26. June 2013 22:34
New Issue of GeneWatch Magazine:
Since the completion of the Human Genome Project in 2003, genomic technologies have grown at an astounding rate and are rapidly becoming part of our everyday lives as patients, consumers, parents and citizens. Yet for several years, results from science tests have revealed a performance gap between U.S. students and their peers in other developed countries. Most American adults haven&rsqu... [More]
24. June 2013 21:07
deCODE Genetics, the company known for mining the DNA of Iceland's population to find links between genes and diseases, has hit a snag. As Science reports in this week's print issue, a national agency that oversees data privacy in Iceland has rejected a request from deCODE to allow it to apply computational methods to the country's genealogical records to estimate the genotypes of 280,000 Icelanders who have never agreed to take part in the company's research and link the data to hospital re... [More]
21. June 2013 18:45
The United States Supreme Court recently ruled that human genes cannot be patented, and this is exciting news for cancer patients, and individuals seeking to learn more about their genetic risk for disease.
The unanimous decision in Association of Molecular Pathology v. Myriad Genetics struck down patents held by Myriad Genetics Inc. on two genes, BRCA1 and BRCA2, mutations of which are linked to dramatically increased risk of breast and ovarian cancer.
For me, this decision is p... [More]
21. June 2013 03:01
As reported in the New York Times, the prestigious World Food Prize was awarded today to a trio of scientists who had important roles in the early development of crop genetic engineering. One, Robert Fraley, is at Monsanto, and another Mary-Dell Chilton, is with another seed giant, Syngenta. The third is European scientist Marc Van Montagu.
When I was a doctoral student doing research using molecular biology in the 1980s (and in the early 90s as a post-doctoral researcher at USDA), the co... [More]
21. June 2013 01:51
The Times newspaper has published a front-page story revealing that the Duke of Cambridge, Prince William, and his brother Prince Harry share some Indian ancestry via their mother, based on DNA analysis of distant cousins.
This in itself is not a particularly controversial revelation – if any individual went back to the level of their great-great-great-great-great-grandparents, it would not be a great surprise to find DNA sequences of different ethnic origin from that suggeste... [More]
17. June 2013 21:00
In a narrow ruling June 3, the U.S. Supreme Court declared that the DNA swabbing of people arrested in connection with serious crimes is legal.
The Maryland attorney general praised DNA swabbing as the 21st-century equivalent of fingerprinting and said it would help solve crimes. No doubt. But the ruling represents yet another way our DNA is slipping beyond our control even as few standards exist for its use, storage, and destruction.
The implications are laid out in Biotechnology in Our... [More]
17. June 2013 20:45
Not so long ago, people who provided DNA in the course of research studies were told that their privacy was assured. Their DNA sequences were on publicly available Web sites, yes, but they did not include names or other obvious identifiers. These were research databases, scientists said, not like the forensic DNA banks being gathered by the F.B.I. and police departments.
But geneticists nationwide have gotten a few rude awakenings, hints that research subjects in fact could sometim... [More]
14. June 2013 22:09
Almost immediately after the Supreme Court ruled that human genes could not be patented, several laboratories announced they, too, would begin offering genetic testing for breast cancer risk, making it likely that that test and others could become more affordable and more widely available.
The ruling in effect ends a nearly two-decade monopoly by Myriad Genetics, the company at the center of the case.
“It levels the playing field; we can all go out and compete,” said Sh... [More]
14. June 2013 22:06
Slowly, and largely under the radar, a growing number of local law enforcement agencies across the country have moved into what had previously been the domain of the F.B.I. and state crime labs — amassing their own DNA databases of potential suspects, some collected with the donors’ knowledge, and some without it.
And that trend — coming at a time of heightened privacy concerns after recent revelations of secret federal surveillance of telephone calls and Interne... [More]
13. June 2013 22:43
Gov. Bobby Jindal is considering whether to sign into law SB 162, which sets regulations for gestational surrogacy in Louisiana.
It is a complex and emotional issue and a difficult decision. We urge him to consider all sides of the question before deciding.
On one side are childless couples who have the hope of seeing their own baby born to a surrogate.
On the other are those who cite ethical, moral, religious or human rights concerns. Although they have been characterized as on... [More]