Genome Alberta's Official Newsletter


GE3LS Digest - February 6, 2012

The GE3LS Digest
A compendium of news and research from around the country and around the world

Date: February 6, 2011

This news digest is published by GE3LS at Genome Alberta. Feel free to forward to your colleagues.
To view past issues of the GE3LS Digest or to subscribe to the Digest please go to:


Personalized medicine' gets $67.5M research boost: Individual approach could improve health outcomes and reduce costs
The federal government is pledging up to $67.5 million for research into "personalized medicine," which tailors treatment to a patient's genetics and environment. The funds will flow through Genome Canada, the Cancer Stem Cell Consortium and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the federal government's health research agency.

Report examines genomic medicine on the NHS
Genomic medicine will be at the forefront of the NHS, according to a report released last week by the Human Genomics Strategy Group (HGSG). The report highlights the UK's achievements in genomic technology to date and makes six recommendations to ensure future benefit of genomic innovation within the NHS.

Minnesota starts destroying samples of babies' blood
Two months after losing a court battle over genetic privacy, the Minnesota Department of Health has started destroying a portion of the blood samples it has collected as part of a program to test newborns for rare genetic illnesses.

Should People Know About the Results of Their Genome Screening?
If you were at higher risk for developing a condition like Alzheimer's disease or breast cancer, would you want to know about it? With rapid advances in genome sequencing, researchers are learning more about people's susceptibility to certain diseases, and a host of ethical questions about whether people are entitled to information yielded by their genes are causing scientists concern.

Stem-cell agency faces budget dilemma
The publicly funded California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, one of the world’s largest supporters of stem-cell research, was born from a state referendum in 2004. Endorsements from celebrities such as then-state governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and the late actor Christopher Reeve, who had been paralysed by a spinal injury, helped to garner voter support for a public bond to underwrite the institute. But with half of the US$3 billion that it received from the state now spent and the rest expected to run out by 2021, CIRM is now actively planning for a future that may not include any further state support.

What the Roche Bid for Illumina Tells Us About the Future of Genomics
Analysts also point out that the market for the expensive gene-sequencing machines – primarily academic scientists with government grants – is a shrinking market right now, so Roche’s bid has got to be about the future market for genomic technologies more than the present one.

Gingrich proposes investigation of IVF clinics
Gingrich’s stand on embryonic stem cell research has shifted over the years but he now says that he would ban all embryonic stem-cell research, including research done on surplus embryos created by IVF clinics. In his words, it amounts to “the use of science to desensitize society over the killing of babies.”

Ethics and Genomic Research: ‘Genomethics’
Anna Middleton is an Ethics Researcher and Registered Genetic Counsellor, based at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute. She leads the ethics component of the Deciphering Developmental Disorders study, a collaborative project involving WTSI and the 23 National Health Service Regional Clinical Genetics Services in the UK.

Store-A-Tooth Dental Stem Cell Banking Featured at Yankee Dental Congress 2012
Store-A-Tooth™, a service of Provia Labs, made its debut at the 2012 Yankee Dental Congress, held January 26-28 in Boston. Store-A-Tooth is partnering with dentists throughout New England to offer the highest quality in dental stem cell banking to their patients, enabling parents to preserve the stem cells from their children's teeth for future therapies in regenerative medicine and dentistry.

Cerebral Palsy Linked With Genetic Abnormalities
What we're finding is the even though more preventative efforts have been put in place like fetal monitoring, the incidence of CP has not decreased. We've seen a five-fold increase in the rate of caesarean sections, which are doing in part to avoid potentially difficult delivery, and again, the CP rates remain steady. These findings lead us to believe genetics play a much bigger role than previously thought

Canada regulatory model not quite perfect, but getting closer
On January 16, BASF announced that for all intents and purposes it is ending its plant biotechnology discovery research program in the EU and expanding activities in Raleigh, North Carolina. They also announced the headquarters of BASF Plant Science would move from Limburgerhof, Germany, to Raleigh.

Court: DNA search is not an invasion of privacy
The Minnesota Supreme Court has ruled that requiring people convicted of a crime to submit a DNA sample does not violate a constitutional right against an unreasonable search.


The Ethical Hazards and Programmatic Challenges of Genomic Newborn Screening
Advances in next-generation sequencing technologies have the potential to spur better integration of genetic testing into patient care. Appropriate utilization of these technologies will require the capacity to manage, interpret, and communicate large amounts of personal genetic information.1 Because the clinical infrastructure necessary to support these activities is currently limited,2 it is likely that the earliest applications of whole-genome sequencing will be restricted to settings in which genetic testing is already a routine part of clinical or public health practice, such as state newborn screening (NBS) programs. (Subscription required)


Complex Traits: Genomics and Computational Approaches
Complex traits are driven by constellations of genetic and environmental factors interacting in complex ways. Genetic and environmental perturbations do not directly lead to disease but, rather, impact molecular processes that underlie physiological states associated with disease. Therefore, in order to develop a complete understanding of complex traits like disease, biological systems must be queried in a comprehensive fashion in multiple dimensions. More information is available at the Complex Traits: Genomics & Computational Approaches website

When: February 20 - 25, 2012
Where: Beaver Run Resort, Breckenridge, Colorado

ESRC Genomics Network Conference 2012 - Genomics in Society: Facts, Fictions and Cultures
The ESRC Genomics Network (EGN) was established in 2002, and this 2012 conference organised by Egenis, one of the Network partners, will present the scope of research excellence in the social sciences of current bioscience innovation and celebrate a decade of academic achievement in the social sciences.

When: April 23 - 24, 2012
Where: London UK

Canadian Bioethics Society Annual Conference: Fostering Innovation in Canadian Bioethics
When: May 31 - June 2, 2012
Where: Montreal, Quebec

Using and Abusing Evidence in Science and Health Policy
This event will investigate how evidence is used in a variety of health and science policy domains, specifically considering the ways in which it is has been used (or misused) and represented (or misrepresented) in relevant laws, policies and regulations, in addition to the numerous challenges and barriers to its use in policy development. Event delegates will also consider the policy making circumstances that require sound evidence, and those that allow for a degree of evidentiary uncertainty.

When: May 30 - June 1, 2012
Where: Rimrock Resort Hotel, Banff, Alberta

For more information contact Robyn Hyde-Lay at

And don't forget....

In This Update
  • Personalized Medicine funding in Canada
  • Genomic Medicine in the UK
  • Genetic privacy
  • Surveying genomic ethics
  • Financial futures of stem cells & gene sequencing
  • Regulations
  • Newborn screening

& a list of great events!

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