Genomics Biotechnology & Emerging Medical Technologies Institute e-News
Aug. 2, 2012

Genetic tests could explain why some children, teens die unexpectedly
The Washington Post
Every year, researchers estimate, several thousand apparently healthy infants and children in the United States die suddenly and unexpectedly. Unlike with deaths in older people, there often is no obvious cause, such as violence or overdose. Sometimes an autopsy detects an unsuspected condition such as brain bleeding, poisoning or infection. But otherwise, the fatality is labeled a case of sudden unexplained death.More

Scientists ID new gene linked to vision loss in infants
HealthDay News via MedlinePlus
A new gene associated with a rare form of blindness from birth has been identified by researchers. According to the report published online in the journal Nature Genetics, mutations in the NMNAT1 gene are linked to Leber congenital amaurosis, an inherited retinal degenerative disease that causes reduced vision in infants. Signs of vision loss are apparent in the first few months of life.More

Cancer genomes let drugmakers get personal
Technology Review
A growing effort to personalize cancer medicine tries to link existing drugs to patients based on the specific genetic and molecular anomalies of a patient's cancer. But H3 Biomedicines, a startup in Cambridge, Mass., wants to personalize cancer drugs from the beginning by designing drugs to target specific patient populations. More

Down syndrome researchers see hope for pill to boost mental abilities
The Washington Post
New studies are raising the hope of finding a pill to improve the intellectual abilities of people with Down syndrome. One study is the first to show that a drug might improve the verbal memory of people with the disorder. Although the benefits appeared modest and the study was small, Down syndrome experts called it a major development after more than a decade of research in mice and test tubes. More

Study on cell structure may lead to targeted drugs
Laboratory Equipment
Researchers are studying how components of cell structure function in order to determine viable ways to use them for fighting such ailments as cancer, Huntington's, Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases. Researchers did computational studies to compare the mechanical properties of two alternative models of the assembly of rope-like polymers called microtubules, a component of cell cytoskeletons. The researchers' objectives are to learn how microtubules are regulated and how they assemble and disassemble.More

Stem cells repair heart only early in life
United Press International
Stem cells can replace dead heart tissue after a heart attack very early in life, but they lose that ability in adults, researchers say. Senior author Michael Kotlikoff, dean of Cornell's College of Veterinary Medicine, and colleagues at the University of Bonn said the study involving mice found undifferentiated precursor cells grow new heart cells in a 2-day-old mouse, but not in adult mice.More

Chemical helps blind mice see
AFP Relaxnews via New York Daily News
Scientists have been able to help blind mice see again by injecting a chemical that makes them sensitive to light, according to a new study. The findings in the journal Neuron offer hope of a treatment that could one day help people who suffer from the most common forms of blindness, such as macular degeneration and retinitis pigmentosa.More

New technology coming to boost preventive care
American Medical News
As more emphasis is put on health technology and preventive care, new solutions promise to engage patients in taking control of wellness and disease prevention by using interactive, patient-oriented technology that works with data from physicians' electronic health record systems.More

Twitter predicts when you're about to get sick
New Scientist
VideoBriefIf you've been walking around a public place lately, you've come in contact with a lot of people, some of whom may have been sick. And if you've been hanging around enough of them as they cough and sneeze, then you might be about to get sick too. Researchers have applied the idea to a pile of Twitter data from people in New York City, and found they can predict when an individual person will come down with the flu up to eight days before they show symptoms.More

Employers move to adapt to health law
The Wall Street Journal
Two major provisions of the health-overhaul law now take effect, testing employers' ability to adapt to changes the measure mandates. The law requires employers to distribute millions of dollars in insurance-company refunds to workers whose plans spent a high percentage of their premium dollars on administrative expenses instead of medical care. Employers will have to begin including contraception and other women's services in workers' insurance plans without charging employees co-payments or other fees. More

Insurance rebates seen as selling point for health law
The New York Times
The federal healthcare law requires insurers to give out annual rebates by Aug. 1, starting this year, if less than 80 percent of the premium dollars they collect go toward medical care. For insurers covering large employers, the threshold is 85 percent. As a result, insurers will pay out $1.1 billion in 2012, according to the Department of Health and Human Services, although most of it will not go to individuals. The average rebate will be $151 per household, with the highest in Vermont, Alaska and Alabama. More

RFID tags help hospitals track emergency drugs
The Baltimore Sun
An average of twice a day, a patient at the University of Maryland Medical Center has a heart attack, dangerous allergic reaction or other emergency that requires supplies from a crash cart. The carts are the wheeled emergency stations that contain equipment including trays of life-saving drugs. And at Maryland, the trays are now also filled with radio-frequency identification tags that ensure all the medications are there and have not expired.More

Rheumatoid arthritis drug beats older treatment in study
Pfizer said its rheumatoid arthritis treatment tofacitinib, one of the company's leading experimental drugs, was more effective than an older treatment in a large-scale study. The drug met its primary end-point in the study and no new side effects were found, Pfizer said in a statement. Pfizer said the Food and Drug Administration may need more time than expected to make a decision on approval of the treatment. More