Tagged With genetics gone wrong

My grandfather was caramel-skinned with black eyes and thick, dark hair, and until he discovered that he was adopted, he had no reason to suspect that he was not the son of two poor Mexicans as he'd always been told. When he found his adoption papers, according to family lore, he pestered the nuns at the Dallas orphanage where he had lived as an infant for the name of his birth mother. Name in hand, at 10 years old, he hopped a bus to Pennsylvania, met his birth mother, and found out that he was actually Syrian.

Online dating is largely a succession of misery and humiliation, which is why so many of us are willing to pay an algorithm to find us the perfect match. The newest entré to the arena of apps that promise to help you find love: Pheramor, a Houston-based startup that claims to use DNA as the basis for its matchmaking algorithm. Simply swab your cheek with a Q-tip and - voila! - Pheramor's app will populate with a cadre of genetically optimised potential Mr or Mrs Rights.

On Monday, Chinese scientists published a paper heralding a truly remarkable feat: Using the genome-editing technique CRISPR, they created 12 healthy pigs with about 24 per cent less body fat than usual. The implications of their research is potentially huge. The pigs have a gene that allows them to better regulate body temperature by burning up fat, which could save farmers millions in heating and feeding costs and prevent little piggies from suffering and dying in the cold.

You probably wouldn't hand out your social security number without having a pretty good idea of how that information was going to be used, right? That would be dumb. It's extremely sensitive information. And yet, the consumer genetic testing market is booming thanks to people readily giving up another piece of their identity: their genetic code.

If you've ever watched a prime-time crime drama like CSI, you know that DNA evidence is often the linchpin that makes a case. Match a suspect's DNA to DNA found at the scene of a crime and it's certain they're the culprit. The thing is, it's not always that simple. Most people think of DNA testing as a monolithic, infallible technique. But there are many different kinds of tests -- and many different ways of interpreting them. Sometimes, somewhere between the process of collecting evidence at the scene and processing it in the lab, something goes awry.

You may have never wondered what's in the DNA of a football fan, but the US Baltimore Ravens team planned to find out. As part of a bizarre game-day promotion on Sunday, the Ravens partnered with consumer genetic testing company Orig3n to give away free DNA test kits to 55,000 fans as they entered the stadium. But the plan was hastily abandoned just a few hours before kick off, amid concerns about privacy and an inquiry from the federal government about whether the company's labs lacked necessary certifications.

As fun as it is to find out where your great-great-great grandparents came from, the real promise of genetic testing is in the realm of disease. By screening for the genetic markers associated with hereditary disease, people can make proactive, potentially even life-saving decisions about their health. That is, as long as the tests are accurate.