October 2015

28 October 2015

Life Sciences & Society Seminar

Join us on 24 November for our next Life Sciences & Society Seminar where Jon Sussex will describe the findings of a just-completed study which provides for the first time an estimate of how much industry research and development is stimulated by publicly funded medical 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 Dr Ron Zimmern and Muin Khoury of CDC’s Office of Public Health Genomics ask: "is the so-called contrast between public health practice and precision medicine a false dichotomy?" 

Precision medicine vs. public health: a false dichotomy

Personalised medicine

What are the implications of personalised medicine for personal responsibility? Following her experience at the Conservative Party annual conference, Dr Philippa Brice has some thoughts. PHG Foundation director Dr Hilary Burton was in Milan to present proposals for a new framework for genomics-led personalised prevention. Personal Genomics Company 23andMe has received a cash injection of $115 million from investors. Meanwhile, two new tests could aid personalised medicine. In research, scientists have uncovered smoking and lung disease genetic links which in the future could ultimately aid the design of more tailored and effective smoking interventions.

Science and health policy

In the blog, Stefano Gortana examines the contentious policy of ‘7-day health service’.  And we take a critical look at the recent World Health Organisation report into processed meats from a personalised medicine angle. In the news, we report on our work with the Wellcome Trust and the European Society for Human Genetics on the potential impact of proposed reforms to genetic testing in Europe.

Genomic medicine

Progress in mainstreaming genomics into clinical practice continues as the American Society of Clinical Oncology publishes a policy statement update on genetic and genomic testing for cancer susceptibility. According to a Government commissioned report into the genomics industry, a skills gap could restrict the UK genomics industry growth. In our blog, we discuss recent studies on ways forward for discussing inherited genetic disorders and cousin marriage. 

Genomic research

Good news for Genomics England this month with the announcement that Cambridge based Congenica and California-based Omicia will work with them on interpreting the genomes of 8000 patients participating in the 100,000 Genomes Project. Meanwhile, the 1000 Genomes Project, an international collaboration to study human genetic variation across the world, completed its final phase with the publication of two papers in Nature.

Infectious disease

Two new briefings from the PHG Foundation explore how we can best exploit pathogen genomics for infection control. The recent European Centre of Disease Control and Prevention report on Whole Genome Sequencing for foodborne disease outbreak management, gives Dr Leila Luheshi cause for, some, optimism, while PHE’s annual Tuberculosis (TB) in England report also contained encouraging news on two fronts: another fall in the number of cases and an update on the whole genome sequencing pilot. In our blog we ask how far can portable sequencing go to transform infectious disease diagnosis? 

Biomedical research

A novel method of disguising cancer drugs as blood cells may offer an exciting proposition for directly targeting drugs. A new stem cell therapy approach to slowing or even preventing life threatening kidney damage among diabetes patients is to be trialled in Liverpool. Meanwhile, a pioneering operation using human embryonic stem cells aims to save the sight of a 60 year old woman with wet age macular degeneration. The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2015 was awarded to three scientists working separately in the field of DNA repair.