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In an unfortunate turn of events, a recent publication out of Harvard University has found that a person’s genetic profile is a very poor predictor of disease and of little use in clinical practice. The study looked at genetic variations associated with breast cancer, type 2 diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis and found that knowledge of these variations only resulted in a 1-3% increase in risk prediction sensitivity. Hardly anything to get excited about.
Does this mean the end to personalized medicine? Of course not! However, it does mean that readers should be skeptical when hearing stories about the great predictive powers of genomic information and need to make sure to keep their scientific glasses on in order to avoid getting swept up by the excitement.
Reference: Aschard, H., Chen, J., Cornelis, M., Chibnik, L., Karlson, E., & Kraft, P. (2012). Inclusion of Gene-Gene and Gene-Environment Interactions Unlikely to Dramatically Improve Risk Prediction for Complex Diseases The American Journal of Human Genetics DOI: 10.1016/j.ajhg.2012.04.017
:: Posted by American Biotechnologist on 04-03-2012
Bio-Rad‘s dear Co-founder and chairman of the board, David Schwartz, passed away on April 1. He was 88.
Mr. Schwartz served as Bio-Rad President, Chief Executive Officer, and as Chairman of the Board from the company’s incorporation in 1957 until 2003, when his son, Norman Schwartz, assumed the role of President and Chief Executive Officer. He remained Chairman of the Board until he died.
Along with his wife, Alice Schwartz, Mr. Schwartz founded Bio-Rad in 1952 in Berkeley, California, shortly after they had both graduated from the University of California, Berkeley. The company was initially engaged in the development and production of specialty chemicals used in biochemical, pharmaceutical, and other life science research applications. Bio-Rad entered the field of clinical diagnostics in the 1960s with the development of its first test kit for thyroid function that was based on separation techniques and materials developed for life science research.
In the years that followed under the leadership of Mr. Schwartz, Bio-Rad continued to broaden its product lines and expand its geographical markets. Today, the company is renowned worldwide and a leader in life science research and clinical diagnostics.
:: Posted by American Biotechnologist on 03-28-2012
A hidden and never before recognized layer of information in the genetic code has been uncovered by a team of scientists at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) thanks to a technique developed at UCSF called ribosome profiling, which enables the measurement of gene activity inside living cells — including the speed with which proteins are made.
By measuring the rate of protein production in bacteria, the team discovered that slight genetic alterations could have a dramatic effect. This was true even for seemingly insignificant genetic changes known as “silent mutations,” which swap out a single DNA letter without changing the ultimate gene product. To their surprise, the scientists found these changes can slow the protein production process to one-tenth of its normal speed or less.
:: Posted by American Biotechnologist on 02-14-2012
Researchers at the University of Georgia have taken a major step in the ongoing effort to find sources of cleaner, renewable energy by mapping the genomes of two originator cells of Miscanthus x giganteus, a large perennial grass with promise as a source of ethanol and bioenergy.
Changsoo Kim, a postdoctoral research associate in the UGA Plant Genome Mapping Laboratory, identified a set of approximately 600 bits of Miscanthus DNA that can serve as diagnostic tools. The next step is to determine which pieces of DNA are diagnostic of genes that can make the plant an even better biofuel crop.
According to the website, Meta!blast, developed at Iowa State University, is a real-time 3D action-adventure video game, aimed at high school and undergraduate student audiences, meant to provide an entertaining, engaging experience while simultaneously educating players about cell biology. Players discover that their entire lab has been sucked up by a plant cell and it is their job to rescue the group while dodging the hazards associated with the internal cell environment. By immersing players into a virtual cell environment and allowing them to interact with it on their own terms, the developers hope that players will come to a greater understanding of the cell than they could learn from traditional diagrams and textbooks.