Bill Gates (Photo credit: Claudio Toledo)

Welcome to the weekend! Many of you are probably in Charlotte, attending ACMG, and we all know how tired one can get from spending a whole day in a convention centre! If you want to take a break from all the networking and put your feet to rest for a little while, this is the perfect reading to do while you’re at it.

Some are exciting (Bill Gates on gene editing and George Church on how to live forever), some are informative (lab mice might be too clean, questioning drug pricing and freeing health data). You can read one, or you can read all five. That’s up to you! 

 

Gene Editing for Good 

Over the next decade, gene editing could help humanity overcome some of the biggest and most persistent challenges in global health and development. The technology is making it much easier for scientists to discover better diagnostics, treatments, and other tools to fight diseases that still kill and disable millions of people every year, primarily the poor (…) New technologies are often met with scepticism. But if the world is to continue the remarkable progress of the past few decades, it is vital that scientists, subject to safety and ethics guidelines, be encouraged to continue taking advantage of such promising tools as CRISPR, writes Bill Gates for Foreign Affairs. 

 

Why do new medicines cost so much, and what can we do about it?

The cost of new drugs is putting increasing pressure on people in both rich and poor countries. Sarah Boseley, writing for the Guardian explain why it’s a burning issue. 

 

The Government Wants to Free Your Health Data. Will That Unleash Innovation?

In healthcare, breakthrough cures are no longer just hidden in the innumerable mysteries of biology and chemistry. Increasingly, they are locked away in a place even harder to access: electronic patient records.

These files could help establish which patients, with which backgrounds and disease characteristics, respond best to certain therapies — secrets that are often carefully guarded in service of patient privacy, and private profit.

The federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services wants to put patients in charge of their information instead of the hospitals and insurers that collect it and keep it locked within their own systems. 

 

The Next Best Version of Me: How to Live Forever

George Church towers over most people. He has the long, grey beard of a wizard from Middle-earth, and his life’s work—poking and prodding DNA and delving into the secrets of life—isn’t all that far removed from a world where deep magic is real. The 63-year-old geneticist presides over one of the largest and best-funded academic biology labs in the world, headquartered on the second floor of the massive glass and steel New Research Building at Harvard Medical School. He also lends his name as an adviser or supporter to dozens of projects, consortiums, conferences, spinouts, and startups that share a mission to push the outer edge of everything, from bio-robotics to bringing back the woolly mammoth. And on a steamy August morning last summer, he wants to talk to me about the outer edge of my life, writes David Ewing Duncan for Wired.

 

Squeaky Clean Mice Could Be Ruining Reseach 

For more than 50 years, scientists have worked to make lab mice cleaner. In most labs today, the animals’ cages are sanitized, and their water bottles and food are sterilized.

But a raft of studies now suggests that this cleanliness has come at a cost, leaving the rodents with stunted immune systems. In a quest for standardized and spotless mice, scientists have made the creatures a less-faithful model for human immune systems, which develop in a world teeming with microbes. And that could have serious implications for researchers working to usher treatments and vaccines out of the lab and into the clinic, writes Cassandra Willyard for Scientific American. 

 

Weekend Reads, week 12