March 2009

1 March 2009

In the last month there have been relatively few policy developments, but US president Barack Obama has rescinded the ban on federal funding for research involving the creation of new embryonic stem cell lines and announced new funding for science and technology (10 March). Also in the US, a new report details findings from a public consultation on attitudes to participation in biobanking projects (17 February).

Genetic testing and screening

Ground-breaking developments in genetic testing include the first report of full genome-sequencing for the detection of a mutation associated with inherited disease (9 March), and the news that a US clinic is offering in vitro fertilisation (IVF) patients options to select embryos on the basis of genetically determined skin, hair and eye pigmentation (2 March), provoking significant ethical concerns. The UK Clinical Molecular Genetics Society has released the latest annual figures for different forms of testing performed in National Health Service laboratories (18 February), and a March of Dimes report sets out the current picture with respect to newborn screening in the US (27 February). A new molecular test with potential prognostic value for colorectal cancer has also been reported (24 February).

Genomics, stem cells and disease

Viruses and their role in disease have been a major feature in the news recently; new research has strengthened the evidence that enterovirus infection may be involved in type 1 diabetes with evidence of a mediating genetic factor (6 March). The potential role of epigenetics in viral-induced oncogenesis has also been raised (25 February), whilst a research team has sequenced all known rhinoviruses, the causative agents of the common cold (4 March). The first report of tumours caused by therapeutic stem-cell transplantation have raised concerns (19 February), but reports of a new way of creating versatile stem cells without the use of viruses have been welcomed (11 March).

Genetic epidemiology

New recommendations for improved reporting of genetic association studies have been published in multiple journals (23 February), whilst a new publication provides guidelines for the systematic review of such studies (12 March).

New reviews and commentaries

Our selection of recent articles of interest (2 March)

Other recent news and research

See also the Genomics & Health Weekly Update from the CDC Office of Public Health Genomics and the GenInfo Monthly Newsletter from HumGen.