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Morning Person or Night Owl? Your Genes May Decide

Biology may be influencing if you stay up all night or wake up with the sun

(Newser) - You may be naturally disposed toward being a morning person or a night owl—and scientists are now saying that may have a true biological basis that's hard to fight, the Guardian reports. Per a study published Tuesday in Nature Communications , researchers under the direction of 23andMe lead scientist... More »

Environmentalists Fear New Biotech Corn

Dow's 'Enlist' resists powerful herbicide

(Newser) - Debate is raging over a new biotech corn engineered by Dow Chemical. The corn, called "Enlist," is intended to solve farmers' struggle against tough weeds; that's because it's resistant to a powerful herbicide, also made by Dow. But environmentalists fear that wind, heat, and humidity would... More »

We Should Pay for Drugs Only If They Work

Biotech exec Samuel Waksal argues for a pay-for-results system

(Newser) - Medical costs, and especially drug costs, are scandalously high in the US, but just capping them isn't the answer, biotech exec Samuel Waksal writes in the New York Times . "Individuals and insurance companies should be willing to pay—and pay a lot—for drugs when they work,"... More »

Genetically Engineered Crops Cover 10% of Farmland

Up from, well, zero about 15 years ago

(Newser) - The amount of land being used to grow genetically modified crops ballooned 10% last year, as countries like Brazil and Argentina got in on the game. A full 10% of the world’s farmland now grows these so-called “biotech crops,” which were essentially non-existent 15 years ago, USA ... More »

Farmers Sour on Genetically Modified Seeds

But 86% of America's farm acres are planted with biotech crops

(Newser) - Genetically-modified crops are pervasive—last year 86% of America's farm acres were planted with biotech crops—but some farmers are beginning to sour on the technology. They say that the advantages are not worth the soaring prices charged by seed giants like Monsanto: The cost of corn seed jumped 32%... More »

Rights to Human Gene Patents Go on Trial

Do patents on breast, ovarian cancer genes, retard new research?

(Newser) - A Manhattan judge yesterday heard arguments on whether human genes should be covered by patents. A company called Myriad Genetics is being sued over its patents on two genes linked to an increased risk of breast and ovarian cancer—BRCA1 and BRCA2. The suit alleges that women's health is harmed... More »

Rich May Evolve Into Own Species

Wealthy winning huge edge with longer life, access to biotechnology

(Newser) - The super wealthy will have such access to high levels of health care, biotechnology and robotics that they could develop into their own species of being, argues a Silicon Valley  futurist. The rich will be able to grow their own organs and manipulate genetics for superior abilities and freedom from... More »

Drug Makers' Big Spending Pays Off on Hill

Biologics debate shows how lobbyists shape health debate

(Newser) - Drugmakers could get quite a gift from the health care reform bill. Senate and House amendments passed this summer give the makers of biologics—next-generation wonder drugs derived from living matter—12 years of exclusivity on their hyperexpensive products. That’s 7 more years than normal drugs get, and critics... More »

Roche Gets Genentech in $46.8B Biotech Deal

(Newser) - Swiss drug giant Roche has succeeded in its quest to own biotech firm Genentech outright, and will purchase the 44% of shares it does not already own for $95 each, the San Francisco Chronicle reports today. The $46.8 billion deal comes after months of haggling, wherein Roche offered as... More »

New Robotic Arm Takes Cues From Brain

Improvements in field have given amputees dexterity, independence

(Newser) - Artificial limbs have come a long way from the wooden legs and plastic arms of old: Today's prosthetics take messages directly from the brain. Their performance far exceeds that of the previous generation of devices, which required concentrated effort to make ungainly motions. "You think, and then your muscles... More »

FDA Approves Drug Made From Gene-Tweaked Goats

Landmark decision could signal start of large-scale 'pharming' for drugs

(Newser) - An FDA decision to approve a drug made from genetically engineered goats is being called a milestone decision likely to lead to many more "pharm animals," the Boston Globe reports. Biotech firm GTC says the milk from a single genetically modified goat can produce as much of the... More »

FDA OKs Pioneering Stem Cell Trial

First-ever test of therapy on spinal cord injuries hailed as milestone

(Newser) - The FDA has approved the world's first-ever human trial of a medical treatment using embryonic stem cells, the New York Times reports. The move is being hailed as a watershed moment for medical research. Biotech company Geron plans to inject the cells—which can turn into any type of cell... More »

Biotech Boom Finally Fizzles

Riskiest sector hit by downturn

(Newser) - In the bullish market, biotechnology was flush with investment, even though one drug might take many as 15 years and as much as a billion dollars to produce—but those days are over for the riskiest technology sector. Portfolio reports that 45% of publicly traded biotech companies will run out... More »

Engineered Goats May Usher In New Age of Drugs

Animals' bodies act as processors for key protein

(Newser) - Goats could be the pharma factories of tomorrow: Genetic engineering can prompt them to make a protein in their milk to fight excessive blood clotting. A medication culled from the process was greeted warmly yesterday by an expert panel, and now the FDA is looking into it. If approved, the... More »

Ailing Biotech Firms Need Shot in the Arm

Flatlining economy threatens breakthrough medical research

(Newser) - For the first time in years, the biotech industry is in desperate need of a lifeline, Bloomberg reports, as the economic crisis threatens to shove companies into bankruptcy and derail the development of potentially life-saving drugs. “I’m looking down the barrel of a gun,” admitted one CEO.... More »

Our Economic Cure? Innovation

Innovation, and making it more efficient, can turn gray skies blue

(Newser) - Democrats and Republicans do have something in common: Both parties are wrong on how to resuscitate the flat-lining US economy, Michael Mandel argues in BusinessWeek. Tax cuts or increased government spending aren’t the cure. “Innovation is the best—and maybe the only—way the US can get out... More »

Arabs Building First Green City

Run on solar power, Masdar City will cost $22 billion and take 8 years to construct

(Newser) - Earth's first carbon-free city is being built in the United Arab Emirates and will take 8 years and $22 billion to complete, the BBC reports. Called Masdar City, it will run on solar power and shuttle residents on travel pods via magnetic tracks. But critics say the $22 billion project,... More »

10 Life-Changing Innovations

These technologies may ultimately transform human existence

(Newser) - From omnipresent Internet to cloned donor organs, LiveScience picks 10 new technologies that, when fully developed, will transform our lives.
  1. Digital libraries: When all of humanity's texts are digitized, any factual question will be answerable online.
  2. Gene therapy/stem cells: The key to curing some of our nastiest afflictions.
  3. Ubiquitous wireless
... More »

Street Yawns at Genentech Quarterlies

Despite beating analysts' revenue and profit forecast, biotech's share price drops

(Newser) - Drug maker Genentech – struggling with near-flat sales of its two premier drugs, Avastin and Rituxan – managed to outperform analyst’s fourth quarter expectations – barely, reports the Associated Press. The one-time biotech uber star, which recorded phenomenal growth in each of the two previous years, showed only a... More »

Merck May Pay $700M for Schizophrenia Drug

Pharma giant restocks pipeline by snapping up Swiss psychotherapy

(Newser) - Merck today finalized a deal worth as much as $700 million to license a schizophrenia drug from Swiss biotech firm Addex Pharmaceuticals. Addex will get $22 million up front, and qualify for another $680 million in milestone payments. Such licensing deals are growing commonplace, Reuters reports, as big pharma turns... More »

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