Life Sciences & Society: Selling Science?

Join us on 9 June for our next Life Sciences & Society Seminar where Dr Andy Williams will talk on Selling Science? News, public relations and communicating scientific research. The seminar will be at Hughes Hall, Cambridge, starting at 17.30 with drinks and networking after the talk. Please book your ticket in advance here

Opinion of the month

PHG Foundation’s Lucia von Bredow critically examines the recently published UK Bioindustry Association (BIA) ambitions for the national life sciences sector.

Vision for UK life sciences 2025: health and wealth

Genome editing

Gene editing continues to dominate the news with the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) stating they will not fund any research involving the use of genome editing in human embryos. Meanwhile Australian scientists have discovered an alternative to the controversial CRISPR- CAS9 gene editing technology that avoids the use of human embryos and, it is hoped, could lead to a cure for sickle cell. It would also avoid a potential breach of patent with CRISPR, a battle in which the technology’s inventor Jennifer Doudna is currently involved.

US government will not fund gene editing in human embryos
CRISPR battles on two fronts
Genome editing could lead to cure for sickle cell anaemia

Personalised medicine

The first comprehensive genetic map showing clinically actionable mutations within prostate cancers suggests a new era of personalised cancer treatments is approaching in the fight against this lethal disease. Regular blood testing could be used to improve detection rates of ovarian cancer.

Prostate cancer gene map reveals scope for personalised treatment
Personalised screening revives cancer biomarker hope

Digital health and innovations

Toothbrushes and smartphones could help detect diseases such as Alzheimer’s and cancer in the future, according to Oxford Nanopore Technologies speaking about their portable hand-held gene sequencer MinION. The company has been previewing other of its latest technologies including a new version of MinION the promethION, and an automated sample preparation system called Voltrax. In the Cameroon researchers are trialling a smartphone app to wage war on the parasitic loa loa worm.

Your toothbrush: a tool to diagnose cancer and Alzheimer's?
Oxford Nanopore technologies and pricing plans revealed
Smartphone app to aid personalised treatment of deadly disease

Biomedical research

A new mouse study has found a potential Achilles’ heel for the deadly Ebola virus infection, which could lead to new treatments. Less positive is news from trials to test the safety and efficacy of gene therapy for an inherited form of blindness, which have shown only temporary improvements in vision. Alzheimer’s research continues apace.

Ebola's 'Achilles heel' treads path towards new treatments
Disappointing results from gene therapy trials for blindness
New pathways for Alzheimer's

Therapeutics and diagnostics

A ‘friendly’ version of Clostridium difficile bacteria is showing positive signs as a treatment for potentially deadly versions of linked infections and two new tools have been developed to combat drug resistance.

Non-toxic bacteria used to battle dangerous infections
New tools to battle drug resistance

Science and health policy

Will the public get what the public wants when it comes to feeding back incidental findings? A survey of almost 7000 people by Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute showed 98% of the public wanted to know about the possibility of preventable, life-threatening disorders. Genetic health professionals were five times more likely to think that incidental findings should not be reported.

Public want to know medical findings from genomic research