22. May 2015 23:41
“Success in sight: The eyes have it!” Thus the scientific journal Gene Therapy greeted the news, in 2008, that an experimental treatment was restoring vision to 12 people born with a congenital disorder that slowly left them blind. Healthy genes were injected to replace the faulty mutations in the patients’ retinas, allowing an 8-year-old to ride a bike for the first time. A mother finally saw her child play softball. Every patient, the researchers reported, showed &l... [More]
22. May 2015 23:28
IN CALLING THEIR Perspective “A prudent path forward for genomic engineering and germline gene modification” (3 April, p. 36; published online 19 March), D. Baltimore et al. show at once the size of the problem and the modesty of their response to it. CRISPR-Cas9, invented by the ninth author, Jennifer Doudna, allows the alteration of specific DNA in the mammalian genome. The authors say that “CRISPR-Cas9 technology, as well as other genome engineering method... [More]
21. May 2015 23:27
Earlier this month the Senate Human Rights Committee gutted a bill calling for a law against genetic discrimination in Canada. Instead of protecting Canadians from having their personal genetic information used against them, the bill now simply provides a definition of “disclose” and “genetic test,” and protects no one.
More than 26,000 genetic tests are now available to the public. Many do-it-yourself tests, like those offered by mail from the California-based... [More]
19. May 2015 23:27
The leading U.S. scientific organization, responding to concerns expressed by scientists and ethicists, has launched an ambitious initiative to recommend guidelines for new genetic technology that has the potential to create "designer babies."
The technology, called CRISPR-Cas9, allows scientists to edit virtually any gene they target. The technique is akin to a biological word-processing program that finds and replaces genetic defects.
The technique has taken biology by storm, ... [More]
18. May 2015 21:05
Next time you’re about to toss a cigarette butt on the ground, consider this freaky fact: It takes less than a nanogram (or less than one billionth of the mass of a penny) of your dried saliva for scientists to construct a digital portrait that bears an uncanny resemblance to your very own face. For proof look to Hong Kong, where a recent ad campaign takes advantage of phenotyping, the prediction of physical appearance based on bits of DNA, to publicly shame people who have li... [More]
16. May 2015 00:59
The wrinkled heel of nearly every baby in the United States is pricked at birth, and a few drops of blood are dabbed on filter paper and shipped off for analysis. Started in the 1960s, this newborn screening program tests for more than 30 rare and serious diseases that are treatable if caught early in life. Now, many public health experts who help run or advise the program are worried what the future holds. A new law shaped by a coalition of privacy advocates and conservative politicia... [More]
16. May 2015 00:29
The decision by Chipotle to stop using genetically modified foods is only the latest examples of the effects of public concerns about technologically altered foods. This decisions was predictable: Once the industry convinced the Food and Drug Administration that GMOs should not be required to be labeled as such, public backlash was only a matter of time. I’m only surprised that it took 20 years to get to this point.
I was a member of the FDA Food Advisory Committee when the agen... [More]
13. May 2015 23:50
Not satisfied by having our emails, chats, status updates, search histories, clicking behaviors, and shopping preferences, some of Silicon Valley’s most powerful tech titans are in an arms race to get access to your most personal information: your DNA.
Last week, for instance, the MIT Technology Review reported that Apple was looking to integrate genetic data into studies that run atop its new open-source research platform, ResearchKit. That should come as no surprise. There&rsq... [More]
12. May 2015 22:40
For years, supporters and opponents of genetically-modified organisms (GMOs) have debated questions ranging from the safety of engineered crops, to their effects on animals, plants, and the broader environment.
But in attributing the stance of GMO opponents to “intuitive reasoning” Stefaan Blancke, Ph.D., and colleagues showed how much supporters have shifted the debate beyond science, toward the thinking of opponents. They cite GMO acceptance by science groups ... [More]
11. May 2015 23:34
In late January, President Barack Obama announced what some have called a moonshot.
The $215 million Precision Medicine Initiative seeks to transform the health care system to target therapies to patients according to their unique genetics and environment.
The most ambitious part of the initiative is a proposal to enroll 1 million people in essentially a superstudy. Their genomes will be sequenced, their medical experiences will be chronicled through their electr... [More]