US Supreme Court to decide on gene patents in Myriad case

Cancer-testing company Myriad Genetics is back in the courts again. In a long-running piece of legislation, the Supreme Court today agreed to hear arguments about the validity of Myriad’s patents covering isolated DNA of the genes BRCA1 and BRCA2.  Read more

Ethicists debate how to tell patients secrets in their genome

If parents have a son’s genes sequenced in hopes of explaining extreme muscle weakness, should they also be told whether he is likely to get Alzheimer’s disease as an adult? Should the child be told? When? How do answers to these questions shift for currently healthy adults? And should people be given more or less information depending on what they want to know?  Read more

Sequencing companies show off for genetics meeting

As geneticists gather in San Francisco, sequencing companies are strutting their stuff. Oxford Nanopore drew crowds by displaying its sleek, cheap machines that promise to disrupt the market place – but the company remains coy about when exactly it will release data or start taking orders. Pacific Biosciences has announced advances in its sequencing chemistry. And Illumina unveiled cloud-based collaborations to help turn raw data into information.  Read more

Policy paper: Myriad turns cancer genetic data into trade secrets

If the information Myriad Genetics has collected about breast cancer mutations remains proprietary, costs of gene tests could increase while quality declines, argues Robert Cook-Deegan, a policy researcher at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina. In a paper published today in the European Journal of Human Genetics, Cook-Deegan and co-authors John Conley, James Evans, and Daniel Vorhaus urge health-care payers and policy makers to encourage the company to share clinical data and proprietary algorithms.  Read more

Epigenetics inspires philosophical experiments

An artist's conception of epigenetic cloning

The man in the bowtie says he can transform you into anyone you want. At the Modernism Gallery in San Francisco, conceptual artist Jonathan Keats is applying his ‘experimental philosophy’ to epigenetics, one of the hottest and most rapidly advancing fields in biology. The art exhibit opened this weekend.  Read more

Peer reviewers resign from Texas cancer institute

Peer reviewers resign from Texas cancer institute

This week, the scientific review committee of a state-funded initiative for cancer research resigned over concerns about peer review. The move follows a series of troubles at the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) that began earlier this year, when CPRIT leaders approved an $18-million grant that did not go through peer review and awards of peer-reviewed grants were delayed. CPRIT’s chief scientific officer, Nobel Laureate Alfred  Gilman announced his resignation in protest in May, and CPRIT executives vowed to implement changes ensuring the integrity of its grant procedures. (See Nature’s Grant review opens up Texas-sized rift)  … Read more