California considers funding controversial research: editing genes in human embryos

first_img By Charles Piller Feb. 8, 2016 Reprints Global summit opens door to controversial gene-editing of human embryos OAKLAND, Calif. — The California Institute of Regenerative Medicine was created in 2004 to fund stem cell research, after the federal government stopped paying for most experiments with human embryos. Now the state agency is considering underwriting another controversial use of embryos that the federal government won’t support — editing their genes.Officials of the state agency, known as CIRM, discussed guidelines and safeguards for this type of research last week at a meeting of an internal committee that evaluates standards for research funding but made no decision about supporting such work. A new gene-editing technology called CRISPR-Cas9 has revolutionized biomedical research and is thought to hold great promise for eventually helping scientists cure hereditary ailments such as Parkinson’s or Huntington’s disease.Laws about embryo research are in flux around the globe, as nations struggle to keep up with quickly changing science. Following the first official government approval of an experiment that would alter human embryo DNA — in the United Kingdom last week — scientists there might soon use the cells during the first two weeks of embryonic development to study genetic factors in infertility.advertisement A donated human embryo seen through a microscope. Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images Related: The California stem cell agency has opened the prospect that state or private groups might take the lead in underwriting germline editing experiments in this country. CIRM spokesman Kevin McCormack said in an interview that his group’s standards panel will assess the issues and report to the full board within about two months. The agency might conclude that current rules are adequate to cover such work if the group chooses to fund it.“The science is evolving so rapidly, even if we don’t make any changes to our (standards), it’s important to look and see if they are good enough, strong enough the way they are,” McCormack said. This kind of research is legal in the United States, but the National Institutes of Health said last year that it won’t fund research involving gene editing of human embryos, eggs, or sperm. Changes to these “germline” genes are inherited by offspring.So far, no researchers have publicly announced experiments to implant altered embryos in a woman’s uterus, let alone use them to create a fully developed baby. But finding the right balance of risks and benefits for genetic changes that can be passed on to future generations remains a central dilemma — and fear — for scientists and the public. In December, an international summit on human gene editing endorsed germline editing research in non-human animals and left open the door to modifying the genomes of early human embryos, eggs, or sperm as long as they’re not used to establish a pregnancy.advertisementcenter_img CIRM, which already funds research using human embryos, is deciding whether to strengthen rules governing informed consent for embryo donors. Its standards experts are considering, for example, whether CRISPR can ethically be used on embryos obtained before the recent emergence of the gene-editing technology, or if it should be used only on newly donated biomaterials.The agency is considering the use of gene-edited embryos for research that allows them to develop no longer than two weeks, as in the UK experiment.California voters authorized $3 billion in bond sales to create CIRM, in response to a 2001 decision by President George W. Bush to sharply restrict federal funding for embryonic stem cell research. So far, CIRM’s board has committed about $1.9 billion to universities, individual researchers, and companies, although only $1.4 billion has actually been spent.Among state agencies that support stem cell research — including in Texas, Connecticut, New York, and Maryland — only California’s has publicly contemplated human embryo gene editing. The Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas and Bioinnovation Connecticut have not yet considered funding such experiments, their spokespersons said. The Maryland Stem Cell Research Fund has taken no position on this issue, and New York officials could not be reached for comment.Some important private groups that support stem cell research also have moved cautiously. Russ Campbell, a spokesman for the Burroughs Wellcome Fund in Research Triangle Park, N.C., said “this is not an area that we are pursuing or supporting.”Nancy Wexler, president of the New York-based Hereditary Disease Foundation, said her funds are currently committed to other priorities, and she does not anticipate supporting gene-editing of human embryos in the foreseeable future. But she called the recent move in the United Kingdom to promote this work “fantastic.”“Their ability to do that is going to help all of us,” Wexler said, “so I say bravo.” In the LabCalifornia considers funding controversial research: editing genes in human embryos Tags CRISPRgene editinggenetics Related: UK government agency approves editing genes in human embryos last_img read more

Canada invests to bring high-speed Internet to 1,550 more homes in southeastern Ontario

first_imgCanada invests to bring high-speed Internet to 1,550 more homes in southeastern Ontario From: Innovation, Science and Economic Development CanadaThe COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted how much we rely on our connections. Now more than ever, Canadians across the country need access to reliable high-speed Internet as many of us are working, learning, and staying in touch with friends and family from home.Rural communities to benefit from increased connectivityThe COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted how much we rely on our connections. Now more than ever, Canadians across the country need access to reliable high-speed Internet as many of us are working, learning, and staying in touch with friends and family from home. Right now, too many Canadians living in rural and remote communities lack access to high-speed Internet. Through the Universal Broadband Fund‘s (UBF) Rapid Response Stream, the Government of Canada is taking immediate action to get Canadians connected to the high-speed Internet they need.Today, the Honourable Maryam Monsef, Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Rural Economic Development, announced over $4.2 million in federal funding for three projects to bring high-speed Internet to 1,550 underserved households in South River, Emsdale, Burk’s Falls, Sundridge, Greenhurst-Thurstonia, Dunsford and Pakenham, Ontario. Bell Canada is investing an additional $900,000, while Lakeland Energy is contributing $1.7 million.The projects being announced today were approved within five months of the November 2020 formal launch of the $1.75-billion UBF. Projects funded under the UBF, as well as through other public and private investments, will help connect 98% of Canadians to high-speed Internet by 2026 and achieve the national target of 100% connectivity by 2030.Today’s announcement builds on the progress the Government of Canada has already made to improve critical infrastructure in Ontario. Since 2015, the federal government has approved over 4,060 infrastructure projects, totalling over $2.85 billion in federal investments in Ontario communities with a population of less than 100,000 people. These investments mean 481 km of new or upgraded roads that are making our communities safer; more than 938 projects that are providing residents with cleaner, more sustainable sources of drinking water; and more than 5,427 additional housing units in rural communities, helping ensure all Ontarians have a safe place to call home.Quotes“High-speed Internet service is essential to the success of everyone living and working in rural Ontario. Today’s investment will bring reliable, high-speed Internet access to 1,550 households in South River, Emsdale, Burk’s Falls, Sundridge, Greenhurst-Thurstonia, Dunsford and Pakenham, helping create jobs, improving access to health care and online learning services, and keeping people connected to their loved ones. Our government has committed over $242 million to 40 connectivity projects in Ontario, which will connect over 87,000 households to better, faster Internet. We will continue to make investments like these to help connect every Canadian to the high-speed Internet they need.”– The Honourable Maryam Monsef, Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Rural Economic Development“Lakeland Energy Ltd. is thrilled to work in partnership with Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada to continue expanding our fibre-optic network throughout Almaguin Highlands. These investments will help provide access to reliable high-speed Internet at a time when connectivity is essential to a good quality of life. Lakeland Networks, the retail arm of Lakeland Energy Ltd., being municipally owned and community focused, is proud to continue working toward our goal of helping more Canadians in Almaguin Highlands get connected.”– Margaret Maw, Chief Financial Officer, Lakeland Energy“Access to high-speed broadband networks will be a driver of Canada’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and to future social and economic prosperity, and Bell has committed to further accelerating our industry-leading capital investment plan over the next two years to connect even more communities across the country. We’re proud to invest over $900,000 and to partner with the Government of Canada to provide residents of Dunsford and Pakenham with access to the fastest fibre home Internet speeds available.”– Bruce Furlong, Senior Vice President, Access Engineering and Deployment, Bell CanadaQuick factsCanada’s Connectivity Strategy aims to provide all Canadians with access to Internet speeds of at least 50 megabits per second (Mbps) download / 10 Mbps upload.The Universal Broadband Fund (UBF) is a $1.75-billion investment designed to help connect all Canadians to high-speed Internet. Applications to the UBF were accepted until March 15, 2021, and are now being evaluated.The UBF is part of a suite of federal investments to improve high-speed Internet. The suite includes the Connect to Innovate program, which is expected to connect nearly 400,000 households by 2023, and the recently announced $2-billion broadband initiative from the Canada Infrastructure Bank. /Public Release. This material comes from the originating organization and may be of a point-in-time nature, edited for clarity, style and length. View in full here. Why?Well, unlike many news organisations, we have no sponsors, no corporate or ideological interests. We don’t put up a paywall – we believe in free access to information of public interest. Media ownership in Australia is one of the most concentrated in the world (Learn more). Since the trend of consolidation is and has historically been upward, fewer and fewer individuals or organizations control increasing shares of the mass media in our country. According to independent assessment, about 98% of the media sector is held by three conglomerates. This tendency is not only totally unacceptable, but also to a degree frightening). Learn more hereWe endeavour to provide the community with real-time access to true unfiltered news firsthand from primary sources. It is a bumpy road with all sorties of difficulties. We can only achieve this goal together. Our website is open to any citizen journalists and organizations who want to contribute, publish high-quality insights or send media releases to improve public access to impartial information. You and we have the right to know, learn, read, hear what and how we deem appropriate.Your support is greatly appreciated. All donations are kept completely private and confidential.Thank you in advance!Tags:Bell, Bruce, Canada, drinking water, Economic Development, Engineering, federal government, gender equality, Government, infrastructure, innovation, Investment, Lakeland, remote communities, sustainable, womenlast_img read more