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July 3, 2018


Welcome to the Genomics in Society Digest

Genomics in Society: Genomics and its related Ethical, Economic, Environmental, Legal and Social aspects.
This news digest is published by Genomics in Society at Genome Alberta. Feel free to forward to your colleagues.

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Are genetic testing sites the new social networks?

Your GenOmics editor first compared the behind-the-paywall part of 23andMe to Facebook years ago in a presentation in Washington, DC. This article gives a far more eloquent description of how the genealogical resources sharing aspect of genetic testing services connects people.
Source: NY Times

Deleting your online DNA data is brutally difficult

Kristen Brown has shared her DNA samples with 23andMe, Ancestry.com , Helix, and a start-up testing company. As the direct-to-consumer genetic testing industry grows, there are more and more just like her and many of them are having second thoughts about oversharing their genetic information. Getting it back is not that easy.
Source: Bloomberg

LISTEN: Results of at-home genetic tests for health can be hard to interpret

Genetic testing used to be uncommon and ordered only by doctors. Now a variety of genetic information – some useful and some not so much - is simply a credit card number away. The industry is still in its very early stages and the results can range from amazing to terrifying for consumers.
Source: NPR

Why the medical research grant system could be costing us great ideas

According to this article by a professor of pediatrics at the Indiana University School of Medicine, funding is harder to find in general, and the current approach favors low-risk research and proposals by older, white, male scientists.
Source: NY Times

Zero proof probiotics can ease your anxiety

A headline that is definitely not overselling the power of the microbiome - unless you are a rat. A University of Kansas research review found evidence that probiotics can reduce anxiety in rodents, but not in humans.
Source: Science News

Sharing your illness on social media helps fight antibiotic resistance

We may not always want to hear about the latest sniffles and sneezes from the people we follow on social media but the posts are there from Facebook to Twitter to Instagram. Public health officials however can put these tales of misery to work to help get a better picture of infectious disease outbreaks. Infodemiology and infoveillance have become recognized (and perhaps made-up) words to help provide real time information.
Source: Huffington Post

LISTEN: Knowledge, ceremony, and an Indigenous approach to research

“When non-Indigenous scientists wish to conduct research in Indigenous communities, cultural misunderstandings can arise over issues including the methods of research; ownership of data; and interpretation of results.” This 20 minutes podcast features Carrie Bourassa – Research Chair in Indigenous and Northern Health and Senior Scientist at Health Sciences North Research Institute in Sudbury, Ontario.
Source: Innovation.ca

Let’s Talk Science Outreach welcomes First Nations University of Canada as 48th Outreach site

In 2016-2017 school year Let’s Talk Science Outreach engaged over 286,000 youth and educators from coast to coast to coast in hands-on science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) experiences. The outreach opportunities are made possible thanks to the support of companies like Bayer Canada who recently partnered with Let’s Talk Science through a $150,000 donation. First Nations University of Canada in Regina and the partnership combining will combine Indigenous knowledge and STEM.
Source: Let’s Talk Science

Can genetic risk scores score a win for precision prevention? Time and rigorous studies will tell

This article is an extension of a May webinar on Using Genetic Risk Scores in the Prevention and Control of Common Diseases: Opportunities and Challenges. The webinar discussion showed that the scientific merits of genetic risk scores are still widely debated and no consensus on how to approach this field has emerged.
Source: CDC Genomics and Health Impact Blog

Don’t let Lyme get worse

To fight ticks and their diseases, a “Manhattan Project” will be needed, says the author of a new book on Lyme disease
Source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Toothpaste and hand wash are causing antibiotic resistance

Triscolan, the compound that is the focus of the study, has been banned in the US for use in soaps, but is allowed in Canada. It is used in more than 2000 personal care products. There is little evidence that antibacterial soaps prevent illnesses but many people think they'll help them stay healthy.
Source: Science News

Former anti-GMO activist: To accept GMOs is to accept science

88% of scientists believe genetically engineered #foods are safe, according to a Pew Center poll, and GMO #farming can be more environmentally friendly...so why have GMOs always been met with a lot of public resistance? Mark Lynas has a theory.
Source: Biotech Now

Who were the Alberta public sector’s biggest earners in 2017?

Health executives, deputy ministers and pathologists continued to be among the best-paid members of Alberta’s public sector last year, according to new data released by the province.
The so-called annual “sunshine list” of the government’s top compensated employees is required to be released by June 30, but the province decided to disclose it more than a week early this year.
Source: Edmonton Journal and here is the link to the full list.

Frankengenes: U of A law prof says rules for gene-editing should be sensible

University of Alberta law professors are drafting a policy to regulate gene editing research. The initiative comes after U of A researchers published a paper which explained how their team purchased and assembled bits of mail-order DNA from the internet, and how the resulting virus was able to infect cells and reproduce. Critics worried that the research was taking place in a “wild west-style policy vacuum” and that it was opening the door to unethical and harmful uses of the technology.
Source: Edmonton Journal

Setting the record straight: Don’t believe anti-science fundamentalists or their preposterous propaganda

Impossible Foods makes burgers from plants material including wheat protein, coconut oil, potato protein, and heme. That last ingredient is made from genetically engineered yeast. That genetic engineering piece has made the company a target of anti-GMO groups including Friends of the Earth. Rachel Konrad, Chief Communications Officer at Impossible Foods took to the web to counter the arguments.
Source: Medium
Feature: Gene Editing News Up arrow

Gene-edited farm animals are on their way

Disease is one of the greatest challenges to pork production and one of the hardest to manage. Feed, genetics, and environment all come into play and researchers from the Rosliln Institute at the University of Edinburgh have come up with at least one solution to the genetic part of the problem. They have used gene editing to delete a small region of pig DNA which will prevent the PRRS virus from gaining a foothold on the surfaces of pig cells.
Source: BBC

Papers & Features Up arrow

Biotechnology's Great Divide: Strengthening the Relationship Between Patent Law and Bioethics in the Age of CRISPR-Cas9

Mosby, H., Minnesota Journal of Law, Science & Technology 2018, scholarship.law.umn.edu/mjlst/vol19/iss2/8

This Note argues for strengthening the relationship between U.S. patent law and ethics, and proposes a schema for utilizing the patent prosecution process as a regulatory mechanism for ethically controversial technologies
Source: Minnesota Journal of Law

Single-cell multi-omics sequencing of human early embryos

Li, L., et al. Nature Cell Biology, 2018, doi.org/10.1038/s41556-018-0123-2

A new study provides deeper understanding of the epigenetic reprogramming tha occurs during human preimplantation development. The group used ‘single-cell chromatin overall omic-scale landscape sequencing (scCOOL-seq)’ to study the chromatin state and DNA methylation of human embryos before implantation, simultaneously in the same cell. Using SNPs, researchers tracked the epigenetic reprogramming of each parental genome in the cells, identified from the donors' own genomes. The paternal genome was highly methylated before fertilization, but quickly demethylated after fertilization while the maternal genome was more methylated after fertilization.

Events Up arrow

Visit Genome Alberta's extensive Events Calendar on our website at GenomeAlberta.ca. Connect With Us to sign up for our newsletters and see the Calendar of Events.

1st Alberta Neurodevelopment Neuroscience Meeting

The 1st Alberta Neurodevelopmental Neuroscience Meeting is a public forum for clinicians and scientists involved in NDD and genomics, as well as for families living with neurodiversities, including Autism Spectrum Disorder.

The keynote speaker is Dr. Evan Eichler from Seattle. He is a Howard Hughes Medical Institute researcher and world-leader in genomic in ID and ASD research.
Sebastien Jacquemont, a leader on CNV in ID and ASD will also be on hand for a number of sessions.

Participants may follow either the Molecular & Biomarkers stream, or the Patient and Family stream.

View the draft agenda and registration is available online


18th International Biotech Symposium & Exhibition

The 18th International Biotech Symposium & Exhibition brings diverse research and applications of biotechnology together under one roof. It will provide an international forum for the exchange of ideas and cross-pollination among peers, combined with a social program to facilitate networking. 

The theme of the 2018 conference is Supporting a Healthy World. Biotechnology is revolutionizing the development of innovative medicines and diagnostics, sustainable agriculture, new sources of energy, and environmental remediation. With the advent and integration of big data and artificial intelligence, biotechnology promises to transform our world.

Plenary speakers include:

When: August 12-17, 2018
WherePalais des congrès, Montréal, Quebec

Learn more about IBS18 at the conference website and take advantage of early bird registration until July 3.

BioAlberta's 19th Annual AGM & Awards Gala

BioAlberta, in partnership with TEC Edmonton, presents the Health & Life Sciences Showcase and BioAlberta's 19th Annual Awards Gala.

Participants will have an opportunity for:
  • Company pitch sessions
  • One-on-one partnering meetings
  • Round table sessions on health economics and natural health products
Companies seeking investments are invited to apply for the pitch event. Innovators are invited to apply to participate in the partnering session.
Apply by August 15.

Registration opening soon!

When: 24 September 2018
Where: BMO Centre, Stampede Park, Calgary

Check the website for details and registration announcements.

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