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King's College London - Health: More than a medical matter


News Letter Issue 304 (18 April 2005)

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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Egg sharing should be the only solution to donor egg shortages

News Digest
New treatment targets inherited breast cancer
Gene links cannabis use and mental illness
New DNA project aims to track human history
Gene clue to inflammatory diseases
Black women tested less often for hereditary breast cancer
Woman dies from rare IVF side effect
US stem cell news



Egg sharing should be the only solution to donor egg shortages

18 April 2005

By Dr Kamal Ahuja and Dr Eric Simons

Cromwell IVF and Fertility Centre

Appeared in BioNews 304
Egg-sharing is an arrangement that enables qualifying women to receive subsidised IVF treatment, in return for anonymously donating an agreed proportion of their eggs to paying recipients. In our paper for the Obstetrician and Gynaecologist, published on 19 April 2005, we conclude that egg-sharing is ethically and legally sound, minimises risk and should be the only form of egg donation permitted in the UK, as is the case in some other countries. The first successful case of egg-sharing was reported by our centre in 1992, and although the treatment was legal, it was viewed as controversial for several reasons:

1) Women who were not paid might be manipulated into giving away eggs needed for their own treatment;

2) The collected eggs might be split in a way that favoured the paying recipient;

3) Unsuccessful donors might be psychologically affected if they believed that their recipients might have succeeded from the donated eggs.

Many of the advantages of egg-sharing - such as the shortening of waiting lists for donor eggs and the avoidance of exposing volunteer egg donors to unnecessary surgery and ovarian stimulation - were often lost in the heated debates that followed our announcement. However, following a painstaking review of the ethics, practicalities and patient attitudes towards egg-sharing, in 1998 the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) announced their support for this practice. Clearly defined regulations were made available in 2000, which were comprehensively expanded in the sixth HFEA Code of Practice. IVF treatment with donor eggs has increased over the following years, due largely to the increasing acceptability of egg-sharing.

We believe that past criticisms of egg-sharing are not supported by current evidence. Firstly, the suspected dilution of women's consent due to subsidised or free IVF has been vigorously examined. HFEA regulations require separate contracts between the IVF unit and the donor on one hand and the unit and the recipient on the other. Failure to adhere to this practice could lead to a severe reprimand for the centre, and the possible loss of its HFEA license. Individual counselling ensures that the manipulation of neither party occurs.

Egg-sharing centres are distributed across the country in a way that bears no relation to the overall distributed wealth, and there are no 'ghettos of poverty' in evidence in the UK that provide a bountiful supply of easily exploitable eggs. The suggestion that this could happen is probably an inadvertent criticism of the regulatory system that took ten years to analyse the factors underlying egg-sharing before approving the practice.

Finally, the suggestion that egg-sharing reduces the chances of the donor's success is not borne out by recent live birth results from our IVF programme in Swansea. We have never seen the sharers to be disadvantaged in terms of overall success rates, a finding backed up by numerous other studies.

Sticking to a rigid view of altruistic egg donation accepts that only women who need no treatment must undergo complex procedures designed to treat infertility - a practice that is morally and ethically unacceptable, and one which will never meet the need for donated eggs. Many commentators and practitioners, including ourselves, have expressed concern that the loss of donor anonymity that became effective on 1 April 2005 will lead to a marked decrease in the number of egg donors. It may be too early to judge the possible impact of this development on egg-sharing. However, even if the numbers of patients opting for such treatment drop, this would not constitute a criticism of egg-sharing itself, a practice that provides clear benefits to all participants and to society.



Egg sharing and reimbursement of IVF
21 August 2006 - by Professor Guido Pennings
Egg sharing remains a highly controversial procedure. The discussion on whether or not egg sharing in return for a free or reduced IVF cycle constitutes a kind of payment has been going on since the very beginning of the practice. However, from an ethical point of view, it might be... [Read More]
Sperm and egg donation: a system of need-adjusted reciprocity
08 July 2005 - by Professor Guido Pennings
The abolition of gamete donor anonymity has led to a greater shortage of candidate donors (including sperm donors) in several countries. All kinds of solutions have been proposed, including increased payment. Another solution, namely egg sharing, has been criticised by some as morally dubious. In the meantime, as the SEED... [Read More]
Egg sharing: a misnomer?
25 April 2005 - by Professor Brian Lieberman
In last week's BioNews, Eric Simons and Kamal Ahuja argued that egg sharing should be the only legal solution to donor egg shortages in the UK. This week, Brian Lieberman puts forward his arguments against this practice: Egg sharing is the euphemism used to describe a form of trade in... [Read More]

Egg sharing: a misnomer?
25 April 2005 - by Professor Brian Lieberman
In last week's BioNews, Eric Simons and Kamal Ahuja argued that egg sharing should be the only legal solution to donor egg shortages in the UK. This week, Brian Lieberman puts forward his arguments against this practice: Egg sharing is the euphemism used to describe a form of trade in... [Read More]

News Digest

New treatment targets inherited breast cancer

15 April 2005

By BioNews

Appeared in BioNews 304
A new drug treatment could help treat breast cancer in women affected by the hereditary form of the disease, two studies show. The findings, published in the journal Nature, show that drugs which target a protein called poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase 1 (PARP1) could be highly effective against tumours in patients with inherited breast cancer gene mutations. In one of the studies, carried out by researchers at the Institute of Cancer Research in London and Cambridge-based Company KuDOS, a PARP-blocking drug selectively killed off tumour cells that had mutations in either the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene.

Most cases of breast cancer are not inherited, but around 5-10 per cent are due to a gene mutation. Women who have a mutation in either the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene have a greatly increased lifetime risk of developing breast and ovarian cancer. The proteins made by these two genes are responsible for repairing DNA damage, a process that also involves PARP1. In people who inherit a faulty BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene, if a single cell acquires a mutation in the other, working copy of either gene then it can no longer repair DNA properly - a key step in the development of cancer. The scientists decided to see if by knocking out PARP1, they could inflict even more DNA damage in cancer cells with no working BRCA1/2 genes, and so trigger the self-destruction of these cells. Team leader Alan Ashworth likened this approach to 'removing two legs of a table'. He said that 'removing one leg is damaging but removing two causes the table to fall over'.

The researchers first tested their idea by blocking PARP1 gene activity in order to kill mouse embryo stem cells that lacked working BRCA1/2 genes. They found that cells with no BRCA1 activity were 57 times more sensitive to the drugs than normal cells, while those with no working BRCA2 were 133 times more sensitive. The team then tested their approach in human tumour cells with no working BRCA2 gene, injected into mice, and found that the PARP1 inhibitors killed the tumour cells but left the healthy surrounding cells unscathed.

The second study, carried out by researchers based at Sheffield University, showed similar results using PARP1-blockers to kill tumour cells lacking BRCA2 gene activity. Phase 1 clinical trials based on the new research are set to begin in a few months. The approach could also lead to new treatments for non-inherited forms of breast cancer, say the teams. Such therapies should have fewer side effects than many current anti-cancer drugs, since they do not affect healthy cells. Thomas Helleday, head of the Sheffield group, also suggested that drugs targeting PARP1 could be given as a preventative measure to people with BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutations, to stop tumours from developing. Currently, the only way in which such women can substantially reduce their risk is to have both their breasts and ovaries removed, before cancer develops.


Breast cancer breakthrough excites scientists
The Independent | 14 April 2005

Drug 'beats family breast cancer'
BBC News Online | 13 April 2005

Journal club: Novel genetically targeted cancer treatment
PHGU April Newsletter | 14 April 2005

Scientists develop new treatment for hereditary breast cancer
Medical News Today | 13 April 2005


Breast cancer gene linked to other cancers in men
05 September 2005 - by BioNews
Dutch researchers have confirmed that men who inherit a faulty version of the BRCA2 gene - linked to an increased risk of breast and ovarian cancer in women - are at a higher risk of certain other cancers. The scientists, based at Leiden University Medical Centre, found that men with BRCA2 gene... [Read More]

Personalised cancer treatments show promise
04 May 2004 - by BioNews
Targeted cancer treatments, based on genetic profiling results, could soon become a reality. A team lead by researchers at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, in the US, has found that only lung tumours with a particular gene mutation are likely to respond to treatment with the drug gefitinib. The work is... [Read More]
Personalised treatment for cancer?
17 March 2004 - by BioNews
A new DNA 'chip' could pave the way for breast cancer treatments tailored to individual patients, according to French biotechnology company Ipsogen. Alane Koki, the firm's scientific director, told delegates attending the fourth European Breast Cancer Conference in Hamburg that the breast cancer profile chip (BCPC) could be available this... [Read More]

Gene links cannabis use and mental illness

15 April 2005

By BioNews

Appeared in BioNews 304
A person's risk of developing a psychotic illness such as schizophrenia after smoking cannabis as a teenager is affected by their genetic make-up, say UK researchers. A new study to be published in the journal Biological Psychiatry shows that a variant of the COMT (catechol-O-methyl transferase) gene is linked to a five-fold increased risk of psychotic illness in people who have smoked the drug. The scientists, based at the Institute of Psychiatry at King's College London, say that neither cannabis nor the genetic variation alone is enough to trigger psychosis.

The team looked at a group of 803 people born between April 1972 and March 1973 in Dunedin, New Zealand, who have been tracked since birth as part of a long-term health study. According to a report in the Times newspaper, the participants were asked about their cannabis use at the ages of 13, 15 and 18. They were also tested to see what form of the COMT gene they had inherited, since this gene has previously been linked to schizophrenia. This illness is one of several psychotic disorders thought to involve an imbalance in levels of dopamine, a key brain chemical.

The COMT gene comes in two different varieties, known as 'val' and 'met'. In people with two met versions of the gene, the rate of psychotic illness was three per cent, regardless of whether they had smoked cannabis as a teenager or not. But in people with two val versions, the rate was 15 per cent in cannabis smokers, compared to three per cent in non-smokers. The findings suggest that the val gene variant and cannabis both affect the brain's dopamine system, delivering a 'double dose' that can be damaging. The group has previously published research showing that variations in another brain chemical gene affect how well a person copes with stressful life events, and their subsequent risk of depression.

Marjorie Wallace, chief executive of the mental health charity Sane, said that it was becoming clear that cannabis placed millions of users at risk of lasting mental illness. 'If we were able genetically to identify the vulnerable individuals in advance, we would be able to save thousands of minds, if not lives', she said. However, study leader Avshalom Caspi disagreed, saying that 'such a test would be wrong more often than it is right'. He said that since smoking cannabis has 'many other adverse effects', even people who are not genetically vulnerable should not be encouraged to use the drug.


One in four at risk of cannabis psychosis
The Times | 12 April 2005


Genes hint at schizophrenia complexity
01 August 2008 - by Ailsa Stevens
Three independent studies have identified gene variants which contribute significantly to schizophrenia risk, taking steps towards understanding the cause of this highly complex condition which affects 1 in 100 people. Two of the three gene variants discovered were rare, but conferred 12 and 15 percent higher risks... [Read More]
New findings may transform hunt for schizophrenia genes
31 March 2008 - by Ailsa Stevens
Two independent studies published in the journal Science this week suggest that many rare gene mutations may be responsible for causing schizophrenia, challenging the widely held theory that combinations of several relatively common mutations are to blame. The researchers found that very rare genetic disruptions, often unique... [Read More]
Gene variant linked to increased schizophrenia risk
05 November 2006 - by Dr Jess Buxton
UK researchers have identified a genetic variation associated with an increased risk of schizophrenia in people with a strong family history of the condition. The team, based at Edinburgh University, discovered that individuals who inherit a particular version of the neuregulin (NRG1) gene have nearly three... [Read More]
Another gene clue to mental illness
18 November 2005 - by BioNews
Scottish researchers have identified another gene involved in schizophrenia and bipolar disorder (manic depression), a discovery that could lead to new drug treatments for the conditions. The team, based at the Universities of Edinburgh and Glasgow, has shown that an altered version of a gene called PDE4B is linked to... [Read More]
Study confirms schizophrenia gene link
24 October 2005 - by BioNews
A new study provides more evidence that a gene which affects levels of a key brain chemical is involved in schizophrenia. A team based at Stanford University in California, US, found that children with a single, 'low-activity' copy of a gene called COMT are at higher risk of developing psychotic... [Read More]

Gene affects risk of depression
21 July 2003 - by BioNews
How well people cope with stressful experiences such as divorce or unemployment is partly down to variations in a single gene, according to a new study by researchers based in the UK, US and New Zealand. The scientists, who published their findings in last week's Science, found that different versions... [Read More]
Schizophrenia gene link
04 June 2001 - by BioNews
Scientists from the US National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) have found a gene variation that may increase the risk of developing schizophrenia. The gene, called COMT (catecho-o-methytransferase) appears to control levels of the chemical dopamine in the brain. Lower levels of dopamine can affect performance in memory tasks and... [Read More]

New DNA project aims to track human history

18 April 2005

By BioNews

Appeared in BioNews 304
A new project launched by the National Geographic Society and computer firm IBM last week aims to trace the migratory history of human populations. The five-year study, entitled 'The Genographic Project', will establish ten research groups to look at 100,000 DNA samples from people around the world. Members of the public are invited to take part, by paying for a test kit and allowing their results to be included in the project database.

The $40 million (£21m) privately-funded study will look for genetic differences between human populations, data which will provide clues about ancient migratory patterns. However, a similar publicly-funded effort has faced funding difficulties, triggered by political, ethical and technical challenges. The Human Genome Diversity Project (HGDP), proposed in the early 1990s, faced criticism from indigenous groups worried about the commercial exploitation of their tissues and DNA. Hank Greely, a Stanford University law professor who helped promote the HGDP, told Science magazine that carrying out the project was 'much harder than we expected'.

The Genographic Project, in an effort to avoid similar setbacks, has pledged not to use its data for biomedical research. It will only store DNA samples from individuals, and not cell-lines as the HGDP does - a resource that makes the collection much more useful for research into human diseases. However, the HGDP has only around 1000 cell-lines, most of which had already been collected for previous studies. Luigi Luca Cavalli-Sforza, the driving force behind the HGDP and now a member of the Genographic Project's advisory board, says the new study will be 1000 times more powerful than its predecessor. It will initially focus on looking at mitochondrial DNA, which is inherited solely via the maternal line, and Y-chromosome DNA, which is passed on from fathers to their sons.

Genographic project leader Spencer Wells describes the study as 'the moon shot' of anthropology, one which will be 'using genetics to fill in the gaps in our knowledge of human history'. Members of the public are invited to take part, by purchasing a cheek-swab DNA test kit for $99.95 (£52) and following their own migratory history via the National Geographic Society's website. Ted Waitt, of the Waitt Family Foundation - which is helping to fund the project - said that 'the more we can improve our understanding of the common origin and journey of humankind, the greater the possibility for all of us to see each other as members of the same family'. Proceeds from the sale of the test kits will go towards a 'Genographic Legacy Project', which will 'support education and cultural preservation projects among participating indigenous groups'.


Gene Project to trace migration
LA Times | 13 April 2005

National Geographic and Ibm Launch Landmark Project to Map How Humankind Populated Planet
The Scotsman | 13 April 2005

Private partnership to trace human history
Science | 15 April 2005

The Genographic Project
The National Geographic Society | 13 April 2005


Evidence found that Asian populations interbred with ancient ancestors
07 November 2011 - by Ruth Retassie
Present day humans in Southeast Asia have about one percent of DNA originating from Denisovans, an extinct species from the Homo genus... [Read More]
Otzi Iceman's DNA sequenced
02 August 2010 - by Dr Jay Stone
Scientists announced that they have completed the genetic sequencing of Otzi the iceman, discovered by Alpine hikers in 1991, who is believed to have died aged 46, after being shot with an arrow.... [Read More]

Human genetic diversity project at risk
02 May 2000 - by BioNews
The Human Genome Diversity Project (HGDP), a scheme to collect and analyse DNA samples representing the world's ethnic diversity, is fighting for its life, according to a news report in last week's Nature. A combination of political and public controversy has turned the ambitious international project into a set of... [Read More]
Europe has seven female ancestors
25 April 2000 - by BioNews
Nearly all Europeans share just seven common female ancestors, claims Professor Bryan Sykes of Oxford University. He studied DNA samples from 6000 people living in 20 different countries, and found seven distinct patterns of DNA variation. He studied mitochondrial DNA, which is passed on from mothers (but not fathers) to... [Read More]
DNA could reveal surnames
10 April 2000 - by BioNews
People with the same surname may share a common male ancestor, according to a study published in the American Journal of Human Genetics last week. Professor Bryan Sykes, of Oxford University, looked at Y-chromosome DNA from 60 men who were also called Sykes. To his surprise, over half shared a... [Read More]

Gene clue to inflammatory diseases

18 April 2005

By BioNews

Appeared in BioNews 304
A single gene variant is linked to an increased risk of several common diseases that involve inflammation, Swedish researchers say. The new study, published early online in the journal Nature Genetics, shows that a common version of the MHC2TA gene is associated with an increased risk of rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis (MS) and heart attack. The gene variant could be 'one of the single largest genetic causes of complex diseases with inflammatory components', according to author Fredrik Piehl, of the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm. The researchers say that other diseases could be linked to the gene, and that the discovery could lead to more reliable diagnostics and better treatments for patients.

The MHC2TA gene is responsible for 'switching on' other genes that make proteins crucial to the body's immune response, called major histocompatibility complex (MHC) molecules. Their job is to present bits of protein identified as 'non-self' to the body's T-cells - white blood cells that kill cells infected viruses. MHC molecules are thought to play a key role in autoimmune diseases such as MS, in which the body's immune system attacks its own tissues. The Swedish team first identified the rat version of the MHC2TA (MHC class II transactivator) gene, and then studied the role of its human counterpart in disease.

The researchers studied 387 heart attack patients, 548 patients with MS and 1,288 people with rheumatoid arthritis. They found that people who have had a heart attack are 39 per cent more likely to have a particular version of the MHC2TA gene, while those with arthritis are 29 per cent more likely have it. MS patients are 14 per cent more likely to have this version of the gene. The gene variant is common, present in around 20-25 per cent of the population. It appears to reduce the number of MHC molecules produced by the body. The findings suggest a new use for statins - usually taken to lower cholesterol levels - since such drugs appear to target the MHC2TA gene. When tested in MS patients, scientists found that statins produced an 'anti-inflammatory' effect.


Common factor behind myocardial infarction, rheumatism and MS
Medical News Today | 11 April 2005

Gene that can carry a death sentence
The Daily Mail | 11 April 2005


Genes linked to Paget's disease of bone
06 June 2011 - by Kimberley Bryon-Dodd
Three genetic regions have been linked for the first time to a bone disease called Paget's disease by an international research team. Genes in these regions and four others identified in a previous study explain about 13 percent of the risk of developing the disease.... [Read More]

Black women tested less often for hereditary breast cancer

18 April 2005

By BioNews

Appeared in BioNews 304
African American women at risk of developing breast cancer are much less likely to receive genetic testing, according to a new US study. Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania looked at racial disparities in genetic counselling for an inherited susceptibility to breast and ovarian cancer. Their results, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, showed that compared to white women with a family history of the disease, black women are 78 per cent less likely to undergo genetic counselling for this type of test. The reasons for this difference are unclear, say the team, but could include variation in quality of healthcare and mistrust of the medical profession.

Most cases of breast cancer are not inherited, but around 5-10 per cent are due to a gene mutation. Women who have a mutation in either the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene have a greatly increased lifetime risk of developing breast and/or ovarian cancer. The study, carried out from December 1999 to August 2003, included 408 women with a family history of breast or ovarian cancer. Of these, 217 received genetic counselling for BRCA1/2 testing, while 191 women did not. The results showed that only 7.4 per cent of the women who received counselling were black, compared to 28.8 per cent of the women who did not receive counselling.

The association was still apparent after the team took into account factors such as socioeconomic status, women's perception of their own risk of breast and ovarian cancer, and whether or not their family doctor had recommended taking the test. Study leader Katrina Armstrong says that the lower rate of genetic testing in black women could be due to a greater distrust of healthcare, which has been shown in other studies. She concluded that 'the benefit of predictive genetic testing will not be fully realised unless these disparities can be addressed'.

US breast cancer researcher Olufunmilayo Olopade, who co-wrote an editorial accompanying the study, said that black women tend to underestimate their risk of breast cancer and lack awareness about BRCA gene mutations. Armstrong agreed, calling the situation 'a catch-22', adding: 'People are not receiving genetic counselling because there is not enough information about how frequently these mutations occur in the African-American community'. Such counselling is important, she said, because women with BRCA1/2 mutations can take pre-emptive steps such as taking the drug tamoxifen or undergoing preventative mastectomies.


African Amercian women less likely to undergo genetic testing than white women
JAMA | 12 April 2005

For blacks, a genetic cancer gap
Newsday | 13 April 2005

Racial Differences in the Use of BRCA1/2 Testing Among Women With a Family History of Breast or Ovarian Cancer
JAMA | 13 April 2005

US black women are less likely to have genetic tests for breast cancer
British Medical Journal | 16 April 2005


Moderate breast cancer risk in women with negative gene tests
05 November 2006 - by Dr Jess Buxton
Women with a family history of breast cancer who do not have mutations in the breast cancer genes BRCA1 and BRCA 2 are still at increased risk of developing the disease, say UK researchers. The scientists say that women who test negative for the mutation carried... [Read More]
US task force publishes familial breast cancer advice
08 September 2005 - by BioNews
The US Preventive Services Task Force has published guidelines on assessing the risk of familial breast and ovarian cancer. It states that genetic counselling is only appropriate for women whose family history suggests they may have inherited a mutation in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 breast cancer genes. The recommendations were... [Read More]

Concern over internet gene tests
18 March 2005 - by BioNews
A US company offering genetic tests direct to customers has attracted criticism for not offering patients adequate care, the British Medical Journal (BMJ) reports. But DNA Direct, which offers tests for susceptibility to breast and ovarian cancer via the internet, says it offers customers exactly the same counselling and testing... [Read More]

Woman dies from rare IVF side effect

18 April 2005

By BioNews

Appeared in BioNews 304
A woman who was undergoing fertility treatment in the UK has died, a few days after she began the IVF process. Temilola Akinbolagbe, who was 33 years old, is understood to be the first woman to die as a result of the treatment in the UK. Only three other women, it is believed, have died from the same condition since IVF treatment began in 1978.

Mrs Akinbolagbe was killed by a blood clot that developed as a result of ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS), caused by an unusual reaction to the fertility drugs she had been given. On 12 November last year, her ovaries went into 'overdrive' and she collapsed in pain at a bus stop near her home in Plumstead, South London. The clot later caused a massive heart attack, from which she eventually died.

Dr John Parsons, the King's College Hospital fertility specialist who was treating Mrs Akinbolagbe, explained that 'the chances of something disastrous happening, like this, is very rare indeed'. According to the BBC, the potentially fatal form of OHSS occurs in about one per cent of women undergoing IVF, although a less severe form is more common. Clare Brown, chief executive of Infertility Network UK, said 'although ovarian hyperstimulation is rare, it is nonetheless a risk which patients should receive detailed information on before embarking on treatment'.

IVF, although a commonly-used fertility procedure, 'still carries risks, like all medical treatments', warned Angela McNab, chief executive of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA), which regulates fertility treatment provision in the UK. She said 'we will be continuing to remind clinics of their duty to ensure that side-effects of treatments are properly managed and that patients are properly informed and know what to do if they start to feel unwell during their treatment'.


UK death linked to IVF treatment
Lifesite News | 14 April 2005

UK woman killed by rare IVF risk
BBC News Online | 13 April 2005

Wife killed by IVF treatment
The Daily Mail | 13 April 2005


Woman dies after rare complication following IVF
29 October 2012 - by Maria Sheppard
A man is suing Barts and the London NHS Trust after his wife died from a rare complication while undergoing IVF treatment, reports the Mirror.... [Read More]
Report on death of Irish IVF patient published
31 July 2007 - by Sandy Starr
A report on the circumstances surrounding the 2003 death of Irish IVF patient Jacqueline Rushton has been published. The report was commissioned by the Republic of Ireland's Health Service Executive (HSE), and written by Alison Murdoch of the Newcastle Fertility Centre and independent healthcare consultant Stuart Emslie... [Read More]
Woman dies after routine IVF treatment
14 August 2006 - by Laura Goodall
A British woman who had undergone a standard IVF procedure at the Leicester Royal Infirmary has died unexpectedly while undergoing another medical procedure. A coroner and the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) is currently investigating the cause of death. During the egg collection operation for IVF... [Read More]
Woman receives damages for stroke caused by IVF
01 July 2005 - by BioNews
A UK woman left brain-damaged after a stroke caused by a rare side effect of IVF treatment is set to receive 'very substantial' agreed damages. The 34-year-old patient, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, became pregnant but then developed ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS). Fertility doctor Paul Rainsbury, of... [Read More]

US stem cell news

18 April 2005

By BioNews

Appeared in BioNews 304
The legislature of Washington state has rejected a bill that would have encouraged human embryonic stem cell (ES cell) research. The bill would have banned human reproductive cloning but would have allowed the cloning of embryos for ES cell research purposes, sometimes known as therapeutic cloning. The state's Senate voted 26-23 against the proposals, with only one Republican, Senate minority leader Bill Finkbeiner, voting in favour. Before the vote, state Democrats believed they had enough support to secure the bill's passage, but several Senators seemed to have changed their minds after the debate.

In Maryland, state Senators finished their latest session without giving final approval to their bill on ES cell research. The House of Representatives had already passed a version of the bill earlier this year, but the Senate version was filibustered - or talked out of time. Under Senate rules, a three-fifths majority vote is needed to end debate on any issue and send it for vote - if this isn't reached then opponents can literally 'talk a bill to death'. The bill would have provided, from 2007, $23 million per year for ES cell research, under new state guidelines.

In Missouri, because of divisions in the Republican Party, a bill that would have banned all forms of human cloning has also died. Senator Matt Bartle, the sponsor of the bill, has decided to 'pull' it after encountering opposition from within his own party. 'It has become pretty obvious to me that there is more than enough political will to kill the bill', he said.

Meanwhile, in Connecticut, the Judiciary Committee of the General Assembly has approved two bills that would provide $20 million in state funding for ES cell research, while banning reproductive cloning and trade in embryos. Both bills now pass to the Joint Appropriations Committee, and are expected to be melded into a single bill before presentation to the full state House of Representatives and Senate.

In New Jersey, the acting Governor Richard Codey has announced the establishment of a new ethics panel to oversee the state's ES cell research projects. Harold Shapiro, President Emeritus of Princeton University, will lead the panel. Codey allocated $150 million of state funds to the construction of a dedicated ES cell research centre and also intends to raise $230 million for research through bonds, in a similar way to California.


Bill to regulate stem-cell research fails
The Seattle Times | 12 April 2005

Shapiro to head stem cell panel
Daily Princetonian | 18 April 2005

Stem-cell bill dies in Senate
Baltimore Sun | 12 April 2005


IVF embryos that have ceased developing can yield new stem cells
25 September 2006 - by Laura Goodall
British researchers have established a new method of creating stem cells from naturally arrested, or 'dead', IVF embryos. In the journal Stem Cells, the scientists from Newcastle University demonstrated that they used five IVF embryos, that had arrested six to seven days after conception, to create embryonic... [Read More]
Maryland to fund embryo stem cell research?
16 January 2006 - by BioNews
The US state of Maryland could become the next state to publicly fund human embryonic stem (ES) cell research. Researchers in the US are prohibited from using federal funds to do work with any ES cell lines created on or after 9 August 2001, following a declaration by President Bush... [Read More]
Massachusetts Attorney General rejects stem cell challenge
21 July 2005 - by BioNews
Thomas Reilly, the Attorney General of the US state of Massachusetts, has rejected a proposed ballot that was designed to overturn the state's recently-passed law on embryonic stem (ES) cell research. Reilly said he has refused the ballot because the Massachusetts constitution does not allow ballot initiatives on laws that... [Read More]
Two US states depart from President on ES cell research
06 June 2005 - by BioNews
The state legislature of Massachusetts, US, has overruled a veto of legislation on human embryonic stem (ES) cell research. The legislation, which was sponsored by Senate President Robert Travaglini, allows embryos to be cloned for medical research purposes, but prohibits human reproductive cloning. The Massachusetts House of Representatives passed the... [Read More]

US states going their own way on ES cell research
12 January 2005 - by BioNews
The acting governor of the state of New Jersey has said that he plans to spend $380 million on embryonic stem (ES) cell research. Richard Codey told the state Assembly that New Jersey needs to stay in the forefront of the science in this politically sensitive field. Of the total... [Read More]


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