Apr 6, 2017

Marrying people like us complicates genetic tests

Kim Siever, Flickr

Older, married, white couples often share a common ancestry and similar genetic backgrounds, a fact that could confound genetic tests designed to detect hereditary diseases, a new study shows.

Who: Researchers used the Framingham Heart Study, which has compiled information on people in the Massachusetts town since 1948 and has generated more than 1,000 medical studies on risk factors for heart disease, stroke and other conditions.

Why? They used the information they collected to study the mating patterns of 879 spouses from three generations of European and Ashkenazi ancestry: those married after World War Two, their children, and their grandchildren.

What they found: The oldest generation of white, married couples often had the same ancestry and were genetically similar because they chose mates from the same background. But this similarity from "common ancestry" eroded slightly with each successive generation as spouses married outside their local community and social networks of people like them.

Why it matters: If the genetic makeup of a population is too similar, it can skew the results of tests designed to assess the degree to which a disease is passed from generation to generation through genes. With the arrival of personal genetic testing, researchers have raised concerns about "false positive" results that could lead people to take unnecessary action to address what they perceive to be a risk to their health.

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Texas oil regulators poised to debate historic production controls

Workers extracting oil from oil wells in the Permian Basin in Midland, Texas. Photo: Benjamin Lowy/Getty Images

Texas oil regulators are likely to hold a hearing in April on whether to take the historic step to curb the state’s oil production amid a global market collapse fueled by the coronavirus.

Driving the news: Ryan Sitton, one of three commissioners of the Texas Railroad Commission, which oversees state oil production, told Axios that a hearing will likely be held soon in response to a renewed request earlier Monday from two oil companies to limit production as one way to stem the steep slide in global oil prices.

America under lockdown

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

If you thought March felt like the longest month in American history, just wait for April and May, when people will be forced to witness spring from the indoors.

The big picture: 28 states are in or entering lockdown, with Maryland and Virginia joining those ranks today. So is D.C., as its mayor made official this afternoon. Those states include roughly 3/4 of the American people, the N.Y. Times notes.

Ford, GE aim to make 50,000 ventilators in 100 days

A Model A-E ventilator, left, and a simple test lung. The ventilator uses a design that operates on air pressure without the need for electricity, addressing the needs of most COVID-19 patients. Photo: Ford

Ford and GE Healthcare announced plans on Monday to build a simplified ventilator design licensed from a Florida medical technology company, with the goal of producing 50,000 machines by early July, and up to 30,000 a month thereafter, to fight the coronavirus.

Why it matters: The companies are moving in "Trump time" to meet demand for urgently needed ventilators, says White House Defense Production Act Coordinator Peter Navarro. But with deaths expected to peak in two weeks, the machines won't arrive in large numbers in time to help the hardest-hit cities.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 1 hour ago - Health