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About the Biotech & Pharma Industries & Human Biotechnology


The fast-growing biotech industry is playing a dominant role in shaping the development, marketing and use of human biotechnologies. Like the pharmaceutical industry, it profits by developing products aimed at treating disease and restoring health. Although some biotech products and activities are socially and ethically controversial, the industry as a whole tends to oppose public oversight and regulation.

This situation is complicated by increasingly blurred lines between private biotechnology companies and university researchers, between perceptions of serving the public interest and the profit imperatives of private enterprise, and between research and commercialization.

In recent decades, the US Congress has enacted policies that allow controversial patents (such as those on gene sequences and human tissues), and that encourage closer university-corporate relations. These policies have led to a rapid commercialization of biology and medicine, and to a significant number of university-based researchers with financial ties to private companies. Such arrangements allow them to maintain the appearance of serving the public interest while pursuing careers in the private sector.

Private industry is an important player in the development of human biotechnologies. But the lack of a financially independent counterweight like the one that public universities used to provide makes effective oversight and responsible regulation imperative. Given the impact of the biotech industry on public debate, public policy, and all of our lives, its interests must be transparent.



The Search for Exceptional Genomesby Antonio RegaladoMIT Technology ReviewNovember 19th, 2014They walk among us. Natural experiments, living ordinary lives, unaware that their genes may hold the clue to the next superdrug.
UCLA Researchers Announce Gene Therapy Cure for 18 ‘Bubble Baby’ Patientsby Cath Becker and Suzan ClarkeGood Morning AmericaNovember 18th, 2014Researchers at UCLA announced that they had cured 18 children who were born with the so-called Bubble Baby disease, a genetic disorder that leaves the young sufferers without a working immune system.
Discrimination Based on Genetics Could Soon be Illegal, and it’s Right on Timeby William Wolfe-WylieCanada.comNovember 18th, 2014As personalized genetic testing hits the mainstream, what companies do with that information is of growing concern.
The Ethics of Egg Freezingby Margaret SomervilleNational PostNovember 17th, 2014Will the time soon come where a woman that does not choose to postpone starting a family is seen as insufficiently committed to her profession?
Cellular 'Computers' Gain a Hard Driveby Brendan BorrellNature NewsNovember 14th, 2014DNA-based memory can record multiple inputs from engineered gene circuits.
Synthetic Biologist Aims to Create Pig with Human Lungsby Lisa M. KriegerSan Jose Mercury NewsNovember 14th, 2014Led by scientists like Venter and Endy, the once-fledgling field of synthetic biology has surged in commercial interest.
Breaking from our Eugenic Pastby Jessica CussinsBiopolitical TimesNovember 13th, 2014As the victims of North Carolina's eugenics program finally receive compensation, we should not celebrate "the new eugenics" as some have argued, but learn carefully from this history.
Human Germline Modification in the UK? Cries of Caution from all Cornersby Jessica CussinsBiopolitical TimesNovember 13th, 201475% of submissions about three-person IVF to the UK House of Commons Science and Technology Committee warn that more evidence is needed prior to offering these techniques.
Gene Therapy: Editorial Controlby Katharine GammonNature NewsNovember 12th, 2014Correcting the genetic error in sickle-cell disease might be as simple as amending text.
Many U.S. Doctors Wary of Genetic Testing: Surveyby Randy DotingaHealthDayNovember 12th, 2014A new survey of American physicians suggests that many may not support genetic testing in patients without a major family history of certain illnesses.
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