April 2016

30 April 2016

Opinion of the month

PHG Foundation’s Leila Luheshi calls for efficient genomic service provision, as she tears her hair out at the current waste of resources.
Our genomes unite us all...but can they unite the health service?

Big data

The long-awaited data sharing review from the UK’s National Data Guardian is to be delayed until after the EU referendum, meanwhile the UK Government announced it is to set up a Council of Data Science Ethics. A debate on data sharing opened the Bio-IT World Conference and Expo, and Europe’s data-driven economy has received a boost with the launch of the European Cloud Initiative.

Healthcare futures

This month we publish the first of our healthcare futures work in which we put the latest biomedical technologies to the hype test. Read our recommendations on what’s hot or not among the emerging technologies promising to deliver more personalised healthcare.

Personalised medicine

Looking at personalised medicine in the US, PHG Foundation’s Stefano Gortana asks whether higher spending means better care. In the UK, Precision Medicine Catapult appoints new Chief Executive Officer. In research, scientists publish the most detailed picture yet of the genetic events that cause breast cancer and a pilot trial of a new genetic test to enable personalised cancer medicine for children is announced. In the news, NICE releases draft guidelines for more personalised approaches to managing the care of people with multiple long term conditions.

Genomic research

As an international consortium of Asian partners aim to sequence 100,000 Asian genomes, Philippa Brice looks in more detail at international genomics initiatives. Pharmaceutical giant, AstraZeneca announce plans to join the genomic community with a new genomics research centre.

Infectious disease genomics

PHG Foundation’s Leila Luheshi welcomes the launch of the FSA report on whole-genome sequencing of foodborne pathogens, but is frustrated at failures of leadership and vision for pathogen genomics implementation. Also in the blog, Laura Blackburn highlights the importance of whole genome sequencing for pathogen surveillance in order to rapidly respond to emergence of unpredictable threats, and Philippa Brice gives her view on Public Health England’s strategic plan and urges speedier innovation, especially for infectious diseases.
FSA report brings wider failure to implement pathogen genomics into focus

Therapeutics and diagnostics

Initial results from clinical trials suggest genetic testing could reduce the need for post-surgery chemotherapy. And encouraging results from a small, early phase trial demonstrate the potential of immunotherapy treatments for advanced leukaemia.

Innovations in healthcare

Highlights from innovations in healthcare this month include a supersensitive biosensor for early cancer detection and a flexible 3D printing process which could allow for the quicker production of more personalised bone implants, dentures and surgical tools. The opening of the first DNA Foundry for constructing and testing DNA provides a boost for the developing field of synthetic biology as does the launch of new software that could speed up the development of drugs and diagnostics based on synthetic biology.
New supersensitive biosensor for early cancer detection

Gene editing

Japan’s genome editing industry received a cash injection this month to close the gap on Western counterparts in the field. In research, scientists have shown how the notoriously adaptive HIV virus is able to survive even when attacked by gene-editing techniques. In more positive news, promising new research demonstrates gene-editing could allow the immune system to fight back against cancer on its own.
Japan invests to develop its genome editing technology

Biomedical research

A genetic link between two chronic lung diseases has been identified, a known biomarker for breast cancer has been found to also predict risk, and rare ‘genetic superheroes’ appear to be resilient to the genetic mutations they carry. In other news, smoking has been linked to ‘profound’ changes in the oral microbiome.