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CONTENTS Issue #524
Book Review: The Sorting Society - The Ethics of Genetic Screening and Therapy
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A 'Common Framework of Principles' for direct-to-consumer genetic tests
7 September 2009 - by Emma Burton and Dr Frances Flinter
The UK's Human Genetics Commission (HGC), the Government's advisory body on new developments in human genetics and how they impact on individuals' lives, is seeking views on a 'Common Framework of Principles' for direct-to-consumer genetic tests... [Read More]
The three ages of modern womanhood: don't get pregnant, won't get pregnant... can't get pregnant…
7 September 2009 - by Professor Gedis Grudzinskas
Don't get pregnant: Pregnancy within or without marriage is not perceived to be the norm in a young modern woman's life in the UK or the western world in general... [Read More]
Geron issues statement on halted stem cell trial
6 September 2009 - by Nishat Hyder
Information has come to light regarding the US Food and Drug Adminstration (FDA)'s freeze on the clinical trails of GRNOPC1, a groundbreaking therapy for spinal cord injury derived from human embryonic stem cells (ES cells) being undertaken by biotech company Geron... [Read More]
Scientists calculate mutation rate in human genome
7 September 2009 - by Alison Cranage
Scientists based at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, in Hinxton, Cambridge UK, have used ‘next generation sequencing technology' to work out the mutation rate in the human genome. The international team's findings were published in Current Biology last week.... [Read More]
UK government to review parenthood following surrogacy
7 September 2009 - by Ailsa Stevens
The UK's Department of Health last week launched a consultation on the regulation of ‘Parental Orders', which are used to transfer legal parenthood from the surrogate (and her husband or partner if she has one) to the couple who commissioned the surrogacy arrangement. Prior to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008, only married couples were able to apply for a parental order, however, the new rules will extend this right to parents where there is no formal union, including unmarried... [Read More]
US company offers celebrity 'look-a-like' sperm
7 September 2009 - by Louise Mallon
A California-based fertility company is offering prospective parents a range of celebrity 'look-a-like' sperm donors. Cryobank, which is also planning to offer services in New York, allows customers to search through a database according to characteristics such as ethinicity and eye colour without revealing donors' photographs. In addition, the company has now added features that resemble celebrities such as David Beckham and David Blaine.... [Read More]
First baby conceived from screened egg is born
7 September 2009 - by Sarah Pritchard
A new egg screening technique has been used to help a 41-year old woman give birth to a baby boy after 13 failed IVF attempts and three miscarriages... [Read More]
Skin cells reprogrammed to create retina cells
7 September 2009 - by Dr Will Fletcher
Light-sensing retinal eye cells have been grown from human skin cells for the first time. This raises the future possibility of restoring vision to patients with retinas damaged by certain degenerative diseases, by growing rescue or repair cells from the patient's skin... [Read More]
Huntington's disease gene test should be offered with caution, says clinical geneticist
7 September 2009 - by Ailsa Stevens
Clinicians should be cautious about offering genetic testing to patients at risk from Huntington's disease to enable them to participate in clinical trials, Dr Sheila Simpson, a Clinical Geneticist at NHS Grampian Hospital, said in a talk at the annual conference of the British Society of Human Genetics at Warwick University.... [Read More]
Three new gene variants linked to late-onset Alzheimer's disease
7 September 2009 - by Ailsa Stevens
British and French researchers this week announced the discovery of three new genes linked to late-onset Alzheimer's disease, certain variations in which may increase a person's risk of developing the disease by 10-15 per cent. If new drugs could be developed to counter the effects of these mutations, it could help to prevent 20 per cent, the equivalent of 100,000 cases, of Alzheimer's disease in the UK per year, the researchers claim.... [Read More]
Book Review: The Sorting Society - The Ethics of Genetic Screening and Therapy
7 September 2009 - by Caroline Gallup
I recently attended a consultation meeting hosted by the UK's Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA). A representative from the deaf community put an open question to the assembled group of clinicians, research scientists, counsellors and ART recipients... [Read More]

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