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May 2013
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Supreme Court rules human genes cannot be patented

By Stephanie K. Baer of the Journal Sentinel

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled unanimously today that isolated human genes are not patentable, but synthetic DNA is.

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Download Association for Molecular Pathology v. Myriad

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CSIRO develops test to improve stem cell safety

The breakthrough is a significant step in improving the quality of iPS cells and identifying unwanted cells that can form tumours. The test also determines how stable iPS cells are when grown in the lab.

Dr Andrew Laslett and his team have spent the last five years working on the project. The research has focused on comparing different types of iPS cells with human embryonic stem cells. iPS cells are now the most commonly used pluripotent stem cell type for research.

"The test we have developed allows us to easily identify unsafe iPS cells. Ensuring the safety of these cell lines is paramount and we hope this test will become a routine screen as part of developing safe and effective iPS-based cell therapies," says Dr Laslett.

Using their test method, Dr Laslett's team has shown that certain ways of making iPS cells carry more risks. When the standard technique is used, which relies on viruses to permanently change the DNA of a cell, unwanted tumours are more likely to form. In comparison, cells made using methods which do not alter cell DNA, do not form tumours.

Dr Laslett hopes the study and the new test method will help to raise the awareness and importance of stem cell safety and lead to improvements in quality control globally.

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Merck Has Solid Results in a Cancer Drug Trial

CHICAGO — An experimental drug from Merck that unleashes the body’s immune system significantly shrank tumors in 38 percent of patients with advanced melanoma, putting the company squarely in the race to bring to market one of what many experts view as the most promising class of drugs in years.

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