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CONTENTS Issue #488
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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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Posthumous retrieval of gametes: a response from the HFEA
12 December 2008 - by Alan Doran
I write in response to the articles on posthumous retrieval of gametes published in BioNews 484 and 486. The HFEA does not usually comment on the facts of individual cases. However, given the importance of the issues raised, the HFEA considers it important to clarify certain matters. The gametes which... [Read More]
Not a time for procrastination, let's sort out the problems with sperm donation
12 December 2008 - by Helen Clarke
The BFS recently published its report on sperm donation services in the UK (1), in which various suggestions were put forward for overcoming the current shortfall of sperm donors. These included increasing the number of families to be treated per donor and changing thresholds for acceptance of donors. The BFS... [Read More]
Could belief in the moral value of human life unite religions?
15 December 2008 - by Angeliki Kerasidou
The Progress Educational Trust's conference in London titled 'Is the Human Embryo Sacrosanct? Multi-faith perspectives' on the 19th of November 2008 was an excellent event. It brought thinkers from most major religions and an atheist together, and asked them to address the question 'Is the human embryos sacrosanct?' The purpose... [Read More]
70 year-old Indian woman gives birth for the first time
14 December 2008 - by Sarah Pritchard
An Indian woman has given birth to a baby girl by Caesarean section at the age of 70, after receiving fertility treatment in her home state of Haryana in India. Rajo Devi and her husband Bala Ram remained childless during 55 years of marriage before they heard... [Read More]
High Court rescues surrogate twins from international custody limbo
14 December 2008 - by Ben Jones
A British couple this week won custody over a pair of twins born to a surrogate mother in the Ukraine. The twin babies were caught in a legal loophole whereby the expectant British couple were unable to bring the twins into the UK, as they were not... [Read More]
Gene variant makes people eat more unhealthily
16 December 2008 - by Dr Charlotte Maden
People who carry a specific variant of a gene have a preference to eat more fattening foods, and eat up to 100 more calories per meal, say scientists at the University of Dundee, Scotland. A study investigated the eating habits of 100 children aged four to ten... [Read More]
Girl or boy? It's in dad's genes
16 December 2008 - by Alison Cranage
New research hints that whether a man has sons or daughters is influenced by his genes. The study, by Mr Correy Gellatly from Newcastle University, was published in the journal Evolutionary Biology last week. Mr Gellatly looked at 927 family trees from Europe and North America, detailing... [Read More]
New understanding of how hormones kick-start puberty
16 December 2008 - by Adam Fletcher
A collaborative project between groups based at the University of Cambridge, UK, and the University of Cukurova, Turkey, has unveiled a link between a hormone and the onset of puberty. Eight Turkish children with a rare genetic disorder, in which puberty does not reach completion, were found... [Read More]
Genetic link between type-1 diabetes and coeliac disease
16 December 2008 - by Dr Rebecca Robey
A new study has revealed a genetic link between type-1 diabetes and coeliac disease. The research, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, identified seven gene variants that are associated with both diseases. This indicates a common underlying mechanism between the two disorders and may... [Read More]
Rare gene protects against heart disease
16 December 2008 - by Dr Rebecca Robey
Scientists have identified a rare gene variant that protects against cardiovascular disease. A research team at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, Maryland, US, found that carriers of an unusual form of a gene called APOC3 had reduced levels of harmful fat particles in their blood... [Read More]
Fertility drugs linked to increased cancer risk
16 December 2008 - by Dr Rachael Panizzo
Women who use fertility drugs may be at increased risk of developing cancer of the uterus. Dr Ronit Calderon-Margalit and colleagues at Hadassah-Hebrew University in Jerusalem studied 15,000 women who gave birth 30 years ago. They found that those who used fertility drugs were more likely to... [Read More]
Research links intelligence to sperm quality
16 December 2008 - by Katy Sinclair
Researchers at London's Institute of Psychiatry have found that more intelligent men have better quality sperm, suggesting a correlation between intelligence and evolutionary fitness, in a study published in the journal Intelligence. The research team embarked on the study to test the hypothesis that more intelligent people... [Read More]
Legal challenge over 'hybrid embryo' research fails
16 December 2008 - by Dr Megan Allyse
UK-based research into deriving disease-specific stem-cell lines from human admixed embryos has been given leave to continue after a judge denied a request for judicial review of a decision by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority to license the project. In January of 2008, the HFEA issued... [Read More]

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