5 things to read instead of… mourning Moore’s Law
Moore’s Law is dead. But rather than mourning it’s passing let’s look to the future, where computers are powered by lasers, clinical trial results are freely available to all, and there is a CRISPR-edited mouse in every lab.
Happy weekend all!
Since chip manufacturer Intel revealed that it could no longer keep doubling the speed or halving the cost of chips every 18 months, the race has been on to find the next technology to feed our need for fast computation. Not least in the field of genomics, where sequencing an entire human genome generates enormous quantities of data.
This week saw the launch of the AllTrials online tool that tracks the publication of clinical trials by many major drug companies. The results make for grim reading – over the past decade nearly half of all clinical trials conducted by big drug makers have not been published, with a major offender being Ranbaxy Laboratories. The company has conducted nearly three dozen trials in the past 10 years, and hasn’t published a single one.
“Everyone has been talking about this problem for far too long,” said Dr. Ben Goldacre, who is a founder of the AllTrials campaign, in a statement. “If any institution is concerned that it is doing badly in our tables, then there is one simple thing they can do: publish their trial results, using their trial registry number, so that this information can be accessed and read by doctors, researchers and patients.”
CRISPR technology has had an enormous impact on the laboratory mice. Historically, creating a genetically altered mouse with the required mixture of genetic changes could take years. With CRISPR that window has shrunk to 6 months. This increase in speed has huge implications for the work of the Jackson Laboratory, or JAX, home to the world’s leading experts in mouse genetics, and has accelerated an international programme to ‘knock-out’ all 21,000 gene in the mouse genome.
As part of a series on scientific careers and the prospects for early-career researchers, Nature takes a look at the young academics leaving the lab bench behind in favour of joining, or even founding, a biotech startup. “We’re starting to see a renaissance of investors embracing the idea that scientists can build businesses,” says Ryan Bethencourt, programme director of IndieBio, a biotech accelerator in San Francisco that began in 2014.
And one from us…
This week a new study from the Mayo clinic revealed a dark side to genetic testing. What happens when we simply cannot interpret the results of genetic tests accurately? For one family the result was a serious misdiagnosis, and an unnecessary surgical procedure. How do we ensure that our ability to interpret the genome keeps pace with increasing availability of genome sequencing?