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CONTENTS Issue #522
Genetic testing of children prior to adoption
TV Review: The Cell - The Hidden Kingdom
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Genetic testing of children prior to adoption
24 August 2009 - by Dr Anna Smajdor
Recently, a new angle to the many and varied debates over predictive genetic testing has emerged. A number of clinical geneticists in the UK have been requested to undertake genetic tests on children who are up for adoption. When advised that these tests were not in the interests of the children concerned, several local authorities obtained court orders enforcing the tests.... [Read More]
Gene mutation may explain why some people need less sleep
24 August 2009 - by Dr Charlotte Maden
US scientists have discovered a gene involved in regulating how much sleep is required by a person, providing the first genetic insight into unravelling the regulatory mechanisms of sleep.... [Read More]
Opposition threatens to block Australian IVF bill
24 August 2009 - by Antony Starza-Allen
Australia’s Labor government is heading for a showdown with other members of the federal coalition, the Opposition, the Greens and some independent senators over proposals to cap reimbursements under the Medicare scheme. The cap will cover services such as obstetrics and the provision of IVF, where the Government says doctors are charging excessive fees. However, the Coalition, which maintains a Senate majority, is threatening to delay the Bill on the grounds that it will deny access to treat... [Read More]
Woman claiming to be pregnant with 'duodecaplets' exposed as a fraud
23 August 2009 - by Sarah Pritchard
A Tunisian woman in her 30s who earlier this month claimed to be pregnant with 12 babies, has been exposed by the country's health ministry as a fraud. The woman, from the town of Gafsa told hospital workers that she was expecting six boys and six girls.... [Read More]
US company's stem cell trial put on hold
23 August 2009 - by Alison Cranage
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has delayed the start of a clinical trial that plans to use human embryonic stem cell(ES) cells to treat spinal cord injury. The trial is being run by Californian based company Geron. The FDA originally gave the go-ahead for the trial in January, but now has halted the start in order to review new data submitted by Geron.... [Read More]
UK 'sperm brokers' in court
24 August 2009 - by Ben Jones
Two men from Reading are being tried for offences under the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act after setting up a website through which women could have sperm courriered to their house. The website, Fertility1st (formerly Sperm Direct and First4Fertility) allowed a database of donors to be searched according to physical characteristics, such as hair colour and height, and then for registered users to order a fresh sample, which would be collected by courrier from the donor and taken direc... [Read More]
New genetic engineering technology paves way for artificial bacteria
24 August 2009 - by Dr Rebecca Robey
US scientists have developed a new technique to help them genetically modify bacteria. This new technology may prove to be a crucial step in the eventual creation of a man-made bacterium which, if achieved, would be the first-ever synthetic organism.... [Read More]
New insight into lung cancer genetics
24 August 2009 - by Lorna Stewart
Lung cancer is currently the leading cause of cancer death in the UK. Although smoking is responsible for the vast majority of lung cancer cases, there is existing evidence for a genetic component as well. A study published last week in the journal Cancer Research sheds new light on genetic vulnerability to lung cancer.... [Read More]
Conservative MP has DNA record removed from national database
24 August 2009 - by Rosie Beauchamp
This week Conservative MP Damien Green won his battle with police chiefs when they agreed to remove his record from the national DNA database. Mr Green's DNA was collected after his arrest last November over leaked Home Office documents, but no charges were brought against him.... [Read More]
TV Review: The Cell - The Hidden Kingdom
24 August 2009 - by Jenny Dunlop
The title of this programme may have unfortunately deterred people from looking at the first of this three-part series. Because if you were expecting a purely scientific programme you would have been disappointed, as instead Dr Rutherford told the most extraordinary story of the scientific quest to discover the secrets of the cell and cell-division. It was as much an historical journey as it was a scientific journey, which looked at the difficulties that are inherent with any new discovery. H... [Read More]

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