Top stories this month

An independent review of breast cancer screening in the UK has raised questions over the balance between benefit and harm for the individual in current screening programmes: PHG Foundation Director Hilary Burton responds. And a landmark moment for genetic medicine this month as a gene therapy treatment is officially approved for use across Europe for the first time.

Opinion: Obesity and the genes vs. environment debate

Public health expert Dr Mark Kroese considers the debate over the relative contributions that genetic and environmental factors make to obesity.

Genetic testing and screening

Data modelling indicates that targeted screening for prostate cancer based on genetic risk would improve effectiveness and reduce costs, and a direct-to-consumer genetic test claims to predict how much fitness benefit an individual can expect from aerobic exercise.

Access to research

The Wellcome Trust’s forthcoming journal eLife publishes its first research papers, a competition aims to connect patients and researchers to encourage work on rare diseases, and genetic testing company 23andMe open up customer data for use by outside researchers.

Fertility research and regulation

In the US a laboratory trial of the spindle transfer method of donor mitochondrial DNA treatment demonstrates normal embryo development in about half of cases, and the American Society for Reproductive Medicine issues new guidelines on the practice of egg freezing.

Genetic disease and medicine

Large-scale studies confirm a genetic link to bipolar disorder, and suggest inflammatory bowel disease may be the outcome of an evolutionary ‘arms race’ between our immune systems and invasive microbes. A US biobank reports early findings verifying genetic links to heart disease risk and supporting correlation between telomere length and ageing, and a speculative study claims susceptibility to placebo may have a genetic basis.

Health service policy

The first ever NHS Mandate is published, outlining the key objectives for the NHS over the next two years.

New reviews and commentaries

Other news