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May 29, 2013 | By Melissa Healy
The Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday announced its approval of two new drugs and a diagnostic test that can be used to treat advanced or inoperable melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin disease. Advanced melanoma has joined a wide range of cancers for which treatment is increasingly personalized, with genomic diagnostics and targeted drugs that promise greater effectiveness than old-fashioned chemotherapy. The newly approved drugs , dabrafenib (to be marketed as Tafinlar)
May 26, 2013 | Rosanna Xia
Hundreds of protesters took to the streets in downtown Los Angeles on Saturday as part of a global series of marches against seed giant Monsanto Co. and genetically modified foods. Organizers said the March Against Monsanto demonstrations were being held in some 300 cities in more than 44 countries this weekend. The event -- a social media-generated call to action against genetically modified foods and the multinational corporations that produce them -- marked the first such global, unified protest for this cause, organizers said.
May 24, 2013 | By The Times editorial board
The movement to force the labeling of genetically engineered food is gaining momentum. In November 2012, an initiative to require the labels in California was on the ballot; it was defeated. Now, federal legislation carried by Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) would mandate labeling most bioengineered food nationwide. Yet the movement's argument is weakened by the lack of evidence that inserting fragments of DNA into crops harms our health. Pro-labeling activists - who also tend to be anti-Monsanto activists - point to polls finding that most Americans want the information labeled.
May 22, 2013 | By Deborah Netburn, Los Angeles Times
Here's a scientific finding that may knock you off your feet: At least 80 types of fungi reside on a typical person's heel, along with 60 between the toes and 40 on the toenail. Altogether, the feet are home to more than 100 types of fungus, more than any other area of the human body, according to a study published Wednesday by the journal Nature. And that fungal fellowship is in constant motion as we walk through life. It may sound icky, but many of the fungi on our skin serve a very useful purpose, said study leader Julie Segre, a geneticist at the National Human Genome Research Institute in Bethesda, Md. "One of the major functions of healthy fungi is to prevent pathogenic fungi from adhering to our skin," where they can cause athlete's foot, plantar warts and stubborn toenail infections, she said.
May 15, 2013 | By Melissa Healy, Los Angeles Times
For the first time, scientists have created human embryos that are genetic copies of living people and used them to make stem cells - a feat that paves the way for treating a range of diseases with personalized body tissues but also ignites fears of human cloning. If replicated in other labs, the methods detailed Wednesday in the journal Cell would allow researchers to fashion human embryonic stem cells that are custom-made for patients with Alzheimer's disease, diabetes and other health problems.
May 14, 2013 | By David G. Savage, Los Angeles Times
WASHINGTON - Monsanto Co. and other companies that patent seeds may prohibit farmers from growing a second crop from their genetically modified seeds, the Supreme Court ruled unanimously. The closely watched decision was a clear victory for agribusiness giants and their biotechnological innovations, which have increased crop yields. But it was a setback for the many disgruntled farmers who have complained about the high cost of these miracle seeds. By a 9-0 vote, the justices decided the patent for a specialized seed outlives the first planting.
May 14, 2013 | By Eryn Brown, Los Angeles Times
By opting for surgery to remove her breasts while they were still healthy, Angelina Jolie joined a growing number of women who have used genetic testing to take control of their health. Here are answers to some common questions about how DNA influences breast cancer risk and what women can do about it. What genes are involved in breast cancer? The two primary ones are known as BRCA1 and BRCA2. Hundreds of variants of these genes have been found that make a woman - or a man - more likely to develop breast cancer.
May 3, 2013 | By Ricardo Lopez
A new federal report has found that the nation's honeybee decline, which threatens up to $30 billion worth of agriculture production, is being caused by several factors, including disease, parasites and poor genetics. After colony collapse disorder began spreading in 2006, federal officials convened a group of researchers to study the phenomenon. Thursday's report by the Department of Agriculture and the Environmental Protection Agency found several causes for the honeybee decline.
April 15, 2013 | By Peter D. Meldrum
In their April 12 Op-Ed article " Who should own DNA? All of us ," Marcy Darnovsky and Karuna Jaggar write about Myriad's patents on BRCA1 and BRCA2, the so-called breast cancer genes (which were under review Monday at the U.S. Supreme Court), as if they have served little purpose in the development of tests that have helped more than 1 million women to understand their risks of breast cancer and ovarian cancer. The patents do not cover human genes from anyone's body.
March 28, 2013 | By Eryn Brown
As it has become more efficient and less expensive to analyze the DNA in normal cells, it has also gotten a whole lot easier to analyze the mutated DNA in tumors - a project scientists hope will help explain why cancer behaves as it does and what new strategies oncologists might use to stop its growth. Writing in a special section of the journal Science (available for free with registration) on Thursday, researchers distilled much of what they've learned from tumor sequencing so far. In this review article , Johns Hopkins cancer geneticist Kenneth Kinzler and colleagues looked at the results of more than 100 cancer genome sequencing projects to compile a list of just a few general principles about the disease.
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