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Sampling the Blogs


ACLU v. Myriad

As scientists learned about the lawsuit filed by the ACLU and other parties against Myriad Genetics charging that the BRCA1 and BRCA2 patents should be dismissed, bloggers rallied to provide analysis. Chris MacDonald at The Biotech Ethics Blog followed the story closely, giving updates and noting that this is "a hugely important case." Brenda Simon at Stanford Center for Law & the Biosciences Blog ran through the legal arguments involved in the case, suggesting this would be a tough win for the ACLU. She wrote, "I think these types of patents are becoming less important, in part because of the narrowed scope of patentable subject matter eligibility, the broadened ability to show obviousness, and the likelihood of finding invalidating prior art from the Human Genome Project."

It's My DNA

At The Genetic Genealogist, Blaine Bettinger blogged his support for consumers' right to their own genetic information through direct-to-consumer services. Bettinger's post comes in response to an entry at Reason Online, where Ronald Bailey writes about whether there ought to be stricter federal regulation of these services. (This spring, for instance, Germany banned DTC genetic testing.) Bailey concluded that such regulation would actually risk stifling innovation in the field, adding: "Most evidence suggests that the current tests are fairly accurate, and that customers are not being misled by the results that are reported. All new technologies involve a societal learning process in which some early adopters try it out, explain to others how it works, and find out its flaws — which newer innovators then fix."

Now We Can All Agree … Almost

The blogger at Medical Writing, Editing & Grantsmanship discussed an article that appeared in Nature's jobs section about whether women are less successful than men in the peer review process. Two earlier studies of the subject had come up with conflicting results — one found evidence for gender bias and the other didn't — so the teams involved decided to work together to see if they could reconcile the data. After re-examining all of the information, the researchers report that there's "no effect of the applicant's gender on the peer review of their grant proposals." The MWEG blogger, though, noted that the researchers involved in the study were male, and expressed interested in hearing from female scientists who might be looking into the same subject.

Pfizer and Glaxo's Venture

Roger Longman at The In Vivo Blog talked about the joint venture between GlaxoSmithKline and Pfizer, through which the pharmas carved out their HIV discovery and development efforts and turned them into a third organization which will be 85 percent owned by Glaxo. According to Longman, the "joint venture is an interesting solution to both problems — the big/small paradox and the funding troubles. The new company is relatively small (first year projected sales: $2.4 billion); it's got its own managers; it makes its own R&D decisions." Whether the deal is innovative or not, Jeremy Grushcow at The Cross-Border Biotech Blog wrote that he hopes that it works out "because it seems like it would be a bear to unwind."

The Scan

Dropped Charges

The US Justice Department has dropped visa fraud charges against five Chinese researchers, according to the Wall Street Journal.

More Kids

The Associated Press says Moderna is expanding its SARS-CoV-2 vaccine study to included additional children and may include even younger children.

PNAS Papers on Rat Clues to Human Migration, Thyroid Cancer, PolyG-DS

In PNAS this week: ancient rat genome analysis gives hints to human migrations, WDR77 gene mutations in thyroid cancer, and more.

Purnell Choppin Dies

Purnell Choppin, a virologist who led the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, has died at 91, according to the Washington Post.