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Issue 656 (15 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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Fertility preservation and sex reassignment: should reproductive rights cross gender boundaries?
15 May 2012 - by Dr Vardit Ravitsky and Professor David Heyd
Sex reassignment is an intricate and sensitive physiological, psychological, and social process that usually entails the loss of reproductive capacity. Reproductive technology can prevent this loss, but should it be used for that purpose? A recent case in Israel raises this question... [Read More]
'Faithful judgments' in bioethics
15 May 2012 - by Dr Jackie Leach Scully
We know very little about what 'ordinary' lay members of faith groups - those who are not scientists, philosophers or religious leaders - think about the acceptability of new reproductive and genetic technologies. A team of researchers from Newcastle and Durham Universities is currently carrying out research exploring some of these issues and would like your help... [Read More]

News Digest

Stem cells could shield healthy tissue from chemotherapy
15 May 2012 - by Antony Blackburn-Starza
Stem cells transplanted into the brain may offer protection against the side effects of chemotherapy, say US researchers... [Read More]
Melanoma sequencing reveals genetic effects of sun damage
15 May 2012 - by Dr Louisa Petchey
Whole genome sequencing of melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, has confirmed the long held belief that greater sun exposure raises cancer risk by increasing the frequency of genetic mutation. The study also identifies one gene, PREX2, that is mutated in 14 percent of cases... [Read More]
DNA test for prostate cancer relapse shows promise
15 May 2012 - by Sarah Pritchard
A DNA test for men with prostate cancer could indicate whether their cancer is likely to recur after treatment, and if so, how aggressively, say researchers from the University of Pittsburg School of Medicine, USA... [Read More]
By accident, scientists discover how commonest DNA replication error is corrected
15 May 2012 - by Dr Lux Fatimathas
Scientists have discovered the enzyme in our cells which corrects the most frequently occurring mistake in DNA as cells divide... [Read More]
Pacific islanders' blonde hair evolved independently from Europeans'
15 May 2012 - by Nishat Hyder
The genetic cause of blonde hair may be different in populations in Europe and Oceania, researchers have found. A single mutation in the TYRP1 gene, which is not associated with blonde hair in Europeans, was found in around one-quarter of Solomon Islanders and is believed to be major determinant for the pigmentation... [Read More]
Stem cell therapy hope for heart failure patients after small clinical trial
15 May 2012 - by Helen Brooks
Stem cell therapy may benefit patients with chronic heart disease, according to the results of a small clinical trial carried out by US scientists.... [Read More]
Sperm collide and crawl the walls in chaotic journey to egg
15 May 2012 - by Dr Victoria Burchell
In sex education videos the race of sperm to the egg is portrayed like an Olympic swimming final as sperm surge purposefully down the female reproductive tract to the finish line. The reality, however, may be rather less elegant... [Read More]


Book Review: Avoid Boring People and Other Lessons from a Life in Science
11 May 2012 - by Heidi Colleran
'Don't use autobiography to justify past actions or motivations', says James Watson, famed for his part in the discovery of the structure of DNA, in the book he wrote about his life as a scientist... [Read More]
TV Review: HARDtalk - Professor Sir John Sulston
15 May 2012 - by Dr Daniel Grimes
Watching Stephen Sackur interview renowned scientist Sir John Sulston on HARDtalk, it comes as a surprise to discover that Sulston's current interests lie in human population control. This from the scientist whose pioneering work on the basic cell biology of the nematode worm led him to Stockholm in 2002, where he was jointly awarded the Nobel Prize.... [Read More]



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