A presidential commission found that it is legally possible in about half of U.S. states to decode a person’s DNA from a sample without their knowledge. Such information could be used to predict what diseases lurk in the person’s future. Although such whole genome sequencing is too costly now to permit abuse, the collision of privacy and genetics is prompting calls for action.
Is gas drilling ruining the air, polluting water and making people sick? The evidence is sketchy and inconclusive, but a lack of serious funding is delaying efforts to resolve those pressing questions and creating a vacuum that could lead to a crush of lawsuits, some experts say.
For years, the Silicon Valley company has resisted government regulation, arguing that it simply provides consumers with information, not a medical service. Genetic test maker 23andMe, however, is now asking the Food and Drug Administration to approve its personalized DNA test in a move that, if successful, could boost acceptance of technology that is viewed skeptically by leading scientists who question its usefulness.
A government-backed committee of the National Research Council issued a report Friday saying the United States would have adequate biosecurity protections even if plans for a proposed $1.14 billion lab in Kansas are scaled back.
Government health experts said Thursday there are few reasons to continue using metal-on-metal hip implants, amid growing evidence that the devices can break down early and expose patients to dangerous metallic particles. The devices were originally marketed as a longer-lasting alternative to older ceramic and plastic models. But recent data from the U.K. and other foreign countries suggests they are more likely to deteriorate.
A recently published review paper by 22 internationally known scientists contains data that suggests that within just a few human generations there will be a reduction in biodiversity and severe impacts on much of what we depend on to sustain our quality of life. Part of their research gauges how plants and animals respond to major shifts in the atmosphere, oceans, and climate.
The U.S. government has been pushing doctors to e-prescribe, in part because it can be safer for patients. Now, more than a third of the nation's prescriptions now are electronic, and starting this year, holdouts will start to see cuts in their Medicare payments.
Advisers to government health regulators late Thursday recommended that they approve sales of what would be the first new prescription weight-loss drug in the U.S. in more than a decade, despite concerns over cardiac risks.
A pill that has long been used to treat HIV has moved one step closer to becoming the first drug approved to prevent healthy people from becoming infected with the virus that causes AIDS. The Food and Drug Administration said Tuesday that Gilead Sciences' Truvada appears to be safe and effective for HIV prevention.
Four months ago the U.S. government sought to block publication of two studies about how scientists created an easily spread form of bird flu. Now a revised version of one paper is seeing the light of day with the government's blessing. The second paper, which is more controversial because it involves what appears to be a more dangerous virus, is expected to be published later.
Engineers are developing new and innovative ways of coating medical materials with nano-sized particles of silver, an element that has long been known for its antimicrobial properties. However, a recent paper from the University of Notre Dame highlights the fact that a vast majority of bacteria are actually neutral, or even beneficial. Overuse of nanosilver might harm their useful functions in daily life, the paper reports.
The U.S. government has issued its initial draft guidelines on the use of nanotechnology, particularly nanoparticles, in food and cosmetic products. These recommendations, intended to help guarantee consumer safety within these two industries, do not extend to the other products that fall under Food and Drug Administration oversights, such as drugs and medical devices.
Antibiotics are mixed with animal feed to help livestock, pigs and chickens put on weight and stay healthy in crowded barns. Scientists have warned that this routine use leads to the growth of antibiotic-resistant germs that can be passed to humans. Now the Food and Drug Administration is weighing in on the matter, calling on drug companies to help limit the use antibiotics.
Despite concern from some scientists who believe exposure to BPA can harm the reproductive and nervous systems of humans, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has turned down a petition from environmentalists that would have banned the plastic-hardening chemical bisphenol-A from all food and drink packaging, including plastic bottles and canned food.
Today, scientists map entire genomes mostly for research, but as genome mapping gets faster and cheaper, scientists and consumers have wondered about possible broader use: Would finding all the glitches hidden in your DNA predict which diseases you'll face decades later? Unfortunately, it’s not that simple, say experts.
On Friday, the U.S. government's biosecurity advisers said they support publishing research studies showing how scientists made new easy-to-spread forms of bird flu because the studies, now revised, don't reveal details bioterrorists could use. The announcement could end debate sparked by the government’s request last December that scientists refrain from publishing all the details of their work.
Medical isotopes are used to treat cancer and heart disease worldwide, but have been typically been made using highly enriched uranium. This material can also be used to create nuclear bombs, which has prompted a recent agreement between several countries to ensure its future supply while improving security.
Flu bugs are common in humans, birds and pigs and have even been seen in dogs, horses, seals and whales, among others. But for the first time, scientists have found evidence of flu in bats, reporting a never-before-seen virus whose risk to humans is unclear.
Drillers require a lot of energy to recover and refine heavy, viscous bitumen from Canada’s oil sands. In the first look at the effect of air pollution from the excavation of oil sands, also called tar sands, scientists used satellites to measure nitrogen dioxide and sulfur dioxide. The effects, they say, are equivalent of a large power plant or a medium-sized city.
Much like wheat flour and cornstarch, the industrial-scale processing of nanomaterials creates a type of dust that can combust with little energy. In fact, a recent study shows that only 1/30th of the energy that caused a deadly 2008 sugar dust explosion in Georgia would be needed to ignite typical nanomaterials, such as aluminum.
The Optum business group of UnitedHealth, working with Cisco, IBM, Hewlett-Packard and others, has announced it will soon be launching a cloud-based service that allows doctors to share information about patients over the Internet.
AeroShot went on the market late last month in Massachusetts and New York, offering a single shot of caffeine for $2.99. But instead of a liquid, the tube contains caffeinated air and is meant to be inhaled. Critics challenge its safety, but one biomedical expert says it’s harmless.
In the United States, fluoride is often added to drinking water and toothpaste to help strengthen teeth. But too much naturally occurring fluoride can cause fluorosis, a darkening of the teeth and sometimes debilitating skeletal effects. Efforts are underway to use aluminum-coated bone char to filter water in Africa, but overcoming local stigmas is a challenge.
Research suggests a pricey new treatment for prostate cancer called proton therapy might have more side effects than traditional radiation does. Hospitals are rushing to build proton centers, and nine are operating now. But a study of Medicare records revealed potential problems and no rigorous studies have been done to prove it is as safe as therapies.
Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich wants to create a lunar colony that he says could become a U.S. state. This, along with his plan to figure out the human brain and warnings about electromagnetic attacks have led some to cry science fiction. But mostly these ideas rooted in solid scientific foundations.