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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.



This scientist is trying to stop a lab-created global disasterby Kristen V. BrownFusionJune 27th, 2016"If we misuse our power, we lose the trust. That is the tightrope we walk," says Kevin Esvelt.
The Supreme Court decision that's shaking up biotechby Damian GardeSTATJune 27th, 2016A lower court's decision will stand: Sequenom can't patent its prenatal gene test because it is based on a natural biological process.
All about the base: New businesses eye the opportunities in managing genome dataThe EconomistJune 25th, 2016Currently, one firm - Illumina - controls 70% of a market worth $3.3 billion in 2015.
CRISPR Therapeutics adds $38M to Series B pot, but lags behind Parkerby Ben AdamsFierce BiotechJune 24th, 2016An NIH committee has backed a study funded by billionaire Sean Parker that will attempt to alter the T cells of 15 people with cancer.
Theyíre going to CRISPR people. What could possibly go wrong?by Sharon BegleySTATJune 23rd, 2016Possible consequences range from off-target alterations to conflicts of interest in the clinical trial.
Stem Cells: Where Science, Hope and Hype Meetby Danielle VentonKQED NewsJune 22nd, 2016California voters "were led to believe...that stem cell therapies were miraculous cures that were right around the corner...but that didnít really reflect scientific reality."
A Cautionary Tale of ĎStem Cell Tourismíby Gina KolataThe New York TimesJune 22nd, 2016A patient who sought dubious stem cell therapies now has an aggressive tumor in his spine that doctors don't know how to treat.
Federal Oversight Group Has Complaints But Says Yes To CRISPR Trialby Alex LashXconomyJune 21st, 2016Despite worries about conflict of interest, an NIH committee voted to let researchers move ahead with a clinical trial that could be the first use of CRISPR-Cas9 in a human treatment.
Money Behind First CRISPR Test? Itís from Internet Billionaire Sean Parkerby Antonio RegaladoMIT Technology ReviewJune 20th, 2016Parkerís foundation is unusual because it says it will control patents on research it funds and even bring treatments to market.
DIY sperm test to hit the market this fallby Meghana KeshavanSTAT NewsJune 20th, 2016The semen centrifuge will calculate sperm count, but not sperm motility or other factors that affect fertility.
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