Bio & Life Sciences Healthcare

Genomic Medicine Is Here. American Healthcare Isn’t Ready.

Illustration for Techonomy by Jonathan Rosen

As many as half a million people have had their genomes sequenced. This data has already contributed to major medical success stories, but it is not yet clear that genomics can overcome the significant barriers that exist in traditional medicine to achieve its potential for American healthcare.   More

Bio & Life Sciences Healthcare

Dear Scientists: This Is Why People Hate You

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Editors of the New England Journal of Medicine called scientists who make discoveries from publicly-shared data “research parasites.” Outrage ensued. Too many scientists believe they get a competitive advantage from data no one else has access to.   More

Bio & Life Sciences Government Healthcare

Why Obama Is Right about Cancer: Genomics

Image courtesy Shutterstock

President Obama’s optimistic language about finally nearing a cure for cancer in the State of the Union comes as creative approaches are showing more promise than ever. Two major announcements highlight important new opportunities to diagnose and treat cancer—and both are only possible because of advances in genomics.   More

Bio & Life Sciences Healthcare Society

The Three Best Digital Health Books of 2015

Here are three great books on the future of healthcare published in 2015. (image courtesy Shutterstock)

As new technologies continue to drive rapid change in the practice and business of healthcare, keeping up with the latest developments can be difficult. Fortunately, several great books on this topic were published in 2015. As a digital health entrepreneur, I found the following three particularly valuable: The Patient Will See You Now: The Future of Medicine is in Your Hands by Eric Topol; The Digital Doctor: Hope, Hype, and Harm at the Dawn of Medicine’s Computer Age by Robert Wachter; and Epic Measures: One Doctor. Seven Billion Patients. by Jeremy N. Smith.   More

Bio & Life Sciences Global Tech Internet of Things

Techonomy’s Top Articles for 2015

At Techonomy we put on conferences and publish articles and videos. Our most popular articles this year tackled the conceptual problem with the Apple Watch, the Human side of the Internet of Things, how consumer genomics empowers consumers, tech and artificial intelligence progress in Ethiopia, and the need for the biotech industry to step up its game in communicating to the general public. It's a good flavor of the range of issues and topics that fascinate and motivate us. Keep with us in 2016 for much much more!   More

Bio & Life Sciences Healthcare

CellMax Life Is Changing the Rules for Cancer Screening

CellMax Life can identify cancer cells earlier, which may be a really big deal. (illustration courtesy Shutterstock)

An unheralded Silicon Valley biotechnology startup is fundamentally changing the rules of cancer screening. CellMax Life, headquartered in both Mountain View and Taipei, is deploying a technology that can detect cancer cells at their earliest stages. It has the potential to decisively change the economics of cancer screening and impacting cancer outcomes worldwide.   More

Bio & Life Sciences

The Personal Genome Project Ten Years Later: What We’ve Learned

Some of the many brave souls who opened their genomic and other data to the world in the Personal Genome Project starting in 2005. The strips of tape help record facial metrics. (Photo courtesy PGP)

It's ten years since the launch of the Personal Genome Project. PGP was the first attempt to assemble a massive study of people willing to publicly share the DNA information from their entire genome as well as their medical history, biological samples, and even facial images. A decade ago many thought it crazy. But it has been an extraordinary success.   More

Bio & Life Sciences Energy & Green Tech Internet of Things

Will Programming Plants Feed the World?

This indoor farm in Japan is state-of-the-art, growing salad greens at high speed but high quality. (photo courtesy Philips)

By 2025 food shortages and price fluctuations could be a thing of the past, everywhere. New technologies for cultivating plants indoors could feed eight billion people, save energy and dramatically reduce pollution. But beyond the growing enthusiasm for "vertical farms" or "plant factories" lies the potential to alter elements in the recipe for these environments to create plants and foods with no precedent–more nutritious, hardy, or tasty–or whatever other characteristics we decide to favor.   More

Bio & Life Sciences

5 Genomic Advances To Be Thankful For

Whether your turkey is genetically altered or not, there's plenty of genomics healthcare developments to be thankful for. (photo Shutterstock)

With Thanksgiving approaching, Techonomy's resident champion of genomics details some things she's thankful for this year: Better Cancer Testing; Increased Data-Sharing Efforts; Scientists Who Push Boundaries (and Police Themselves Too); Living Foundries; and the FDA's Approval of the First DTC Genetic Test. She looks forward to more advances that will help regular consumers as programs like the federal Precision Medicine Initiative kick off.   More

Bio & Life Sciences Energy & Green Tech Internet of Things

Food Production in a Technology-driven Economy

The Open Agriculture initiative at MIT Media Lab recently put food computers like this one in several Boston-area classrooms so students can experiment with "climate recipes" for growing plants.

The Open Agriculture Initiative at the MIT Media Lab aims to drive a paradigm shift from the industrial to the networked age of agricultural production—giving rise to a computationally-based food systems revolution that will account for the ecological, environmental, economic, and societal implications of producing food. Making agricultural practices radically transparent will improve access to fresh, nutritious foods, reduce spoilage and waste, and create communities built on a shared platform and shared data.   More

Bio & Life Sciences Healthcare

How Anybody Can Help Advance Genomic Medicine Now

The Tuskegee syphilis experiment helped lead to new ways to protect subjects of scientific studies. Now those controls may be outdated. (Here a researcher draws blood from a subject.) (Photo copyright National Archives and Records Admin.)

Genomic medicine is on the horizon, and is likely to change healthcare. But there’s no shortage of challenges: regulations, data-sharing limits, funding, and lack of research participants, to name a few. But the biggest obstacle, surprisingly, is what's called "informed consent." That's what people need to agree to if they are to participate in research. And right now, each of us has a unique chance to minimize this obstacle by speaking out for a change.   More

Bio & Life Sciences Society

The Politics Behind Parkinson’s Research

Monkeys with symptoms of Parkinson's disease recreated a dense network of neural pathways after treatment with a type of non-embryonic stem cells. (photo courtesy International Stem Cell Corp.)

Planned Parenthood’s problem with anti‐abortionists may have an unintended victim: research into Parkinson’s Disease. Much stem cell research has nothing to do with aborted fetuses. But the lack of clarity and public understanding about the term has meant that research involving all stem cells – embryonic or fetal – is jeopardized. The irony is that tremendous advances have been made in the research on Parkinson’s in the United States and abroad, especially Japan. But so much more is possible.   More

Bio & Life Sciences Healthcare Society

Meeting My Genome: This Expensive Test Still Isn’t for Everyone

Sequenced Genome

Earlier this year, I moderated a panel discussion at Techonomy Bio and asked speakers whether genome sequencing was ready for the average consumer. Their responses were split. Having now just gotten my own genome sequenced, I can say definitively: yes it’s ready, and no it isn’t.   More

Bio & Life Sciences Finance Startup Culture

How Crowdsourcing Can Help Fund Science

A project on science crowd funding site Experiment.

This morning, I helped analyze fish scales to better track migration patterns, by giving the scientists some cash. Crowdfunding has made a difference in all sorts of initiatives, so it’s no surprise to see it pop up in science. Experiment was built by scientists who believe alternative funding could fill a key gap in research.   More

Bio & Life Sciences Government Techonomy Events

Growing Bones and On-Demand Joints: Top Picks from TE Bio and Policy

At TE Policy: from left, Sean Parker, Sen. Cory Booker, Sen. Deb Fischer, David Kirkpatrick

This year's Techonomy Bio and Policy conferences examined critical fields being altered by the progress of tech. We covered everything from growing bones to decoding the brain at TE Bio in March. Then TE Policy explored the not always happy confluence of tech innovation and government. We had briefings on Blockchain and the Internet of Things, and deep dives on cyberwar and the European single digital market. We closed with Senators Booker and Fischer and the inimitable Sean Parker on tech, innovation and American progress.   More

Bio & Life Sciences Global Tech Startup Culture

Lebanon’s Unlikely Hydroponic Farmer Wants to Change Local Agriculture

Pictured from Left to Right: Christian Sakr, Mahmoud Hossari, Ali Makhzoum, Ali Awad, and Celine Sakr.

Ali Makhzoum thinks his hydroponic farming system can increase farmers’ yields, decrease the labor needed to harvest and reduce the water requirements by up to 90 percent. His Life Labs systems, developed in Beirut, are automated, self-contained, and, Makhzoum hopes, “smart”--with the ability to govern themselves.   More

Bio & Life Sciences Business

Can Hot Consumer Genomics Startup Helix Keep the FDA at Bay?

image from Shutterstock

A new company launched by the market leader in DNA sequencing aims to bring genomics to the masses. Helix, kicked off on August 18 with a capital injection of more than $100 million, appears to embrace a direct-to-consumer approach that hasn’t been seen since pioneer 23andMe's ready-to-mail spit kits. Given the FDA’s firm pushback against 23andMe, though, does Helix has a bright future?   More

Bio & Life Sciences

No Longer Rocket Science: Helping Consumers Understand Genetic Info

At the first Map-Ed competition. Photo via pgEd.org

A decade ago, biologist Ting Wu saw a need to promote education and interest in genetics among consumers, as well as to help scientists understand how the public views their research. Today, the initiative that resulted helps teachers and students, scientists, Congress, and even Hollywood writers and producers understand and spread the message that genetics is important and accessible.   More

Bio & Life Sciences Internet of Things

I Heart This Overlooked Feature of the Apple Watch

(Image via Shutterstock)

One of the features that most intrigues me about the Apple Watch is the one that lets you share heartbeats. It’s the sound you hear when you’re being held by someone you love. It’s something that encapsulates our humanity. It’s one of the first ways an expectant mother connects with her child—the fetal heartbeat heard via ultrasound. This little feature has been overlooked in many of the product reviews. I am fascinated by a technological connection that fosters intimacy between two people physically regardless of where they are. Unlike FaceTime or Skype, which replicate a lesser version of someone’s visual presence, sharing a heartbeat pioneers a new realm of digital intimacy that links our bodies and our devices in a new dance of tactile connectivity.   More

Bio & Life Sciences

Challenges for Genomics in the Age of Big Data

(Image via Shutterstock)

Last week, a group of respected researchers published a commentary about the coming data challenges in genomics. Comparing the projected growth of genomic data to three other sources considered among the most prolific data producers in the world—astronomy, Twitter, and YouTube—these scientists predict that by 2025, genomics could well represent the biggest of big data fields. With the raw data for each human genome taking up about 100 GB, we’re well on our way. Genomics only recently entered the big data realm, and we have major issues to address before it leapfrogs every other data-generating group.   More