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September 15, 2016


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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Genetic discrimination bill to begin debate

A Senate bill that proposes to use the federal government’s criminal law powers to stop genetic discrimination starts debate in the House of Commons next week, after years of resistance from the insurance industry. Canada remains the only comparable Western country without laws to prohibit discrimination on the basis of genetic characteristics.
Source: Law Times

Female scientists turn to date to fight lack of representation on panels

Science conferences continue to fall short on the number of female speakers. Now there is some data to back it up.
Source: NY Times

Canadian Journal of Public Health tells researchers to address sex, gender in trials

The Canadian Journal of Public Health now requires all authors to explain how they've addressed sex and gender in their research. One of the Journal’s Board members Jacqueline Gahagan said that “This is an international issue about making sure the evidence that is in peer-reviewed journals reflects the reality of both men and women.”
Source: CBC

CNBC anchor Bill Griffeth got the shock of his life after a simple DNA test

Excerpt from a new book called The Stranger in My Genes. The stranger entered the picture when a DNA test suggested that author’s father was not his biological father.
Source: CNBC

Final update from Dr. Paul Kubes, Chair of the CIHR Peer Review Working Group

In July a Peer Review Working Group was established under the leadership of Dr. Paul Kubes to discuss CIHR’s peer review processes. The group has completed their mandate and as Dr. Kube says in this update, “we are passing the baton, so to speak, to the College and Competition Chairs.”
Source: CIHR

Stem-cell clinics face new scrutiny from federal regulators

The FDA, which has taken a mostly hands-off approach toward the rapidly proliferating stem-cell clinics, is signaling that some of the treatments should be regulated as drugs are, which would require advance approval. That would entail a lengthy process, with extensive safety and effectiveness data, at a potential cost of millions of dollars.
Source: Washington Post

The brain’s stunning genomic diversity revealed

Our brains contain a surprising diversity of DNA. Even though we are taught that every cell in our body has the same DNA, in fact most cells in the brain have changes to their DNA that make each neuron a little different. The findings, published September 12, 2016 in the journal Nature Neuroscience, may help explain what makes us each unique–why even identical twins can be so different from one other, for example–and how jumping genes can go awry and cause disease.
Source: ScienceBlog

On the journey into your genome, you are never alone

In 2014, the controversial science blogger Razib Khan announced that he’d acquired an in utero sample of his son’s tissue and had the genome sequenced. This gambit — achievable for Khan as a graduate student in a university genetics lab — made his son an Internet sensation that year as the first “healthy person” ever to have his entire genetic sequence established before birth.
Source: Undark.org

Why our DNA isn’t the whole story of ourselves

We learn these patterns of inheritance at school, but we now know that they are actually not nearly as clear as we once thought. Eye colour is the classic example: there is a gene which determines blues or browns, and browns are dominant over blues. But there’s another gene for green, and so far, 13 other genes have been shown to have a significant effect on eye colour. It is effectively impossible to predict the colour of a child’s eyes, based on their parents’, and every combination of parent and child is possible, including blue-eyed parents making brown-eyed kids.
Source: The Guardian

Feature: Gene Editing News Up arrow

WATCH: Genetically modified humans? CRISPR/Cas 9 explained

This episode of Reactions from the American Chemical Society, explains how CRISPR works but points out we are not about to venture in a world of Blade Runner replicants.
Source: ACS

Bill Gates doubles his bet on wiping out mosquitoes with gene editing

The Gates Foundation is putting more money down to develop a mosquito killing technology to help eradicate Malaria. The idea of genetic for bio-control is raising some opposition from environmental groups however.
Source: MIT Technology Review

Book review: Surviving the techstorm

Eleonore Pauwels is co-director of Biology Collectives and a senior associate and scholar with the Science and Technology Innovation Program at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, DC. Her review of A Dangerous Master: How to Keep Technology from Slipping Beyond Our Control focuses on one aspect of the techstorm – gene editing.
Source: Issues in Science and Technology

First gene-edited meal served with CRISPR cabbage

Cabbage that had been had been grown, harvested, and cooked after a little judicious CRISPR gene editing was part of a meal served up in Sweden. The cabbage had been edited to remove a protein called PsbS, "a so-called safety valve in photosynthesis." According to the research & cook, and his guest, it turned out pretty well. It also appears the 2 of them survived the experience!
Source: New Atlas

Event review: Gene editing - exploring the Canadian context

Canada's Stem Cell Network asked McGill University's Centre of Genomics and Policy to convene a workshop to discuss the Canadian context. Experts in science, ethics, law and policy, as well as government observers met on August 31st to offer insights on ways to shape policy in this complex area. A full workshop report is still to be published but this article by Vardit Ravitsky, Bartha Knoppers, Timothy Caulfield, Rosario Isasi, Erika Kleiderman, and Michael Rudnicki offers some insight into the discussion.
Source: BioNews

Papers & Features Up arrow

Estimating Marginal Healthcare Costs Using Genetic Variants as Instrumental Variables: Mendelian Randomization in Economic Evaluation

Dixon, P., Davey Smith, G., von Hinke, S. et al. PharmacoEconomics (2016). doi:10.1007/s40273-016-0432-x

This article has only been online for 5 weeks or so but has been download 1,600 times making it the most shared article in 2016 (as of this writing at least) from PharmacoEconomics.
Source: PharmacoEconomics

Privacy: The myth of anonymity

Nature 537, S70–S72 (08 September 2016) doi:10.1038/537S70a

How anonymous is anonymous data and how big a problem is that? You’re probably giving up more about yourself on your Facebook account.
Source: Nature

Applications of CRISPR technologies in research and beyond

Nature Biotechnology 933–941 (2016) doi:10.1038/nbt.3659

Two clinical trials using CRISPR-Cas9 for targeted cancer therapies have been approved in China and the United States. Beyond biomedical applications, these tools are now being used to expedite crop and livestock breeding, engineer new antimicrobials and control disease-carrying insects with gene drives.
Source: Nature Biotechnology

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.

Agricultural Bioscience International Conference 2016

The world's top agricultural bioscience conference is making its first USA appearance in one of the richest agricultural regions of the world — Fargo, North Dakota, USA.

Themed "Better Food. Better World," ABIC 2016 will focus on how public and private research collaborates by using science to solve issues related to the increasing demand for food. Members will hear from university researchers, private sector scientists, independent researchers and others who are applying the practical use of science to impact health and nutrition and make a difference in feeding the world.

When: September 18 - 21, 2016
Where: Fargo, North Dakota, USA

If you are interested, please head to the registration page.

Animal Biotech Summit - One Health

This conference focuses on using animal biotechnology to advance the objectives of One Health. The tools of biotechnology are uniquely suited to address challenges at the nexus of human, animal and environmental health. Topics to be discussed include biotechnology applications and policy issues associated with emerging infectious diseases, animal models of human diseases, food safety, biodefense, agricultural productivity, biodiversity conservation, and animal health and welfare.  The concept of One Health recognizes the interdependence of human, animal and environmental health.

When: September 21 - 23, 2016
Where: Bethesda, Maryland

For more information and details on how to register, click here

Global Biotechnology Week Breakfast at the Manitoba Legislature

Global Biotechnology weeks is an opportunity to celebrate the accomplishments and the potential of biotechnology and around the world. This event is sponsored by the Life Sciences Association of Manitoba.

When: September 27, 7:30 - 9:30 am
Where: Golden Boy Room, Manitoba Legislative Building

For more information and to register click here.

Canadian Science Policy Conference

The annual CSPC is back in Ottawa in November and is one of the best opportunities to hear about new developments in science policy in Canada and discuss the current and future state of science with your colleagues. The CSPC has become Canada’s most comprehensive, multi-sectorial and multi-disciplinary annual science policy forum and attracted numerous politicians and hundreds of professionals from industry, academia, the non-profit sector, federal and provincial governments every year.

When: November 8th – 10th
Where: Shaw Centre, Ottawa

For more information go to cspc2016.ca

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