January 5, 2018

'Ambulance of death' to boost business of mafia-linked funeral home

Paramedic 'killed patients in ambulance to get payout from their funerals in mafia scheme'

Italian police have arrested an ambulance worker on suspicion of killing people to earn money from funeral homes linked to the mafia. Davide Garofalo, 42, is alleged to have injected air into the veins of terminally ill patients to end their lives as they were transported from a hospital to their homes. He is said to have then put victims' grieving families in touch with undertakers, pocketing $300 (£265) for each corpse.

Three other people are under investigation in the case, dubbed the "ambulances of death" scandal by Italian media.The claims first came to light when a reformed mafia member tipped off an investigative TV programme and police in the Sicilian city of Catania.

Mr Garofalo worked for a private ambulance company that transported patients to and from a hospital in nearby Biancavilla. He is alleged to have injected air into each victim's bloodstream, causing a fatal embolism, as they were transported home to spend the remainder of their lives with their families instead in hospital. Mr Garofalo has been charged with three counters of voluntary homicide.

But police believe there could be many more victims of the mafia scheme, which they say may have been in operation since 2012.Investigators have examined the deaths of 50 patients, 12 of which are considered "particularly meaningful," according to a prosecutor.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:36 AM | Permalink

January 2, 2018

Genetics Roundup

With a Simple DNA Test, Family Histories Are Rewritten by Gina Kolata in the NYTimes
Widespread DNA testing has shed light on the ancestry of millions of Americans. But these services have limitations, and the results can be uncertain.

Especially if the testing companies decide to tamper with the results. DNA Testing Companies Like 23andme Admit Adding Fake African Ancestry To White Profiles In Order To “Screw With Racists”

Yet there happy stories as well.  Best friends for 60 years shocked to learn they’re actually brothers An Hawaiian man searching for his father made the startling discovery that his best friend of 60 years is actually his half-brother.

And surprising ones as well. Some Pacific Islanders Have DNA Not Linked To Any Known Human Ancestor Researchers have now uncovered the DNA of a previously unknown group of hominids.

Amish gene mutation makes some live 10 years longer
The report in the journal Science Advances is the latest clue in a decade-plus search for the secrets to healthy aging in this traditional, Christian community that balks at most modern technology....researchers studied 177 members of the Berne Amish community in Indiana, and found 43 who had one mutant copy of the gene, SERPINE1. These carriers lived to 85 on average, while those without it in the Amish community tend to live to 75. Amish people with this gene mutation were also significantly less likely to get diabetes, and they had more efficient metabolisms.

The Secret to Long Life? It May Lurk in the DNA of the Oldest Among Us
James Clement has scoured the globe for supercentenarians, aged 110 and older, willing to contribute their genomes to a rare scientific cache....The rare cache of supercentenarian genomes, the largest yet to be sequenced and made public, comes as studies of garden-variety longevity have yielded few solid clues to healthy aging. Lifestyle and luck, it seems, still factor heavily into why people live into their 90s and 100s.  The full genetic sequences of Ms. Michelson, Mr. Harris and Ms. Morano are among some three dozen genomes of North American, Caribbean and European supercentenarians being made available this week by a nonprofit called Betterhumans to any researcher who wants to dive in.

To the extent that they have a genetic advantage, it appears to come partly from having inherited fewer than usual DNA variations known to raise the risk of heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease and other afflictions.

Virtual Children, Genome Sequencing for Everyone, and Forget Genetic Privacy
Ronald Bailey sends his first dispatch from the Fourth Annual Consumer Genetics Conference

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:46 AM | Permalink