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May 19, 2017

Genetics / Genomics – SciPol Daily, 19 May 2017

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EurekAlert! – Mouse study looks at safety of stem cell therapy for early menopause

Now that we know that egg-making stem cells exist in adult rodents and humans and that these cells can be transplanted into mice with premature ovarian failure to produce offspring, the next question is to assess whether the offspring from the egg-making stem cells of a single adult mouse are biologically normal compared to natural births. Researchers in China show that female mice with early menopause that receive egg-making stem cells from another mouse are capable of producing healthy pups 2 months later with no observable genetic malfunctions.

GenomeWeb – Population Genomic Data Leads to CNVs Related to Severe Malaria Risk

A new genomic analysis suggests copy number changes impacting genes coding for invasion receptor-related proteins on human red blood cells may protect individuals infected with the Plasmodium falciparum parasite from severe malaria.

KIRO – Gene replacement therapy that works in dogs to be tested in children

KIRO 7 has learned of a revolutionary treatment, here in Seattle, that has saved the lives of dogs and is just months away from being tested in children. In video obtained by KIRO 7, dogs that were destined to die show no signs of the disease after a single infusion of gene-replacement therapy.  The disease is so deadly in children, 50-percent of them die before their second birthday. – This UK Biotech uses CRISPR-Cas9 Against Bacterial Resistance

A young startup called Nemesis Bioscience is working on new treatment strategies to fight antimicrobial resistance based on CRISPR-Cas9. Nemesis’ strategy is different from that of most companies in the antibiotic resistance space. Instead of developing new antibiotics to kill bacteria, the biotech aims to switch off resistance mechanisms and thereby resurrect antibiotic susceptibility. The Cybergenetics technologies use bacteriophages to deliver programmable RNA-guided endonucleases into the bacteria.

Nature – Fixing the tomato: CRISPR edits correct plant-breeding snafu

From their giant fruits to compact plant size, today’s tomatoes have been sculpted by thousands of years of breeding. But mutations linked to prized traits — including one that made them easier to harvest — yield an undesirable plant when combined, geneticists have found. It is a rare example of a gene harnessed during domestication that later hampered crop improvement efforts. So researchers used CRISPR gene editing to engineer more productive plants — a strategy that plant breeders are eager to adopt.

NBC News – Gene Editing May Vanquish Deadly Diseases, But Some See Risks

Powerful gene-editing tools like CRISPR/Cas9 have made it relatively easy to alter the DNA sequences that serve as the genetic code of plants and animals, including humans. As a result, scientists say we may be on the brink of a major revolution in health care. But while some experts see the promise of gene editing, others see peril.

PR Newswire – Genetic Health Information Network Summit Will Address Precision Medicine Challenges

Healthcare information technology firm Concert Genetics, in collaboration with leaders from across genetics and healthcare, today announced the first Genetic Health Information Network Summit will take place Sept. 26-27, 2017, in Nashville, Tennessee. The event, which will assemble approximately 100 key leaders at the intersection of genetics and healthcare, will host an action-oriented discussion about the data and digital infrastructure need to enable precision medicine.

Slate – Thanks to Genetic Testing, Everyone Could Soon Have a Pre-Existing Condition

Our genomes provide a window into scores of genetic risk factors that have yet to present as full-fledged pre-existing conditions. If the GOP insists that people can be charged differently depending on their current health, what’s to say they’ll stop short of asserting that we could be charged according to our genomes?

The Insurance & Investment Journal – Canada: Sun Life explains how advisors should handle genetic tests in wake of new law

In a recent message to its financial advisors, Sun Life Financial provided guidance on how advisors should proceed now that the Genetic Non-Discrimination Act is in force. The new law prohibits anyone from requiring an individual to undergo a genetic test or disclose genetic test results as a condition of providing goods or services, or entering into a contract. Anyone breaking this law could face a prison term of up to five years and a fine up to $1,000,000.

The Philadelpha Inquirer – Spark Therapeutics completes regulatory filing application for its experimental gene therapy medicine

Drug developer Spark Therapeutics said Thursday that it had completed its biologics license application submission with the Food and Drug Administration for its experimental gene therapy for patients with rare inherited blindness. If approved by the FDA, Spark’s lead drug candidate, voretigene neparvovec, could be the first U.S. treatment that uses genes as medicine.

WIRED – A Chinese Genome Giant Sets Its Sights on the Ultimate Sequencer

The world's largest genetics research center isn’t at Harvard or Stanford or even the NIH. It’s a 20-mile drive from Hong Kong International Airport, in the bustling Chinese city of Shenzhen. BGI–formerly the Beijing Genomics Institute—has sequenced the DNA of organisms big and small: millet, rice, the giant panda, 40 types of silkworm, the SARS virus, even a 4,000-year-old man named Inuk. And soon it will add a new name to its genomic guest book: Dubs, the Alaskan Malamute, and mascot for the University of Washington.

WIRED – Crispr Creator Jennifer Doudna on the Promises—and Pitfalls—of Easy Genetic Modification

For $150, you can buy a Crispr kit online and use it to engineer heartier gut bacteria in your kitchen. That’s thrilling, but the technology is giving Jennifer Doudna, an inventor of the gene-­editing method, nightmares. Easy genetic modification could mean cures for cancer (yay!), kitty-sized pigs (squee!), and, yes, designer babies (ack). In her new book, A Crack in Creation, Doudna urges innovators to slow their roll. Here she considers the daunting prospects and promises of the monster-maker she created.