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June 16, 2017

Genetics / Genomics – SciPol Weekly, July 10 – July 16

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Honolulu Civil Beat – Kauai Groups Sue State, Syngenta To Stop GMO Farming On Public Land

Kauai residents and organizations are suing the state and Syngenta in an attempt to prevent the company from continuing to grow genetically modified crops on public land. Punohu Kekaualua, a Hawaiian cultural practitioner and resident of Kekaha, is one of the plaintiffs along with the organizations Hawaii Alliance for Progressive Action, Ke Kauhulu O Mana, Surfrider Foundation and Kohola Leo. – Mumbai: Where's the regulatory body for forensic science laboratories?

Last month, when Rabia Khan demanded that the results of the private forensic tests she had authorised in her daughter Jiah Khan's suicide case be added to the chargesheet filed, it garnered little attention. However, it points to the mushrooming of private - yet unregulated - forensic science laboratories across the world that many senior forensic scientists and lawyers say is becoming a matter of grave concern.

Reuters – Dow launches new GMO corn after landing China import approval

Dow Chemical Co secured import approval from China for its next-generation Enlist corn variety and announced it would be commercially available in the United States and Canada next year, but the company was still awaiting approval of Enlist soybeans from the world's top soy importer. China on Wednesday approved two new varieties of genetically modified (GMO) crops for import from June 12, including Dow's Enlist corn, engineered to combat weeds resistant to the widely used herbicide glyphosate, which is the main ingredient in Monsanto's popular Roundup herbicide.

Science – Texas has sanctioned unapproved stem cell therapies. Will it change anything?

Texas Governor Greg Abbott yesterday signed a bill allowing clinics and companies in the state to offer people unproven stem cell interventions without the testing and approval required under federal law. Like the “right to try” laws that have sprung up in more than 30 states, the measure is meant to give desperately ill patients access to experimental treatments without oversight from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).


360Dx – PGDx Expands Veterans Affairs Agreement to Include Liquid Biopsy Testing

Personal Genome Diagnostics said today that it will now provide its PlasmaSelect 64 liquid biopsy test to advanced cancer patients receiving treatment at US Department of Veterans Affairs facilities. The agreement makes PGDx the first to provide plasma-based genomic profiling to VA cancer patients, expanding on an existing contract under which patients also have access to the company's tissue-based CancerSelect 125 assay.

Chemical & Engineering News – CRISPR: A new toolbox for better crops

Sometime around 2020, a new corn variety will mark a huge leap in how humans design agricultural crops. It will be the first commercialized, gene-edited plant altered using CRISPR/Cas9 technology. But don’t be surprised if the corn debuts without much hype. It is a starchy or “waxy” corn that is not much different from varieties already on the market. 

Endpoints News – So what’s star Broad investigator Feng Zhang up to now?

According to an SEC filing from a few days ago, star Broad investigator Feng Zhang and a group of high-profile scientists and investors have formed a new biotech called Arbor Biotechnologies and raised $12.2 million of a $15.6 million offering.

Life Sci VC – Perspective: Getting Personal at ASCO 2017: Precision Therapies, IO, and Autologous Cell Therapy

The 2017 American Society of Clinical Oncology (“ASCO”) meeting concluded last week, providing patients, physicians, and industry stakeholders with a big batch of new clinical breakthroughs and disappointments. This event never lacks media coverage, so rather than run through all of the highlights, I’ll draw attention to several underlying themes I find striking, particularly from my perspective as an early-stage biotech company-builder and investor.

Science – For experimental cancer therapy, a struggle to ensure supply keeps up with demand

A transformative cancer therapy based on modified immune cells has lured doctors, companies, and patients alike, but many are hitting a frustrating roadblock: generating enough of these chimeric antigen receptor (CAR)-T cells to meet surging demand. The situation is fluid, with shortages cropping up in some places and easing in others. Doctors, meanwhile, are grappling with how best to distribute the experimental therapy among very sick patients in clinical trials.


National Institutes of Health – NIAID scientists discover rare genetic susceptibility to common cold

Scientists have identified a rare genetic mutation that results in a markedly increased susceptibility to infection by human rhinoviruses (HRVs) — the main causes of the common cold. Colds contribute to more than 18 billion upper respiratory infections worldwide each year, according to the Global Burden of Disease Study.

STAT – How CRISPR pioneer Feng Zhang would use his invention on himself

Using genetic engineering for personal enhancement is a controversial topic — not to mention, presently, a practical impossibility. But when a group of health care experts gathered on Tuesday to hear from one of the inventors of CRISPR, they cut straight to the quick: Would he use it on himself?

WIRED – Canada is using genetics to make cows less gassy

Number 1995 is a very special cow. Every day, this Holstein, mostly black with a white cat-face-shaped spot on her forehead, sticks her head into a trough that measures the exact amount of feed she eats. She’s had her genome partially sequenced, and will soon get her breath checked for methane several times a day.


Contemporary OB/GYN – ACOG Clinical Guidelines at a Glance: Prenatal diagnostic testing for genetic disorder

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine (SMFM) have recently revisited and updated clinical information and recommendations on several related documents.

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