May 23, 2005
Genetics in the News
Banned swimmer wins case over supplements
A swimmer who claimed a contaminated vitamin caused him to test positive for steroids, costing him a shot at the 2004 Olympics, has won $578,635 in a lawsuit against a maker of dietary supplements.
Direct-to-consumer genetic tests raise ethical, medical questions
Now, as genetic testing enters a new phase, there's another question: Should you have the tests performed in a medical setting or in the privacy of your own home?
Gene study counts the first humans to reach the New World
The first people to colonize the Americas were a band of just 70 hardy explorers and their families, a genetic study suggests. Analysis of Native Americans' genes shows that their ancestors represented just a tiny fraction of the Asian population at the time.
Study finds research participants concerned about genetic discrimination
A new study - the largest to date of public attitudes about genetic discrimination - finds that 40 percent of people already undergoing genetic testing are worried that participation might affect their future insurance coverage.
The Genetics & Public Policy Center has released two new reports, "Human Germline Genetic Modification: Issues and Options for Policymakers" and "Cloning: A Policy Analysis". Both can be found at www.dnapolicy.org.
Interview with Jamais Cascio, James Hughes, Ramez Naam and Joel Garreau "
They discuss the implications of human enhancement technologies, and Garreau's new book, "Radical Evolution: The Promise and Peril of Enhancing Our Minds, Our Bodies -- And What It Means To Be Human."
Would you have allowed Bill Gates to be born? Advances in prenatal genetic testing pose tough questions
The reason I ask these questions is that there is a good chance we will soon have a genetic test for detecting the risk of autism in an embryo or fetus. The development of such a screening tool raises the possibility that parents might one day have the option of preventing the birth of a child with even a mild case of the disorder.
May 20, 2005
Is Race Real?
The Social Science Research Council respond to Armand Marie Leroi op-ed, which challenged scholarly approaches that treat race as a social construction.
Genetics in the News
Costs of Medical IRBs Are Greater Than Previously Expected, Bioethics Study Shows Institutional review boards, the committees that oversee protections for human research participants, often come with a higher than expected price tag, according to results of a study published in the April 28 edition of the New England Journal of Medicine.
To help investors gauge the overall welfare on the public markets of companies specializing in neurotechnology, NeuroInsights has introduced NeuroInsights' Neurotech Index in the recently released strategic investment and market analysis report on the neurotechnology industry.
Concern over BRCA2 patent, European geneticists say changes would force them to ask whether women are Ashkenazi Jews
Some Jewish women in Europe could face discrimination in access to breast cancer diagnosis as a result of changes made to a patent for the gene BRCA2, owned by Utah-based firm Myriad Genetics, geneticists said at a meeting this week. They said that the changes could mean that women seeking testing would have to disclose whether they were Ashkenazi Jews, and might preclude testing in countries without testing licenses.
Gene therapy promises the holy grail
A new gene therapy technique, which is more than twice as effective as steroids at boosting muscle, will soon be given the go-ahead for testing on humans. After that, doctors say, it is inevitable that athletes will try to use it to enhance their performance.
Hormone Therapy for the Prevention of Chronic Conditions in Postmenopausal Women
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends against the routine
use of combined estrogen and progestin for the prevention of chronic conditions
in postmenopausal women.
Large genomic differences explain our little quirks
When the finished sequence of the human genome was unveiled last year, biologists said that it told a story of harmony for the human family. Every one of us, it turns out, shares 99% of our DNA with all the other people on Earth. But it's our differences that really fascinate us. And at last week's annual genome meeting in Cold Spring Harbor, New York, scientists revealed a wealth of data indicating a surprising conclusion about human diversity â€” much of it might be explained by large structural differences between individual genomes, not by tiny differences in individual genes.
May 17, 2005
Medical Journals Are an Extension of the Marketing Arm of Pharmaceutical Companies
Smith R (2005)
â€œJournals have devolved into information laundering operations for the pharmaceutical industryâ€?, wrote Richard Horton, editor of the Lancet, in March 2004. In the same year, Marcia Angell, former editor of the New England Journal of Medicine, lambasted the industry for becoming â€œprimarily a marketing machineâ€? and co-opting â€œevery institution that might stand in its wayâ€?. Medical journals were conspicuously absent from her list of co-opted institutions, but she and Horton are not the only editors who have become increasingly queasy about the power and influence of the industry.
Sniffing Out the Gay Gene
Steve Pinker on the recent study of pherenomes: "It may not be a coincidence that the new discovery came from researchers in Europe. In America, the biology of homosexuality is a politicized minefield that scares away scientists (and the universities and agencies that pay for their research)."
May 13, 2005
Deciphering DNA, Top Speed
Using technology developed by Stephen Quake, a Stanford University biophysicist, and with $27 million in venture capital funding, Helicos is currently building its first sequencing machine. The company intends to place the device in an academic lab for testing by the end of the year. Helicosâ€™s first commercial sequencing machines will be ready for sale by the end of 2006 or early 2007, says president and CEO Stan Lapidus.
May 11, 2005
It's Science, Not a Freak Show
The latest focus of apprehension over the headlong rush of biotechnology involves the creation of animal-human hybrids, known as chimeras. Distinguished groups of ethicists and scientists have been pondering what steps should be taken, if any, to head off the nightmarish possibility of a human brain's becoming trapped inside an animal form, silently screaming, "Let me out," or a human embryo's being gestated by mice. It is fascinating - some would say terrifying - to contemplate, but these weird, far-out possibilities with chimeras that will be needed to advance science.
May 10, 2005
Is it a drug in search of a disease, or simply an affliction in need of better publicity?
Marketing a Disease, and Also a Drug to Treat It Avanir hopes that the drug, Neurodex, will win federal approval by the end of this year as a treatment for the uncontrollable laughing or crying that can be caused by various neurological diseases or injuries. As one doctor described the odd syndrome in a 1989 article, "Pathologic laughter is devoid of any inner sense of joy and pathologic weeping of any feeling of inner sorrow."
May 09, 2005
Jon Merz, MBA, JD, Ph.D.
Department of Medical Ethics
University of Pennsylvania
"Gene Patenting: Its Impact on Genetic Research and Society"
Room T-501, School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University
Sponsored by the Center for Genetic Research Ethics and Law, Department of Bioethics
Living to Eat Cheese Another Day
In a boost for a controversial theory of aging, mice engineered to make a human protein that sponges up cell-damaging molecules live 19% longer than other mice. The new research, published online today in Science, is consistent with the idea that these so-called free radicals are a cause of aging, but additional work is needed to clarify how the protein actually extends lives.
Genetic mingling As strange as his work may sound, it falls firmly within the new ethics guidelines the influential National Academies issued this past week for stem cell research.
In fact, the Academies' report endorses research that co-mingles human and animal tissue as vital to ensuring that experimental drugs and new tissue replacement therapies are safe for people. Doctors have transplanted pig valves into human hearts for years, and scientists have injected human cells into lab animals for even longer. But the biological co-mingling of animal and human is now evolving into even more exotic and unsettling mixes of species, evoking the Greek myth of the monstrous chimera, which was part lion, part goat and part serpent.
new CDC initiative
Evaluation of Genomic Applications in Practice and Prevention (EGAPP) is a three-year model project that is now underway with technical support from RTI International. The goal is to establish and test a systematic, evidence-based process for evaluating genetic tests or other applications of genomic technology that are in transition from research to practice, and to effectively disseminate that information to health care providers, consumers, and other important stakeholders.
Making human eggs with stem cell research, postponing the menopause Research has shown for the first time that human eggs may develop directly from cultured ovarian surface epithelium (OSE) cells derived from adult human ovaries. Oocytes derived from the culture of OSE cells developed in vitro into mature eggs suitable for fertilization and development into an embryo. These findings, published today in the Open Access journal Reproductive Biology and Endocrinology, offer important new strategies for use in in vitro fertilization and stem cell research, and cast doubt on the established dogma on the fetal origin of eggs in adult human ovaries.
May 05, 2005
May 03, 2005
New Scientist - Mind-reading machine knows what you see It is possible to read someoneâ€™s mind by remotely measuring their brain activity, researchers have shown. The technique can even extract information from subjects that they are not aware of themselves. So far, it has only been used to identify visual patterns a subject can see or has chosen to focus on. But the researchers speculate the approach might be extended to probe a personâ€™s awareness, focus of attention, memory and movement intention. In the meantime, it could help doctors work out if patients apparently in a coma are actually conscious.
Mixed roots: Science looks at family trees Welcome to the 'ancestry industry,' where DNA tests produce family history hints - and profits. After his parents died, Malcolm Dodd began to suspect he wasn't his father's son. A relative came forward with a story, and the pieces seemed to fit. His father had spent three years fighting in Southeast Asia during World War II, when Mr. Dodd was born. Some sleuthing led him to suspect that his biological father might have been an American soldier stationed in Britain. But Dodd - born and raised in Britain and now retired in Portugal - wanted stronger evidence.
rsp10 10:06 AM
Bill Would Outlaw Sale of Copied Cats But some Sacramento lawmakers believe Genetic Savings & Clone has no business doing business in California.
Cloning hurts animals, exploits grieving pet owners and is unnecessary in a state that kills more than a million unwanted dogs and cats each year, said Assemblyman Lloyd Levine (D-Van Nuys), whose bill, AB 1428, would make it illegal to sell cloned pets in California.
rsp10 10:04 AM
May 02, 2005
Service learning goes global to test DNA Several times over the last few years, Ballard has included students in her trips to Africa to help the government of Tanzania collect and extract DNA samples from the citizens. While service learning traditionally has a strong emphasis on community, Ballard is expanding the definition. Ballard is nearly finished with her original mission-building a database for Tanzania to help its law enforcement personnel solve crimes. But Ballard has found that it is equally important to show them how to use the DNA data to assign paternity. "I see it as a women's and children's issue," she says.
rsp10 01:46 PM
Wired News: We Ain't No Biocolonialists National Geographic's recently announced Genographic Project hopes to trace human migration from Africa 60,000 years ago by analyzing the DNA from indigenous populations.
At least one native organization, the Indigenous Peoples Council on Biocolonialism, proposes to boycott the project and its sponsors.
rsp10 01:42 PM
Brainpower drugs coming for sports Susan Polgar will never be mistaken for Jose Canseco. For one thing, she's a mother of two; but more to the point, she's far too smart. A four-time women's world champion in chess, Miss Polgar lifts kings and queens, not dumbbells and subpoenas. So imagine Mrs. Polgar's surprise when officials asked for a urine sample after her four-medal performance at last year's Chess Olympiad in Calvia, Spain.