(Science) – When Robert Green, a geneticist at the Harvard University–affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, and co-workers began planning to sequence babies about 4 years ago, they surveyed more than 500 parents of healthy newborns. Nearly half declared they would be “very” or “extremely” interested and another 37% said “somewhat.” But since their actual BabySeq Project began last year in May, only about 7% of more than 2400 couples approached so far have agreed to participate, says Green, who co-leads BabySeq with Alan Beggs of Boston Children’s Hospital. That “very surprising” figure is the same both for parents of very sick infants and those with healthy babies, he adds.
(New Scientist) – Kuwait plans to scale down, and may ultimately revoke, a law forcing all its citizens and visitors to provide samples of their DNA. Reportedly introduced as a measure to combat terrorism, it is the first law of its kind worldwide, and has been criticised for being unconstitutional, undermining privacy rights and as being unlikely to prevent terrorist attacks.
(Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) – Total combined cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis reported in 2015 reached the highest number ever, according to the annual Sexually Transmitted Disease Surveillance Report released today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). There were more than 1.5 million chlamydia cases reported (1,526,658), nearly 400,000 cases of gonorrhea (395,216), and nearly 24,000 cases of primary and secondary (P&S) syphilis (23,872) – the most infectious stages of the disease. The largest increase in cases reported from 2014 to 2015 occurred in P&S syphilis (19 percent), followed by gonorrhea (12.8 percent) and chlamydia (5.9 percent). Chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis are the three most commonly reported conditions in the nation and have reached a record high level.
(Bloomberg) – Funding for IVF has become a robust category at GoFundMe.com, where more than $3.6 million has been raised across more than 1,700 IVF campaigns, with almost 37,000 individual donations. Total IVF gifts and campaigns have increased every year since the company’s launch in 2010. On Giveforward.com, the site Barrett used, the category that includes both IVF and adoptions is the fastest growing, up 429 percent over the first eight months of this year compared with the same period in 2015, according to Josh Chapman, the company’s chief executive officer. (He said the increase is evenly split between IVF and adoptions).
(Australian Broadcasting Co) – A push to legalise voluntary euthanasia in South Australia has been delayed, with a new bill today introduced to State Parliament to better address “safeguard” concerns. The new bill was introduced after proposed legislation, co-sponsored by Liberal MP Duncan McFetridge and Labor MP Steph Key and introduced in February, copped criticism for allowing a person who did not have a terminal illness access to euthanasia. Debate on that bill was supposed to start today but there were five MPs unwilling to support it.
(Medical Xpress) – A table-top device that enables medical staff to genetically manipulate a patient’s blood to deliver potential new therapies for cancer, HIV and other diseases would eliminate the need for multi-million-dollar “clean rooms,” making gene therapy more possible for even the poorest of countries. The so-called “gene therapy in a box,” developed by scientists at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, delivered modified blood stem cells that were as good as—or better—than those manufactured in highly regulated clean rooms—and required less than half the staff, according to a study that will be published on Oct. 20 in Nature Communications. The adapted cells also successfully repopulated the blood system when tested in two different animal models, the study noted. It hasn’t been tested in humans.
(The Guardian) – Despite its immense oil wealth, the country is in the midst of devastating economic, social and health crises. It has the world’s steepest economic decline, the second highest murder rate and the sharpest-rising inflation (forecast to reach 2,200% by the end of next year, according to the International Monetary Fund). These problems all converge in the nation’s hospitals, where doctors report rising levels of mortality thanks to a dire shortage of medical supplies, shutdowns of operating theatres, staff declines and violent crime, including gunshots during surgery and mugging in corridors.
(New Scientist) – A CYNIC, said Oscar Wilde, is somebody who “knows the price of everything but the value of nothing”. If so, then some of the most cynical people on Earth are those who have to make life-and-death decisions about road safety, medical treatment and health and safety legislation. In order to make those calls, they first need some measure of the monetary worth of a human life. That does seem a dreadfully cynical calculation, and it is unsettling to think that some faceless bureaucrat somewhere is putting a price on your head. But in reality, it cannot be any other way.
(Medical Xpress) – Data is pouring into the hands of cancer researchers, thanks to improvements in imaging, models and understanding of genetics. Today the data from a single patient’s tumor in a clinical trial can add up to one terabyte—the equivalent of 130,000 books. But we don’t yet have the tools to efficiently process the mountain of genetic data to make more precise predictions for therapy. And it’s needed: treating cancer remains a complex moving target. We can’t yet say precisely how a specific tumor will react to any given drug, and as a patient is treated, cancer cells can continue to evolve, making the initial therapy less effective.