Genomics Biotechnology & Emerging Medical Technologies Institute e-News
Jun. 6, 2013

Why your DNA may not be your destiny
Ten years ago, when researchers completed the first map of all the genes of human beings, the immense undertaking promised to revolutionize the field of molecular medicine. It did, but something was still missing. By sequencing the 3 billion chemical base pairs that make up human DNA, scientists were able to glean new information about genes and how they are expressed. More

Gene sequencing project finds new mutations to blame for a majority of brain tumor subtype
Medical Xpress
Washington University Pediatric Cancer Genome Project has identified mutations responsible for more than half of a subtype of childhood brain tumor that takes a high toll on patients. Researchers also found evidence the tumors are susceptible to drugs already in development. More

African-American women carry inherited genetic mutations that increase their risk for breast cancer
A high percentage of African-American women with breast cancer who were evaluated at a university cancer-risk clinic were found to carry inherited genetic mutations that increase their risk for breast cancer. The finding suggests that inherited mutations may be more common than anticipated in this understudied group and may partially explain why African-Americans more often develop early onset and "triple-negative" breast cancer, an aggressive and difficult-to-treat form of the disease.More

Allergies and autoimmune disease could share common genetic cause: BACH2 mutations
Medical Daily
A slew of allergic and autoimmune diseases, from asthma to celiac disease, could be associated with an altered BACH2 gene, a new study finds. Scientists at the National Institutes of Health revealed that changes to the BACH2 gene may have an impeding effect in regulating the immune system. They published their findings online June 2 in Nature.More

Johnson & Johnson takes rare gamble on microbiome science of biotech startup
Second Genome has raised the profile of its early drug research in an emerging area of microbial science, inking a collaboration deal with a pharma unit of industry giant Johnson & Johnson. Janssen Biotech, the J&J unit, and the San Bruno, Calif.-based startup have joined forces on microbiome drug discovery in hopes of finding new treatments for the inflammatory bowel disease known as ulcerative colitis. More

Study supports future possibility of personalized medicine for cervical cancer
Doctors at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have shown that testing cervical tumors before treatment for vulnerability to chemotherapy predicts whether patients will do well or poorly with standard treatment. The study supports the future possibility of personalized medicine for cervical cancer, a tumor normally addressed with a one-size-fits-all approach.More

Scientists chafe at restrictions on new stem cell lines
Scientific American
The announcement of a long-awaited breakthrough in stem cell research — the creation of stem cell lines from a cloned human embryo — has revived interest in using embryonic stem cells to treat disease. But U.S. regulations mean that many researchers will be watching those efforts from the sidelines.More

New way to improve stem cells' cartilage formation
Cartilage injuries are difficult to repair. Current surgical options generally involve taking a piece from another part of the injured joint and patching over the damaged area, but this approach involves damaging healthy cartilage, and a person's cartilage may still deteriorate with age.More

Researchers closing in on printing 3-D hearts
USA Today
Researcher Stuart Williams is not talking about a far-off, science-fiction effort when he describes how scientists here will create new, functioning human hearts — using cells and a 3-D printer. The project is among the most ambitious in the growing field of three-dimensional printing that some say could revolutionize medicine. More

New wireless electronics could heal wounds and then dissolve
Nestled inside a wound, a remote-controlled device perks up and begins releasing bacteria-killing heat, a form of thermal therapy that can fell even the most drug-resistant microbes. After it does its job, the electronic heater dissolves, and its biocompatible ingredients become part of the person it has helped to heal. Though not quite a reality yet, this scenario isn't too far off. In addition to dissolvable electronics, scientists have now built a biodegradable remote-controlled, power-harvesting circuit, described May 17 in Advanced Materials, and are already testing absorbable thermal electronics in rodents. More

Hearing aids: A luxury good for many seniors
More than 30 million Americans experience significant hearing loss, but only a third of them get hearing aids.More

Obesity can be inherited, but maternal weight-loss surgery helps
Since the 1980s, the worldwide obesity rate has doubled. Across the globe, 40 million children under the age of 5 were overweight or obese in 2011. More

Insurers balk on rarer genetic tests for breast cancer
Kaiser Health News via NPR
When it comes to inherited genetic mutations that increase the risk of breast cancer, BRCA1 and BRCA2 get nearly all the attention. Other, rarer genetic mutations that also predispose women to breast cancer. More

African-American women carry inherited genetic mutations that increase their risk for breast cancer
A high percentage of African-American women with breast cancer who were evaluated at a university cancer-risk clinic were found to carry inherited genetic mutations that increase their risk for breast cancer.More

The $2.7 trillion medical bill
The New York Times
Whether directly from their wallets or through insurance policies, Americans pay more for almost every interaction with the medical system. They are typically prescribed more expensive procedures and tests than people in other countries, no matter if those nations operate a private or national health system. A list of drug, scan and procedure prices compiled by the International Federation of Health Plans, a global network of health insurers, found that the United States came out the most costly in all 21 categories — and often by a huge margin.More

Health plans in the new healthcare exchanges
By Dr. Jonathan Kaplan
If you've been keeping up with the healthcare debate, you'll notice Republicans are predicting the demise of "Obamacare" and Democrats are predicting the Affordable Care Act to be the "second coming." The debate is coming to a fever pitch again because the new healthcare exchanges are about to come to fruition. Starting Oct. 1, consumers will be able to go online and view these different plans. Now that the date is nearing, some state exchanges have released their plan options and their associated premiums from participating insurance companies on the exchange.More

FDA approves 2 new melanoma drugs
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved two new medicines used to treat the most dangerous form of skin cancer, as well as a genetic test developed alongside those drugs. The two new medications, both of which are manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline, are dabrafenib and trametinib. They will be used to treat patients with advanced or unresectable melanoma, the FDA said.More