25. March 2015 23:05
For the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 2014 was a bad year. After a series of errors in which some agency employees were potentially exposed to anthrax and others accidentally shipped a dangerous strain of influenza virus to another lab, director Tom Frieden imposed reforms to improve safety practices. Nevertheless, the CDC, which is based in Atlanta, Georgia, reported last December that some of its lab workers had potentially been exposed to the Ebola virus... [More]
25. March 2015 04:31
Today, Congresswoman Louise M. Slaughter (D-NY), author of the Genetic Information Non-Discrimination Act (GINA) and House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD), who played a leading role in passing the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), spoke out against legislation that would undermine privacy protections for employees of companies with corporate wellness programs. H.R. 1189, the Preserving Employee Wellness Programs Act, would significantly limit the U.S. Equal Employment Oppo... [More]
23. March 2015 18:26
A major step forward in bringing back the woolly mammoth has been taken by scientists at Harvard University who have inserted DNA from the extinct mammal into the genetic code of an elephant.
Geneticists have studied DNA from mammoths which were preserved in Arctic permafrost looking for genes which separated them from elephants, such as hairiness and ear size.
They then replicated the genes and spliced them into the genetic code of an elephant where they functioned normal... [More]
20. March 2015 23:18
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which recently had lab mishaps involving some of the world's most dangerous pathogens, does "inadequate" training, lacks leadership commitment toward safety and has a significant percentage of staff who are afraid to report accidents, according to the agency's own safety advisers.
"We are very concerned that the CDC is on the way to losing credibility," wrote the group of external biosafety experts, appointed by the agency as advisers in... [More]
20. March 2015 22:05
A group of leading biologists on Thursday called for a worldwide moratorium on use of a new genome-editing technique that would alter human DNA in a way that can be inherited.
The biologists fear that the new technique is so effective and easy to use that some physicians may push ahead before its safety can be assessed. They also want the public to understand the ethical issues surrounding the technique, which could be used to cure genetic diseases, but also to enhance qualities... [More]
19. March 2015 21:42
You may have heard that popular scientist Bill Nye has mysteriously revised his outlook on genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Several years ago, the children’s show host advocated for the labeling of genetically modified foods, citing concerns about what GMOs could do to ecosystems. But now his position on the controversial technology has flipped. This development is the latest in a trend spearheaded by agribusiness giants to discredit the GMO labeling mov... [More]
16. March 2015 21:04
Replacing faulty genes in early human embryos and germ cells is within our grasp. Such changes affect DNA in the nucleus and so would be heritable; ultimately, they could be used to make a genetically modified baby.
There are already reports that groups in China, the US and the biotech industry have done this kind of genetic engineering in the lab, prompting some scientists to call for a moratorium on this work. But the underlying technology is potentially hugely disruptive, offering ... [More]
14. March 2015 00:06
Amid rumours that precision gene-editing techniques have been used to modify the DNA of human embryos, researchers have called for a moratorium on the use of the technology in reproductive cells.
In a Comment published on 12 March in Nature1, Edward Lanphier, chairman of the Alliance for Regenerative Medicine in Washington DC, and four co-authors call on scientists to agree not to modify human embryos — even for research.
“Such research could be exploited for non... [More]
13. March 2015 22:56
WHAT’S THE point of spending millions of dollars on a crime lab if people don’t trust its findings and won’t use it? That is one question D.C. officials should be asking in light of the unsettling revelation that the U.S. Attorney’s Office has stopped sending DNA evidence to the new Consolidated Forensic Laboratory because it claims there have been serious mistakes. Far more than money is at issue: Forensics plays a key role in determining the guilt or innocence... [More]
12. March 2015 23:32
With the UK launch of 23andMe’s home DNA testing kit, the legalisation of mitochondrial DNA transfer, and the 100,000 Genome Project underway, optimism abounds about the science of genetics delivering on its early promise. But there is also cause for greater caution and oversight than some biotechnology enthusiasts would like to admit.
These developments are taking place with insufficient regard for their social and ethical implications. We can, however, be sure that the policie... [More]