April 25, 2014
BEI Young Professionals member Betsy Campbell covers artful media around the world that touches upon topics in bioethics. The 2013 Drama Decoding Annie Parker tells the story of a major 20th century genetic discovery — that cancer can have a genetic link. The film is based on the true story of a cancer survivor, Annie […]
February 18, 2014
This story from The Onion, which is a parodic source of "news," is really funny.What makes it especially funny is that it's so far-removed from the truth. Really. Far-removed. Really. I swear. Hardly true at all.
January 15, 2013
Arthur Caplan, Ph.D.
Among the greatest failures in American public health—and the list is a long one—is the rise in the incidence of cervical cancer. …
February 10, 2012
A recent study conducted by Emory University School of Medicine found that therapeutic misconception is alive and well in Phase I cancer research.…
October 19, 2011
Public health experts are arguing to enlist an unlikely set of professionals in the fight against and early detection of skin cancer.…
August 11, 2011
When a reproductive oncologist in our clinical ethics certificate program did a presentation on drug shortages in oncology last month, I thought perhaps this was just a highly specialized problem.…
June 6, 2011
It is striking the juxtaposition of the two major headlines today regarding cancer treatment:
“Cancer costs put treatments out of reach for many”
“Drug to treat breast cancer may help prevent it“.…
November 29, 2010
Two weeks ago brought good news and bad news for gene transfer. First the good news. New England Journal of Medicine beatified a new gene transfer strategy for Wiskott-Aldrich Syndrome (WAS). WAS is a primary immunodeficiency that primarily affects boys. It is thus in the same family of disorders that have been, in varying degrees, successfully addressed using retroviral gene transfer. Like other immunodeficiencies, this represents relatively low hanging fruit for an approach like gene transfer, because scientists can access and target stem cells, and because corrected cells should be at a selective advantage for survival compared with uncorrected cells.
The NEJM article reported clinical, functional, and molecular outcomes for two boys in a trial based in Germany. Briefly the two boys were given a type of chemotherapy (in order to make space for genetically corrected cells), and then transplanted with “corrected” blood stem cells. The corrected blood stem cells contained a viral vector similar to those used in previous gene transfer trials of primary immune deficiency. The team saw: 1) stable levels of genetically corrected stem cells that expressed the WAS protein (indicating the genetically modified cells “took,” and produced WAS; 2) recovery of the function of a variety of immune cells; 3) reduction of disease symptoms, including improvement of eczema, and reduced severity of infections.
The article exhaustively ruled out events that have occurred in other, similar gene transfer trials in which children developed leukemias from the vector. Now the bad news. The same day NEJM published the results, American Society of Gene and Cell Therapy (the largest professional society devoted to gene transfer) released a statement saying that the German team just announced “a serious adverse event in a gene therapy trial for Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome (WAS)”- one of the ten children in the German trial developed a leukemia.
And so continues the saga of gene transfer: three steps forward, one back. (photo credit: vk-red 2009)
April 17, 2009
If you want to know, read the L.A. Times Booster Shots post which recounts Rosie Mestel’s recent experience volunteering for a cancer epidemiology study.…
October 29, 2008
News reports say that researchers from the John Innes Center in the UK have grown a potentially cancer-preventing tomato. These tomatoes genetically altered to grow with the dark purple pigment anthocyanin are hoped to either prevent or reduce the effects of a number of chronic diseases including cancer.…