International summit debates human gene editing ban

All eyes in the CRISPR world have been on Washington this week, as scientists from across the world attempt to navigate the thorny issues around human genome editing in an attempt to work on an international consensus. The International Summit on Human Genome Editing concluded yesterday with a statement from the members of the Orgnanizing Committee. This document contains very few surprises; the overwhelming feeling is that research on human genome editing should cautiously continue, but that germ line editing for clinical use would be “irresponsible” at this stage. But there is a strong emphasis on continued dialogue both within the sector and with the public at large, which is a positive sentiment moving forward. If the previous communication failures around genetically modified organisms have taught us anything, it is that if the public are left out of the conversation, their trust in scientists disappears overnight. CRISPR has such huge potential for human health that the community cannot afford to let mistrust and fear rule the discussion.

Sophia Genetics becomes largest genomics network in the world

Sophia Genetics have made an impressive mark on the European bioinformatics market. This year alone the Swiss startup has experienced 400% growth, supporting over 100 institutions across 18 countries, and expecting to analyse and diagnose over 80,000 patients in 2016. As a result they are now the world’s largest clinical genomics community, placing Europe ahead of the US in the race to precision medicine.

UCL launch new gene therapy company Athena Vision

University College London have announced the formation of a new gene therapy company designed to take UCL research into the marketplace. Established by UCL Business PLC, the College’s technology transfer arm, Athena Vision Limited with focus on developing gene therapies to treat a range of eye disorders that ultimately lead to blindness. 

Human Longevity acquire genome informatics experts Cypher Genomics

Human Longevity Inc. (HLI) have amassed the largest and most comprehensive database of genomic and phenotypic data in the world, and now they have the technology to process and analyse it. This week Craig Venter’s La Jolla-based startup announced their acquisition of bioinformatics company Cypher Genomics. 

UK Government announced £250 million for 100,000 Genomes Project

As part of their Autumn spending review the UK Government reaffirmed their commitment to precision medicine by promising a fresh cash injection for the 100,000 Genomes Project. £250 million will be allocated to the Project over the next five years, ensuring that funding will be available until the proposed finish date of 2017. 

And finally, don’t forget to take part in FLG’s Christmas opinion poll! What genomics gift would you like for Christmas this year?