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CONTENTS Issue #497
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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.

Towards commodification? A response to the Court of Appeal judgment on compensation for lost sperm
1 March 2009 - by Dr Heather Widdows
In this case six men stored their sperm prior to undergoing treatment for cancer in case they proved to be infertile after the treatment. However, the sperm was not properly stored and as a result was inadvertently destroyed. The men sued the NHS Trust where their sperm was stored, losing... [Read More]
Pressure is mounting on PCTs for NHS funding
2 March 2009 - by Clare Lewis-Jones MBE
I welcome the letter from Alan Doran, Interim Chief Executive of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) to all Directors of Public Health in England on the subject of multiple births and commissioning IVF services. Why? Let's be honest! In England, even before the move to single embryo transfer... [Read More]
Study finds gene variants that may affect cystic fibrosis severity
1 March 2009 - by Dr Nadeem Shaikh
Variations in a gene called IFRD1, linked to activity of white blood cells called neutrophils, may be involved in the severity of symptoms for patients with cystic fibrosis (CF) , according to a new US study published in Nature. CF is a life-limiting inherited disease in which the... [Read More]
Optimism may be in the genes
1 March 2009 - by Sarah Pritchard
Whether a person looks on the brighter side of life may be the result of a gene variation, claims a study published last week. Published in the journal 'Proceedings of the Royal Society B', the study claims that different versions of a particular gene, which affects levels... [Read More]
New mathematical framework for identifying healthiest IVF embryos
2 March 2009 - by Dr Will Fletcher
Researchers from the University of the Basque Country (UPV-EHU) have developed a new mathematical classification scheme that can be used to select embryos for use in assisted reproduction treatments. The Spanish scientists presented this 'intelligent system' of support for infertility treatments in the journal Computer Methods and... [Read More]
A single gene caps the tooth
2 March 2009 - by Adam Fletcher
A report in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, made available online last week, has shed new light on how teeth grow. A gene has been identified as essential for the formation of enamel in the early stages of tooth development. Professors Chrissa Kioussi and... [Read More]
Rare Disease Day 2009 hailed a success
2 March 2009 - by BioNews
Rare Disease UK ( and the Genetic Interest Group ( are organising activities around International Rare Disease Day on 28th February 2009, including three parliamentary receptions to raise the profile of rare diseases and to campaign for the development of a National Plan. A... [Read More]
Child abuse alters expression of stress gene
2 March 2009 - by Lorna Stewart
Research published in Nature Neuroscience last week shows that child abuse can alter the expression of a gene that regulates the way the brain controls the stress response. The study was conducted by researchers at the Douglas Mental Health University Institute and McGill University in Montreal, Canada... [Read More]
iPS cells created safe for human use
2 March 2009 - by Antony Starza-Allen
Researchers in the UK and Canada have successfully created induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells suitable for potential future use in humans. iPS cells are adult cells (in this case skin cells) that have been reprogrammed into a pluripotent embryonic-like state, able to divide into any cell in... [Read More]
Lesbian Couple Win Battle to Have Scottish NHS Provide IVF
2 March 2009 - by MacKenna Roberts
Last Friday, the NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde (GGC) reversed its decision to refuse a lesbian couple IVF treatment after the couple launched a legal challenge against the local health board's decision to consider homosexual couples ineligible for fertility treatment because neither partner is medically infertile and... [Read More]
Male infertility linked to testicular cancer
2 March 2009 - by Rosie Beauchamp
In a study published this week in the Archives of Internal Medicine a link has been made between male infertility and testicular germ cell cancer. The research, lead by Dr Thomas Walsh at the University of California San Francisco, studied data collected from 22,562 male partners of... [Read More]
New research into 'fat gene'
2 March 2009 - by Dr Charlotte Maden
New research into the role played by the FTO gene in obesity has been published in the journal Nature, showing that the gene may function in metabolism. The FTO (fat-mass and obesity associated) gene has been linked to obesity in the past, which has provoked much interest... [Read More]

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