Join us on 9 June for our next Life Sciences & Society Seminar where Dr Andy Williams will talk on Selling Science? News, public relations and communicating scientific research. The seminar will be at Hughes Hall, Cambridge, starting at 17.30 with drinks and networking after the talk.
Please book your ticket in advance here
Opinion of the month
PHG Foundation’s Lucia von Bredow critically examines the recently published UK Bioindustry Association (BIA) ambitions for the national life sciences sector.
Gene editing continues to dominate the news with the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) stating they will not fund any research involving the use of genome editing in human embryos. Meanwhile Australian scientists have discovered an alternative to the controversial CRISPR- CAS9 gene editing technology that avoids the use of human embryos and, it is hoped, could lead to a cure for sickle cell. It would also avoid a potential breach of patent with CRISPR, a battle in which the technology’s inventor Jennifer Doudna is currently involved.
The first comprehensive genetic map showing clinically actionable mutations within prostate cancers suggests a new era of personalised cancer treatments is approaching in the fight against this lethal disease. Regular blood testing could be used to improve detection rates of ovarian cancer.
Toothbrushes and smartphones could help detect diseases such as Alzheimer’s and cancer in the future, according to Oxford Nanopore Technologies speaking about their portable hand-held gene sequencer MinION. The company has been previewing other of its latest technologies including a new version of MinION the promethION, and an automated sample preparation system called Voltrax. In the Cameroon researchers are trialling a smartphone app to wage war on the parasitic loa loa worm.
A new mouse study has found a potential Achilles’ heel for the deadly Ebola virus infection, which could lead to new treatments. Less positive is news from trials to test the safety and efficacy of gene therapy for an inherited form of blindness, which have shown only temporary improvements in vision. Alzheimer’s research continues apace.
A ‘friendly’ version of Clostridium difficile bacteria is showing positive signs as a treatment for potentially deadly versions of linked infections and two new tools have been developed to combat drug resistance.
Will the public get what the public wants when it comes to feeding back incidental findings? A survey of almost 7000 people by Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute showed 98% of the public wanted to know about the possibility of preventable, life-threatening disorders. Genetic health professionals were five times more likely to think that incidental findings should not be reported.