December 2012

1 December 2012

Top stories this month

The government has published its updated Strategy for UK Life Sciences, including a new project to sequence the full genomes of up to 100,000 NHS patients; we report on the announcement and respond with two commentaries on the plan and its implications for public health.

Opinion: The boundary between research and clinical care

Dr Nina Hallowell considers the blurred boundary between clinical care and research, and proposes we acknowledge and embrace the growth of hybrid activities that aim to achieve both.

Policy and regulation

The consultation on the future of the Human Tissue Authority has returned many expressions of concern over plans for its abolition, and the first wave of the new GP-led Clinical Commissioning Groups receive approval to take control of their local NHS budgets. In the US the Supreme Court has confirmed it will once again examine the issue of human gene patents.

Funding and investment

The government announces a funding boost for eight strands of UK research including synthetic biology and regenerative medicine, and US pharmaceutical giant Amgen purchases Icelandic biobank deCODE Genetics.

Genomic medicine

An MRSA outbreak is tracked using whole genome sequencing, and a synthetic mRNA vaccine technique could lead to more rapid and cost-effective response to pandemics.

Genetic and environmental disease risk

A UK Biobank-based investigation of genetic factors influencing lung disease is launched, and a study uncovering new links to rheumatoid arthritis may also partly explain why the disease is more common in women. A variant linked to obesity is associated with lower incidence of depression, and an immune cell receptor gene shows strong links to late-onset Alzheimer’s disease. Two major collaborative projects receive substantial EU funding to investigate the influence of the ‘exposome’.

Public involvement

Members of the public advise on revision of a new breast screening leaflet in light of the findings of the recent Marmot review.

New reviews and commentaries

Other news