March 2012

1 March 2012

Top stories this month

New topics are now available in the free PHG Foundation resource on birth defects aimed at developing countries, whilst news of illegal sex-selective abortion in the UK has raised fresh fears over the potential impact of non-invasive prenatal diagnostics.

Opinion: Developments in EU data protection – implications for genetics

PHG Foundation expert Alison Hall reviews the relevance of new EU moves to update laws on data protection for health and genetic information.

Genetic sequencing and testing

The first disposable DNA sequencer is launched, whilst a report highlights the burgeoning genetic test market in the US alongside the new public Genetic Test Registry, and a collaborative project sets out to examine public attitudes to direct-to-consumer tests.

Breast cancer – genes, tests and patents

BRCA genes have been a prominent feature in the last month, with calls for expanded genetic testing, comment on research directions, and expansion of patent disputes to Australia. Meanwhile, a new gene is linked with inherited risk of breast cancer, and preliminary UK recommendations fail to support genetic tests to guide breast cancer chemotherapy.

Gene therapy and rare diseases

Rare disease day was marked by the launch of a UK consultation on a new national plan for these conditions and a new gene therapy success, following news of promising results from therapy for an inherited eye disease.

Stem cells

The ethics of offering private cord blood banking via public antenatal hospital services are called into question, despite reported benefits for research, whilst new research suggests that stem cells could provide solutions to both organ transplantation and infertility.

Genetic influences on disease

Research suggests links between the environmental influences and disease via epigenetics and telomeres. A new catalogue of loss-of-function genetic variants provides clues to healthy and harmful gene inactivation, and a new study is to examine Alzheimer’s disease genomics.

New reviews and commentaries

Other news