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CONTENTS Issue #525
'Morally straightforward but legally complex': a welcome change to the new embryo storage laws
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'Morally straightforward but legally complex': a welcome change to the new embryo storage laws
14 September 2009 - by Natalie Gamble
Any visitors to the Bionews website may have come across a very different version of this commentary last week, published the day before the UK's Department of Health suddenly announced changes to the law last Wednesday. In a surprise last-minute u-turn, the government announced that it was taking urgent Parliamentary action to widen the scope of the new embryo storage laws due to come into force in less than three weeks' time.... [Read More]
Gene knockout prevents obesity in mice
14 September 2009 - by Dr Will Fletcher
Mice that have been engineered to lack a gene called IKKE are protected from obesity, new research has found. IKKE, a normal immune system gene, appears to act as the main control centre for obesity in the laboratory mice and when it is successfully blocked the animals remained thin even when fed a diet high in fat. The researchers, from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, US, do not know whether IKKE is linked to obesity in humans but have speculated that, if it is, new trea... [Read More]
Cells from fat and moles re-programmed to make stem cells
14 September 2009 - by Dr Charlotte Maden
Two groups of US scientists have found new ways of obtaining adult stem cellsfrom fat and moles, using method that are quicker and more efficient than deriving them from skin cells. The work is published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.... [Read More]
Patients put off genetic testing over insurance fears, study shows
14 September 2009 - by Rosie Beauchamp
A study published in the Medical Journal of Australia indicates that up to 50 per cent of Australians could be refusing genetic tests due to the fear that the test outcomes will result in increased health insurance premiums or refusal to insure them altogether. In Australia, genetic information does not inform health insurance. However, it may affect insurance policies that cover trauma, disability, sickness and accidents. Applicants for such health insurance policies have a statutory duty to... [Read More]
IVF couples must undergo police checks under new Australian law
14 September 2009 - by Nisha Satkunarajah
New legislation introduced by the Victorian government in Australia, which requires all prospective IVF patients to have criminal background checks to ensure they have no previous history of violent or sexual crimes, has outraged patients and clinicians alike.The Assisted Reproduction Treatment Act, passed in December 2008, which also enables single women and lesbian couples to receive IVF treatment, was introduced after recommendations were made from the Victorian Law Reform Commission. The ... [Read More]
Revised rules allow couples to store embryos for longer
14 September 2009 - by Antony Starza-Allen
The UK Government has introduced changes to allow individuals whose embryos have been frozen for over five years before the Human Fertilisation and Embryology (HFE) Act 2008 comes into force on 1 October 2009 to store them for longer. Before the changes were made, the Act stipulated that such embryos must be destroyed, but Health Minister Gillian Merron stepped in to make a supplementary provision to the Act to extend the time limit for storage to a total of ten years.... [Read More]
Females lacking second X-chromosome may have started life 'male'
14 September 2009 - by Lorna Stewart
Turner Syndrome, a condition in which women have only one X chromosome instead of two, may be caused by a missing Y chromosome instead of a missing X as previously thought. Research published in Cell at the start of this month suggests that disruption in the Y chromosome can cause a range of male sex disorders including, surprisingly, Turner Syndrome which has always previously been considered a female sex disorder.... [Read More]
Experts call for crackdown on 'stem cell tourism'
14 September 2009 - by MacKenna Roberts
Chinese and European experts have jointly issued guidance calling for countries to tighten regulation of experimental stem cell therapies in an effort to deter the rise in so-called ‘stem cell tourism'. The experts identified concerns that certain countries allow stem cell trials and therapeutics to be marketed prematurely without having been adequately clinically tested for safety and efficacy. The ten multidisciplinary specialists in law, ethics, political science and social s... [Read More]

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