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October 1, 2018

Volume 36 Issue 1


Welcome to GenOmics!

We cover the latest Genomics news that matters most to Alberta, Canada and the World. The Genome Alberta newsletter for the Omics Generation

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In This Issue
Genomics Enterprise News Up arrow

Stories that we think will be relevant to Canadian genomics community. If you have anything you’d like to see highlighted here, drop a note to info@genomealberta.ca.

Netflix will stream Tim Caulfield’s “A User’s Guide to Cheating Death”

Starting on September 28th Netflix began streaming Season 1 of Tim Caulfield’s series and then on October 19th it will start airing Season 2. Or you can catch it a little earlier on Vision TV starting on the 15th at 9:00p Eastern or 6:00p Pacific.

Whether it is weird and wonderful detoxing options, extreme diets, holistic medicine, or souping up your genetics, wanting to look and feel younger than we really are makes us all vulnerable to marketers willing to sell us the latest wellness products. The Canadian production has been picked up in the UK, Russia, India, Denmark, and Hong Kong.

Read more about the series on the Vision TV website, and the Edmonton Journal’s Paula Simons has a “User’s guide to Timothy Caulfield”.

Agrisoma partners in first transatlantic biojet flight

In 2012 Genome Prairie and Agrisoma were part of a collaboration to test biofuel for jets. The initiative was fueled in part by the Genome Prairie-led "Prairie Gold" project, a $4.5 million initiative which received federal and provincial funding. When the project was launched the Minister of Enterprise and Minister Responsible for Trade at the time said, "Saskatchewan is a natural fit for the industrial oilseed research and we look forward to Genome Prairie and Agrisoma's continued success".

Turns out success was indeed in the works because Agrisoma announced last week that it partnered with United Airlines and World Energy for a non-stop San Francisco to Zurich flight powered by biojet fuel made from Carinata seed oil.

Read the media release for more information on this latest development in the biofuel sector.

Working ranch, with 1,000 head of cattle, donated to U of C's vet school

J.C. (Jack) Anderson and his daughter Wynne Chisholm have donated a 19,000 acre working ranch to the University of Calgary. The gift is valued at $44 million and will create a unique teaching, learning and research facility. The transfer of possession of W.A. Ranches to the University of Calgary will occur in November 2018.

Hill Times biotech supplement

You may need a subscription but try this link to see if you can access the Biotech Policy Brief from the Hill Times. You will notice on page 14 (just below ISED Minister Navdeep Bains' op ed) is a Genome Canada ad, featuring its funded wheat research. This is the first in the Genome Canada ad series for a new campaign running over the next several weeks. The campaign is leading up to the Genomics on the Hill event on October 24, where the featured projects and more will be highlighted to Parliamentarians and other key stakeholders.

The next placement will be the offshore oil ad which will appear in a Hill Times Innovation Policy Brief on Monday, October 1st

Congratulations to Andrea Matyas

Genome Canada’s Director of Communications Andrea Matyas is leaving Genome Canada effective October 2nd. She is taking on the role of Director of Communications at the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC). Andrea has been with Genome Canada for six years and has led rebranding of communications, launched of a new website and established new processes to help make Genome Canada communications more efficient and effective.

Trending Stories Up arrow

Here is what trended online and in print with our science community over the last 2 weeks. These are not ‘official’ trends but are based on the stories we see most often in our media monitoring reports and our social media reports.

Enjoy the material, and feel free to offer some feedback on the story selection.

Clinics offering unproven stem cell therapies proliferating across Canada: study

A Canadian-born researcher currently at the University of Minnesota Centre for Bioethics says more unlicensed clinics offering stem cell therapies have started up in Canada. Leigh Turner identified 30 businesses at 43 clinics across Canada engaged in direct-to-consumer stem cell therapies. His study appeared in Future Medicine – Regenerative Medicine and with a media release to get the word out, kicked off a series of articles in media across the country. A Canadian Press story “Clinics offering unproven stem cell therapies proliferating across Canada”, appeared in many newspapers such as this one in the Ottawa Citizen, which by the way is consistently a good place to find mainstream media science articles. CTV’s Ben Mulroney interviewed Leigh Turner and along with the text accompanying the 4 ½ minute video, offers a primer for Canadians not aware of the problem or what constitutes a legitimate treatment. Also from CTV is an interview with Cate Murray from the Stem Cell Network talking about the risk and complications. CBC covered the story, included a couple of videos about stem cell treatments, and talked to outside experts to build a good overview of the issue.

The Halifax Chronicle Herald took the time to look at the list of dubious clinics and found one in their own backyard operated by a Dalhousie University faculty member. Not surprisingly the owner was not available for comment which did not deter the reporter from doing his job. Having a ‘mainstream’ practitioner getting in on the stem cell act apparently is not a new problem with this new uptick in unproven clinics. “The involvement of Canadian physicians in promoting and providing unproven and unapproved stem cell interventions” by Ubaka Ogbogu, Jenny Du, and Yonida Koukio appeared in BMC Medical Ethics earlier this year. The University of Minnesota posted a quick rundown of the main points of Mr. Turner’s paper, and Regenerative Medicine will take you in a little deeper and includes a link to an interview with the Leigh Turner.

It isn’t hard to see why consumers looking into stem cell therapies can easily be lulled into a false sense of security. It is probably fair to say that many will start with a Google search and be presented with an array of information with a front page loaded with strip mall clinics and suspect information. Even when your Trending Editor started to narrow down the search to news, the accurate vs misleading hits were not always obvious.

As an article in Nature on mesenchymal stem cells suggests, “It is time to clear up this mess”.

Alberta Epigenetics Network News Up arrow

WATCH: Child Health Research Days

Manitoba’s Children’s Health Research Institute is once again set to showcase child health issues and the latest research to meet the challenge. This year’s theme is Protecting the Future: How the Environment Impacts Child Health. One of the speakers is Michael Skinner from and his presentation on “The Ancestral Ghosts in Your Genome” is already sold out. Global News featured an interview with Meeghan Jones, an epigenetics researcher at the University of Manitoba and CHRIM, about the Child Research Days and about epigenetics.

By the way, the CHRIM is looking for a Bioinformatics Scientist. Details here.

How identical twins are helping us understand epigenetic factors in rheumatoid arthritis

Identical twins are ideal subjects for studying the effects of epigenetic modifications. A recently published study in Genome Medicine looked at 79 pairs of identical twins, where one had rheumatoid arthritis but other did not, to explore possible epigenetic factors associated with the condition. Dr. Amy Webster was one of the paper’s authors and she also wrote about the work on the BioMedCentral blog.

New understanding of worm stem cells could lead to human therapies

Research from Oxford University published in the journal Genome Research has found that a special combination of epigenetic modifications crucial to stem cell growth evolved in animals much earlier than previously appreciated. The finding could help develop the use of stem cells in regenerative medicine according to an article on Phys.Org.

Genomics in Society Up arrow

To get your latest full version of Genomics in Society news, visit genomealberta.ca/newsletters
You can subscribe to receive your bi-monthly edition direct to your email, cancel a subscription, and view all of our back issues.

Scientists sequence the genome of this threatened species

It is official. We now know what makes a lynx a Canadian lynx thanks to the sequencing of its genome. This story is a good one but the video that accompanies it – and has nothing to do with the sequencing – is worth 6 minutes of your life. Takes ‘cat videos’ to a whole new level.
Source: Big Think

Blockchain genomics startup wants to make you money with your DNA

Sequencing is becoming a big business thanks to rapidly declining costs of the technology. Some predictions says the market will grow from $4.15 billion in 2016 to $15.9 billion by 2025. London-based blockchain start-up Genomes.io wants to take part in that growth by sequencing and then securely storing full genome sequences using blockchain technology. After storing the sequence information with Genomes.io, consumers will be able to selectively grant access for research, clinical, or personal use.
Source: Forbes

Newborns’ first gut bacteria may have lasting effect on ability to fight chronic diseases, study shows

A team led by University of Alberta microbial ecologist Jens Walter suggest that when we acquire our first microorganisms after birth and even in what order those microorganisms are acquired has a lasting impact on our gut microbiome as we mature. The findings could eventually allow doctors to establish beneficial gut bacteria in infants right after birth. Read the paper in eLifeSciences Publications.
Source: Folio and Biotechnology Focus

Gene editing wipes out mosquitoes in the lab

It works in the lab, now to see if it works in the less controlled world outside. Scientists at Imperial College London have used gene editing technology to eliminate populations of the malaria-carrying mosquito Anopheles gambiae.
Source: BBC

And if it becomes a technique used extensively in the environment, what would happen if mosquitoes were to disappear? The Atlantic tried to answer that question.

Events Up arrow

Genome Alberta has an extensive Events Calendar on our website. Visit GenomeAlberta.ca to see all the events, and sign up for our newsletters while you're there!

Green Food Tech 2018

With the goal of contributing to the development of new sustainable operations and innovative foods, Green Food Tech 2018 will bring together experts, as well as a diverse range of key actors in the scientific, institutional and industrial fields.

Presented by CRIBIQ Consortium de recherche et innovations en bioprocédés industriels au Québec.
  • Meet researchers and professionals in the field of food processing from Canada, the United States and Europe;
  • Attend unique sessions on the most recent innovations in sustainable food bioprocesses and technologies;
  • Develop business opportunities and research collaborations during networking activities and B2B business appointments;
  • Discover innovative technologies, equipment and services at the expo organized by BENEFIQ, the event's host.

When: October 2-3, 2018
Where: Quebec City Convention Centre, Quebec

Full details and registration available at the conference website.

2018 RARE Patient Advocacy Summit

This is a major meeting of rare disease patients, advocates and thought leaders to connect and learn from more than 100 experts in rare disease. There will be 4 specialized learning tracks:
  • Living with a Life-Altering Condition
  • Architecting Your Disease Community
  • Patients as Partners and Drivers
  • Science and Technology Innovation

When: October 3-5, 2018
Where: Hotel Irvine, Irvine, California

Information and registration is on the Summit’s website.

Canadian Science Policy Conference 2018

The Canadian Science Policy Conference serves as an inclusive, non-partisan and national forum uniting stakeholders, strengthening dialogue, and enabling action with respect to current and emerging issues in national science, technology, and innovation policy.

The 10th Science Policy Conference, CSPC 2018, motto is Building Bridges Between Science, Policy, and Society. During the Conference, the 700+ participants and 200+ speakers will explore the motto through five different themes.
  • Science and Policy
  • Science and Society
  • Science, Innovation, and Economic Development
  • Science and International Affairs
  • Science and The Next Generation

When: November 7 - 9, 2018
Where: Delta Hotel, Ottawa, Ontario

For registration and more information, visit the CPSC website.
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