5 must-read articles – March 2017

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This Easter we want to introduce a new category: our personal highlights of the last months. This time, we are looking back at the Wunderding Letter of the month March and are presenting you the articles which you should not miss and for which you should plan an extra reading session before going ot bed.

‘It’s easy money: Lab offers doctors up to $144,000 a year to push dubious genetic tests, employees say / Statnews / Author: Charles Piller

Very worth reading as it uses the example of the company Proove Biosciences to give an insight into the growing market of gene tests.
A DNA test, which wants to find out how patients react to pain medications, a company that is promising the future of personalised medicine, an ambitious CEO without a scientific background and doctors which earn a lot of money with test which probably won’t produce any valid results. These are the ingredients for the story on the company Proove Biosciences which bring up the questions: Which tests are really scientifically valid, which gaps are in the approval procedure and how can the future of such gene tests be regulated?

Critics of experimental cancer therapy just don’t get it /STAT / Author: Julie Guillot

This article wasn’t our gene article of the week but it stayed in my mind much longer than all the other articles.
The article starts with the story of a mother whose son was suffering from leukaemia and who died after a 4-year standard cancer therapy due to the side effects of the treatment. She discusses why more experimental treatments such as CAR-T give hope and are worth the risk.

Full Genome Sequencing for Newborns Raises Questions“ / Scientific American / Author: Bonnie Rochmann

Do we want and need the complete genome sequencing for all newborns? This is the question that our Gene article of the week asks. The advantages are: illnesses would be diagnosed earlier in children and thus treatment could be started earlier and the lives of many could probably be saved or made easier. The disadvantages, however, are that the information that such a genome sequencing provides is not necessarily easy to understand and can be misleading and conjure unnecessary worries. Projects, such as BabySeq at the Harvard University have taken up this issue and through studies are now trying to assess the situation through studies for the first time.

Gen Drives could halt malaria in West Africa – if residents agree to it“ / STATnews / Author: Ike Swetlitz

For the first time, scientists are planning to release an organism which has been modified by a  “Gene Drive” into the world. The country: Burkina Faso in West Africa. The organism: malaria-transmitting mosquitos. The goal: stopping the malaria-problem.
Thus, for the last six years, scientists in London have been developing the Gene Drive in London, whilst in Burkina Faso, others are working on informing the population on Gene Drives, their meaning and their possible effect. As, finally, it is the population that will have to decide if they are ready for the next step, releasing the modified mosquitos.

How Drive.ai Is Mastering Autonomous Driving with Deep Learning“ / IEEE Spectrum / Author: Evan Ackermann

A glimpse behind the scenes of the start-up Startup Drive.AI, which, as many others have, have developed an autonomous driving system.
Failed sensors, rain on the road, false positives of an obstacle which actually only is the shadow of a bridge, a truck that’s stopped whilst turning right, Black Box problems during the DeepLearning, those are only a few of the challenges which companies and start-ups have to solve on the way to autonomous driving. The AI article of the week gives an insight into the start-up Drive.AI, which is working on a “brain” for self-driving cars. With this start-up, the founders, which previously were working in the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, are pursuing the DeepLearning approach.

These are our must-reads from March. If you too have a personal favourite, it would be great to get a message from you, telling us which one it is. We’d be more than happy to have a look and possibly recommend the article as another must-read recommendation in the next Wunderding Letter edition.

Happy Easter.

Sarah and Alexander

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