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Issue 655 (08 May 2012)

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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. 

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A call by the Donor Sibling Registry to stop using the figures of 30,000 - 60,000 US sperm donor births
08 May 2012 - by Wendy Kramer
In 1988 the Office of Technology Assessment estimated that 30,000 children were born via donor insemination during the year 1986/87 in the US. A quarter of a century - and no further research - later, '30,000 annual births' is still trotted out in academia, lectures and the media... [Read More]
Birth mother v non-birth mother
08 May 2012 - by Sarah Wood-Heath
There have been a number of high profile cases of late involving disputes within alternative family structures. Primarily these concern fathers or known donors seeking more of a relationship with their child than they originally wished for. However, another interesting and sadly increasing area we are witnessing is the breakdown of relationships in two mother lesbian parent families... [Read More]

News Digest

Couple has children from different racial backgrounds following alleged IVF mix-up
08 May 2012 - by George Frodsham
An alleged 'mix-up' at a UK fertility clinic has resulted in a gay couple having two children with different racial backgrounds, reports the Sunday Times... [Read More]
Gene linked to sperm-to-egg binding
08 May 2012 - by James Brooks
A gene which helps sperm bind to an egg has been identified by scientists. Sperm-to-egg binding is an essential process during fertilisation and although the preliminary studies were performed on mice, the gene may represent a new target for infertility treatments... [Read More]
Genetic test could identify breast cancer risk
08 May 2012 - by Dr Kimberley Bryon-Dodd
A link between modifications to a white blood cell gene and an increased risk of breast cancer could be the basis for a simple blood test to identify women most at risk of developing the disease... [Read More]
Oklahoma Supreme Court strikes down embryo 'personhood' initiative
08 May 2012 - by Dr Victoria Burchell
The Oklahoma Supreme Court has declared void a ballot initiative that would have asked voters to expand the definition of a person in the state constitution to include human embryos and fetuses.... [Read More]
First study of chromosome test suggests increase in IVF success
08 May 2012 - by Ana Pallesen
An IVF test which checks whether embryos carry the correct number of chromosomes could improve the chances of a successful pregnancy, a clinical trial suggests. The test – developed by the biotech company Blue Gnome – is used five days after an egg has been fertilised and helps doctors select which embryos should be implanted during IVF treatment... [Read More]
Switched off 'brake' gene increases pancreatic cancer risk
08 May 2012 - by Cait McDonagh
A gene that usually prevents excessive cell growth may be switched off in aggressive pancreatic cancers, scientists have reported... [Read More]
HIV gene therapy is safe and long-lasting, but is it effective?
08 May 2012 - by Helen Brooks
HIV patients treated over a decade ago with genetically modified immune cells have suffered no serious side effects from the treatment. Although the cells may not have been successful in targeting and killing HIV-infected cells, the results are promising as they bolster the safety credentials of gene therapy for clinical use... [Read More]
Embryonic stem cells self-destruct for the greater good
08 May 2012 - by Dr Greg Ball
Human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) are primed to self destruct in response to DNA damage in the developing embryo, scientists have reported. The research found that hESCs are highly responsive to DNA damage in the early stages of development, and can commit suicide for the greater good... [Read More]
Fertility treatment only partly responsible for increase in birth defects
08 May 2012 - by Dr Rebecca Hill
The increase in birth defects in babies born after assisted conception could be partly due to underlying fertility problems, according to an Australian study... [Read More]


Event Review: Genomics in Society - Facts, Fictions and Cultures
08 May 2012 - by Sarah Norcross and Sandy Starr
The conference 'Genomics in Society: Facts, Fictions and Cultures' marked the 10th anniversary of the Economic and Social Research Council's Genomics Network, and also the passing of nearly ten years since the completion of the Human Genome Project... [Read More]
Film Review: Legal Cases Involving Donor Conception
08 May 2012 - by Daniel Malynn
This short film provides an overview of the law surrounding known donor agreements and evokes some interesting conclusions. As part of a sociological research project entitled 'Relative Strangers' at the University of Manchester, Professor Carol Smart examines the courts' approach to known donation... [Read More]



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