DNA may be the building block of life, but can something taken from it also be the building block of a multimillion-dollar medical monopoly? The Supreme Court grapples Monday with the question of whether human genes can be patented. Its ultimate answer could reshape U.S. medical research, the fight against diseases like breast and ovarian cancer and the multibillion-dollar medical and biotechnology business.
The Food and Drug Administration on Friday approved a first-of-its-kind diabetes drug from Johnson & Johnson that uses a new method to lower blood sugar—flushing it out in patients' urine. The agency cleared J&J's Invokana tablets for adults with Type 2 diabetes, which affects an estimated 26 million Americans. The once-a-day medication works by blocking the kidneys from reabsorbing sugar, which occurs at higher levels in patients with diabetes than in healthy patients.
Federal regulators are pressing the Supreme Court to stop big pharmaceutical corporations from paying generic drug competitors to delay releasing their cheaper versions of brand-name drugs. They argue these deals deny American consumers, usually for years, steep price declines that can top 90%.
The European Union has fined Microsoft €561 million ($733 million) for breaking a pledge to offer personal computer users a choice of Internet browsers when they install the company's flagship Windows operating system. The penalty imposed by the EU's executive arm, the Commission, is a first for Brussels: no company has ever failed to keep its end of a bargain with EU authorities before.
The U.S. Department of Energy announced that its support for a decade of revolutionary research has contributed to the creation of the first-ever retinal prosthesis, or bionic eye, to be approved in the United States by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for blind individuals with end-stage retinitis pigmentosa. The artificial retina, dubbed the Argus II Retinal Prosthesis System, a previous R&D 100 winner, can partially restore the sight of blind individuals after surgical implantation.
A U.N. agency that sets global aviation safety standards is moving to prevent aircraft batteries like the one that caught fire on a Boeing 787 last month from being shipped as cargo on passenger planes, people familiar with the effort said.
The Food and Drug Administration is warning U.S. doctors about another counterfeit version of the cancer drug Avastin, the third case involving the best-selling Roche drug in the past year. The FDA said in an online post Tuesday that at least one batch of the drug distributed by a New York company does not contain the active ingredient in real Avastin, which is used to treat cancers of the colon, lung, kidney, and brain.
U.N. officials say more than 130 nations have adopted the first legally binding international treaty aimed at reducing mercury emissions. The U.N. Environment Program says the treaty was adopted Saturday morning, after all-night negotiations that capped a week of talks.
After weathering concerns about everything from the safety of humans eating the salmon to their impact on the environment, Aquabounty was in a position to become the world's first company to sell fish whose DNA has been altered to speed up growth. But after positive feedback from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2010, the agency still has not approved the fish and the company could soon run out of money.
A California judge has tentatively ruled in favor of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in a wrongful termination lawsuit brought by a former computer specialist who alleged he was singled out in part because of his belief in intelligent design.
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.
From Napster to iTunes to Pandora, the methods by which the public can obtain and share music have rapidly progressed. Future groundbreaking innovations may need to wait, though, as the next generation of technology is being stymied by the very copyright laws that seek to protect the industry, says Rutgers-Camden University professor Michael Carrier in a new article for a law journal..
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has completed and published a comprehensive environmental assessment (CEA) framework study of engineered nanoscale silver, specifically with regard to its behavior in disinfectant sprays. Though not a formal assessment, many factors such as product life cycle, environmental transport and fate, exposure-dose in receptors, and potential impacts in these receptors are covered in the report.
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.
In 2011, corn was planted on more than 92 million acres in the U.S. Because corn is a nitrogen-loving plant, farmers must use synthetic nitrogen fertilizer to their fields every year to achieve their crop target. However, nitrogen is hard to contain and can negatively affect the environment. Researchers have come up with a solution, however, and it’s tied to the relationship between nitrates and nitrous oxide emissions.
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.
The organization behind a major expansion of Internet address suffixes is offering full refunds to companies and organizations affected by a weeks-long delay in taking proposals.
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.
Shortly after Tuesday's release of the long-awaited Google Drive service, technology blogs and Twitter users were picking apart a legal clause that made it sound as if all the users' content stored in Google Drive automatically would become the intellectual property of Google Inc. As it turns out, the worries are probably unfounded.
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.
With about a third of the world's rare earth reserves and supplying 90% of what is consumed, China has come under fire for imposing limits on rare earths production and exports. In response, the country has begun an industry association designed fend off these complaints and administer greater regulation of the sector.
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.
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.