Personalised medicine

Prospects for and implications of forms of personalised medicine, and in particular the potential impact of personalised genomic medicine, have featured prominently in the news over the last month, with the UK Nuffield Foundation launching a new study in this area (22 October) and the Council of Advisors on Science and Technology to the president of the US releasing a new report and recommendations on actions needed to realise the potential of personalised healthcare (7 November).  A large-scale longitudinal study in the US has been set up to investigate the impact of personalised genomic information on lifestyle choices and behaviour (17 October).

Genetic disease: testing, screening and treatment

The first breast cancer susceptibility test based on low-risk susceptibility alleles was launched by deCODE (13 October) amid concerns about how results might be interpreted by patients; more positively, new forms of therapeutic for different genetic diseases are showing promise (15 October). A new test for the PC3A gene has been shown to be of value in identifying prostate cancer patients from whom a biopsy is required (21 October), whilst a new project to assess screening for hereditary breast-ovarian cancer syndrome in the UK Askenazi Jewish population has been launched (4 November). There was also media coverage of a reportedly novel form of pre-natal genetic screening that can be used to test embryos for multiple genetic variants (including those associated with disease susceptibility as well as disease-associated mutations), although the likelihood of the HFEA licensing this sort of testing seems very small (30 October).

Legal developments

In the UK, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill moved a stage closer to passing into law as it cleared the House of Commons (24 October), and in the international arena the World Medical Association announced that updates to the Declaration of Helsinki on ethical principles for medical research had been finalised (1 November).

Genomics research

Two major collaborative genomic research programmes have begun in the US; one will investigate the genomics of paediatric cardiac disease (23 October), and another intends to study the genome and phenome of epilepsy, linking genetic variants with forms of the disease and response to medication (8 November). The first ‘cancer genome’ sequence has been published (10 November) and ten key mutations linked with the acute myeloid leukaemia of the research subject.

Selected new reviews and commentaries

Our selection of recent articles of interest (3 November)

Other recent news and research

See also the Genomics & Health Weekly Update from the CDC Office of Public Health Genomics.