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CONTENTS Issue #495
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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. 

Visit the BioNews website at where you can subscribe for free to receive BioNews by email in one of three formats, and search the archive of more than 8,000 articles.

Expert recommendations for earlier, safer prenatal diagnosis
16 February 2009 - by Dr Philippa Brice
Cell-free fetal nucleic acids - DNA or the related molecule RNA - are present in the blood. As has previously been reviewed, the discovery that a small proportion of the cell-free nucleic acids in the mother's blood during pregnancy actually comes from the fetus paved the way for new techniques to exploit... [Read More]
Infertility and nutrition: a response
16 February 2009 - by Misty Hatfield and Dr John MacMillan
Dian Shepperson Mills' 'Commentary' in BioNews 493 (2/2/2009) 'Why fertility patients should consider what they eat before resorting to more invasive treatment' directs us to observational studies on the links between diet and (in)fertility as well as pregnancy outcomes. Since the original observations were made in the... [Read More]
HFEA Code of Practice: Have your say, before it's too late
16 February 2009 - by Sarah Norcross
The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) consultations on the draft 8th Code of Practice, revised consent forms, on presenting clinic performance and outcome data both close at midnight on Wednesday 18th February. At the HFEA public consultation meeting held in London on 11th February Alan Doran Interim Chief Executive... [Read More]
Might our genes decide if we are financial risk-takers?
16 February 2009 - by Dr Will Fletcher
For the first time scientists have identified genes that influence whether we are financial risk-takers or not. These two genes regulate the hormones dopamine and serotonin that are involved in brain-signalling and affect mood, novelty-seeking and the sense of reward. Researchers from Northwestern University, US, found that... [Read More]
60 year-old woman gives birth to twins in Canada after fertility treatment abroad
16 February 2009 - by Sarah Pritchard
A 60 year-old woman has sparked controversy in Canada by travelling to India to receive fertility treatment after years of failed attempts to conceive naturally. Ranjit Hayer, originally from India, has become the oldest woman in Canada to give birth after receiving IVF at Dr Anoop Gupta's Delhi fertility clinic; her twin boys were delivered seven weeks prematurely by Caesarean section at the Foothills hospital in Calgary last week.... [Read More]
Babies' genomes to be mapped at birth by 2019
16 February 2009 - by Adam Fletcher
Jay Flatley, CEO of San Diego biotech company Illumina, has predicted that every baby will have its entire genome decoded at birth by the year 2019. Speaking to The Times newspaper last week, Flatley estimates that his company will be offering the service for as little as... [Read More]
Genome mappings show mutations can occur in common cold
16 February 2009 - by Lorna Stewart
Scientists at the US Universities of Maryland and Wisconsin-Madison and the J Craig Venter Institute in Iceland, have sequenced the genome of 99 known strains of rhinovirus and shown for the first time that strains can swap genetic material creating new mutations. The study, published last week... [Read More]
Blood test could identify risk of heart attack in younger people
16 February 2009 - by Rosie Beauchamp
It may soon be possible to use a simple blood test to identify whether you are at greater risk of suffering from a heart attack. Two recent studies have revealed new insights into the connection between specific genetic variants and the increased risk of heart disease. Firstly... [Read More]
Birth of octuplets to mother of six prompts investigation of US fertility doctor
16 February 2009 - by MacKenna Roberts
The decision to implant six embryos into Nadya Suleman leading to the birth of octuplets has attracted international opprobrium. The 33-year-old unemployed single mother already had six children conceived after IVF with the same fertility doctor; all aged below eight, including two-year-old twins and an autistic... [Read More]
Bone marrow transplant suppresses HIV
16 February 2009 - by Alison Cranage
A case report published in the New England Journal of Medicine last week details a man who was HIV+ and, following a bone marrow transplant, now has no detectable signs of the virus. Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) enters and destroys cells of the immune system, eventually causing... [Read More]
CLARIFICATION: UK scientists announce ground-breaking stem cell therapy trial
16 February 2009 - by BioNews
In BioNews 491 we reported that a Glasgow-based team had announced plans to trial a pioneering stem cell therapy, which they hope could help reverse the symptoms of stroke. The article said: 'The trial has been fiercely opposed by pro-life groups, who believe that an embryo has equivalent moral status... [Read More]

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