In the US, an expert advisory group has recommended exemption from liability for infringement of patent claims on genes for the use or provision of genetic tests (14 October). The journal Nature has called for a harder line on the regulation of direct-to-consumer genetic testing than proposals by the UK Human Genetics Commission (8 October), whilst the use of DNA testing as part of the nationality assessment process of UK asylum seekers has attracted widespread criticism (30 September).

Genetic and chromosomal disease

The UK General Medical Council has released new guidance allowing doctors to breech patient confidentiality in order to prevent serious harm to relatives at risk of genetic disease (29 September). The prevalence of genetic disorders in Arab nations has been highlighted (8 October), and new research provides insight into the structural basis of chromosomal birth defects (23 September).

Genetic and stem cell therapeutics

Stem cell therapeutics have been to the fore in the last month; a Canadian charter has sought to amass public support (24 September), and the International Society for Stem Cell Research has begun moves to establish regulation of the field, exposing providers of unproven treatments (12 October). Gene therapy has been used to cure red-green colour blindness in monkeys (18 September), and research has shown that PARP inhibitor drugs can be used to selectively target tumour cells with PTEN (as well as BRCA) mutations (21 September).

Genomic research and policy

The large-scale Exome and Cancer Genome Atlas projects have benefited from new funding recently (6 October), whilst a new international Toronto Statement has called for pre-publication release of large-scale biomedical data sets (16 September). Meanwhile, the latest findings from genome-wide association studies have revealed new genetic susceptibility variants for prostate cancer that could be valuable for risk assessment (28 September). Genetics has dominated this year’s Nobel prizes, with Physiology or Medicine awarded for the discovery of telomeric protection of chromosomes (5 October), and Chemistry for the structure of the ribosome (7 October).

Readers may be interested in What ELSI is New?, a series of guest commentaries from the Genomics Law Report examining what are the most important ethical, legal or social issues that need to be addressed by genomics or personalized medicine

New reviews and commentaries

Our selection of recent articles of interest (1 October)

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.