(The Guardian) – UK scientists and clinicians working on a groundbreaking trial to test a possible cure for HIV infection say they have made remarkable progress after a test patient showed no sign of the virus following treatment. The research, being carried out by five of Britain’s top universities with NHS support, is combining standard antiretroviral drugs with a drug that reactivates dormant HIV and a vaccine that induces the immune system to destroy the infected cells.
(The Guardian) – Scientists are finalising plans to use gene therapy to treat one of the world’s most widespread inherited diseases – sickle cell anaemia. The technique could begin trials next year, say researchers. About 300,000 babies are born globally with sickle cell disease. The condition causes red blood cells to deform, triggering anaemia, pain, organ failure, tissue damage, strokes and heart attacks. In the west, patients now live to their 40s thanks to the availability of blood transfusions and other treatments. But in Africa most still die in childhood.
(NPR) – For the first time in almost 25 years, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs will pay for In Vitro Fertilization for wounded veterans. As NPR’s Quil Lawrence explains, Congress has reversed a law passed in 1992 that “prohibited the Department of Veterans Affairs from paying for IVF for veterans and their families.” Quil tells our Newscast unit that “inside the stopgap spending bill passed this week is a provision to allow fertility treatments including IVF through VA health care.”
(The Globe and Mail) – The federal government plans to tighten and clarify the regulations dealing with assisted reproduction. Health Canada is outlining a number of proposed changes to the rules that are part of the 2004 Assisted Human Reproduction Act. The act was the subject of a 2010 Supreme Court of Canada ruling, which found some parts fell under provincial jurisdiction, while leaving a number of sections intact.
(CBS News) – At 35 weeks, their children arrived. As it turns out, embryos with DNA from both dads, respectively, were implanted and thrived. So, the twins have Justin’s DNA. Their son has Adam’s. It is believed they are the first gay couple in the world with this surrogacy outcome. “They’re genetically half-siblings. They’re going to look alike. I think it will be good for them,” Justin says.
(Kaiser Health News) – As controversy about the pricing of EpiPens reverberates from Capitol Hill to school districts across the country, one recurring complaint from consumers is that the high cost is magnified because the drug expires quickly, forcing users to regularly bear the cost of replacing the medicine that saves lives in the event of a severe allergic reaction. So what exactly determines its longevity? It turns out storage and distribution can play as important a role in the drug’s shelf life as the chemical compounds.
(The Scientist) – In the mid-1980s, Oliver Smithies, then at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, and Mario Capecchi of the University of Utah independently used homologous recombination—a molecular process to repair broken DNA—to change specific regions of the genome in cultured mouse cells (Nature, 317:230-34, 1985; Cell, 44:419-28, 1986). The technique involved sandwiching an altered copy of a gene between two regions of code identical to those flanking the endogenous gene, which would be swapped out for its engineered counterpart.
(The Guardian) – The simplicity and low cost of tools to edit the genetic code means “garage scientists” – or amateurs with some skill – can now perform their own experiments, posing a potential risk from the release of GM bugs, a new report suggests. In a report published on Friday, the Nuffield Council on Bioethics said that the rise in precision “gene editing” tools had revolutionised biomedical research over the past ten years and could potentially have a dramatic impact on human society.