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The Genome and the Economy

Mike Mandel, from the Mandel on Innovation and Growth blog, says the most "significant economic event of the past decade" is the "failure of the Human Genome Project to deliver medically significant results." Ballooning healthcare spending, low job growth and a big trade deficit are strangling the US economy, he says, and "the Human Genome Project had … the potential to be a powerful antidote to all three of these problems." But Mandel says there's reason to be optimistic. The US has invested heavily in biotech, new technology and health, and "the research has gone great." All we need to do to capitalize on this investment is to bridge the gap between research and commercialization, which has been done before, Mandel adds. "So I'd say that the odds are good that the Human Genome Project will have a significant economic impact over the next 5 to10 years," he says.

In the Pipeline's Derek Lowe sees what Mandel's driving at, but doesn't quite agree with him. For example, he says, "What if the genomics revolution had delivered? We'd have a lot more drugs on the market, none of which would be selling cheaply, you can be sure — and there would be even more anxiety over the amount of our GDP going to health care." We may have cost ourselves opportunities to do something else had we not spent so much money and time on the "genomics frenzy," Lowe adds, but the failure of genomics to commercialize so far is hardly the be-all and end-all of the US' economic problems.

The Scan

Renewed Gain-of-Function Worries

The New York Times writes that the pandemic is renewing concerns about gain-of-function research.

Who's Getting the Patents?

A trio of researchers has analyzed gender trends in biomedical patents issued between 1976 and 2010 in the US, New Scientist reports.

Other Uses

CBS Sunday Morning looks at how mRNA vaccine technology could be applied beyond SARS-CoV-2.

PLOS Papers Present Analysis of Cervicovaginal Microbiome, Glycosylation in Model Archaea, More

In PLOS this week: functional potential of the cervicovaginal microbiome, glycosylation patterns in model archaea, and more.