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Alberta study shows DNA may not actually be good predictor of disease, health – Global News

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A new study conducted at the University of Alberta suggests that genes have less to do with developing diseases than previously thought.

The study, which involved scientists examining two decades of data, concluded that DNA contribution to disease development is only about five to 10 per cent.

The data they examined looked at the relationship between common gene mutations (also known as single nucleotide polymorphisms, or SNPs) and different diseases.


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“Simply put, DNA is not your destiny, and SNPs are duds for disease prediction,” said David Wishart, a professor of biological science and computing science at the U of A.

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Throughout the study, the U of A team put the data through simulations and modelling systems, looking for correlations in genes and disease.

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“We looked at around 220 different diseases and about 590 different studies, and tried to put all that information together and determine just how much do your genes, or these SNPs, effect your likelihood or risk of getting a disease,” Wishart said.


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The study did highlight some exceptions: Crohn’s disease, celiac disease and macular degeneration have a genetic contribution of approximately 40 to 50 per cent.

“Despite these rare exceptions, it is becoming increasingly clear that the risk for getting most diseases arise from your metabolism, your environment, your lifestyle, or your exposure to various kinds of nutrients, chemicals, bacteria or viruses,” Wishart said.

“You can’t change your genes. But you can change what you eat, you can change your exercise and lifestyle.”

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Wishart said that he believes that genetic testing companies like 23andMe and AncestryDNA are still reliable for finding out ancestry but that they aren’t reliable for disease risks.

“[Disease prediction] has to be taken very lightly,” Wishart said. “Our data tells us that these [DNA factors] are not important risk factors. The projected risk that they’re arguing or suggesting is often highly inflated.”






1:44
DNA test connected 10 siblings but how reliable are tests?


DNA test connected 10 siblings but how reliable are tests?

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7 additional deaths and 542 new COVID-19 cases in BC – Boundary Creek Times – Boundary Creek Times

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B.C. announced 542 new COVID-19 cases and seven deaths as of Wednesday (March 3), said provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry.

It breaks down to 131 new cases in the Vancouver Coastal Health authority region, 292 in Fraser Health, 31 in Island Health, 43 in Interior Health and 44 in Northern Health.

There are now a total of 4,654 active cases in the province, this includes three more people are being treated in hospital for the virus, for a total of 246. Of them, 64 are in intensive care.

In a joint statement, Henry and health minister Adrian Dix reported 18 new COVID-19 cases linked to variants of concern for a total of 200 in the province:

“Our goal is to protect as many people as possible, as quickly as possible, through the available COVID-19 vaccines. With a single primer dose, these vaccines are helping to stop outbreaks and reduce serious illness and death.”

RELATED: Federal panel recommends 4-month gap between COVID vaccine doses due to limited supply

So far, 289,809 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in B.C., of which 86,616 were second doses.

A total of 1,372 people in B.C. have lost their lives to COVID-19 since the pandemic began. There have been a total of 81,909 cases, of which 75,819 have recovered.

There were no new reported health care facility outbreaks as a result of the virus.


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COVID-19 outbreak at Edmonton seniors’ residence involving variant grows to 36 cases – The Globe and Mail

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Alberta Premier Jason Kenney speaks during a news conference in Edmonton on Feb. 24, 2020.

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A COVID-19 outbreak at a seniors’ residence in Edmonton that involves a more contagious variant of the virus has grown to 36 infections as the province speeds up its vaccine program for older Albertans.

The outbreak at Churchill Manor, a private seniors’ residence in the southeastern part of the city, began last Friday when the first case was detected. Atria Retirement Canada, which operates the facility, said 32 residents and four staff members have tested positive for COVID-19 as of Thursday. Alberta Health said 19 have also tested positive for a more contagious variant.

Residents at Churchill Manor received their first dose of COVID-19 vaccines on Monday, after the outbreak had begun and residents were exposed. Privately operated supportive living facilities such as Churchill Manor were included in the second phase of the province’s vaccine rollout, receiving their shots in the same period as people in the broader community who are 75 and older.

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Premier Jason Kenney used the outbreak to criticize the federal government for the delayed rollout of COVID-19 vaccines, suggesting people at Churchill Manor would have been vaccinated earlier if only Ottawa had a better handle on the situation.

Atria said it had been slowly easing restrictions on residents beginning on Feb. 12, including offering meals in the dining room with physical distancing. People at the facility were still required to wear masks and undergo regular screening.

As soon as the first case of COVID-19 was detected, the company said, Churchill Manor asked residents to stay in their rooms and prohibited group gatherings.

“We are confident we are doing everything we can to protect our residents and staff,” a statement from the company said. “Alberta Health Services has reviewed our safety measures and has said they are satisfied with our protocols.”

Alberta Health Services staff are on-site this week conducting additional tests.

Atria said four of the residents who were infected are recovering off-site. Neither the company nor Alberta Health would say if any of them are in hospital.

The province announced in January that it had given first vaccine doses to all long-term care residents and staff, which included people in nursing care and publicly funded supportive living. That did not include private facilities, which were instead included in the second phase that began in late February. Private group-living facilities such as seniors’ lodges with residents older than 75 started on Feb. 19, a few days before vaccinations rolled out to everyone in the province in that age group regardless of where they live.

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Staff in the fully private facilities will be able to get vaccinated in the next phase, which begins on March 15.

Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, said people in long-term care sites or publicly funded supportive living facilities have a greater risk because of their age and underlying health conditions. She said the province had to make decisions based on risk to manage a limited supply of vaccines.

“When we looked at our rollout of vaccination to different groups, we prioritized the greatest impact with respect to severe illness and death,” she told a media briefing on Thursday.

Health Minister Tyler Shandro said there has been confusion because of the complex nature of the continuing care system, which involves a mix of public and private facilities and funding, with varying levels of care.

Earlier in the day, Premier Kenney pointed to the Churchill Manor outbreak during a news conference with other premiers as he repeated his criticism of delays with the federal vaccine program.

“They should have been vaccinated weeks ago, like they were in similar settings in the United States, Israel, the U.K. and many, many, many other countries,” he said.

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A day earlier, Alberta joined other provinces in extending the time between first and second doses of the vaccines to four months, which is now recommended by the National Advisory Committee on Immunization.

Mr. Shandro announced Thursday that every adult in the province will be able to get their first shot by the end of June, with the next phase of vaccinations for people 65 and older and Indigenous peoples aged 50 and up starting on March 15.

The AstraZeneca vaccine will be available later this month to people who are 50 to 64. They will have a choice to either get the AstraZeneca vaccine or wait until their turn in the overall priority list for the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines.

We have a weekly Western Canada newsletter written by our B.C. and Alberta bureau chiefs, providing a comprehensive package of the news you need to know about the region and its place in the issues facing Canada. Sign up today.

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B.C. nears 300,000 COVID-19 vaccinations, essential workers next – Boundary Creek Times

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B.C. public health officials are expecting their first shipments of AstraZeneca vaccine for COVID-19 next week, and are preparing to administer it to first responders and other essential workers.

Details of when people in the large group of essential workers will receive their first dose are expected by the third week of March, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said. The new vaccination program is to run in parallel with the age-based vaccination of seniors using Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, starting with those aged 90 and up next week.

Henry reported the latest coronavirus case numbers, with 564 new cases and four additional deaths associated with COVID-19 in the 24 hours up to March 4. There were no new outbreaks in communities or the health care system, with seven outbreak protocols currently in effect at long-term care and assisted living facilities. There have been cases found in three independent living senior homes, but a low number of positive tests has been found, Henry said.

Overall vaccination in B.C. is nearing 300,000, and public health officials expect the rate to accelerate with Pfizer and Moderna vaccine deliveries resuming and the permissible interval between the first shot and the booster shot extended to four months.

Henry apologized to people in long-term care whose second-dose appointments were cancelled, as public health officials updated their vaccination plan last weekend based on new research on the effectiveness of first doses over time.

“I regret that our communications weren’t able to keep up as fast as the decision-making,” Henry said, reminding people that any dose they didn’t get has gone to someone else in the community to increase protection for everyone.

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