genetics

This week, we're tackling questions from readers who are worried about health insurance roadblocks in the face of a serious illness or medical crisis.

Q: I think genetic testing could be a great tool for physicians. My fear is what the insurance industry will do with the information, especially in today's political climate. Could they decide that you have a pre-existing condition and charge a higher rate, or not cover you at all?

Chinese researchers have finally figured out how to clone a primate, using the same technique Scottish researchers devised to clone the first mammal, Dolly the sheep, in the mid-1990s.

Depending on whom you ask, finding out whether your genes make you a better athlete or give you healthier skin may be as easy as swabbing your cheeks for a DNA test on your way into a football game. But others say these "wellness" tests marketed directly to consumers are modern snake oil — worthless, or even misleading.

On Monday, the Food and Drug Administration gave a boost to direct-to-consumer genetic testing when it announced plans to streamline its approval process.

People who have obsessive-compulsive disorder can get trapped inside a thought. It repeats itself, like a stuck song. Did I lock the door? Is that doorknob clean enough to touch? I better wash my hands again — and again.

The biology underpinning this loop remains murky to scientists, but scientists are beginning to sniff out potential genetic factors behind OCD and shed light on how the disorder affects the brain.