aeroplane

Oh, it’s that time again… We’re digging out our passports, packing our bags, and charging our laptops for Festival of Genomics California next week. So while I dig in the laundry basket for clean shirts, you can enjoy our pick of week’s best science bits.

Inside the drive to collect DNA from 1 million veterans and revolutionize medicine

Carl Zimmer takes a look inside the Million Veteran Program, a national initiative to study how genes affect human health by studying blood samples taken from US veterans. Carl writes, “Since its launch in 2010, the VA has spent $30 million building and running MVP. Caring for 8.76 million veterans enrolled in the Veterans Health Administration, it has a strong interest in understanding the role that genes play in the diseases they develop. The VA is also uniquely situated to carry out this kind of project, in part because veterans tend to have medical records in the system that stretch back decades. But the research being done as part of the MVP — which has already enrolled more than 420,000 participants — could have implications that reach far beyond the VA.”

Tute turns to crowdfunding to offer personal whole genome sequencing service

Before now we’ve covered researchers turning to crowdfunding to cover the costs of their genomic projects. Now Tute Genomics are turning to crowdfunding to raise $100,000 for a personalised DNA sequencing programme. By offering whole genome sequencing services betwee $999 and $1,499, FieceBiotech note that this effort is effectively a “referendum on whether costs are low enough to attract consumers.”

Perspective: The precision-oncology illusion

Writing in Nature, heamatologist-oncologist Vinay Prasad argues the case against precision oncology. He argues that “Precision oncology is inspirational. What doctor or patient would not want to harness genetics to tailor a therapy to an individual? But travelling back in a time machine is also inspirational. Who would not want to wind back the clock to remove their cancer before it spreads? In both cases, however, as of 2016, the proposal is neither feasible, cost-effective nor assured of future success.”

The role of AI in Healthcare – an in-depth guide

“Is Artificial Intelligence (AI) the silver bullet that will make doctors all over the world unemployed? Will AI be able to outperform oncologist in creating treatment plans for cancer patients?”

It’s a good question, and given the shortcomings of precision oncology outlined by Vinay Prasad, could harnessing AI for healthcare potentially change that?

And one from us…

Cancer experts reveal Moonshot Initiative ‘wishlist’

From a “national cancer ecosystem” to in-depth tumour profiles, experts advising the Cancer Moonshot Initiative have set out their laundry list of desires before Congress. Now we wait with baited breath to see whether the funding will be forthcoming…