GenePod is the podcast from the journal Genetics in Medicine. Join us as host Cynthia Graber delves into the latest research in medical genetics and genomics, featuring content from this leading journal.
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Kidney stone disease affects approximately one in 11 people over their lifetime and recent research has shown that rare genetic variants contribute to 15 percent cases. That fraction is even higher among children. A team of researchers at Boston Children’s Hospital had reason to believe there might be additional genetic links not yet identified. Amar Majmundar, MD, PhD, a pediatric nephrologist and researcher, joins GenePod to discuss the results of a recent study identifying the variant OXGR1 as a novel candidate disease gene for kidney stone disease, which he and his colleagues published in the journal Genetics in Medicine.
Epilepsy is one of the most common neurological diseases, with more than 50 million people affected worldwide and Sub-Saharan Africa carries the highest burden of the disease. However, most of the research on epilepsy, and the genetic variants that lead to developmental and epileptic encephalopathies, has been conducted in wealthier, resource-rich regions. So, a team of researchers recently conducted a study on children in South Africa whose phenotypic profile suggested there could be a genetic component; the results of that study, as well as the recommendations that arose from it, were recently published in the journal Genetics in Medicine. Jo Wilmshurst, MD, child neurologist at Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital and a professor at the University of Cape Town, and Gemma Carvill, PhD, geneticist and assistant professor at Northwestern University in the department of neurology, joined GenePod to discuss the results of the study and the implications for care in a resource-limited setting.
The Health Information National Trends Survey, or HINTS, takes a nationally representative look at the public awareness and use of health-related information. The last time genetics questions were included in HINTS was in 2017, and at that point, just over half of Americans were aware of genetic testing. In a recent study published in the journal Genetics in Medicine, a team of researchers analyzed data from the 2020 HINTS survey, which once again included genetics-related questions. Leah Mechanic, MPH, PhD, program director at the National Cancer Institute, and Kathy Helzlsouer, MD, associate director in the epidemiology and genetics research program at the National Cancer Institute, join GenePod to discuss the results of the analysis.
One of the challenges in the attempt to standardize variant research, and understand whether a new variant is benign or pathogenic, arises from the fact that the human genome has largely been annotated by two major groups, and they have two different datasets of transcripts: The NCBI, which is based largely in the US, produced the RefSeq database of transcripts, and the EMBL-EBI in Europe produced the Ensembl/GENCODE set of transcripts. In April 2022, a team of researchers introduced the MANE project, or The Matched Annotation from the NCBI and EMBL-EBI , as an attempt to harmonize gene and transcript annotation. While online genome browsers quickly made the change to MANE, not everyone has yet made the switch, as addressed in a recent commentary in Genetics in Medicine. One of the commentary’s authors, Caroline Wright, PhD, professor of genomic medicine at the University of Exeter, joined GenePod to discuss the importance of MANE and its path forward.
Over the past decade, there’s been a running debate about whether to return secondary findings identified during genomic testing of children. The ACMG published a statement in 2013, and again in 2021, recommending disclosing secondary findings to all individuals, including the families of pediatric patients, as the body of evidence in support of such disclosure has accumulated. In a recent study in Genetics in Medicine, “Genomic tools for health: Secondary findings as findings to be shared,” researchers evaluated parents’ potential responses to receiving secondary findings about their child. Skye Miner, PhD, assistant professor of bioethics and medical humanities at University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, joined GenePod to discuss the results of the survey and their implications for disclosing secondary findings identified in children.
Telemedicine use increased during the COVID pandemic, as did access to telegenetics, but many of the policies that expanded the use of such services during the pandemic are set to expire. To address this urgent problem, the Advocacy and Government Affairs Committee of the American College of Medical Genetics and Genomics recently released a Points to Consider statement, “Considerations for Policymakers to Improve Healthcare through Telegenetics.” Heather Williams, PhD, director of clinical science oncology at Tempus Labs, and David Flannery, MD, director of telegenetics and digital genetics at Cleveland Clinic, joined GenePod to explore what changes can be made to ensure access to telegenetics in the future.