31. October 2011 19:58
The first release, which was discussed in a scientific paper published online on Sunday by the journal Nature Biotechnology, took place in the Cayman Islands in the Caribbean in 2009 and caught the international scientific community by surprise. Oxitec has subsequently released the modified mosquitoes in Malaysia and Brazil.
Luke Alphey, the chief scientist at Oxitec, said the company had left the review and community outreach to authorities in the host countries.
“They k... [More]
28. October 2011 19:45
Synthetic biology — which includes the development of fuels, organ tissue and tumor-destroying bacteria — became a focus of government and law enforcement agencies after 9/11 and the anthrax attacks that quickly followed it. The field’s “extraordinary promise,” a presidential commission concluded in December, is accompanied by “potential risks” to humans and the environment.
Even worse, it is possible that such designer organisms could fall into ... [More]
27. October 2011 22:11
A Wall Street Journal article earlier this week reported that Visa and MasterCard are exploring new ways to take data about your buying habits in the brick-and-mortar world and let online marketers use that information to target you with ads when you browse the web. But buried a little ways down in the article are some details that are considerably more alarming. Visa, the article says, wants access to everything from your insurance claim history to your Facebook friends list to your DNA. ... [More]
26. October 2011 23:20
Non-invasive procedure could make prenatal testing easier, but it comes with ethical problems.
Until last week, scrutinizing a fetus's DNA for indications of genetic abnormalities meant tapping into the mother's womb with a needle. Now there's a test that can do it using a small sample of the mother's blood. MaterniT21, a Down's syndrome test that Sequenom of San Diego, California, launched in major centres across the United States on 17 October, is the first of several such tests... [More]
25. October 2011 01:27
Last week, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) announced they will ask the Supreme Court to rule on the gene diagnostics company Myriad Genetics' patents on "isolated" BRCA-1 and BRCA-2 genes, two genes that can have mutations linked to breast and ovarian cancer, as well as prostate cancer for some populations. Myriad's gene patents allow it to hold exclusive rights in the U.S. to test the BRCA-1 and BRCA-2 genes for the mutations that indicate a particular patient has a higher risk ... [More]
24. October 2011 22:53
The Russian newspaper, Rossiyskaya Gazeta, writes that moving forward the DNA of most aggressive criminals will be stored in a special government registry. Every penitentiary will have special Ministry of Interior labs that will take blood samples from severe offenders and store them for future reference. The article suggests that the criminals that were incarcerated for serious offences, such as rape, murder and armed assault are unlikely to become law-abiding citizens after their release... [More]
21. October 2011 23:59
Critics are questioning the veracity of recent claims from the research team of Dr. Hwang Woo-suk at the Suam Bioengineering Research Institute and Gyeonggi Province. Hwang and the government claim that the team succeeded for the first time in cloning the endangered coyote and performing interspecies cloning using a dog’s egg.
Observers said the report was exaggerated to inflate the significance of the findings.
On Monday, the province received eight juvenile coyotes cloned by Hwan... [More]
19. October 2011 21:22
Stem-cell researchers in Europe have been left dismayed by a ruling today outlawing patents on stem cells obtained through destruction of human embryos.
Issued today by the European Court of Justice, the region's highest court, the ruling essentially declares illegal patents on stem cells extracted from any entity capable of developing into a human being, whether it's a natural embryo or one made by some other means.
The court's rationale for the decision is a passage within the Europea... [More]
18. October 2011 22:11
In 2003, Boston University became one of two universities to receive a grant from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID) to construct a National Biocontainment Laboratory next to the BU Medical Center (BUMC) in the South End/Roxbury area. The $200 million biodefense lab, which sits on Albany Street adjacent to BUMC, measures 192,000 square feet and is 7 stories high.
Although construction started in 2006 and ended in 2008, the “BioLab,” as its come to... [More]
17. October 2011 23:00
The Faroe Islands is to become the first country in the world to read the entire DNA code of every willing citizen, it was announced Friday.
All 50,000 of the inhabitants on the islands, which are part of Denmark, will be invited to have their genomes sequenced and linked to their medical records, in an ambitious project that could lead to a new era of personalized medicine.
Doctors plan to use individuals' DNA to tailor healthcare and predict and reduce patients' risks of developing cer... [More]