Expert Analysis:
Human & Medicine

January 19, 2016

Brazilian city expands use of genetically engineered mosquitoes to combat Zika, dengue

A program to release genetically engineered mosquitoes as a way to control mosquito borne diseases has been expanded by the Brazilian city of Piracicaba and the British company Oxitec. The company produces engineered Aedes aegypti mosquitoes which are thought to be the main carrier of the Zika virus which is sweeping through South and Central America. Continue reading

January 16, 2016

CDC issues travel warning amidst Zika virus outbreak: Experts weigh in on birth defects, vaccines and mosquitoes

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a travel alert for those traveling to regions in Latin America where the Zika virus outbreak is ongoing. In light of increasing evidence that Zika infection is linked to birth defects, the CDC also suggested pregnant women should postpone travel and women trying to get pregnant should consult their healthcare provider before travel. Continue reading

January 13, 2016

Pertussis outbreak among vaccinated children raises concerns about vaccine effectiveness

A pertussis outbreak in a Florida preschool in 2013 that affected 26 vaccinated children has raised concerns about pertussis vaccine effectiveness in children under five, according to a report by researchers from the Florida Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Continue reading

January 12, 2016

Will liquid biopsy technology lead to pan-cancer screening tests?

Research institutions and companies are developing tests that can detect the presence of cancer using small fragments of DNA from tumors which have escaped into the bloodstream; so-called ‘liquid biopsies’. Illumina, the industry-leader in DNA sequencing, recently announced formation of a company to develop a blood test that can detect any kind of cancer at an early stage. Continue reading

December 17, 2015

Genomes of centenarians yield new genes associated with long life

Researchers have reported finding new genes associated with living an unusually long life, according to a study in PLOS Genetics. By developing a statistical method which incorporates information about genetic risk of developing fatal diseases, the researchers pulled out five new genes associated with living far longer than normal. Continue reading

December 16, 2015

Government spending bill restricts research with gene-edited human embryos – but how far?

The major US government spending bill, agreed on Tuesday and set to be passed by Congress on Friday, includes a prohibition of the use of federal funds by the Food and Drug Administration to consider human embryos “intentionally created or modified to include a heritable genetic modification”. GENeS has asked experts in biomedical law what restrictions the bill would put on research using gene-editing on human embryos. Continue reading

December 16, 2015

New analysis finds environmental factors, not random mutations, contribute to majority of cancer risk

Researchers publishing in Nature calculated that 70-90% of the risk of developing cancer can be attributed to extrinsic, environmental factors such as ultraviolet radiation and carcinogens rather than intrinsic factors such as random DNA mutations. Continue reading

December 9, 2015

What do we know about the Zika virus and birth defects?

In recent weeks there have been reports of Brazilian babies born with microcephaly, a condition where they have smaller than normal heads, whose mothers were infected with the Zika virus, which is transmitted by mosquitoes. GENeS reached out to experts to find out what is known about the Zika virus and its link to birth defects. Continue reading

December 3, 2015

Organizers of global scientific meeting back cautious use of gene-editing in humans

At the close of the international summit on human gene-editing, the organizers released a statement saying it would be “irresponsible to proceed with any clinical use of germline editing” until the risks were better understood, but fell short of endorsing a moratorium on human germline gene-editing. Continue reading

December 3, 2015

Male body weight linked to epigenetic effects in sperm

Differences between the epigenetic marks found in the sperm of lean and obese men have been observed in a small study. The differences found by the researchers were in genes associated with appetite, leading them to suggest their findings provide a possible explanation for why obese fathers produce children who are predisposed to obesity. Continue reading

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