Genomics Biotechnology & Emerging Medical Technologies Institute e-News
Feb. 21, 2013

DNA test for rare disorders becomes more routine
The New York Times
A few years ago, a DNA test was so difficult and expensive that it was generally only available to participants in research projects like those sponsored by the National Institutes of Health. But the price has plunged in just a few years from tens of thousands of dollars to around $7,000 to $9,000 for a family. Baylor College of Medicine and a handful of companies are now offering it. Insurers usually pay. Demand has soared — at Baylor, for example, scientists analyzed 5 to 10 DNA sequences a month when the program started in November 2011.More

Blame common colds on your chromosome 'caps?'
HealthDay News
Some people seem to catch a cold every few weeks while others appear immune. Now a preliminary study suggests that the protective "caps" on your chromosomes could partly explain the mystery. The study, reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association, found that healthy young adults were more prone to catching a cold when their immune system cells had relatively short telomeres.More

Genetic signs of alcoholism in women studied for first time
Research done at the UPV/EHU-University of the Basque Country has determined the frequency of genetic variants linked to alcoholism for the Spanish population, and its incidence not only in individuals with a high level of alcohol intake, but also in individuals with alcohol dependence.More

Medicine for the rich about to get cheap enough for regular people
After years of exotic and very expensive machines sequencing DNA, the genomics industry finally looks poised for its cell phone moment. Soon, the business of genetics could look a lot like the commodity-driven mobile industry, with providers selling hardware on the cheap and relying on software, apps and diagnostics to drive revenue. And, as with the app-filled smartphones we keep close to us 24/7, genomics could finally become a much more intimate part of our lives.More

Targeted therapy no better than drug alone in advanced renal cell carcinoma
Combination targeted therapy did not significantly extend progression-free survival compared with single-agent bevacizumab in patients with advanced renal cell carcinoma, according to the results of a randomized phase II trial.More

Bone marrow cells used in bladder regneration
A new approach to bladder regeneration is capitalizing on the potential of two distinct cell populations harvested from a patient's healthy bone marrow, a new study reports. The Northwestern Medicine research will be published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences by lead author Arun K. Sharma, research assistant professor in urology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and colleagues, is an alternative to contemporary tissue-engineering strategies. The bone marrow cells are being used to recreate the organ's smooth muscle, vasculature, and nerve tissue.More

Web-based monitoring of newborns cuts ED visits, costs
Research from Spain finds a cost benefit in applying telemedicine to monitoring low-risk newborns during their first month of life. The researchers compared a group of infants tracked through a website called "Babies at home" and a control group who underwent usual care, which was a return visit to the hospital within 48 hours of discharge. More

New bionic hand will have the ability to sense temperature
Medical Daily
The first bionic hand that can actually help the wearer to feel things will be used on a patient within the year. The patient is an unnamed man in his 20s living in Rome who lost the lower part of his arm following an accident. The wiring of this hand will connect to the nervous system, which also works on the principal of electrical signals. The hand will be directly connected by using electrodes clamped to the two major nerves in the forearm. More

FDA approves first 'bionic eye' for rare disorder
USA Today
The Food and Drug Administration has approved what's being called the first bionic eye, which may restore limited vision for adults suffering a rare genetic disorder. The Argus II Retinal Prosthesis System, made by Second Sight Medical Products, of Sylmar, Calif., is for treatment of late-stage retinitis pigmentosa, which damages cells of the retina and causes blindness.More

Pressure rising to avoid spending cuts that will impact health programs
Kaiser Health News
Pressure is mounting for Washington to find a way to avoid the automatic spending reductions set to begin March 1, with President Barack Obama urging Congress to stop the "meat-cleaver approach" that he says will undermine U.S. military strength and "eviscerate job creating investments in education and energy and medical research."More

Almost one-third of chemotherapy used 'off-label'
About one-third of chemotherapies are used to fight cancers that drug regulators never approved them to treat, says a new study. Chemotherapies are approved by the Food and Drug Administration to fight specific cancers, but there's nothing stopping doctors from prescribing the drugs "off-label" to treat other types of tumors.More

FDA approves everolimus for liver rejection
MedPage Today
Everolimus has won FDA approval to prevent liver transplant rejection in adults, adding to its earlier similar approval in kidney transplant, according to the drug's manufacturer, Novartis. The approval is the first for an mTOR inhibitor in liver transplant, the company said.More