DNAHave we reached peak pharma, do we own our DNA, and will adding new bases to DNA improve on nature? Get ready for 2018.


We Have Reached Peak Pharma. There’s Nowhere to Go But Down

For decades, no industry has been a more reliable moneymaker than pharmaceuticals. Immune to recession, drug companies regularly score 15 percent profit margins year after year. There is no danger of market saturation and, in the U.S., little prospect of government restraint of prices. Nearly all regulatory submissions win approval, and turnaround times are steadily decreasing. If you are an investor, what’s not to like? Rising costs and declining discovery rates are the hallmark of resource depletion. It happened with gold and oil and it is happening now with drugs.


Do You Belong to You?

A recent court case grapples with whether we own our own DNA and the information it contains. The answer has implications for research, privacy, commerce, and how we live our lives. Do individuals have property rights in their DNA? 


Is a Bigger Genetic Code Better? Get Ready to Find Out

With recent innovations in gene editing, it may seem as if the field of synthetic biology is just starting to make strides into science-fiction territory. But for several decades, scientists have been cultivating ways to create novel forms of life with basic biochemical components and properties far removed from anything found in nature. In particular, they’re working to expand the number of amino acids — the building blocks of the proteins that perform the cell’s functions — in life’s stockpile. Synthetic biologists adding new bases to DNA will be free to improve on nature — if they can.


The Health 202: Generic Drugs Had a Great 2017

During his first year in office, President Trump took no direct action to lower the country’s sky-high prescription drug prices, something that he vowed to tackle during the 2016 campaign. But Trump’s man running the Food and Drug Administration is striving to move the needle in this area with a concentrated push toward expanding generic drug competition.


What to Expect in 2018: Science in the New Year

Ancient genomes, extreme imaging, disease treatments, cancer’s bigger picture, and a publishing showdown are set to shape research.