Don’t squish that spider!

We may be genetically programmed to fear spiders, but they're here for a reason. Leave them alone to eat other insects

Don’t squish that spider!“The itsy-bitsy spider climbed up the water spout. …” So many people are afraid of spiders, but I’ll bet almost none of them can tell you why. According to a new study out of Columbia University, it may be genetic. Our ancestors had to fear spiders – in Africa, where our roots all take us,…

Gene therapy appraisals may limit new drugs in Canada

Canada's separate environmental protection oversight unnecessarily delays development and approval

Gene therapy appraisals may limit new drugs in CanadaBy Nigel Rawson and Mackenzie Moir The Fraser Institute The federal government plans to move ahead with major revisions in regulations governing the tribunal that sets ceiling prices for new prescription drugs in Canada. Revisions include: replacing countries with relatively higher drug prices with lower price countries in the international price-comparison analysis'; enforcing hard thresholds…

Cool the hype around genetics and health care

We are a long way from identifying definitive biomarkers to illness and personalized gene therapies are likely generations away

Cool the hype around genetics and health careBy Nicole Letourneau and Suzanne Tough University of Calgary Genetics will save the day – that’s the message you see constantly in the media and even in academic literature. But it's a message that can distract us from providing quality care now. Newspapers herald breakthroughs in finding genetic biomarkers for autism. Magazines trumpet finding a…

Keeping young, ambitious and talented people in Alberta

There’s already a strong engineering, finance and transportation capability in the province. We need to build on that in the new economy

Keeping young, ambitious and talented people in AlbertaA new study related to abandoned coal mining in the United Kingdom and the movement of displaced workers offers insight for Albertans. Not many of us read the online peer reviewed academic journal Nature Human Behaviour. That’s why occasionally perusing the back pages of The Economist makes sense. The Oct. 26, 2019, Economist reviews an…

Genetics strongly influence our predisposition to mental illness

It is becoming increasingly clear that our genes influence everything from our personality traits to specific psychiatric disorders

Genetics strongly influence our predisposition to mental illnessNature has been pitted against nurture for centuries. People have always pondered the question of whether human behaviour is primarily dictated by genetic hard-wiring or by our experiences and environmental factors. The debate has lasted so long because we know comparatively little about the functioning of the human brain. As a result, disorders of the…

Donor-conceived people need to know their medical history

The first international Genetic Identity Day comes just as Health Canada seeks to prevent people from knowing their genetic identity

Donor-conceived people need to know their medical historyBy Juliet Guichon and Ian Mitchell University of Calgary and Barry Stevens People have a moral right know their medical, social and cultural history, and the identity of their genetic parents. And this right applies to those who have been adopted or conceived by egg and sperm that were either sold or given. This moral…

Using genes to attack disease with precision

Pharmacogenomics, a mixture of the pharmaceutical and genetic sciences, holds vast potential for health care

Using genes to attack disease with precisionPharmacogenomics is a long word that describes an area of health research with vast potential for future medicine. Now part of most new clinical trials, it's a mixture of the pharmaceutical and genetic sciences. It involves the study of how a person’s genes affect the way the body responds to drugs. The hope is that we…

Temper your confidence in the science that runs your life

Trust requires consistency and transparency. It must be understandable. And we need regulations that protect the public

Temper your confidence in the science that runs your lifeThe big success stories of our time have scaled at exponential rates – Facebook, Amazon, Apple and the other ‘super bigs’ relentlessly enlarge themselves. When something scales, however, the mix of characteristics, benefits, and costs of a business or organization may scale with it. In contemporary life, the tools that business, research and social interaction…