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CONTENTS Issue #514
UK sperm banking: How compromise and inconsistency led to a crisis
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UK sperm banking: How compromise and inconsistency led to a crisis
29 June 2009 - by Dr Alan Thornhill
Long before the current commercial banking crisis, the UK suffered another banking crisis - that of donor sperm shortages. The difference is that the sperm bank crisis is not global. Instead it is quintessentially British - full of principle and good intention but sadly resulting from compromise and inconsistency. Only the areas of inconsistency are consistent: the removal of anonymity, donor expenses, screening and selection guidelines and the limitations on use of individual donors. Taken s... [Read More]
Embryo screening test could double IVF success rates
29 June 2009 - by Ailsa Stevens
UK researchers are planning a trial of a new test for identifying which IVF embryos are most likely to result in a healthy pregnancy. The technique has already been used to achieve seven successful pregnancies in women who had previously been unable to become pregnant with or without IVF.... [Read More]
Age influences stem cell development
29 June 2009 - by Adam Fletcher
Stem cell biologists at the Carnegie Institution and John Hopkins University, Maryland, US, have reported findings that could affect research into new therapies for inherited muscle disorders. Reporting in the journal Nature, a team led by Christoph Lepper suggests that distinct sets of genes regulate mammalian stem cell fate in adults versus embryos.... [Read More]
Hope for new drug to treat inherited breast, ovarian and prostate cancers
29 June 2009 - by Dr Rebecca Robey
A new drug for the treatment of inherited forms of breast, ovarian and prostate cancer has shown promising results in early clinical trials. The study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, reported that the drug promoted tumour reduction and clinical improvement in advanced-stage cancer patients whilst causing fewer side effects than conventional chemotherapy.... [Read More]
Three month old cancer patient has reproductive tissue frozen:
29 June 2009 - by Ben Jones
An American baby boy, undergoing treatment for cancer that is likely to leave him infertile, has had samples of his sperm-producing stem cells frozen. It is hoped that if his treatment results in infertility then he might later be able to have the tissues grown and reimplanted in an attempt to restore his fertility.... [Read More]
Placental stem cells could aid in blood disease cures for adults
29 June 2009 - by Dr Will Fletcher
The discarded placentas of newborn babies have been identified as a new and more plentiful source for harvesting stem cells by researchers from the Children's Hospital and Research Center, Oaklands, US. The more traditional stem cell source, blood from the umbilical cord, only contains enough stem cells for a transplantation to be useful on infants or children. Placentas contain far more stem cells and, when combined with blood from the umbilical cord, would mean that enough stem cell materia... [Read More]
New autism gene discovered
29 June 2009 - by Lorna Stewart
Scientists at the University of Aberdeen, Scotland, have discovered a gene which may mediate the cognitive effects of autism. After detecting a chromosomal rearrangement in one severely autistic boy, the team, headed by Dr Zosia Miedzybrodzka, was inspired to look for similar genetic faults in other autistic families. Thier findings are published in the latest issue of Journal of Medical Genetics.... [Read More]
'Mockumentary' provokes debate over same-sex reproduction
29 June 2009 - by Sarah Pritchard
A new Canadian film, 'The Baby Formula', has rekindled debate over the scientific possibility of women being able to one day produce children without the need for a man, using sperm derived from their own stem cells.... [Read More]

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