Julie's Feed
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.

Aug 31, 2015

New guidelines for cancer doctors aim to make sense of gene tests

CHICAGO (Reuters) – The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) has issued guidelines on how cancer doctors should approach the use of new genetic tests that screen for multiple cancer genes at the same time, including counseling patients about genes whose contribution to cancer is still poorly understood.

The guidelines aim to educate doctors about the risks and benefits of new genetic tests, argue for regulation to assure quality and call for more equitable reimbursement of the cost of the tests from private and public insurers.

Aug 27, 2015

Insight – FDA wants food companies to hand over their pathogens

CHICAGO (Reuters) – Investigations into foodborne illness are being radically transformed by whole genome sequencing, which federal officials say is enabling them to identify the source of an outbreak far more quickly and prevent additional cases.

Previously, samples from sick patients were sent to state and federal labs, where disease detectives ran tests to see if the infections were caused by the same bug. When enough matches emerged, typically a dozen or so, epidemiologists interviewed sick people, looking for a common food that was causing the outbreak.

Aug 27, 2015

U.S. vaccination rates high, but pockets of unvaccinated pose risk

CHICAGO, Aug 27 (Reuters) – The vast majority of U.S.
kindergarten-age children are vaccinated against preventable
diseases but sizable pockets of unprotected children still
exist, posing a public health threat, according to a government
study.

Only 1.7 percent of U.S. parents of kindergartners sought
exemptions in 2014 from laws requiring children be vaccinated,
according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
study.

Aug 27, 2015

FDA wants food companies to hand over their pathogens

CHICAGO, Aug 27 (Reuters) – Investigations into foodborne
illness are being radically transformed by whole genome
sequencing, which federal officials say is enabling them to
identify the source of an outbreak far more quickly and prevent
additional cases.

Previously, samples from sick patients were sent to state
and federal labs, where disease detectives ran tests to see if
the infections were caused by the same bug. When enough matches
emerged, typically a dozen or so, epidemiologists interviewed
sick people, looking for a common food that was causing the
outbreak.

Aug 20, 2015

Former President Carter gets powerful immune-system boosting drug

CHICAGO (Reuters) – News that a patient’s cancer has spread to the brain typically is a sign the end is near.

But cancer experts expressed hope after learning that former President Jimmy Carter’s melanoma would be treated with Merck & Co’s Keytruda, a new treatment that harnesses the body’s immune system to fight cancer.

Aug 18, 2015

Illumina partners with private equity firm on gene JV: sources

By Mike Stone and Julie Steenhuysen

(Reuters) – Gene-sequencing giant Illumina Inc, private equity firm Warburg Pincus LLC and venture capital firm Sutter Hill Ventures have agreed to invest $100 million to seed a new consumer-facing human genome platform called Helix, according to people familiar with the deal.

San Francisco-based Helix aims to provide a new kind of environment that will sequence, store and analyze individuals’ genetic data and provide a marketplace of services through various partners, allowing people to explore their geneology or understand their risk for inherited disease.

Aug 1, 2015

Insight – Fetal tissue research declining, still important

CHICAGO (Reuters) – A political battle over the use of fetal tissue in medical research has been reinvigorated by the release of undercover videos targeting Planned Parenthood officials. But the controversy comes just as interest in the use of fetal tissue is dwindling, scientists said.

Newer, less-controversial technologies, including the “reprogramming” of adult skin cells to create specific types of stem cells, have rendered fetal tissue less central – though still important – to medical research, they said.

Aug 1, 2015

Fetal tissue research declining, still important

CHICAGO, Aug 1 (Reuters) – A political battle over the use
of fetal tissue in medical research has been reinvigorated by
the release of undercover videos targeting Planned Parenthood
officials. But the controversy comes just as interest in the use
of fetal tissue is dwindling, scientists said.

Newer, less-controversial technologies, including the
“reprogramming” of adult skin cells to create specific types of
stem cells, have rendered fetal tissue less central – though
still important – to medical research, they said.

Jul 23, 2015

Experts support call for lower cancer drug prices

July 23 (Reuters) – A group of 118 leading cancer experts
have developed a list of proposals designed to reduce the cost
of cancer drugs, and support a grassroots patient protest
movement to pressure drug companies to charge what they deem a
fair value for treatments.

The experts include former presidents of the American
Society of Clinical Oncology and the American Society of
Hematology.

    • 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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