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CONTENTS Issue #527
Book Review: Genomes and What to Make of Them
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The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008: Promoting wider access to information about genetic origins?
25 September 2009 - by Dr Caroline Jones
October sees the enactment of almost the entire Human Fertilisation and Embryology (HFE) Act 2008, including the new disclosure provisions for donor-conceived individuals and gamete/embryo donors. In this commentary I outline the amended disclosure provisions and highlight a number of issues raised by these changes.... [Read More]
A new era for the HFEA
28 September 2009 - by Professor Lisa Jardine
When it comes into force on 1 October the new Human Fertilisation and Embryology (HFE) Act will herald the single greatest change to affect the UK fertility sector in nearly two decades, since we - the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) - came into being as the UK regulator.... [Read More]
Embryo mix-up mother will give child to biological parents
28 September 2009 - by Ailsa Stevens
A woman from the US has given birth to another couple's baby after being implanted with the wrong embryo during her IVF treatment. Caroline Savage and her husband, Sean found out about the mistake when the clinic rang Mr Savage in February. But rather than abort the pregnancy, as the clinic suggested, the couple have elected to give the child back to its biological parents after the birth.... [Read More]
Australia reports drop in multiple births as more women opt for single embryo transfer
28 September 2009 - by Nishat Hyder
A report published on 24 September 2009 by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare ('the Institute') has indicated that although an increasing number of women are turning to assisted reproductive technologies (ART) to assist with pregnancy, the number of multiple births is decreasing.... [Read More]
New drug targets gene to fight skin cancer
28 September 2009 - by Lorna Stewart
An early stage trial of a new drug has given hope to skin cancer patients. The phase I trial, the results of which were presented at the European Cancer Organisation and the European Society for Medical Oncology conferences in Berlin, tested the drug PLX4032 for the treatment of advanced metastatic melanoma.... [Read More]
Genome studies reveal nine new prostate cancer genes
28 September 2009 - by Dr Charlotte Maden
Four genetic studies into prostate cancer have uncovered new genetic variations associated with the disease. The information may be used to provide a more reliable indication of the risk a man has of developing prostate cancer.... [Read More]
New measures aim to streamline licensing of UK fertility clinics
28 September 2009 - by Nisha Satkunarajah
The UK's fertility regulator, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA), has introduced new measures to provide a more streamlined process when considering licensing applications for embryo research centres and fertility clinics. The introduction of a new Appeals Committee and an Executive Licensing Panel came about as a result of new powers granted to the HFEA under the new Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008 (amending a 1990 Act of the same name).... [Read More]
Umbilical cord blood banking not worth the cash, study shows
28 September 2009 - by MacKenna Roberts
Banking a newborn's umbilical cord blood through a private company so that stem cells may be derived and stored for that child's or sibling's future medical uses is not financially worthwhile, according to a study performed at the University of California San Francisco (UCSF). It found that the chances of privately stored umbilical cord blood being therapeutic in the next twenty years are so remote that it does not justify the expense. The researchers calculated that it costs ap... [Read More]
Daily aspirin could help prevent hereditary form of bowel cancer
28 September 2009 - by Dr Will Fletcher
Scientists in the UK have found that a daily dose of aspirin may halve the chance of men with Lynch Syndrome developing colon cancer, one of the three most common cancers in developed countries. Lynch Syndrome is an inherited condition, which increases vulnerability to cancers of the colon, rectum, stomach, brain, liver, womb and elsewhere. Whilst the syndrome only accounts for five per cent of all colon cancer cases, the new findings are significant because men with the condition normally ha... [Read More]
Human embryonic stem cell lines may now be submitted for US federal funding approval
28 September 2009 - by Nienke Korsten
The US National Institutes of Health (NIH) has launched a website through which scientists can request their human Embryonic stem (ES) cell lines to be approved for federally funded research. Eligible lines will appear on the NIH Human Embryonic Stem Cell Registry, also accessible online. Dr Francis Collins, Director of the NIH, has appointed a working group to assist him in deciding which lines will be approved.... [Read More]
FDA approves trial of neural stem cells to treat Lou Gehrig’s disease
28 September 2009 - by Dr Marianne Kennedy
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has granted approval to NeuralStem Inc., a Maryland-based biotherapeutics company, to conduct the first human trial using neural stem cells for treatment of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). ALS is a type of motor neuron disease often referred to as 'Lou Gehrig's' and 'Maladie de Charcot'. The late-onset condition, of unknown cause, affects approximately two in 100,000 people, including the UK physicist Stephen Hawking and US rock gui... [Read More]
Alzheimer's gene therapy treatment enters phase II trial
28 September 2009 - by Dr Jay Stone
Dr R. Scott Turner and his team of the Memory Disorders Program at Georgetown University, US, have begun recruiting patients to take part in a gene therapy trial, which hopes to test whether gene therapy using the nerve growth factor (NGF) gene could be used to slow the progression of Alzheimer's disease... [Read More]
Statin gene test could reveal patients prone to harmful side-effects
28 September 2009 - by Dr Aarathi Prasad
A new NHS-funded study will test patients for genes that may play a key role in side-effects related to statin use.... [Read More]
Book Review: Genomes and What to Make of Them
25 September 2009 - by Professor John Galloway
A feature of science, perhaps a characteristic feature, is that over time some of its better 'ideas' have come increasingly to be seen as actual 'things'. From being (only) conceptual they become physically real with a definite measurable size and a three-dimensional structure. A process of materialisation is in evidence... [Read More]

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