Early Proteomics-based Diagnostics

Malorye A. Branca, First Proteomic Tests Launching. Bio-IT World. Jan 7 2004.

"Against great odds and many experts’ predictions, two clinical bioinformatics pioneers are launching the first proteomics-based diagnostics early this year. Correlogic Systems and Eclipse Diagnostics each have a software-based test for detecting ovarian cancer from blood samples. Both tests find protein patterns, or fingerprints, from mass spectroscopy-generated data. They will be approved for reference laboratory use only, thereby avoiding the longer and tougher regulatory path required for wider use."

Mayo Clinic Life Sciences System

David Snow, Mayo Amasses Mounds of Data, Wired, December 22 2003.

"The database, called the Mayo Clinic Life Sciences System … groups 4.4 million patients according to factors they have in common and includes both historical data and comprehensive information on Mayo Clinic patients dating back to 1997…Health-care professionals look forward to the eventual addition of patients’ genetic information to databases like the MCLSS — a field known as clinical genomics — as a major advance in medicine. Among other things, such access would allow doctors to divine with great speed and accuracy what drugs have worked best on a certain type of person with a certain illness…Mayo Clinic database developers said they have no timeline for the inclusion of genetic data, but expect it will happen in the next two to five years."

The database is a collaboration between the Mayo Clinic and IBM Life Sciences, which earlier this year announced a collaboration with UCSF.  Read my post here.

Genetics and Public Policy Center Newsletter

The Genetics and Public Policy Center has published another issue (pdf) of its quarterly newsletter: e-News and Perspectives.

The newsletter mentions recent opinion research that was presented at The 59th Annual Meeting of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine: Americans Support Genetic Technologies for Healthy Babies, Not Designer Babies.  From the press release:

"New research reveals U.S. public draws clear line between acceptable and unacceptable uses of these new tools of medical science.

Americans support using reproductive genetic technologies to prevent severe disease, but they are uncomfortable with using these technologies to select socially desirable traits such as eye color, intelligence, or height, says new research into U.S. public attitudes. At the same time, most Americans feel that the decisions about any use of these technologies should rest with individuals and their families.

These were the findings of the Genetics and Public Policy Center at Johns Hopkins University and funded by The Pew Charitable Trusts, which conducted 21 focus groups in five U.S. cities to explore the public’s attitudes and beliefs on reproductive genetic technologies, including genetic testing of parents, embryos, and fetuses.

Other attitudes and beliefs of focus group participant include:

*Capricious use of technology will lead to unrealistic expectations of what it means to have a “perfect child.”

*There will be inequity in access to these technologies that will lead to greater class and racial disparities.

*The ability to prevent the birth of individuals with disease or disability will result in decreased efforts to find treatments or cures.

*Scientists do not have internally or externally imposed ethical limits on their research and thus cannot be trusted.

*Government will have a hard time enforcing regulations because people can travel outside regulated areas. Technology would go “underground,” and policies around reproduction would change significantly with White House Administrations.

*An essential role for government is to ensure the safety and efficacy of reproductive genetic technologies, monitor the outcomes, and promote equality in access to these technologies."


Genome-Wide Functional Screening

Anne E. Carpenter & David M. Sabatini, Systematic Genome-Wide Screens of Gene Function, Nature Reviews Genetics 5:11-22.

From the abstract:

"By using genome information to create tools for perturbing gene function, it is now possible to undertake systematic genome-wide functional screens that examine the contribution of every gene to a biological process. The directed nature of these experiments contrasts with traditional methods, in which random mutations are induced and the resulting mutants are screened for various phenotypes. The first genome-wide functional screens in Caenorhabditis elegans and Drosophila melanogaster have recently been published, and screens in human cells will soon follow. These high-throughput techniques promise the rapid annotation of genomes with high-quality information about the biological function of each gene."

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