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CONTENTS Issue #484
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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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'Is the human embryo sacrosanct?' - A mainstream Catholic view
16 November 2008 - by Professor David Jones
I think the title of Progress Educational Trust's forthcoming conference ('Is the embryo sacrosanct? Multi-faith perspectives.' - see Recommends for details) has been very well chosen. It connects with other kinds of questions - legal, scientific, theological - but in itself it is a specifically moral or ethical question. 'Is the human embryo... [Read More]
Posthumous retrieval of gametes: a case of deja vu?
1 December 2008 - by Dr Anna Smajdor
To those who followed the story of Diane Blood in the '90s, the plight of the woman referred to as 'L' in recent news articles has a strong sense of deja vu (1). Once again, sperm has been obtained from the body of a man without his prior consent. Once... [Read More]
'No-drugs' IVF just as effective for under 35's
16 November 2008 - by Sarah Pritchard
By Sarah Guy; A new method of assisted conception has been hailed as a safer and equally effective alternative to IVF for certain groups of women undergoing treatment. The Oxford Fertility Centre revealed this week that of the 40 women they treated between February 2007 and March 2008 with in-vitro... [Read More]
Screening embryos before IVF improves success rate
16 November 2008 - by Lorna Stewart
The first trial of a procedure which selects IVF embryos with the best chance of developing into healthy babies was presented last week at the American Society for Reproductive Medicine conference in San Francisco. Dr Dagan Wells and colleagues at Oxford University, UK screened embryos for 23... [Read More]
Overweight women more likely to miscarry healthy babies
17 November 2008 - by Dr Rebecca Robey
Overweight women are at greater risk of miscarrying a genetically normal baby in the early stages of pregnancy than women who maintain a healthy weight, according to a new study by scientists at the Stanford University School of Medicine in California, US. The researchers, presenting at the... [Read More]
Slow-frozen embryos seem to produce healthier babies in IVF
17 November 2008 - by Alison Cranage
Three new independent studies have provided further evidence that embryos stored using slow-freezing techniques may be better than fresh for IVF. The studies were presented at the American Society for Reproductive Medicine conference in San Francisco, US, last week. The studies indicate that using frozen embryos rather... [Read More]
UK's Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act receives Royal Assent
17 November 2008 - by Antony Starza-Allen
After long debates in Parliament and a conscience vote by MPs, the UK's Human Fertilisation and Embryology (HFE) Bill has gained Royal Assent. The majority of the Act will not come into effect until October 2009, but provisions relating to parenthood will come into force next April... [Read More]
Genetic risk factors for brain aneurysms identified in large-scale study
17 November 2008 - by Evelyn Harvey
A large study has identified for the first time three genetic risk factors for brain aneurysms, bulging blood vessels in the brain that can cause fatal strokes when they rupture. Since patients with a brain aneurysm can show no symptoms prior to having a stroke, being able... [Read More]
Child born following whole ovary transplant
17 November 2008 - by Adam Fletcher
A 39-year old woman has become the first to give birth following a whole ovary transplant. Susanne Butscher received an intact ovary from her fertile twin sister last year, during a landmark operation carried out by Dr Sherman Silber of the Infertility Centre of St Louis... [Read More]
Gene linked to cocaine addiction
17 November 2008 - by Dr Charlotte Maden
Scientists have identified a gene involved in the susceptibility to cocaine addiction. The findings could lead to screens for those most likely to become addicted to the drug. Rainer Spanagel, a professor of psychopharmacology at the Central Institute of Mental Health in Mannheim, Germany, led the work... [Read More]
Epilepsy genome project underway
17 November 2008 - by Ailsa Stevens
US researchers have unveiled a new study - the Epilepsy Phenome/Genome Project (EPGP) - to try and pinpoint the genetic and environmental factors that contribute to epilepsy and explain why some people respond differently to epilepsy medicine. The study, both the first and the largest of its kind... [Read More]
Fertility experts suggest reforms to overcome sperm shortage
17 November 2008 - by MacKenna Roberts
Sperm donation services require infrastructural reorganisation, 'sperm-sharing' incentive schemes and regulatory reforms to overcome the severe shortage presently causing 'anguish' to thousands of infertile couples in the UK each year and to the health professionals unable to provide treatment to their patients, according to fertility experts writing... [Read More]
Acupuncture does not increase chance of IVF conception: further evidence
17 November 2008 - by Katy Sinclair
By Katy Sinclair Two new studies have found that acupuncture does not increase the chances of conception through IVF. The first study was conducted by Prentice Women's Hospital in Chicago, and was presented at the American Society for Reproductive Medicine conference in San Francisco, and the second was published in... [Read More]

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