Life Sciences & Society: mitochondrial transfer

Our next free seminar on 21 April is by James Lawford Davies (Lawford Davies Denoon), on regulating the use of mitochondrial transfer.
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Opinion of the month

PHG Foundation Director Dr Hilary Burton and Chairman Dr Ron Zimmern – both experienced public health consultants – argue that a new, more personalised approach to disease prevention is crucial in order to use biomedical science for maximum health benefits.

Personalised prevention and public health: an urgent agenda

Science and health policy

Patient-centred care and empowerment are dominant topics this month as the Nuffield Council on Bioethics launches a report on ethical issues relating to biological and health big data and concludes that public buy-in is crucial for success. A patient’s charter for clinical genome sequencing was released by the Genetic Alliance UK and patients, funders and researchers celebrated a decisive UK government vote in favour of legal amendments to permit mitochondrial transfer (3-person IVF).

Putting new tools for health into the hands of UK citizens
Governmental view on shaking up science advice for health

Adoption of innovations in healthcare

The UK Government has announced a range of measures to accelerate the adoption of innovations in the NHS, including a review of regulation and reimbursement systems. Health professionals are being encouraged to develop their own apps and digital tools to improve patient care, and major new strategies have been launched to stimulate the application of regenerative medicines in health services and the development of new healthcare technologies.

Welcome UK moves to revolutionise uptake of innovations in healthcare
New NHS programme seeks digital healthcare solutions
New strategy for uptake of regenerative medicine
New strategy for developing healthcare technologies

Genome editing

A potential new application of the CRISPR/cas9 genome editing technique as a treatment for HIV infection is discussed, along with new calls from the scientific community to agree a ban on the use of the same technology in human embryos for the time being and support wider public discourse on the subject.

CRISPR prospects for HIV treatment
Time for a moratorium on human germline genome editing?

Genomic medicine

The thorny issue of incidental findings in clinical genomic analysis continues to feature in the news; experts in the UK agree on how best to take forward PHG Foundation recommendations in this area, whilst the US Association for Molecular Pathology says that current policy on this issue has neglected to consider the role of pathology, and indeed of patients. Canadian patients are reported to favour receiving incidental findings of medical import. New resources for health professionals on the value of a genomic diagnosis are released, and a new round of 100,000 Genomes Project funding goes to companies developing sequence analysis and interpretation technologies.

Ethical implementation of the genomics revolution
Pathology and patient perspectives for clinical genomics policy
Most Canadians want return of significant genomic incidental findings
Meeting the challenge of rare disease diagnosis
£8 million cash boost for five genomic companies

Genomic research

A new research project sequencing genomic causes of generally poorer health in English Bangladeshi and Pakistani communities gets underway, whilst the first version of an epigenomics roadmap to support further research is released. Google Genomics expands its database of annotated genetic variants via collaboration with Tute Genomics, and genomic findings in pancreatic cancer show promise for the development of personalised treatment approaches.

Under-represented community genomics; East London takes centre stage
Navigating genomic complexity: the epigenomics roadmap
Google Genomics collaborates to expand research resource
Genomic game-changer for pancreatic cancer 

Biomedical research

New findings on the role of specific proteins in normal heart function and how defects can result in sudden cardiac death raise prospects for new biomarker based testing, whilst intriguing early research suggests ultrasound as a potential therapy for Alzheimer’s disease.

Protein clues to sudden cardiac death mysteries
Ultrasound therapy helps Alzheimer's mice through maze