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CONTENTS Issue #518
Film Review: My Sister's Keeper
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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.

Welcome to the first new look BioNews by email
27 July 2009 - by Sarah Norcross
We are pleased to announce that following years of dealing with out-of-date technology and increasing competition, the BioNews website and the free BioNews by email service have been overhauled... [Read More]
The Press, Public Debate and the Public Understanding of Ethics
27 July 2009 - by Ben Jones
Many of the developments in the biosciences reported on in BioNews involve novel moral issues or further complicate existing ethical debates. While concerns about the efficacy or safety of a new therapy inevitably lead to calls for further action within the scientific community - more research, bigger studies, better analysis - ethical worries instead result in calls for non-specialist external validation, consultation exercises, public debate and engagement. While the public are put i [Read More]
Reprogrammed mouse skin cells yield mice that can breed
27 July 2009 - by Dr Will Fletcher
Chinese scientists have created 27 healthy mice from reprogrammed cells known as induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells. The iPS cells were reprogrammed from adult mouse skin cells by modifying four key genes using retroviruses, turning them into an embryo-like state. iPS cells are a hot research topic at present as they offer the prospect of a limitless supply of an individual's own stem cells if the technique is replicated in humans, potentially avoiding the pitfal... [Read More]
iPS stem cells repair damaged mouse hearts
20 July 2009 - by Dr Will Fletcher
Induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells have been used to repair damaged heart tissue in mice by a team from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, US. iPS cells are adult cells that are reprogrammed to act like embryonic stem cells - in this case the iPS cells were derived from ordinary fibroblasts (cells that contribute to scars such as those resulting from a heart attack). When the cells were injected into mice whose hearts had been damaged by a heart attack they improved both... [Read More]
Gene therapy and drug studies show promise for treatment of cystic fibrosis
26 July 2009 - by Dr Rebecca Robey
Scientists have used two new techniques to fix defects in lung cells from people with cystic fibrosis, raising hope for new treatments for the disease in the future. The first study, published in the journal Plos Biology, used a gene therapy technique to treat the cells, whilst the second study, published in the American Journal of Respiratory Cell and Molecular Biology, used a drug called miglustat.... [Read More]
Special offer for 'genome scan' customers willing to participate in research
26 July 2009 - by Rosie Beauchamp
Personal 'genome scans' have been in the news again, not because they are a particularly new phenomenon but because the data they provide is about to take on a new significance. Up until now, genetic tests looking for variations associated with diseases have been available over the Internet for those who have been willing to pay the fee - usually a few hundred dollars.... [Read More]
Discovery of gene mutation in sperm could lead to a male contraceptive pill
27 July 2009 - by Antony Starza-Allen
Scientists have discovered a genetic mutation that could path the way for the development of new infertility treatments and also a male contraceptive pill. The mutation affects a protein called PLC zeta found in sperm which is responsible for activating an egg in the early stages of fertilisation. The study revealed that in cases where this protein was deactivated the sperm was not able to fertilise the egg.... [Read More]
Lesbian couple fight NHS over fertility treatment
27 July 2009 - by Antony Starza-Allen
A lesbian couple have succeeded in obtaining IVF on the NHS after initially being refused on the ground of being the same-sex, reported The Times last week. The couple who wish to remain anonymous threatened an NHS Trust with legal action after they were denied fertility treatment for one of the women who became infertile after developing polycystic ovaries. The couple sought advice from David Herbert, partner at law firm Lester Aldridge, and put legal pressure on the Trust to overturn it’s d... [Read More]
HFEA calls for debate around payment for sperm and egg donation
27 July 2009 - by Ailsa Stevens
A public debate is urgently needed to decide whether people should be paid for donating eggs and sperm to infertile couples, according to Lisa Jardine, Chairman of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA). In an exclusive interview with the Times, Professor Jardine said that the lack of egg and sperm donors in this country was driving couples abroad for fertility treatment in often unregulated clinics, and that the HFEA could potentially consider a reversal of the ban on paymen... [Read More]
Film Review: My Sister's Keeper
24 July 2009 - by Nisha Satkunarajah
'My Sister's Keeper' is based on a book by the author Jodi Picoult. The youngest daughter of the Fitzgerald family, Anna (Abigail Breslin), decides to sue her parents for the ‘medical emancipation’ of her own body. Having been conceived through IVF and the resulting embryo tissue typed to ensure it was a match for her sick existing sibling, Anna was born for the primary reason of keeping her older sister, Kate (Sofia Vassilieva), a leukaemia patient, alive.... [Read More]

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