How to Find Out if You'll Get Diseases like Alzheimer's on the Cheap

Plus: UMass Med School mentoring program; the brain chemical linked to suicide; and more health news.

What if you could find out if you are genetically disposed to diseases like Alzheimer’s and cancer? You can, and it is on sale. Like a crystal ball looking into your medical future, genome mapping is for real and due to a new round of funding, it is cheap. Some people might not want to know that they are genetically disposed to get Parkinson’s or type 2 diabetes. But the DNA test also tells you about your ancestry and you can use it to find living relatives you didn’t know existed. [Slate]

Researchers found the chemical in the brain linked to suicide. Researchers at Michigan State University presented evidence in the journal, Neuropsychopharmacology, that glutamate is more active in the brains of people who attempt suicide. Glutamate is an amino acid that sends signals between the nerve cells and has long been linked to the chemical causes of depression. Anti-glutamate drugs are in development, and could soon offer a way to prevent suicide. [Science Daily]

University of Massachusetts Medical School is pairing young med students with ill children for a mentoring program called Sidekicks. The program is similar to Big Brothers Big Sisters. Both sides get a lot out of the program. The med students, whose lives are filled with stress and tests, get to relax and spend time with a child that needs their support, and the children get a new friend. In some cases, a friend that knows exactly what they’re going through. [Globe]

Doctors pulled a feather out of a 7-month-old baby’s neck in Kansas this week. No, this is not some weird evolution story. Doctors say that the baby must have swallowed the feather and the body rejected it and tried to push it out of her neck. [CBS News]