stuff to readThe outcome of clinical trials might not be predicted as well as you think, cloning of monkeys could revolutionise human disease studies, why is everyone talking about blockchain, and should everyone have their whole genome sequenced at birth? 


How Well Can You Predict the Outcome of Clinical Trials? Not as Well as You May Think 

If researchers were better at forecasting the results of clinical trials — and, say, could avoid having to run trials that will inevitably fail — more resources could be devoted to trials that might succeed.

But, it turns out, researchers might not be great at determining the likelihood of a trial’s success.

In unpublished research, McGill bioethicist Jonathan Kimmelman and colleagues asked cancer experts to forecast the probability of more than a dozen clinical trials hitting their primary endpoint. They found that the predictions overall were not very accurate, and, if anything, were too pessimistic.



Zhong Zhong and Hua Hua, two cloned long tailed macaque monkeys are seen at the Non-Primate facility at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Shanghai (Image: Cell/ via Reuters)

Chinese Scientists Create Cloned Primates that Could Revolutionize Studies of Human Diseases 

Biologists in China have created the first primates cloned with a technique similar to the one used to clone Dolly the sheep and nearly two dozen other species. The method has failed to produce live primates until now.

Researchers hope to use this revised technique to develop populations of genetically identical primates to provide improved animal models of human disorders, such as cancer. The technology could also be combined with gene-editing tools such as CRISPR–Cas9 to create genetically engineered primate-brain models of human disorders, including Parkinson’s disease.


Blockchain—The End of Privacy Concerns in Genomic Data Handling? 

The blockchain currently is the go-to technology for digital privacy issues, delivering secure transactions without having to trust third-parties in industries as different as finance, real estate, health – and genomics. Already different companies are betting on the need, based on the expected phenomenal growth of genomic data, for blockchain-based securitization of data. Besides some hype about the connection of blockchain and genomic data, viable business models and how to integrate the technology into the existing healthcare industry are far from clear.

Alex Schmid provides us with an overview of challenges blockchain technology can help solve within life sciences, and what about it, that makes it so suitable. 


Should Everyone Have Their Whole Genome Sequenced at Birth? 

Advances in genomic testing are happening at more and more of a quicker rate right now, and with that in mind we often cast our minds to what the future might have in store.

With this in mind, we took ourselves down to ‘The Great Genome Sequencing Debate’ held at the Royal Institute of London, which posed the ever controversial question – should everyone have their whole genome sequenced at birth?

Big Pharma Greets Hundreds of Ex-Federal Workers at the ‘Revolving Door’ 



A KHN data analysis finds the door of opportunities connecting Capitol Hill, the federal government, and the drug industry likely spins in Big Pharma’s favour. (Photo Illustration: Frida Holme)

Big Pharma’s Government Revolving Door: ‘Who Do They Really Work For?’

Alex Azar’s job hop from drugmaker Eli Lilly to the Trump administration reflects ever-deepening ties between the pharmaceutical industry and the federal government.

Nearly 340 former congressional staffers now work for pharmaceutical companies or their lobbying firms, according to data analyzed by KHN and provided by Legistorm, a nonpartisan congressional research company. On the flip side, the analysis showed, more than a dozen former drug industry employees now have jobs on Capitol Hill — often on committees that handle health care policy. Who do they really work for?