Trending News Today: FDA Approves Genetic Test for Personal Disease Risk

Top news of the day from across the health care landscape.

The FDA has approved 23andMe Inc’s direct-to-consumer genetic test for personal disease risks, according to The Wall Street Journal. The test allows consumers to test their personal risk of contracting 10 potentially serious conditions, including late-onset Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, thrombophilia, and celiac disease. The agency stressed that the product labeling should indicate that the test is not designed to diagnose, determine treatment, or suggest anything about a user’s state of health, the WSJ reported.

Aetna announced that it will exit the Affordable Care Act insurance marketplace in Iowa next year. Aetna is the second insurer this week to announce its exit, and is the latest sign that the industry is pulling back from exchanges, reported The WSJ. Aetna said the exit was a result of financial risk and an uncertain outlook for the marketplace, and it is still evaluating Aetna’s 2018 individual product presence in the remaining states. Aetna offers exchange plans in Delaware, Iowa, Nebraska, and Virginia, and has more than 30,000 enrollees in Iowa. On Monday, Wellmark Blue Cross Blue Shield said it would stop selling ACA plans in Iowa after losing approximately $90 million.

Scientists have found 4 new species of giant viruses at a wastewater treatment plant in Austria, and found a hint of their origin, according to NPR. “This virus looks much, much more cell-like than any previously discovered one,” co-author Eugene Koonin told NPR. The investigators propose that the 4 new species are a subfamily of the Mimiviruses, labeling them the Klosneuviruses, but that they appear to only infect small creatures, such as amoebas, rather than humans. To uncover some hints into the origins of the giant viruses, investigators sequenced the Klosneuvirus genes and found that a surprisingly large number are involved in making proteins, in addition to copying DNA. The investigators also compared the Klosneuvirus DNA translation genes to a set of genes shared by all giant viruses and to the genes of cells to create an evolutionary tree, according to NPR. Based on the tree, the investigators concluded that the giant viruses likely started out as much smaller viruses before evolving into giant ones over many generations by gathering pieces of genetic material from various hosts they infected.

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