Friday, April 22, 2011

DNA Ethical Dilemmas

"DNA Ethical Dilemmas" is an interactive online course from the New York Times Knowledge Network.

Taught by Amy Harmon, who won the Pulitzer Prize in journalism for her work on this subject, this four-week course will examine the ethical dilemmas posed by the new knowledge being gleaned from genetic technology. Guests will include people who have grappled with these dilemmas, for themselves or their families, and experts who can add perspective to the discussions.

During the first week, Ms. Harmon's live online Q-and-A session will feature the president of the NSGC, Karin Dent, discussing the role of genetic counseling. Katharine Moser, who has Huntington's Disease, will be the featured guest in the second week. In the third week the pros and cons of direct-to-consumer DNA testing will be addressed by Daniel Vorhaus, a lawyer in the field of genomics and the editor of the Genomics Law Report.

The course has self-paced lessons, written by Ms. Harmon, covering four modules of study. All course material can be accessed directly within the online course; even the live sessions are archived for later viewing for those unable to participate during that time slot. To learn more, and to register, go to: Read more!

Joining FORCEs Against Hereditary Cancer - 6th Annual Conference

Save the Date!!

The Joining FORCEs 2011 conference will be held June 23-25, 2011 in Orlando, FL at the Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress. The conference welcomes anyone concerned about hereditary cancer: cancer survivors, high-risk individuals, those with a BRCA mutation or family history of cancer, and health care providers who treat high-risk patients.

Please click on the above light blue link for more information

Read more!

Would You Like to Know More About the Field of Genetic Counseling?

Join Sarah Lawrence for their 3rd Annual Genetic Counseling Summer Camp Program

When: June 6, 2011, 8:30 AM – 3:00 PM

Where: Sarah Lawrence College, Joan H. Marks Graduate Program in Human Genetics, Bronxville, NY.

In 2009, responding to the need expressed by college students for genetic counseling shadowing experiences, the Human Genetics Program organized the First Annual Genetic Counseling Summer Camp. Ten genetic counselors joined Sarah Lawrence HGP faculty to host 18 undergraduate students from the northeast region to teach them more about the field of genetic counseling. The camp included a panel discussion of genetic counseling roles, a Q&A session, case presentations, and 15-minute speed sessions with individual counselors. The program was well-received. Forty-five students attended the second program, held June 2010. Twenty faculty members supported the program, helping to spread knowledge about genetic counseling.

At the Sarah Lawrence Genetics Summer Camp, people receive information. For most of our attendees, their primary exposure to the field of genetic counseling comes by way of internet research, and our Genetics Summer Camp provides them an opportunity to gather information in a neutral environment. At our camp, individuals are exposed to the various branches and issues of genetic counseling. More importantly, however, attendees get to meet recent graduates and practicing genetic counselors. This person-to-person contact gives our attendees invaluable insight into the field of genetic counseling, along with the opportunities available to graduates with a Master of Science in Genetic Counseling. We could go on, but we feel that some of our most recent attendees explain it best:

“Thank you for the opportunity; I can't explain how positive my experience was. I really feel confident that I know what genetic counseling is all about and feel completely confident that I know what I'm getting myself into.”

“Thank you for the effort you put into organizing this event and for the number of people you brought to represent the profession. It answered so many of my questions which would have otherwise taken me so long to accumulate. It also opened my eyes to aspects of the profession that I was previously unaware of. Many, many, thanks.”

“[What did I enjoy the most about the summer camp?] Meeting SO many graduates, hearing their inspiring stories and seeing the amazing campus of the first school to offer a Master's in Genetic Counseling. On top of everything, I never felt pressured into applying to Sarah Lawrence College, which just makes it an even more appealing place to me.”

Contact: Ms. Caroline Lieber, MS, CGC

Director, Human Genetics Program

Sarah Lawrence College

Bronxville, NY 10708


Read more!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Genetic counseling is critical to determine which genetic test is most appropriate for your family and ensuring proper test result interpretation

Click the above light blue link to view the full video interview with Colleen Carroll and Genetic Counselor Ellen Matloff, MS.

From NBC's website....

"Colleen Carroll’s younger sister Kelly died at the age of 33 from ovarian cancer.

"I always say, I think my sister saved my life because if it weren’t for her, I wouldn’t have been so vigilant about keeping an eye on my own health," said Carroll.

Kelly’s death prompted Colleen to get checked for the disease, and at first, she was cleared. When both her cousin and her uncle were told they had cancer, however, she sought genetic testing and counseling. The results concluded the family suffered from Lynch Syndrome.

"It involves colon cancer, uterine, ovarian and some skin cancers, which my family has had as well," said Carroll.

It turns out the test that cleared her of ovarian was the wrong one and after another genetic test was performed, Carroll received different results.

"At age 36, I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer," said Carroll.

Dr. Ellen Matloff, of Smilow Cancer Hospital at Yale-New Haven said, although the Carroll family lost loved ones in their diagnosis process, lives have been saved.

"This genetic testing is really a relatively new field that has emerged and it allows us to determine why in a single family, there may be multiple cases of cancer," explained Matloff.

Carroll said both of her nieces, Erika and Jessica, are carriers of the mutated gene, but they will be regularly monitored to catch the disease if it develops.

Dr. Matloff added that there has never been more hope in cancer research.

"We now have medications that are tailored to people who have a genetic mutation and we are very hopeful this new wave of personalized cancer care is going to revolutionize cancer treatment," explained Matloff.

She also encouraged those who may have a personal or family history of early-onset cancer to seek testing and emphasized the importance of early detection.

Carroll said her sister’s death forced her to take control of her life and added, "there’s a sense of relief for me, why I got cancer and why everybody got cancer."" Read more!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The 2010 legal decision that human genes are a product of nature and cannot be patented comes under attack

An excerpt from Genomeweb (

"NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – A US federal circuit court heard oral arguments yesterday from Myriad Genetics, the American Civil Liberties Union, and the Department of Justice in a case about gene patenting that could have a wide impact on the genomics and molecular diagnostics business and research fields.

Myriad Genetics on Monday argued in the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington, DC, that its patent claims on BRCA genes, which it uses in its BRACAnalysis test for predicting individual breast and ovarian cancer risk, are in accord with US patent law.

ACLU lawyers countered by claiming that human genes are a product of nature and cannot be patented — a position that was upheld last year by a judge in a US District Court in New York in the same case, the Association of Molecular Pathologists vs. the US Patent and Trademark Office. (Upon its request, USPTO was relieved from defending the case by the NY court.)

The case landed in the circuit court today after Myriad appealed the ruling of Judge Robert Sweet of the Federal District Court for the Southern District of New York."

Click on the above light blue link to be directed to the full article Read more!

Monday, April 4, 2011

The role of KRAS rs61764370 in invasive epithelial ovarian cancer: implications for clinical testing

Pharoah PD, et al. Clin Cancer Res. 2011 Jun 1;17(11):3742-50. Epub 2011 Mar 8

An assay for a single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) in a 3′UTR miRNA binding site of the KRAS gene has recently been commercially marketed as a clinical test to aid epithelial ovarian cancer (EOC) risk assessment in women with family histories of the disease. The justification for use of this assay was based on one published paper which analyzed fewer than 1,000 subjects in total, including only 67 EOC cases carrying BRCA1 mutations or with family histories of EOC. The present report found no association between this SNP and ovarian cancer risk among 8,669 cases of unselected invasive EOC and 10,012 controls, or in 683 cases and 2,044 controls carrying BRCA1 mutations. The results suggest that evaluation of this SNP is not clinically useful for risk prediction in sporadic or familial ovarian cancer. Read more!