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Sep 30, 2015

U.S. biotech to apply artificial intelligence to UK genome study

CHICAGO, Sept 30 (Reuters) – Berg, a private company that
uses artificial intelligence to discover new drugs and
diagnostics, will help England’s national genomics project mine
DNA and health data from thousands of British citizens for
potential drug targets.

Berg, based in Boston, was co-founded in 2006 by Silicon
Valley real estate billionaire Carl Berg. Since then, it has
been working to change the way drugs are discovered, working in
partnership with key players such as the U.S. Department of
Defense and the Parkinson’s Institute Clinical Center.

Sep 24, 2015

Nobel Prize predictions see honors for gene editing technology

Sept 24 (Reuters) – Scientists behind the discovery of a
technology called CRISPR-Cas9 that allows researchers to edit
virtually any gene they target are among the top contenders for
Nobel prizes next month, according to an annual analysis by
Thomson Reuters.

The predictions announced on Thursday come from the
Intellectual Property & Science unit of Thomson Reuters
(which also owns the Reuters news service). Since 2002, it has
accurately identified 37 scientists who went on to become Nobel
laureates, although not necessarily in the year in which they
were named.

Sep 23, 2015

Non-antibotic drug shows promise in deadly C. difficle infections

CHICAGO (Reuters) – A non-antibiotic drug already tested in people for other uses may be active in treating Clostridium difficile, a superbug that preys on people whose protective gut bacteria have been wiped out by antibiotics.

Studies in mice by researchers at Stanford University School of Medicine showed that the drug ebeselen, a compound being studied in clinical trials for a variety of other conditions, blocked infections by disabling the bacteria’s toxins. The study was published on Wednesday in Science Translational Medicine.

Sep 22, 2015

Reforms needed to address medical diagnostic errors – U.S. report

CHICAGO, Sept 22 (Reuters) – Most Americans will fall victim
to at least one diagnostic error in their lifetime, and when
this occurs, it often can be deadly, according to a new report
released on Tuesday by the Institute of Medicine, which advises
the U.S. government and policymakers.

The report called for greater emphasis on improving
diagnoses in the United States and reducing the number of
errors, which they defined as either an inaccurate or delayed

Sep 22, 2015

Craig Venter’s company in deal for whole exome tests at new low cost

By Julie Steenhuysen

(Reuters) – A company formed by genome pioneer Craig Venter will offer clients of a South Africa-based insurance company whole exome sequencing – sequencing all protein-making genes in the human genome – at a price that marks yet another dramatic decline in the cost of gene sequencing, the two companies said on Tuesday.

Venter’s company, Human Longevity Inc, will provide the tests at a cost of $250 each through a special incentive program offered by Discovery Ltd, an insurer with clients in South Africa and the United Kingdom.

Sep 17, 2015

NIH takes next steps in Obama’s Precision Medicine plan

CHICAGO (Reuters) – The National Institutes of Health on Thursday approved a blueprint for U.S. President Barack Obama’s Precision Medicine Initiative and named an NIH insider as interim director of the project, which aims to enroll 1 million volunteers in the next three to four years.

The sweeping study, announced in January by Obama, will gather data on people in the United States of all ages, racial and socioeconomic groups.

Sep 15, 2015

CDC appoints new safety czar to improve handling of dangerous pathogens

CHICAGO (Reuters) – The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Tuesday tapped Dr. Stephen Monroe, a longtime lab scientist and agency insider, to oversee the safe handling of dangerous pathogens by more than 2,000 scientists in the agency’s more than 150 labs.

Monroe becomes the CDC’s first permanent associate director of lab safety, reporting directly to the director.

Sep 10, 2015

Pathway launches ‘liquid biopsy’ to find cancer in healthy people

CHICAGO, Sept 10 (Reuters) – Pathway Genomics, a company
known for pushing the boundaries of direct-to-consumer genetic
testing, on Thursday will launch a cancer screening test
designed to detect bits of cancer DNA in the blood of otherwise
healthy people.

The test represents a first in the rapidly developing field
of “liquid biopsies,” which use gene sequencing technology to
screen blood samples for trace amounts of DNA associated with
different cancers.

Sep 4, 2015

As U.S. Legionnaires’ cases rise, so do expert theories on causes

CHICAGO, Sept 4 (Reuters) – Cases of Legionnaires’ disease
have been increasing dramatically in the United States, with
reported cases in August alone more than doubling from expected
levels for that period, U.S. health officials say.

Infectious disease experts say they cannot pinpoint a single
reason for the surge, but believe a combination of factors is at
play, including an aging population that is more vulnerable to
illness, better diagnostics, increased awareness of the disease,
and possibly environmental factors.

Sep 2, 2015

Regeneron scientists discover key to excess bone growth in rare disease

CHICAGO (Reuters) – Scientists at U.S. biotechnology company Regeneron Pharmaceuticals researching a rare genetic disease that traps sufferers in a second skeleton have discovered a treatment that shuts down excessive bone growth in mice engineered to develop the illness.

Company scientists said on Wednesday the protein Activin-A, which normally blocks bone growth, triggers hyperactive bone growth in patients with a genetic mutation that causes the disease. The disease is known as Fibrodysplasia Ossificans Progressiva, or FOP.

    • About Julie

      "Julie Steenhuysen has been covering health and science topics for Reuters for the past decade, first as a medical device correspondent, then as team leader for the equities team covering U.S. pharmaceuticals and healthcare companies. For the past 4 years, Julie has worked as U.S. health and science correspondent, focusing on coverage for a general news audience."
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