Who owns DNA? Last year, in a case involving Myriad Genetics — which holds patents on two human genes used as predictors of increased risk for breast cancer and ovarian cancer — a federal judge ruled Myriad’s patents were invalid because genes couldn’t be patented. But on Friday, a federal appellate court overturned the prior ruling, saying that indeed, once again, genes can be patented.
Ethical questions continue to envelop this case: Is it right to patent part of the human body? Do gene patents put barriers on further research?
Docs and their iPads. With as many as 75 percent of U.S. physicians owning an iPad or other Apple device, the medical community faces a growing concern over the security of the information on portable devices. The question is, what’s the best approach to protecting EHRs on mobile devices?
Fast, cheap HIV testing. A new form of fast, cheap HIV testing and syphilis testing was a success in its first field trial. The “lab on a chip” testing device, which is the size of a credit card and is placed in a bag with a blood sample, showed accurate results within 20 minutes. Cheap HIV testing is currently available in the flow of lateral form tests, but few have been reliable across multiple kinds of infections.
New JAMA chief. There’s a new executive at the top of the Journal of the American Medical Association, and he’s pushing innovation in his own job — he says in the future he’d like to see the journal use multimedia, have shorter articles for easier reading and publish in other languages.
Medicare savings in 2010. Medicare spending on prescription medicine in 2010 rang up $61.7 billion, or 47 percent less than projected thanks to generic meds and competition among drug companies. Less spending has lead Republicans to tout Medicare Part D as a success, while Democrats argue that drug prices are still going up.