Every year, hundreds of thousands of respiratory samples are taken from flu patients in the US and tested in labs. Here is the kicker: only a small percentage of these samples show the presence of a flu virus. …
A woman in southern Sweden has been sentenced to a further two months in prison after she tried to get out of her initial sentence by forging a medical certificate that claimed she had cancer and only a few months to live. …
The ruling is a victory for science researchers who have been restricted from creating tests or treatment options involving human genes that were already patented. The case revolved around the Utah biotech firm Myriad Genetics, which was facing a lawsuit for placing patents on the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes. These genes often appear with mutations in patients that eventually develop breast or ovarian cancer. Award-winning actress Angelina Jolie last month announced that she had a double mastectomy after taking a test that found a mutation in one of her BRC genes. As a result of its patents, Myriad has been able to monopolize research and testing for these genes, thereby preventing other doctors and researchers from developing alternate options involving the BRCA1 and BRCA2 strands. Women at risk of ovarian or breast cancer had no other options aside from taking the expensive Myriad test, which is not always covered by insurance. But in its landmark ruling, the nine Supreme Court justices wrote that “a naturally occurring DNA segment is a product of nature and not patent eligible merely because it has been isolated.” Scientists, doctors and researchers are now able to develop new tests for the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes, as well as all other natural DNA that was previously patented. “Today, the court struck down a major barrier to patient care and medical innovation,” Sandra Park, senior staff attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union, said in a statement. “Myriad did not invent the BRCA genes and should not control them. Because of this ruling, patients will have greater access to genetic testing and scientists can engage in research on these genes without fear of being sued.” The US Patent and Trademark Office has granted universities, research institutes and medical companies patents on at least 4,000 human genes, and patents currently cover 40 percent of all human DNA, Reuters reports. These patents will no longer apply, but the Supreme Court did rule to allow the patenting of artificially created genes. “Synthetically created strands of nucleotides known as composite DNA (cDNA)” are patent eligible, the justices wrote. This half of the court’s decision represents a partial victory for Myriad, which will be allowed to keep its patents on cDNA. The company’s shares jumped 10 percent to $37.47 after Thursday’s ruling. “We believe the court appropriately upheld our claims on cDNA and underscored the patent eligibility of our method claims, ensuring strong intellectual property protection for our BRACAnalysis test moving forward,” Peter D. Meldrum, Myriad’s president and chief executive, told AP. But with patents removed from human DNA, women at possible risk of developing breast or ovarian cancer may soon have other test and treatment options at a lower price. …
When a group of uniformed men wearing guns sets up a road block then ask you to “volunteer” a DNA sample and blood sample, it stretches the definition of “volunteer.” …
Turkish riot police are driving thousands into narrow side streets, Reuters report citing witnesses, with water cannon vehicles advanced across the square. Struggling to disperse the crowd, riot police water- cannoned a disabled protester who was unable to leave Taksim. Barrage of gas being fired. About one canister every three seconds at the moment. — Simon Johns (@simonwjohns) June 11, 2013 Prior to that, protesters, mocking and calling for police to leave, confronted the forces. Read RT’s live updates on the Turkish protests. Some of protesters are burning colorful flares and fireworks. Fire could be seen in the crowd. Fire can be seen in a few locations across the square with the chaos raging at the cradle of the two-week long anti-government protest. Photo: occupygezipics: Taksim Sq at 8:15 PM, Tuesday. No one knows what (if anything) prompted the police to… tmblr.co/ZHMWksn6Negj — quite contrarian (@QuiteContrarian) June 11, 2013 Earlier Tuesday, police and protesters clashed over a new barrier inside the square. Hundreds of police took over Taksim Square, using tear gas and water cannon to oust the few protesters present there in the morning. The raid allowed the removal of barricades and banners. PM Erdogan praised the troops for removing the ‘rags’ as he’s branded the revolutionary symbols. At least 18 people were injured in Tuesday’s violence, medical officials said, reporting numerous broken bones and several head injuries, AFP reports. Following the crackdown, protesters said they have lost faith in the prospect of dialogue with Erdogan, who hours before said he would meet with protest leaders on Wednesday. Also on Tuesday some 30 to 50 lawyers protesting against the handling of the protest were reportedly detained in front of a courtroom in Istanbul. …
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An independent investigation into breast cancer screening has been launched by the UK government’s cancer chief, Prof Sir Mike Richards to try to settle the growing controversy around its usefulness and potential harm, writes the Guardian http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2013/jun/11/breast-cancer-screening-no-evidence
Prof Richards’ enquiry is a response to the criticism of a number of scientists who say the NHS screening program wrongly identifies cancers that might never harm women, leading to unnecessary and potentially damaging treatment with surgery, drugs and radiation therapy.
The case started with an open letter from Susan Bewley, professor of complex obstetrics at King’s College London, who had written to Richards with her concerns over routine screening.
She herself had decided not to be screened, even though she had a family history of breast cancer “as the NHS breast screening program was not telling the whole truth”.
“The distress of over-diagnosis and decision-making when finding lesions that might (or might not) be cancer that might (or might not) require mutilating surgery is increasingly being exposed. The oft-repeated statement that ’1,400 lives a year are saved’ has not been subjected to proper scrutiny. Even cancer charities use lower estimates,” she wrote.
In his reply, Richards assured her that he took the current controversy “very seriously” and he listed the evidence that supports screening – including a WHO paper from 2002, which said it reduced deaths in 50- to 69-year-old women by 35%. He said they were seeking independent scientists who had not been involved in the controversy to undertake it and a second independent team was working on an improved screening leaflet that would include both risks and benefits, he said.
“Should the independent review conclude that the balance of harms outweighs the benefits of breast screening, I will have no hesitation in referring the findings to the UK national screening committee and then ministers,” he wrote.
Nordic countries’ screening scepticism
The chief critics of breast cancer screening come from the reputable Cochrane collaboration of scientists, based in Nordic countries. Their studies of the original trials used to support the introduction of screening have been published in leading medical journals including the British Medical Journal.
Most of the large-scale trials of screening were flawed. A well-run major trial in Malmo, Sweden, however, produced results that appeared to show screening saved lives. But in recent years, work by Nordic Cochrane Collaboration authors has disputed the mortality findings. The most recent paper found that many of the early-stage cancers spotted at screening – too small to be detected other than by x-ray – either would not have gone on to cause problems or might even have regressed.
Copyright © 2013 euronews
A “fully armed” suspect has opened fire at cars and a bus in the area, local police said. Witnesses reported hearing at least one shotgun blast and several handgun shots. …