Friday April 26, 2019

New DNA Tool to Predict People’s Height and Risk For Cancer

They put the algorithm to work, evaluating each participant's DNA and teaching the computer to pull out these distinct differences

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DNA
Heavy drinking can change your DNA: Study

Researchers have developed a new DNA tool that uses machine learning to accurately predict people’s height and assess their risk for serious illnesses such as heart disease and cancer.

The tool, or algorithm, predicts human traits such as height, bone density and even the level of education a person might achieve that is purely based on one’s genetic material. However, the applications may not stop there.

“While we have validated this tool for these three outcomes, we can now apply this method to predict other complex traits related to health risks such as heart disease, diabetes and breast cancer,” said lead author Stephen Hsu, from Michigan State University, US.

In the study, published in the journal Genetics, the researchers analysed the complete genetic makeup of nearly 5,00,000 adults using machine learning, where a computer learns from data.

The computer accurately predicted everyone’s height within roughly an inch, findings revealed.

DNA
DNA, Pixabay

“The algorithm looks at the genetic makeup and height of each person. The computer learns from each person and ultimately produces a predictor that can determine how tall they are from their genome alone,” Hsu said.

Importantly, while bone density and educational attainment predictors were not as precise, they were accurate enough to identify individuals who were at risk of having very low bone density with osteoporosis or were at risk of struggling in school.

They put the algorithm to work, evaluating each participant’s DNA and teaching the computer to pull out these distinct differences.

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“Our team believes this is the future of medicine. For the patient, a genomic test can be as simple as a cheek swab, with a cost of about $50,” Hsu said.

“Once we calculate the predictors for genetically-based diseases, early intervention can save billions of dollars in treatment costs, and more importantly, save lives,” he noted, adding “This is only the beginning.” (IANS)

Next Story

Does IVF Raise Risk of Cancer in Children? Find it out Here

“There are also lifestyle and other factors that could contribute to cancers in this group, which are not explored in the paper,” Stewart said

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IVF
IVF treatments are always supported by other associated treatments which aid in the entire treatment. Pixabay

While pregnancies enabled by in vitro fertilisation (IVF) have faced more difficulties, with children born earlier and smaller, according to a new study, they may also raise the risk of cancer in babies.

IVF is associated with birth defects and imprinting disorders. Because these conditions are associated with an increased risk of childhood cancer, many of which originate in utero, descriptions of cancers among children conceived via IVF are imperative, said researchers from the University of Minnesota in the US.

The study, published in JAMA Pediatrics journal, found that the overall cancer rate among IVF children was about 17 per cent higher than non-IVF children.

In addition, the rate of liver tumours was over 2.5 times higher among IVF children than naturally conceived children.

However, there was no difference in the rates of other cancers between the two groups.

“The most important takeaway from our research is that most childhood cancers are not more frequent in children conceived by IVF,” said Logan Spector, Professor at the University of Minnesota in the US.

Cancer
Cancer Ribbon. Pixabay

“There may be an increased risk of one class of cancers in children. However, due to the nature of our study, we could not distinguish between IVF itself versus the parents’ underlying infertility,” he said.

The study consisted of 275,686 IVF children and 2,266,847 naturally conceived children.

While the study found a link between IVF and childhood cancer, it’s important to note that this does not suggest IVF causes cancer, the Mirror.co.uk reported.

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“An association between IVF and cancer is found but it is impossible to say what the cause is,” Jane Stewart, Chair of the British Fertility Society, was quoted as saying.

“We still need to know whether it is the treatment itself or underlying infertility that accounts for this difference.

“There are also lifestyle and other factors that could contribute to cancers in this group, which are not explored in the paper,” Stewart said. (IANS)