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October 4, 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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Grading the Presidential candidates on science

The United States cannot change the laws of nature but it can definitely influence how we fund research into science. That massive funding machine to the south can move brain research into the realm of 'cool' and set the tone for precision medicine research. How science fares under the next U.S. President could open or close many investigative door. Scientific American graded the candidates. Hilary Clinton did well. Donald Trump not so well.
Source: Scientific American

80% of data in Chinese clinical trials have been fabricated

The report uncovered fraudulent behaviour at almost every level, and showed that some pharmaceutical companies had hidden or deleted records of potentially adverse side effects, and tampered with data that didn't meet their desired outcomes.
In light of the findings, 80 percent of current drug applications, which were awaiting approval for mass production, have now been cancelled.
Source: Science Alert

Dear Science: Why are some genes dominant and some genes recessive?

Basic science hasn’t disappeared from all popular media. The Washington Post keeps it alive with its ‘Dear Science’ column.
Source: Washington Post

Healthcare and capitalism

As part of the weekly Everyday Ethics podcast, an ethicist says the capitalist system is not the most ethical framework for healthcare. This audio podcast uses the Mylan EpiPen controversy to talk about healthcare in a free market.
Source: Everyday Ethics

Mainstream media begin to note folly of anti-GMO hype

There are no GMOs in salt or bottled water. Such is the state of the controversy surrounding genetically modified foods that mainstream media is beginning to see that some of the hype makes little sense.
Source: Delta Farm Press

The inevitable evolution of bad science

Much like the way evolutions occurs across plants and animals, science is evolving as well. Scientists train other scientists and academic institutions adopt the best practices that lead to research success. This article suggests that this evolution of the culture of science is not necessarily a good thing.
Source: The Atlantic

Problems found at GM testing center

Irregularities found in a testing center for genetically modified animals and animal feed has exposed loopholes in the management of genetic modification in China.
Source: China Daily

Science communication efforts require strategic engagement

Funding bodies must foster a long-term vision for public awareness if research is to gain a place in the cultural mainstream, say Sam Illingworth and Andreas Prokop
Source: Times Higher Education

Bioethics in the election: Where the candidates stand

2 main contenders in the U.S. Presidential race have not made bioethical issues a big part of their platforms but there is information to be gleaned from them and from their respective parties. The Hasting Center is a bioethics research institute based in New York and it has created an interactive chart to show what the candidates are thinking.
Source: Hasting Center
Feature: Gene Editing News Up arrow

Taking appropriate steps towards gene editing in Canada

Patrick Bedford is the new Manager of Clinical Translation and Regulatory Affairs at the Centre for Commercialization of Regenerative Medicine. In this blog post he says Canada need to identify clear scientific milestones for gene editing and make them mandatory.
Source: Signals

UK bioethicists eye designer babies and CRISPR cows

The Nuffield Council on Bioethics in London in the United Kingdom released its 130 page preliminary report on the potential impact of advances in genome editing. The Council considered the possible effects of the new technologies in fields such as health care, food production, industry and public health. The Council plans to finish its work and final report by early 2017.
Source: Nature

Monsanto nets first CRISPR license to modify crops—with key restrictions

There will be some restrictions in place but Monsanto has licensed CRISPR-Cas9 genome-editing technology from the Broad Institute for use in seed development. Even with limitations the licence has raised concerns in the anti-GMO community. The announcement comes a month after Monsanto agreed to a takeover by Bayer. There is bound to be a lot of questions and issue raised by both announcement but the editors of your Genomics in Society Digest have only 1 question – Which lucky soul who will get the Communications lead on this one!
Source: Scientific American

New study of CRISPR-Cas9 technology shows potential to improve crop efficiency

A team of researchers have used CRISPR Cas9 to edit 14 target sites encompassing eight plant genes at a time without having an impact of other regions.
Source: Virginia Tech

Papers & Features Up arrow

Will precision medicine move us beyond race?

Vence L. Bonham, J.D., Shawneequa L. Callier, J.D., and Charmaine D. Royal, Ph.D. (2016) N Engl J Med  DOI: 10.1056/NEJMp1511294 (subscribers)

Although self-identified race may correlate with geographical ancestry, it does not predict an individual patient's genotype or drug response. Precision medicine may eventually replace the use of race in treatment decisions, but several hurdles will have to be overcome.
Source: New England Journal of Medicine

Meanings of a negative diagnostic result in clinical exome sequencing

Skinner, D., Raspberry, K. A. and King, M. (2016), Sociol Health Illn. doi:10.1111/1467-9566.12460

Genomic sequencing technology is moving rapidly from the research setting into clinical medicine but significant technological and interpretive challenges remain. One of those is the negative result which can have nuanced meanings and uncertainties for adult patients and for the parents of child patients. This paper examines those meanings and the challenges of communication and interpretation.
Source: Sociology of Health and Illness (access required)

Predictive genetic testing of children for adult-onset conditions: Negotiating requests with parents

Fenwick, A., Plantinga, M., Dheensa, S. et al. (2016) J Genet Counsel. doi:10.1007/s10897-016-0018-y

As a strategy for determining the child’s best interest and for facilitating shared decision-making, we recommend that HCPs re-frame requests for testing from parents as a discussion about the optimal time of testing for adult-onset disease.
Source: Journal of Genetic Counselling

Genome privacy: challenges, technical approaches to mitigate risk, and ethical considerations in the United States

Wang, S., Jiang, X., Singh, S., Marmor, R., Bonomi, L., Fox, D., Dow, M. and Ohno-Machado, L. (2016), Ann. N.Y. Acad. Sci.. doi:10.1111/nyas.13259

In this article, we discuss clinical, technical, and ethical aspects of genome data privacy and confidentiality in the United States, as well as potential solutions for privacy-preserving genotype–phenotype linkage in biomedical research.
Source: Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences

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.

American Society of Human Genetics Meeting

The 66th Annual Meeting of the American Society of Human Genetics will be held at the Vancouver Convention Centre in Vancouver, BC.

The ASHG Annual Meeting is the largest human genetics meeting and exposition in the world. This year’s meeting is expected to attract over 6,500 scientific attendees, plus over 200 exhibiting companies. The meeting provides a forum for the presentation and discussion of cutting-edge science in all areas of human genetics.

ASHG members and leading scientists from around the world are selected to present their research findings at invited, platform, and poster sessions. Abstracts presented at the Annual Meeting are published online and are citable. ASHG’s Annual Meeting also features a trade show floor that offers attendees the opportunity to view state-of-the-art medical and laboratory equipment, products, services, and computer software designed to enhance human genetics research, teaching, and consultation.

When: October 18 - October 22, 2016
Where: Vancouver Convention Centre

For more about the ASHG 2016 Meeting, click here

The Genomics Revolution and its Impact on Human Kind

The 2016 Don Rix Distinguished Keynote Address will be presented by Richard Resnick on October 25 at 4:00 in the Vancouver Convention Centre.

Dr. Resnick is CEO of GenomeQuest, a maker of genomic software. Under his direction the company has solidified their leadership position in the intellectual property and agriculture markets and he has led its expansion into healthcare. Resnick has extensive experience building and growing innovative technology companies in life sciences.

When: October 25, 2016 4:00pm
Where: Vancouver Convention Centre

The event is sponsored by Genome British Columbia and you can find more information and register free of charge on the Genome BC website.

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

Communicating Public Health Information

Join Canada’s leading health practitioners, communicators, advocates, analysts, and researchers, as they share the latest intelligence and approaches that:

  • Demonstrate how risk prevention and harm reduction increases positive public health outcomes – and saves lives
  • Raise public awareness, stakeholder engagement and government support
  • Conserve scarce public service resources and decrease public expenditure on chronic public health issues and crises
  • Improve public safety and aid at-risk communities

When: December 7 - 8, 2016
Where: Mariott Bloor Yorkville, Toronto, Ontario

For full details of the two-day Agenda and how to register, click here. (pdf file)

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