The Canadian government intends to challenge the constitutionality of Bill S-201, The Act to Prohibit and Prevent Genetic Discrimination. The law, which was recently passed by Parliament and took effect May 4, adds genetic information to the list of protected data under the Privacy Act and the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act. It also amends the Canadian Human Rights Act to add genetic characteristics as a prohibited basis for employment, housing and provision of goods or services discrimination.
Ontario is investing more than $12 million to support new and existing programs that will improve maternal and child health in Ontario. Announced May 12th, the investment includes enhanced screening of all newborns with the addition of a new screen for hearing loss, enabling families to receive treatment or language and early literacy support sooner. The province also recently added a new screen for critical congenital heart disease, to detect a range of heart defects in newborns that could cause life-threatening symptoms.
The U.S. FDA has announced that it will now allow 23andMe to market its Personal Genome Service Genetic Health Risk tests straight to consumers. The new decision is expected to open the floodgates for more direct-to-consumer tests for disease risks, paving the way for other companies to enter the market.
Women at the highest genetic risk for fracture benefit the most from hormone therapy. The first to investigate gene-hormone therapy interaction on fracture in postmenopausal white women, this study looked at a subset of 9,922 women from the more than 27,000 participants in hormone therapy clinical trials. “This is where precision or personalized medicine comes in — the attempt to get the right drugs to the right person to ensure the most benefit and least harm.”
Researchers at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health and Queen’s University have identified 26 new genes linked to intellectual disability. This study, the largest of its kind in North America, has implications for the diagnosis and clinical care of those affected by intellectual disability, with potential to eventually lead to personalized treatments for affected individuals.
In the NFL, rival franchises compete bitterly on the field every Sunday, yet have developed a structure that enables the entire enterprise to flourish and profit. In contrast, misplaced competition in cancer research and siloed clinical and genetic data, impedes cancer care advancement. What if a philosophy similar to the NFL could be brought to precision medicine, encouraging data sharing so that drug development and discovery are accelerated, while still allowing for competition and profit?
Population health management and precision medicine are more alike than different, and closer collaboration could produce impactful results. According to Jonathan Sheldon, Global VP of Healthcare at Oracle Health Sciences, “Precision medicine gives us the molecular tools to phenotype diseases, which you can then predict and manage at the population level. Genomics gives you that level of precision that is often lacking in risk stratification algorithms. They really enhance one another.”
A suite of introductory resources has been produced by the Genomics in Mainstream Medicine Working Group of the UK-based PHG Foundation. Each ‘factsheet’ is tailored to a specific medical specialty and seeks to raise awareness of genomic medicine and its impact on clinical care.
A bill that protects Canadians from discrimination based on genetic information was passed in parliament yesterday by a vote of 222-60. Bill S-201, which was already passed in the Senate, bars health and life insurance companies from requiring a person to undergo genetic testing or to disclose the results of previous tests. The legislation also prohibits anyone from sharing genetic testing results without written consent, with exceptions for physicians and researchers. Prior to Bill S-201, Canada was the only G7 country without specific protections against genetic discrimination.
CBC documentary series “The Nature of Things” featured an in-depth look at the BC Cancer Agency’s Personalized Onco-Genomics (POG) program in the documentary “Cracking Cancer.” With the aim of identifying and treating cancer-causing mutations specific to each patient, these cutting-edge clinical trials hold the promise of personalized cancer care.