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Science Policy Around the Web June 8th, 2020

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By Tam Vo, PhD

Image by pearson0612 from Pixabay 

Abortion opponents protest COVID-19 vaccines’ use of fetal cells

A group of anti-abortion activists recently raised ethical concerns about the use of cells derived from human fetal tissue in COVID-19 vaccine development. While the tissues were obtained during elective abortions performed many years ago, in a letter addressed to Stephen Hahn, commissioner of the U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA), a group of religious, medical, and political organizations urged the agency to consider ethical issues surrounding the development of vaccines for COVID-19 using those cell lines. The letter states that: “ It is critically important that Americans have access to a vaccine that is produced ethically: no American should be forced to choose between being vaccinated against this potentially deadly virus and violating his or her conscience.” In Canada, a similar letter was addressed to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on May 17. Currently, there is no response to these letters from either the US or Canadian governments. 

Using cells derived from human fetuses collected from elective abortions is hardly new. In fact, HEK-293, a cell line derived from human fetal tissue, has been widely used in many research projects including vaccine development for diseases such as rubella, chickenpox, and Hepatitis A. There are currently at least five COVID-19 vaccines that have entered clinical trials that were developed using HEK-293 and PER.c6, another fetal cell line owned by Janssen, a pharmaceutical subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson. The Trump administration plans to back two out of the five candidate vaccines with the total investment up to $1.7 billion through Operation Warp Speed, a program aimed to accelerate the COVID-19 vaccine development by January 2021. 

Fetal cell lines are crucial in the development of many vaccines. Andrea Lambotto, a lead vaccine scientist for the candidate developed by the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, said that the HEK-293 cells are essential for the production of protein subunit type vaccines. He also stated that the alternative nonhuman cells can produce a different type of sugar molecules compared to their human counterparts. This complication could decrease the effectiveness of the vaccine to trigger a specific immune response in the host. 

Opinions from experts are mixed. David Prentice, the Vice President and Research Director at the Charlotte Lozier Institute, argues that the use of fetal cell lines to develop vaccines is unethical and provided a list of vaccines developed by using alternative methods in a paper published on May 6, 2020. Contrarily, Arthur Caplan, a bioethicist at the NYU Grossman School of Medicine, argues that the fact the cell lines were derived from fetal tissue is irrelevant as these fetal cell lines are now decades old. 

Last year, the Trump administration established a policy to abolish the use of new fetal tissues in government-funded research at the National Institutes of Health. However, the policy did not rule out the use of currently-established fetal cell lines. The two controversial candidate vaccines that used HEK-293 and PER.c6 in their development are on the shortlist for approval funding from the administration. 

(Meredith WadmanScience)

Written by sciencepolicyforall

June 9, 2020 at 11:17 am

Science Policy Around the Web June 4th, 2020

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By Dorothy Butler, PhD

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay 

SpaceX launches astronauts-and a new era of private human spaceflight

May 31, 2020 ushered in a new era in space flight with the launch of the SpaceX Crew Dragon with astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley. Since NASA retired the Space Shuttle in 2011, American astronauts have found rides to the International Space Station aboard Russian Soyuz Spacecraft. With the launch of the SpaceX Crew Dragon, NASA astronauts were once again being launched from American soil with a new type of spacecraft. Additionally, it was the first time a private company was entirely responsible for building and launching a manned spacecraft headed to the ISS. The Crew Dragon successfully and automatically docked to the space station the following morning and were welcomed aboard the ISS a few hours later. 

This launch with two NASA astronauts was the realization of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, a partnership with private companies who are tasked to develop and fly human space transportation systems. SpaceX has led the way in commercial space flight in the US and have used unmanned Dragon capsules and Falcon 9 rockets to send supplies to the ISS since 2012.This mission of the Crew Dragon launch was the final major test to certify that Crew Dragon could be used for operational, long-duration missions to the space station. Perhaps one of the most impressive parts of the Falcon 9 rocket is its reusability, something that SpaceX worked hard to achieve to help bring down launch costs. Other private companies are also in this capitalistic battle to provide cheaper and more accessible space access. The growth of the commercial space sector makes space more accessible than ever and brings down the cost for NASA to send astronauts to the space station and perhaps to explore other parts of space.

(Alexandra Witze, Nature)

Sputnik moment or budget breaker: How will the pandemic alter research funding?

It is no secret that the current coronavirus pandemic has taken its toll on economies around the world. While unemployment rates have rivaled those seen in the US during the Great Depression in the 1930s, many science leaders are pushing for an increased support in research and development. But what will the long-term economic consequences for science be? Many countries such as Germany and the UK have already committed to investing more money in research funding and science agencies, one country as part of previously decided legislation and the other with newly promised support. After the last economic recession in 2007-2009, the US government directed stimulus money to federal sciences agencies as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. For example, the NIH received over a 33% increase in its 2009 annual budget. There are many factors that trigger a need for extra scientific funding such as buffering any delays in grant funding, the cost of re-establishing mice colonies that were killed when labs went to minimal maintenance, and replenishing stores of personal protective equipment that were donated to those on the frontlines of the pandemic response. 

Some are hopeful that the pandemic will spur on science in a similar way that the launch of Sputnik by the Soviets resulted in impressive growth within the physical sciences. Several US lawmakers have already drafted the Endless Frontier Act. This bill proposes to transform the current National Science Foundation by increasing their budget, adding a technology directorate, and changing the name to the National Science and Technology Foundation. While some worry about whether a separate agency for technology should be founded or if the amount of money is too high, it is a good step in the right direction to have a bi-partisan legislation aimed at the continued and increased support of scientific research.

(Nidhi Subbaraman, Nature)

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June 4, 2020 at 11:31 am

Science Policy Around the Web June 2nd, 2020

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By Andrew Wright, BSc

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay 

 Sixth mass extinction of wildlife accelerating, scientists warn 

new analysis published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) has examined the number of terrestrial vertebrates on the verge of extinction. In examining 29,400 species, researchers found that 515 of them have fewer than 1,000 individuals (the metric for “critically endangered”) and roughly half of those have fewer than 250. Most of these species have lost their geographic range and are nearing an irreversible collapse within the next 20 years, which could have profound effects on their respective environments as their ecological utility is permanently wiped out.

Of those species with between 1,000 and 5,000 individuals, 84% live in an area that overlaps the critically endangered, meaning there is the potential for a domino-like effect. For example, a paper from PNAS in 2015 demonstrated that overhunting of sea otters in the mid-1700s led to the extinction of the Stellar’s sea cow.  Since sea otters fed on urchins that in-turn fed on the kelp environments in which the sea cows lived, the elimination of the otters led to over-feeding on kelp and precipitated the loss of a seemingly unrelated species.  

The worst-affected global regions are those that are increasingly heavily populated and where ongoing environmental destruction is occurring unabated, namely tropical Asia and South America where deforestation has actually been accelerating as attention has been pulled towards the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. While there is still room for a comprehensive solution, according to the authors, “…the window of opportunity is almost closed. We must save what we can, or lose the opportunity to do so forever[…]it is something that humanity cannot permit, as it may be a tipping point for the collapse of civilization. What is at stake is the fate of humanity and most living species.”

(Damian Carrington, The Guardian

What a US exit from the WHO means for COVID-19 and global health

On May 29th, the President of the United States Donald Trump announced that US would be withdrawing from the World Health Organization (WHO) and severing its relationship with the international organization, chiefly accusing it of a faulty coronavirus response and leniency with China. While it is unclear whether the President can unilaterally pull out of the WHO without congressional approval, he does have the authority to pull US funding to the organization that made up 15% of its revenue last year. In place of this funding, reports from the State Department suggest the replacement would be a domestically run initiative called the President’s Response to Outbreaks (PRO) and would cost roughly $2.5 billion in new and transferred appropriation. This new office would also subsume programs run by USAID. This is mirrored by the introduction of a Senate bill called the “Global Health Security and Diplomacy Act of 2020” that calls for $3 billion in appropriations overseen by political appointment. 

Critics of this move suggest that a new office would conflict with existing international programs and muddy a cohesive response. As Kelly Lee, a global health researcher at Simon Fraser University put it, “You can’t just show up in Afghanistan and start vaccinating people.” Others pointed to the ongoing Ebola outbreak as an example of where there is little response apart from that provided by the WHO, particularly in regions with ongoing violence or negative sentiments against the US. Furthermore, in those areas where the US solely funds programs, they are often coordinated by the WHO.  Lee also notes that there could be a loss of expertise and knowledge sharing should US researchers and international researchers be deprived of collaborative avenues supported by the WHO.

Finally, pulling out of the WHO altogether may weaken US control over the global health agenda. Contrary to the US President’s apparent intent, this could in effect grant countries like China a path to take over in both in funding and decision-making.    

(Amy Maxmen, Nature)

Written by sciencepolicyforall

June 3, 2020 at 9:50 am

Science Policy Around the Web May 28th 2020

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By Thomas Dannenhoffer-Lafage, PhD

Image credit: kalhh on

Coronavirus antigen tests: quick and cheap, but too often wrong?

The United states is currently administering about 400,000 coronavirus tests a day, but public health officials recommend that this number should be much higher numbers to safely reopen the country and monitor future outbreaks. However, it is unlikely that the current nucleic acid tests will be able to be scaled-up to meet this demand. One reason for this is the test requires a sophisticated procedure. An important step in the procedure is PCR, which makes many copies of the target DNA or RNA, allowing for more sensitive and accurate detection. 

An alternative to the nucleic acid tests is antigen tests. These tests detect viral proteins within a biological sample, such as a nasal swab, and are already used to detect diseases such as HIVinfluenza, and tuberculosis. One major advantage of the antigen test is that the tests can be administered as point-of-care tests with virtually no wait and with no technicians. Another advantage is the scalability, as the antigen tests are easy to manufacture in bulk and don’t require additional reagents that the nucleic acid tests do. 

The antigen test does have some issues still. First, it can be difficult to determine what to target with the test, since interactions with other proteins or antibodies may interfere with the test. Sensitivity (ability to detect the disease) is also an issue with antigen tests, since the test doesn’t create more copies of the target like the nucleic acid test. The best antibody tests have a sensitivity of 90%, which means many people will be told that they don’t have virus when they actually do when the test is deployed on millions of people a day. Because of the lack of sensitivity, the FDA has only given emergency use authorization to one coronavirus antigen test.

(Robert F. Service, Science Magazine)

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May 28, 2020 at 9:50 am

Science Policy Around the Web May 26th 2020

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By Silvia Preite, PhD

Source: Flickr

A defect in our cells` power plants could make us age faster.

T cells are crucial cells of the immune system that help fighting infections and eliminating cancer cells. T cell function declines with age, contributing to the decreased ability of seniors to mount vaccination responses and to their higher susceptibility to viral and bacterial infections.

Mitochondria are cellular organelles at the core of our metabolism, an efficient site of cellular energy production. Age-related decline of mitochondrial function has been previously observed in multiple cell and tissue types. A recent study, published in Science, showed that a genetic defect in the mitochondria, which decreases their function, impacts T-cell activity in mice. These T cells produce higher inflammatory cytokines resembling chronic inflammation (called “inflammaging”). Mice bearing defective T cells were sluggish and less active compared to regular mice. They had inadequate protective responses to viral infection, weak muscles and suffered from weakened hearts, thus resulting in premature death.

Overall, these defects led to accelerated senescence in several tissues and premature death. The authors found that blocking one of these pro-inflammatory cytokines or boosting cellular energy production enhanced the mouse aging phenotypes and increased their strength. 

The translatability of these findings to humans remains to be determined. Indeed, it is not clear how affected the function of mitochondria in elderly T cells is. However, this study highlights the interconnection between immuno-metabolism, inflammation, and aging, possibly driving new opportunities to manage diseases associated with aging. 

Source: (Gabriela Desdín-Micó et al., 2020, Science)

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May 26, 2020 at 1:08 pm

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School-Based Health Education Works – But Fails to Meet Education Guidelines

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By Kristyn Kamke, PhD

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

A considerable burden of disease in the United States is attributed to 17 risk factors, including tobacco use, poor diet, alcohol and drug use, limited physical activity, and risky sexual activity. These risk factors represent modifiable health behaviors, highlighting an opportunity to prevent leading causes of disability and death, including cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. Studies show that primary prevention, which refers to intervention prior to the onset of a health problem, not only provides the optimal chance of reducing disease incidence but is also more cost-effective than secondary or tertiary prevention (i.e., intervention at early stages of a health problem or management of an existing health problem to slow or stop progression, respectively). Health risk behaviors typically begin in adolescence, establishing childhood and early adolescence as prime developmental stages to implement primary prevention strategies. Given children and adolescents spend an average 7 hours per day in school on 181 days of the year, school-based health education serves as one of the most common, effective, and opportune methods of primary prevention. Unfortunately, many state- and school-level health education policies and/or implementations fail to meet established guidelines, limiting the overall health impact of school-based health education.

Health education is a theory- and research-based academic subject, which imparts health knowledge onto students, encourages them to develop skills in behavior maintenance and change, and models healthy behavioral norms. The National Health Education Standards advise students in grades 3-12 receive 80 hours of health education per year, amounting to about 27 minutes per day each school year. In 45 states and DC, health education is required every year from elementary school through high school, and health education is either recommended or required for some grade levels in the remaining 5 states. This requirement is based on research showing that establishing and maintaining health behaviors requires time and sustained education and practice to be effective. However, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report on school health reveals that a median 49% of schools in each state required more than one health education course for grades 6-12 in 2018, suggesting students are receiving inadequate time for learning and practicing health behaviors. 

In addition to insufficient time spent on school-based health education, health education policies and implementation are not adequately comprehensive. According to researchers at Child Trends, only 30 states and DC have comprehensive health education laws (i.e., those that address at least 75% of recommended health education topics). Physical activity topics are most comprehensively covered (69.3%), whereas pregnancy, HIV, and STD prevention are covered at the lowest rate (17.6% for grades 6-8; 42.8% for grades 9-12). Some of the most neglected coverage areas for each health topic are those focused on skill development. Thirty-two states and DC require that health education includes health skills training, such as analyzing the influences of health behavior; accessing valid health information, products, services; goal-setting; decision-making; interpersonal communication; self-management; and advocacy. While educators report teaching these skills in health education, it is unclear to what degree students are able to practice them, a necessary component for establishing healthy behaviors. For example, teachers in only 60% of schools per state reported that students had the opportunity to practice sexual health skills (e.g., communicating with a partner about sex), the only topic area in which skill practice was assessed. 

Perhaps most alarming is the lack of requirements for an evidence basis for school-based health education. While a median 86% of schools provide information on goals, objectives, and expected outcomes of health education for teachers, only about 76% provide written health education curriculum, 65% provide guidance on the sequence of health education, and 67% provide plans to assess student performance. This lack of guidance is exacerbated by the fact that only 3 states require and 8 states recommend health education teachers have a certification in health education, and 15 states advise health educators pursue professional development training, although both certifications in health education and professional development training are associated with better student outcomes. Thus, it is unclear what education students are getting and if that education results in increased implementation of healthy behaviors. 

Implementation of health education without a supporting evidence-based foundation risks more than just failure to improve health outcomes — it can also make health worse. A notable example of this is the substance abuse prevention program D.A.R.E., widely implemented across the United States with little research backing. Subsequent evaluations of D.A.R.E. suggested that D.A.R.E., at best, had no effect on drug use behavior and, at worst, actually increased drug use, disproving the proverb that something is better than nothing. Unfortunately, the ability to implement evidence-based health education is limited by the dearth of evidence-based, comprehensive health education programs. Most extensively evaluated and efficacious health education programs target a specific health topic (e.g., tobacco use), with only 3 commercially available programs that cover multiple topics. Even if schools were financially able to acquire multiple health education curricula targeting individual health topics, difficult for schools who lack funds for health education, evidence would still be needed to support the sequence in which health education topics should be covered and whether multiple curricula can be effectively combined. Furthermore, comprehensive health education interventions are more efficient than those covering individual topics, given many health-related skills can be translated across health domains. This highlights an area in which researchers must intervene, to both aid in development and evaluation of comprehensive health education interventions. 

Schools are optimally positioned to engage in primary prevention of key health risk behaviors in the US through provision of health education to students. While states have embraced the necessity of health education, often recommending or requiring it, implementation of health education in schools has failed to meet many established guidelines, of which just a few are presented here. Discrepancies between state policy and school-based health education policy and implementation may be attributable to several factors, such as perceived lack of time for health education in already busy schools attempting to meet federal academic standards, lack of oversight from states to evaluate implementation of health education, unclear guidelines for educators responsible for delivering health education, or lack of funds to acquire evidence-based health education programs. Regardless of reason, traditional academic subjects, such as science or math, are prioritized above health education, which threatens the health of children and adolescents. However, academic achievement-focused goals should not preclude efforts to establish rigorous health education guidelines. In fact, academic achievement is bolstered by student health. The time has come to support health education as a vital element of education, providing students with the opportunity to live longer, more productive and healthier lives.

Written by sciencepolicyforall

March 6, 2020 at 3:54 pm

Science Policy Around the Web November 19th, 2019

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By: Andrew Wright Bsc

Source: Pixabay

EPA’s ‘secret science’ plan is back, and critics say it’s worse

​The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been exploring new rules on the incorporation of scientific data in its rulemaking process. The so-called “secret science” rules were originally proposed in 2018 under the EPA’s previous administrator Scott Pruitt, and have since been revised by its new administrator Andrew Wheeler in response to harsh criticism from scientific, environmental, and patient groups. Rather than addressing these criticisms to mollify the proposals detractors, the draft of the newly proposed rule, which was leaked to the New York Times, seems to drastically broaden the scope of which data cannot be used. 

According to the 2018 proposed rule, all raw data would have to be made available for studies that assessed a “dose-response” relationship, a bedrock of toxicity research. This could be difficult, if not impossible, when considering patient privacy protection laws and proprietary information requirements that would prevent the dissemination of that data. In the new draft rule, this set of constraints is imposed on all scientific studies used to guide agency procedures, instead of just dose-response studies. The draft also seeks comment on whether these restrictions should be imposed retroactively. According to the draft rule, if the underlying data were not made available, the EPA would be able to “place less weight” or “entirely disregard” those studies.  

While the draft does provide room for a tiered data-sharing approach such as those implemented at the National Institutes of Health and the Food and Drug Administration and allows for political appointees to provide exemptions, critics worry that these new requirements will effectively remove science from the EPA’s decision-making process.  Thus far, the EPA’s scientific advisory board has not been afforded the opportunity to weigh-in.

(David Malakoff, Science)

‘Insect apocalypse’ poses risk to all life on Earth, conservationists warn

A recent study looking at insect populations in the UK suggests that up to half of all insects have been lost since 1970 and that 40% of all known insect species are facing extinction. Due to the complexity of ecological systems that rely on insect biodiversity to function properly, this level of insect loss could lead to “catastrophic collapse” on a global scale. 

This study demonstrates a similar severity of insect decline as has been seen in other regions around the world. In Puerto Rico, for example, insect biomass has declined between 10 and 60 times and has led to the destruction of its rainforest’s food web. In Germany, 75% of flying insects have vanished in the past 27 years.

Solutions to address what is now considered Earth’s sixth mass extinction event are becoming increasingly complex as failing components of anthropogenic damage to the global ecosystem are beginning to interact. However, conservationists suggest that insect numbers could be rapidly recovered through a combination of pesticide reduction and land management. 

(Damian Carrington, The Guardian)

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November 19, 2019 at 11:59 am

Science Policy Around the Web October 8th, 2019

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By Mary Weston PhD

Image by Andreas Lischka from Pixabay 

A single tea bag can leak billions of pieces of microplastic into your brew

A recently published studyfrom McGill University shows that plastic teabags release billions of plastic micro- and nanoparticles into your tea. Researchers steeped plastic tea bags in 95°C (203°F) water for 5 minutes, finding that a single bag released approximately 11.6 billion microplastics and 3.1 billion nanoplastics. This concentration of plastic particles is thousands of times larger than any other reported food/drink item.

Although tea bags contain food-grade, FDA approved plastics, researchers know little about how plastics can degrade or leach toxic substances when heated above 40C (104F). Based on these new results, the study’s authors conclude that more research needs to be done to both determine how microparticles are released in our foods and the impact those substances have on human health.

To gain insight on the effect of plastic particle exposure, researchers grew water fleas, a common environmental toxicology model system, in the brewed solution, discovering they survived but had both behavioral and developmental abnormalities. While the plastic particle exposure levels these fleas experienced are far greater than what humans would be exposed to, it begs the question of what happens to humans with chronic low-dose exposure over time.

Microplastics are being detected everywhere, from the deepest parts of the ocean to regularly consumed bottled water, and their effect on human health have yet to be seen. One study suggests humans are consuming 5 grams of plastic a week, approximately the weight of a credit card.  However, In their first review of microplastics in tap and bottled water, the WHO asserts that microplastics “don’t appear to pose a health risk at current levels,” but also state that knowledge is limited and more research is needed to determine their impact on human health. 

(Rob Picheta, CNN)

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October 8, 2019 at 3:53 pm

Science Policy Around the Web September 3rd, 2019

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By Ben Wolfson PhD

Image by Dimitris Vetsikas from Pixabay 

Biohackers are pirating a cheap version of a million-dollar gene therapy

This past weekend, the 4th annual Biohack the Planet, a conference for community scientists and biohackers, was held in Las Vegas. In addition to discussions concerning the future and goals of biohacking, a group of biohackers announced their efforts to develop a pirated version of the gene therapy Glybera, called Slybera.

First approved in Europe in 2012, Glybera is a gene therapy meant to treat the rare genetic disorder lipoprotein lipase deficiency (LPLD). Glybera provided a “one-off” solution to LDLD by inducing a patients body to produce new copies of the missing protein. Approximately 1 in every million people suffer from LPLD, meaning that there existed an exceedingly small market for the drug. Moreover, upon its release it was deemed the world’s most expensive drug at approximately 1 million dollars per dose. Due to financial issues associated with this high cost, Glybera was withdrawn from market in 2017.

At Biohack the Planet, research leader Gabriel Licinia described the process of creating a prototype pirated version of Glybera, which he says cost less than $7,000 and was created in only 2 months. Licinia and his colleagues got the gene sequence used in Glybera from the original papers published describing it, and ordered the DNA from a commercial DNA synthesis company. They then inserted the DNA into a genetic construct capable of inducing mammalian cells to produce the LPL protein.

While Licinia demonstrated that this method works in cells, it would likely not have the same long lasting effects as Glybera, which uses viruses as carriers for the LDL gene, producing stable expression of the protein for a number of years.

The future of Slybera is uncertain, as there is currently no defined clinical path for products created by biohackers. However the team is taking steps to demonstrate their seriousness, including distributing their materials to fellow biohackers so they can attempt to replicate their studies.

(Alex Pearlman, MIT Technology Review

Written by sciencepolicyforall

September 3, 2019 at 3:49 pm

Science Policy Around the Web August 26th, 2019

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By Silvia Preite PhD

Image by PublicDomainPictures from Pixabay 

NIH will soon share genetic data with those who participated in precision medicine study

In 2018 the National Institutes of Health (NIH) launched the All of Us Research Program to collect multiple types of data from more than one million volunteers living in the United States. The aim of the program is to accelerate medical breakthroughs and promote human health on a large scale. All of Us is a key element of the Precision Medicine Initiative (PMI), with the long-term goal of integrating information on genetic composition, lifestyle and environment to reveal strategies for personalized prevention and treatment of a wide range of health conditions. 

Participants provide medical records along with genomic material, blood and urine samples. In addition, digital data recorded through smart phones and other electronic devices are stored to obtain extended pictures of the individual health status and life habits.

So far, about 200,000 Americans have joined the All of Us initiative. By late 2019-early 2020, 25,000 US citizens will get back their genomic information along with genetic counseling. On August 21 2019, the All of Us director Eric Dishman announced a new partnership with the California-based health technology company, Color Genomics to provide the counseling service. The genetic counseling services provided by Color Genomics will play a crucial role in communicating the genomic results to participants and their personal physicians, as well as helping them understand the implications for their health and families. These data will supply information on genetic variants that could predispose to certain diseases and influence responses to pharmacological treatments.

In particular, counseling will be given to those individuals who carry any genetic mutations that geneticists have linked to severe diseases – such as mutations in the BRCA gene associated with breast cancer.

This will be the first time that a government funded study will return genetic data to the participants on such a large scale. Another distinguished element of this study is the heterogeneity of the involved population. Up to now, half of the participants have been selected within ethnic and socio-economic groups that have been historically marginalized and under represented in research and clinical studies. Moreover, researchers could gain access to these open-source and anonymized data to investigate previously unknown genetic traits that influence human health and disease development, greatly broadening the availability and heterogeneity of data for these studies.

(Lev Facher, STAT News)


Written by sciencepolicyforall

August 27, 2019 at 2:38 pm