Law, policy and regulation

A furore over government funding for stem cells in the US has been a major feature of the last month, with a legal injunction (26 August) and a suspension of research (31 August) followed by a temporary reversal (14 September), with more twists likely in the near future. At the same time, regulators have moved to block provision of unproven stem cell treatments (23 August).

Genetic testing has also been in the news; a university has backed down from plans to test all new students (13 August) whilst an Australian court has ordered compulsory genetic testing of a minor as part of a medical negligence claim (12 August). A new paper suggests that the direct-to-consumer genetic testing market may currently be smaller than supposed (30 August), whilst another analysis examines the need for health decisions to match local needs in poorer countries (11 August)

Genetic diagnostics and therapeutics

A major study has indicated that pharmacogenetic testing to predict use of the drug clopidogrel in cardiovascular patients is not useful (6 September). New research has suggested potential new applications of genetic analysis, however, for predicting TB (24 August), and preventing and treating breast cancer (8 September). The impact of pre-implantation genetic screening on the success of in vitro fertilisation (IVF) is considered to be beneficial (16 August), and another study suggests a potential genetic cause and new treatment possibilities for a form of muscular dystrophy (20 August). Meanwhile, the use of whole genome sequencing to identify genetic causes of rare conditions continues, this time for a form of brain malformation (10 September).

Genetics and health research

Genome-wide association studies have linked genetic variants with susceptibility to migrane (3 September) and Parkinson’s disease (18 August), with potentially important implications for work towards improved treatments. Data from the latest phase of the HapMap catalogue of human genetic variation has been published (9 September) and the largest epigenetics research project to date launched (14 September), with new research suggesting a mechanism for control of gene expression to maintain different types of cell (25 August).

New reviews and commentaries

Our selection of recent articles of interest (1 September)

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.