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Issue 485 (24 November 2008)

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Welcome to BioNews by email, published by the Progress Educational Trust, providing you with news, comment and reviews on genetics, assisted conception, embryo/stem cell research and related areas. 

Visit the BioNews website at where you can subscribe for free to receive BioNews by email in one of three formats, and search the archive of more than 6,000 articles.


A Buddhist perspective on pre-implantation genetic diagnosis
24 November 2008 - by Peter Harvey
Buddhism is a non-theistic religion which does not see the world or human life as created by a deity. It does, however, have a strong emphasis on ethics and non-violence, on the intention not to harm and compassion. Buddhism sees a human life as coming after past rebirths in which... [Read More]
'Think of a number, then double it': playing a numbers game with donor conception?
24 November 2008 - by Professor Eric Blyth and Dr Marilyn Crawshaw
The report of the British Fertility Society's (BFS) Working Party on Sperm Donation Services in the UK (1) recently hit the headlines, following an associated editorial in the British Medical Journal (2). However, the report's proposals for a fundamental overhaul of the current arrangements for organising donor recruitment were considered... [Read More]

News Digest

Family history predicts high breast cancer risk despite negative gene tests
23 November 2008 - by Sarah Pritchard
By Sarah Guy;A study undertaken in Canada shows that women who test negatively for gene mutations associated with breast cancer may still be at high risk if there is a strong presence of the disease in their family. Author of the study Dr Steven Narod, Canada Research Chair in... [Read More]
Assisted reproduction associated with elevated risk of birth defects
23 November 2008 - by Lorna Stewart
A study published last week in the journal Human Reproduction found an elevated risk of birth defects amongst babies conceived through assisted reproductive techniques, including IVF. The research, headed by Dr Jennita Reefhuis of the US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, used data from the National... [Read More]
World's first tissue-engineered whole organ transplant is a success
23 November 2008 - by Adam Fletcher
A Colombian woman has become the world's first recipient of a windpipe grown in part from her own cells. Published in the Lancet journal last week, the team of surgeons from Spain, the UK and Italy, orchestrated the world's first tissue-engineered whole organ transplant. Professor Paolo Macchiarini... [Read More]
New technology discovered for detecting cancer in the blood stream
24 November 2008 - by Ben Jones
In a study published last week it was revealed that tumours release small sacs of genetic material that can be used to identify a tumour's exact type and which mutations it possesses. The study, produced by scientists at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston and published in the... [Read More]
African and Asian genomes sequenced
24 November 2008 - by Ailsa Stevens
Scientists have for the first time sequenced the complete diploid genomes of an Asian and an African. It is hoped that the research, published in the journal Nature, will help to shed light on how people from different ethnic backgrounds respond to medicine and help to explain... [Read More]
Correction: Slow-frozen embryos seem to produce healthier babies in IVF
24 November 2008 - by BioNews
In BioNews 484, we published a story reporting on new evidence to suggest that in IVF 'vitrified' embryos may be better than 'fresh' embryos. It has been brought to our attention that the technique used to store embryos in these studies was in fact 'slow-freezing', or 'controlled-rate freezing', and not... [Read More]
Genetic tests no better than medical check ups for predicting diabetes
24 November 2008 - by Dr Rebecca Robey
Genetic tests are no better at predicting an individual's risk of developing type-2 diabetes than conventional assessments based on family history and physical factors such as blood pressure and weight, according to a new study by US scientists. The research team, led by Dr. James Meigs... [Read More]




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