May 2011

1 May 2011

Policy and regulation

In the last month, UK experts from the UK Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority have concluded that further evidence of safety is required before techniques to prevent mitochondrial diseases can be used (20 April), whilst German politicians have been debating proposed changes to legalise preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) for serious disorders (29 April).

Stem cells have been much discussed with researchers in Europe opposing the proposal that patenting of products derived from human embryonic stem cells is not legal on ethical grounds (4 May). A US court has ruled that federal funding can continue for human embryonic stem cell research (4 May).

Genetics in medical practice

Newly published research has suggested that using genetic data can improve populations screening for breast and prostate cancer (11 May). Further examples of the clinical application of whole genome sequencing have also been published, revealing inherited familial cancer risk (26 April) and directing choice of leukaemia treatment in a short timescale (27 April).

The final report from the US Secretary’s Advisory Committee on Genetics, Health and Society has set out recommendations for health professional and public education in genetics (18 April), and a study of adults interested in predictive genetic testing for common diseases has revealed enthusiasm for testing of children (19 April).

Genetic databases and projects

An overview of the ongoing Encylopedia of DNA Elements (ENCODE) project has been released (1 May), along with news of a large-scale research programme using US military veterans’ genetic, health and lifestyle information (9 May) and launch of a new brain map resource combining anatomical and genetic data (21 April).

Genetics and health research

New genes that appear to interact with the oestrogen receptor have been linked with breast cancer risk (10 May), whilst genes linked to glaucoma risk could pave the way for earlier detection and treatment (5 May). Mutations present in metastatic melanoma skin cancer have been revealed (21 April), along with the existence of three different classes of human gut microbiomes (28 April).

New reviews and commentaries (3 May)

Our selection of interesting recent articles

Other recent news and research

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