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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.



Recruiter Matchtech changes name to Gattaca - same as the hit Hollywood movie about eugenicsby Alan ToveyThe TelegraphJuly 18th, 2016The company claims they did not even consider the connection to the film when they chose the new name.
How Do You Regulate the Digital Health Revolution?by Laura EntisFortuneJuly 18th, 2016Digital health apps and other startups may claim to be more effective than they actually are.
The White House Is Pushing Precision Medicine, but It Wonít Happen for Yearsby Mike OrcuttMIT Technology ReviewJuly 18th, 2016Costs are high and the science is not developed enough.
Do CRISPR enthusiasts have their head in the sand about the safety of gene editing? by Sharon BegleySTATJuly 18th, 2016Off-target effects and other concerns around genome editing should be taken more seriously.
Why Kickstarterís Glowing Plant Left Backers in the Darkby Antonio RegaladoMIT Technology ReviewJuly 15th, 2016Do-it-yourself biologists who hit the crowdfunding jackpot have learned that genetic engineering isnít so easy after all.
The Direct-to-Consumer Stem Cell Industry in the USby Pete ShanksJuly 15th, 2016There are more stem-cell clinics than anyone suspected, and itís not clear that they are operating with proper supervision.
At Gene Editing Meeting, Scientists Discuss God, Racism, Designer Babies[originally published as "At Gene Editing Meeting, Scientists Discuss God, Racism, Designer Babies"]by Nidhi SubbaramanBuzzFeedJuly 14th, 2016Opponents of germline gene editing have strong concerns both around the safety and ethics of altering reproductive cells.
A Medical Mystery of the Best Kind: Major Diseases Are in Declineby Gina KolataThe New York TimesJuly 14th, 2016Improvements in treatment and prevention account for only part of the decline.
$10 Million California Stem Cell Award for Creation of a New 'Lifeline" for Kidney Disease by David JensenCalifornia Stem Cell ReportJuly 13th, 2016The Humacyte study will conduct research with 350 patients.
Resumed stem cell study by EditorialThe Korea TimesJuly 13th, 2016Stem cell research in Korea has been slow due to a data fabrication incident, but research has recently been approved.
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