January 2013

1 January 2013

Top stories this month

New draft NHS clinical guidelines for familial breast cancer include - for the first time in the UK - recommendations that women at high risk should receive preventative medicine, plus more detailed guidance on when genetic testing should be offered.

Opinion: What are the acceptable limits for ethical population health policy?

PHG Foundation’s Senior Policy Advisor Alison Hall examines how far it is acceptable for policy measures aimed at improving population health to go, in light of recent suggestions that benefit payments could be linked to enrolment in exercise programmes.

Health policy and regulation

Three UK regulatory bodies agree terms for working together as one of them, the CQC, comes under fire from Ministers for failing to achieve its core purpose, while a forthcoming Parliamentary inquiry into the conduct and reporting of clinical trials seeks submissions of evidence. The Royal College of Physicians calls for a joined-up multidisciplinary approach to tackle obesity in the UK, and the Health Secretary challenges the NHS to become ‘paperless’ by 2018.

Research legislation and funding

A relaxation of UK copyright law aims to facilitate research and educational activities, and a new EU ‘twinning’ scheme looks to promote research in less developed European regions. In the US the Supreme Court declines to review a case challenging federal funding for research involving embryonic stem cells.

Genes, disease and medicine

A large-scale study finds several new gene regions linked to risk of gout, and a smaller study into response to childhood asthma medications suggests that a simple genetic test could assign sufferers the most effective treatment. Recently published findings from a 2010 study show congenital disorders are a leading cause of death for children under five years old in most of the world.

Molecular genetics

A high-precision genetic engineering technique could lead to cheaper and more reliable gene therapy, and work demonstrating the role of a single gene in heart cell function has potential for development of biological pacemakers.

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