregnant, yes. I was talking about avoiding the pregnancy.

"There are only two options once pregnant" is no more a valid defense of abortion than "once the baby is born you either kill it or you dont" is a defense of infanticide. The fact that that infant is with you for the long haul is kind of a consequence of events set in motion long ago @ conception-- just like the pregnancy itself.

In case you want to continue to be super dense about this, I was talking about condoms, IUDs, hormone therapy, sterilization, etc. The first one at least is incredibly cheap, incredibly accessible, and incredibly effective.

If youre arguing that adults should be able to behave recklessly and without consideration of the future, and then be able to throw ethical concerns out the window in order to escape from the consequences, then Im sorry but I dont agree with you.

Re:TFA's Scientist's take on Gattaca problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40238387)

But the pro-lifers are assuming they are right too...

It's not an issue of begging the question, it's one of having to take basic stances and then argue from them. There wouldn't even be an argument to make if the two sides didn't start with conflicting beliefs.

Re:TFA's Scientist's take on Gattaca problem (1)

LordLimecat (1103839) | more than 2 years ago | (#40238909)

it's one of having to take basic stances and then argue from them

Thats fair enough-- Im just arguing against trying to make a cop-out argument that "it doesnt matter what you or I think, its what he thinks"-- because THAT IS begging the question. Arguing about the issue itself is fine, but the whole "im for letting OTHERs make their own choice" is so disingenuous its not funny.

Its one of the reasons the whole "pro-life" vs "pro-choice" nomenclature is so messed up-- its begging the question, false dichotomy, and misdirection all rolled into one awful bundle.

Re:TFA's Scientist's take on Gattaca problem (1)

mcl630 (1839996) | more than 2 years ago | (#40238533)

How about we let parents decide whether it's ethical for them?

Thats begging the question: Its only OK to let the parents decide whats ethical, if your stance on abortion is correct. If it isnt, your argument would be akin to "why not let the parents decide if they want to abandon their newborn".

Not trying to be flame/troll bait here (even tho I likely will be modded as such), but the entire argument from most prolifers is that the fetus is every bit as human as a newborn is. Unless you start off by assuming theyre wrong (again, begging the question), you cant just say "well, lets let the parents decide whether thats true"-- because we DONT take that stance with a baby post-birth.

Actually we do let parents give up the baby post-birth... it's called adoption. Granted, that's not "abandoning their newborn" in the leave it on a doorstep or in a dumpster sense, but they do have a legal option to get rid of the kid post-birth.

Re:TFA's Scientist's take on Gattaca problem (1)

LordLimecat (1103839) | more than 2 years ago | (#40238929)

Actually we do let parents give up the baby post-birth... it's called adoption.

Which has nothing to do with my post, the discussion, or anything else. The point isnt whether adoption is viable, but whether "let people decide for themselves morality regarding killing an infant" is a viable argument.

Re:TFA's Scientist's take on Gattaca problem (4, Insightful)

interkin3tic (1469267) | more than 2 years ago | (#40238711)

Thats begging the question

Stop right there. No it's not. I'll let you ask your question anyway, but it's going to be a strawman argument.

your argument would be akin to "why not let the parents decide if they want to abandon their newborn".

Called it! That's a strawman. We're not talking about a newborn, we're talking about an embryo. Everyone agrees that a newborn has rights, there is no consensus as to whether an embryo does. Furthermore, a newborn is not an obligate dependent on one specific person, newborns can be dropped off at any safe baby haven or given up for adoption. There's no similar alternative for pregnant women.

My point here is that this is a totally separate issue from abandoning a newborn.

Answering your point, no, I don't think letting the parents decide whether abortion is right or not for them is only ethical if we assume life does not begin at conception. In most countries, most ethical decisions are left up to the individual. There's no law that says I can't cheat on my wife, it's up to me to decide if I think that's ethical or want to do that. Lacking a law against adultery is not an unethical situation, it simply leaves the responsibility up to the individual.

Legalizing abortion doesn't endorse abortion, it only leaves the ethical question up to the people who deserve to make the choice: the parents.

Re:TFA's Scientist's take on Gattaca problem (0, Offtopic)

LordLimecat (1103839) | more than 2 years ago | (#40238945)

Called it! That's a strawman. We're not talking about a newborn, we're talking about an embryo.

And you just demonstrated, again, begging the question.

What is begging the question? Why, its the fallacy of beginning your argument by assuming the thing to be argued. And what did you just do, in an argument that is basically about whether or not an embryo is a human? Why, you started with the assumption that it isnt.

If you were to take anything from this, its that in future discussions you should to argue your point, not assume it.

Re:TFA's Scientist's take on Gattaca problem (0, Offtopic)

LordLimecat (1103839) | more than 2 years ago | (#40239035)

Issues of begging the question aside (addressed in my other post-- apoligies for double post), there are several issues in your post.

First, the recognition of a newborn's rights has nothing to do with the availability of safe havens and adoption agencies. Even if such things were utterly unavailable to a couple, just about every human being with a functioning conscience would find it to be pretty heinous if the parents were to kill their child (except perhaps in the most extreme of cases, and even then....). The fact that we cant just move an unborn child (two can play the semantics game) from one womb to another has no real relevance to its status or right to live.

Answering your point, no, I don't think letting the parents decide whether abortion is right or not for them is only ethical if we assume life does not begin at conception.

And thats precisely because YOU dont think human life (or more precisely humanity) begins at conception, which is the exact point I was making.

Legalizing abortion doesn't endorse abortion, it only leaves the ethical question up to the people who deserve to make the choice: the parents.

Ill make my example more crystal for you. If we were discussing the clear-cut killing of an innocent in cold blood, and your response was "well, I have my own opinions, but I dont think the state needs to take a stance on it, each individual should decide for themselves whether its OK for them to kill another".... you dont see a problem there? Once you grasp that, you will understand WHY pro-life (or anti-abortion) folks want abortion to be illegal. Their view doesnt give two shillings what your personal opinion is, the results (unborn child killed) remain the same, and the fact that their parents thought it was OK isnt really a mitigating factor.

Re:TFA's Scientist's take on Gattaca problem (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40240123)

Legalizing abortion doesn't endorse abortion, it only leaves the ethical question up to the people who deserve to make the choice: the parents.
 
Exactly. I'm not so sure why an eager parent, on finding out their "unborn child" has no chance of any cognition but 100% chance of multiple gruesome surgeries, can't decide to abort as a parenting decision. Christ, we let parents opt out from leukemia treatment for their walking, talking kids. Anybody that's willing to say a prospective parent can't be trusted with the responsibility of such a decision shouldn't be surprised at all that the world is crawling with (I assume in his or her view) lazy leeches, given that one of the most critical and consequential ethical decisions any of us will ever face has been taken out of the parent(s)' hands.

Would not work (1)

JOrgePeixoto (853808) | more than 2 years ago | (#40238291)

People are flawed. Left to their own passions, they will murder, rape, kidnap and steal.

People need laws to stop them from descending into savagery.

Re:Would not work (1)

interkin3tic (1469267) | more than 2 years ago | (#40238743)

You think the government is ever less savage or flawed than its citizens? That's... interesting... Don't hear too many people around here espousing authoritarian views...

Re:TFA's Scientist's take on Gattaca problem (1)

chispito (1870390) | more than 2 years ago | (#40238385)

I disagree with you both. I find nothing ethically wrong with abortion or screening for diseases. How about we let parents decide whether it's ethical for them?

Then how about your insurance company gives you breaks on your premiums if you ONLY bring the most genetically suitable offspring to full term (or your government gives you tax breaks if the government is the insurer)?

Re:TFA's Scientist's take on Gattaca problem (1)

Loughla (2531696) | more than 2 years ago | (#40237833)

With as many folks as we have in the US that are very, very, very against abortion, I am interested as to what you believe a screening process would accomplish. The only things that I can see are (a) higher insurance premiums - in which case, this is going to be a hard sell to even the lowest common denominator, (b) to abort the fetus before the issues arise - but GOD made my child be born without arms, so let it be born, or (c) for shits and giggles - and that's just confusing.

So, what would the uses of a mandatory screening process be, without a substantial change in the religious/moral views we currently have?

Re:TFA's Scientist's take on Gattaca problem (1)

LifesABeach (234436) | more than 2 years ago | (#40238277)

Wouldn't using Genetic Therapies bypass the Gattaca issue? Like getting a phyisical agmentation.

They made a movie about this... (2)

Mark Rawls (2648691) | more than 2 years ago | (#40237489)

And it was called Gattaca.

Re:They made a movie about this... (2)

Jeng (926980) | more than 2 years ago | (#40237607)

Yes in Gattaca you could tell the genetics of your unborn child, but you could also do genetic engineering on the unborn child in Gattaca and it was that portion that had more to do with the plot.

Re:They made a movie about this... (1, Informative)

blind biker (1066130) | more than 2 years ago | (#40237683)

Yes in Gattaca you could tell the genetics of your unborn child, but you could also do genetic engineering on the unborn child in Gattaca and it was that portion that had more to do with the plot.

What fucking genetic engineering on the unborn child did you see? They clearly showed that children were selected from a number of fertlized eggs while the rest of the embryos were discarded.

I'm assuming you didn't actually see Gattaca but another movie, and are confusing the two.

Re:They made a movie about this... (2)

QuasiSteve (2042606) | more than 2 years ago | (#40238021)

I guess that depends on how you view the 'engineering'.

No modifications were made to fertilized eggs, iirc.

But let's say you have 8 fertilized eggs, but only the desire for 1 child - then isn't picking one of those 8 that meets your 'demands' tantamount to engineering?
What if you don't pick any of the 8, and instead fertilize 8 more, and again, and again, until you hit the result you were hoping for?

This is at the core of much of the debate on genetic engineering, in that some genetic modifications are simply shortcuts to what random mutations may otherwise cause. What's the difference if instead we let nature (or God for those so inclined) make the modifications for us and we just carefully pick them out from the plethora of other modifications, other than - likely - a whole lot of time?

Re:They made a movie about this... (4, Informative)

zill (1690130) | more than 2 years ago | (#40238025)

Straight from the script: [imsdb.com]

Now you appreciate I can only work with the raw material I have at my disposal but for a little extra...I could also attempt to insert sequences associated with enhanced mathematical or musical ability.

Emphasis mine.

Re:They made a movie about this... (1)

LifesABeach (234436) | more than 2 years ago | (#40238405)

I believe the phyisican's son was a great fan of what the character Vincent Freeman was doing. The phyisican paid for a smarter child, and was short changed. That scene is toward the end of the movie.

Re:They made a movie about this... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40237689)

In Gattaca, they actually fertilized a bunch of eggs, and selected the best based off of genetic testing for various markers. The parents were then offered a choice from among a few (good) possibilities. Their choice was then implanted.

Re:They made a movie about this... (1)

zill (1690130) | more than 2 years ago | (#40238089)

No, it was indeed in Gattaca. This quote is the from the script [imsdb.com] :

Now you appreciate I can only work with the raw material I have at my disposal but for a little extra...I could also attempt to insert sequences associated with enhanced mathematical or musical ability.

It was only a single sentence so you probably just missed it.

Re:They made a movie about this... (1)

interkin3tic (1469267) | more than 2 years ago | (#40237721)

Actually no, in the movie, they were only able to sequence your genome after you were born.

Also, call me a technophile, but I don't think the problem with Gattaca's dystopia was that sequencing was possible. I think the problem was how people used the technology. Much like, oh, every technology ever invented.

Re:They made a movie about this... (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | more than 2 years ago | (#40238033)

The problem with Gattaca's dystopia was that it applied statistical probabilities to individuals. Someone is more likely to have heart problems? Employers know, and will reject that applicant from phsically stressful jobs. Even though it's just a probability. In the real world, this would be like companies observing the statistical truth (politically incorrect as it is) that black Americans are significently more likely to commit a crime than white Americans, and thus refusing to hire any blacks on the grounds that they are more likely to steal the petty cash. It might make sense in statistics, but it becomes very unfair when applied to individuals. It's the ultimate in prejudging.

Re:They made a movie about this... (1)

Loughla (2531696) | more than 2 years ago | (#40237871)

And a book, it was called A Brave New World.

Re:They made a movie about this... (1)

Lord_of_the_nerf (895604) | more than 2 years ago | (#40238231)

'KHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAN!'

They're also a few steps away from this.

under the mitt Romney plan = black listed for life (-1, Troll)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | more than 2 years ago | (#40237491)

under the mitt Romney plan = black listed for life

Re:under the mitt Romney plan = black listed for l (1)

LifesABeach (234436) | more than 2 years ago | (#40238473)

I was thinking Mit yearned for a life style more like the setting in Monty Python's Holy Grail. I'm surprized that Mit Romney has Sense of Humor logic. I'll read the manual again. You know, "trust, but verify", apologies to President Reagan.

still too early, but... (1)

Stem_Cell_Brad (1847248) | more than 2 years ago | (#40237519)

Of course genetics are not everything. The environment, even within the womb, affects development. But, after enough genome wide association studies are performed, gattaca does not seem too far away.

James Watson had 20-some unrealized defects (1)

peter303 (12292) | more than 2 years ago | (#40237613)

James Watson was the 3rd human fully sequenced about 8 years ago. The Nature article tsaid hat he had 20 defects matching the then defect database (about 5000 entries), none which were expressed. It said he should have had retinitis pigmentosa, which he did have. Our knowledge of genetic density is still primitive. Definitely too shaky for insurance filtring.

Re:James Watson had 20-some unrealized defects (1)

TWX (665546) | more than 2 years ago | (#40237763)

Our knowledge of genetic density is still primitive. Definitely too shaky for insurance filtring[sic].

Don't be too sure about that latter part. Once insurance companies feel that they have a method to screen for a demographic subgroup that doesn't violate civil rights they'll be happy to define it and use it, especially if investigation of that group yields viable statistics. That doesn't mean that every member of that group, especially a genetically-defined group, will manifest the traits associated with that group, but when you're talking about probabilities and risk you're not talking about individuals, you're talking about a data set.

I have no at-fault auto accidents. Despite this, because of my gender and relative youth, my insurance costs more than it does for my parents, when the number of incidents is identical, namely zero. Even if you look at not-at-fault accidents, we're the same at two. We have the same coverage levels and have the same number of vehicles insured, and the same number of drivers. When I got married, which did not change my driving habits or my fiancé's/wife's driving habits, our rates both went down, even though were were effectively the same age, living in the same place, making the same commutes, with the same cars.

I have no doubt that insurance companies would do whatever they could to define subgoups.

Re:James Watson had 20-some unrealized defects (1)

LifesABeach (234436) | more than 2 years ago | (#40238583)

With the standardization of Medical Research, and organizing of medical data procedures, and records. I'm thinking a team of Network Admin's could maintain the information on a cloud based system. I'm not seeing a future need for something as procedural as medical therapies and record keeping being maintained by large businesses. As for research, Educators and Students can easily search the Internet for any topic for things like Cures, Diseases, Therapies, and previous work compiled on the subject in question.

What about genomic testing before marriage/mating? (1)

JSBiff (87824) | more than 2 years ago | (#40237531)

Reading this, since they took the dna from blood and saliva, not from the fetus, it raised the question for me, why wait until conception?

In the future, will couples get genetically screened during pre-marital counseling, to see if they have good compatibility (in terms of not having high risk of genetic problems in offspring)? Sounds terribly un-romantic, doesn't it?

Re:What about genomic testing before marriage/mati (1)

zlives (2009072) | more than 2 years ago | (#40237573)

the future is now? if you have the money to get tested.

Re:What about genomic testing before marriage/mati (0)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 2 years ago | (#40237603)

The ultimate in totalitarianism. State sponsored fertility engineering where a sperm is pre-selected from a bank and matched with the right women to become impregnated -by law- when she turns 18. There is no choice about it. The government decides who your offspring will be. Both the mother and father have no say so. Marriage is just a social aspect to raise government engineered children. The ultimate form of God. How could they not resist such power and control?

Re:What about genomic testing before marriage/mati (1)

Jeng (926980) | more than 2 years ago | (#40237619)

I imagine that artificial wombs will be invented long before the government gets into the child making business.

Re:What about genomic testing before marriage/mati (1)

eugene6 (2627513) | more than 2 years ago | (#40237825)

How could they not resist such power and control?

What you wrote here does not make sense.

Re:What about genomic testing before marriage/mati (1)

ae1294 (1547521) | more than 2 years ago | (#40237659)

yes.... There is a 100% chance that it will be law in the US in the next 30 years. Go ahead and add in the predictors for aggression and aversion to authority and you have the perfect country of slaves for our 400 masters. It will look something like this only slightly updated... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1i6ozLpNr3Q [youtube.com]

Re:What about genomic testing before marriage/mati (2)

OSU ChemE (974181) | more than 2 years ago | (#40237717)

They took the blood from the mother after she was pregnant, when there was fetal DNA in her bloodstream and are essentially doing a 'process of elimination' among the fetus, mother, and father. So while you could do a pre-conception screen, and it may indicate probabilities for genetic disorders or diseases with a genetic component, it wouldn't be the same thing as in TFA.

Re:What about genomic testing before marriage/mati (1)

Kergan (780543) | more than 2 years ago | (#40238369)

Per TFA, the fetus' DNA is in its mom's blood. So you cannot get any (non-random) information prior to conception.

I can't be the only one (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40237547)

Read it too fast, thought it said "Seducing the Unicorn".

Re:I can't be the only one (1)

philip.paradis (2580427) | more than 2 years ago | (#40237785)

I'm pretty sure you are the only one, and I'm pretty sure you've got issues, bro.

Let me be the first one to say it: (4, Insightful)

blind biker (1066130) | more than 2 years ago | (#40237563)

"Gattaca" wasn't fiction - it was an accurate prediction of a dystopian, fast-approaching and very real future.

Re:Let me be the first one to say it: (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40237771)

Maybe I'm strange, but it didn't seem all that dystopian to me. Using sequencing to select the "best" (however the parents define that) embryo seems like a perfectly valid use of the technology -- one that I'd make use of if it were affordable and available.

Re:Let me be the first one to say it: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40237827)

The problem is what happens to all of the people who weren't "selected". Go watch the movie, which deals with this subject and shows clear examples of where people are discriminated against because of some potential genetic defect.

Re:Let me be the first one to say it: (2)

Eightbitgnosis (1571875) | more than 2 years ago | (#40237931)

Would you not give your child vaccines because it's not fair to those children who do not receive them?

Re:Let me be the first one to say it: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40239047)

Would you not give your child vaccines because it's not fair to those children who do not receive them?

Are you a self absorbed apathetic git because you spent thousands of dollars on a flat screen TV (or some other luxury) when you could have donated that money to a charitable organization and gotten thousands of kids from poor families vaccinated?

Re:Let me be the first one to say it: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40238379)

In reality (unlike the movie) there would be no practical way to tell one way or the other. Since every "selected" embryo does actually come from the original parents and could legitimately have been conceived in the old-fashioned way, the only way to tell the difference would be through records of the procedure (paperwork). Only children with obvious genetic problems (e.g., Huntington's disease, which is controlled by a single gene) would stand out. ...but unlike in the film, one could (usually) never actually tell how a person was conceived simply by looking at that person's DNA.

Re:Let me be the first one to say it: (2)

EvolutionInAction (2623513) | more than 2 years ago | (#40237989)

It's nice to see somebody else who felt that way. It would suck for the transitional generation, it's true, but in general people were stronger, healthier and smarter. How is that bad?

leads to two classes (1)

Chirs (87576) | more than 2 years ago | (#40238487)

those that can pay for optimization, and those that can't. The gulf between the two gets ever-wider.

Re:leads to two classes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40238649)

those that can pay for optimization, and those that can't. The gulf between the two gets ever-wider.

Dues Ex: Human Revolution

Re:Let me be the first one to say it: (1)

Hentes (2461350) | more than 2 years ago | (#40237959)

The only thing from Gattaca that seems close is the technology, society is still very far from that.

Re:Let me be the first one to say it: (2)

mcmonkey (96054) | more than 2 years ago | (#40238083)

"Gattaca" wasn't fiction - it was an accurate prediction of a dystopian, fast-approaching and very real future.

You misspelled "Idiocracy"

Re:Let me be the first one to say it: (1)

PPH (736903) | more than 2 years ago | (#40238443)

A world in which a genetic misfit like me has a chance at nailing Uma Thurman? I'm fine with it!

Re:Let me be the first one to say it: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40238607)

The trick there is to be the night-orderly in a coma ward -- and drive a yellow pick-up truck.

Re:Let me be the first one to say it: (1)

couchslug (175151) | more than 2 years ago | (#40238903)

Fapping to visions of dystopia is delectable, but humans have been breeding selectively by preference as long as we've existed.

BTW if undesirables never make it to term by parental choice than no ones rights are violated or infringed. If you are choosing to produce offspring, why not have more granular control of outcomes?

The world has enough window-lickers as it is.

Eugenics (5, Interesting)

Ironchew (1069966) | more than 2 years ago | (#40237651)

What if you could read much of your child's medical future while it was still in the womb?

The more worrying question here in the U.S. is, "What if your insurance company could decide your child's medical access while it was still in the womb, based on poorly-understood genetic risk factors and eugenics pseudoscience?"

Re:Eugenics (-1)

wcrowe (94389) | more than 2 years ago | (#40237751)

I'm not sure "still in the womb" applies. They're talking about predicting the genetic makeup before the child is even conceived.

Re:Eugenics (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40237845)

Nope. This is post-conception. This is a baby in the womb.

"In 1997, chemical pathologist Dennis Lo, now at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, discovered that roughly 10% of the cell-free DNA floating in a pregnant woman's blood stream stems from her fetus"

Re:Eugenics (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40237891)

No they're not; rtfa.

Re:Eugenics (1)

aurashift (2037038) | more than 2 years ago | (#40237881)

I think the insurance company lawyers are already thinking about changing the legal language to "pre-existing human condition" in order to deny coverage. You may balk at this idea, but never under-estimate human stupidity.

don't vote GOP as that will be what insurance (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | more than 2 years ago | (#40239411)

don't vote GOP as that will be what insurance will be like.

it's a "thing", not a "child", in the womb/uterus (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40238145)

What if you could read much of your child's medical future while it was still in the womb?

The more worrying question here in the U.S. is, "What if your insurance company could decide your child's medical access while it was still in the womb, based on poorly-understood genetic risk factors and eugenics pseudoscience?"

Silly commenter: modern societal dogma says while it is in the womb/uterus, the "thing" is not a child. Because if it was a child (aka, a person) then abortion would be murder. So if you do tests on the "collection of cells", and the tests come back with unpleasant results, then just have an abortion, because it's it's not a person until it's through the birth canal and on the outside.

Re:Eugenics (1)

wisnoskij (1206448) | more than 2 years ago | (#40238637)

Well since genetics is hereditary we do not really have to sequence the babies genes to know its medical future.

My WTF, explained (4, Informative)

jfengel (409917) | more than 2 years ago | (#40237769)

What's decidedly unclear from the summary: they're sequencing fetal cells found in the mother's blood. It was separated from the mother's own blood cells with a nify trick using the father's DNA.

So it allows them to sequence the baby's type without having to touch the infant itself. They're not making any "mother+father=baby" predictions before the baby is conceived, which would be impossible just from their ordinary (somatic) cells.

Re:My WTF, explained (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40239189)

It's not enough thou. I don't think it will ever be possible to accurately predict every fine detail about people from DNA sequence alone. Fact is that that gene expression matters just as much as the genes themselves, and it is influenced by extra cellular factors which have nothing to do with the DNA sequence.

They made a horrible dystopian movie about this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40237781)

It had Adam Sandler in it.

And I think we can all agree that the murder of any scientists involved with making an Adam Sandler future come true is warranted.

Accurately predicted ...almost ... (1)

Kittenman (971447) | more than 2 years ago | (#40237961)

I accurately predicted almost all the numbers in the lotto draw last Saturday.

50% (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40238869)

Chance the child will be a vampire, like Dad.

Freedom (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40239649)

How about letting the pregnant woman have the only voice in whether a pregnancy is terminated. But with that privilege since the male has no authority the female should bear the entire financial burden. Or we could have a system in which a judge flips a coin if one parent says abort and the other says complete the pregnancy. Really there is no moral question with the unborn as they are not humans yet. Yeah i know. some will whine on that statement but an orange seed is not an orange. Having the potential to become an orange does not make a seed an orange. A fetus is not a human. It simply has the potential to become a human.

Was the mother or father possibly driving.... (1)

axlr8or (889713) | more than 2 years ago | (#40239861)

A Riviera?
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