April 2009

1 April 2009

A new initiative linked to the famous Framingham Heart Study has been announced to look for novel biomarkers for cardiovascular disease risk (21 March), whilst in the scientific literature results from large-scale trials of prostate cancer screening have reignited debate (25 March). Genome wide association studies have identified some common genetic variants associated with increased risk of sudden cardiac death (9 April). In the US, there has been further discussion in the area of open access publishing of scientific research (31 March).

Biobanks and databases: research and regulation

Issues surrounding access to information held in databases have been in the UK news, with concerns about privacy and discussion of public attitudes (16 March) and a new report looking at government databases, including those holding health information (8 April). Another UK report discusses the appropriate regulation of biomedical research (1 April).

New initiatives to create biobanks and databases for research purposes have been announced, including plans for a study to identify genetic factors involved in Parkinson’s disease hosted by genetic testing company 23andMe (18 March), for a large-scale TwinBank to facilitate research into the genetic and environmental factors involved in common diseases, and for a Baby BioBank for work on genetic contributions to complications of pregnancy (11 April). However, there has been controversy in the UK over policies in different NHS hospitals towards collection and storage of umbilical cord blood for deposition in public or private stem cell banks (27 March).

Genetic tests and gene patenting

In Australia, a new survey and report has found that access to genetic tests across the country is inequitable (6 April), whilst in Europe the results of a large survey of patients with rare diseases (many of them inherited) have been published by the European Organisation for Rare Diseases (24 March).
In the US, a government advisory committee has released a draft report on the impact of gene patents on patient access to genetic tests (17 March), and proposals for the implementation of a compulsory web-based registry of genetic tests have been developed (13 April).

New reviews and commentaries

Our selection of recent articles of interest (2 April)

Other recent news and research

See also the Genomics & Health Weekly Update from the CDC Office of Public Health Genomics and the GenInfo Monthly Newsletter from HumGen.