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CONTENTS Issue #529
Autism spectrum disorder as a lifelong condition
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Autism spectrum disorder as a lifelong condition
12 October 2009 - by Dr Elisabeth Hill
Most of us are familiar in some way or another with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). We have seen news reports, watched films or documentaries trying to explain this puzzling condition and showing examples of a child's unusual social, communication and repetitive behaviours. We may know a child with ASD or have a child with ASD. Recent evidence suggests that about one per cent of the entire population (one in 100 people) fall somewhere on the spectrum (1,2). Whilst we still understand relative... [Read More]
Faulty gene linked to half of all breast cancers
12 October 2009 - by Sarah Pritchard
Scientists have discovered a gene which links half of all breast cancers and when damaged, may be responsible for allowing the disease to develop and grow. The researchers noticed that parts of chromosome 8 were missing from tissue which had been removed from 54 breast cancer patients. When they compared the missing area against the information from the Human Genome Project, they discovered it was the NRG1 gene which had been lost.... [Read More]
Gene may explain why asthma inhalers don't work for some children
12 October 2009 - by Adam Fletcher
One million children in the UK suffer from asthma, yet it last week transpired that one in ten of these might not be responding as expected to existing treatment. A collaboration between Professor Somnath Mukhopadhyay, of the University of Brighton, and Professor Colin Palmer, of the University of Dundee, has found that a common gene variant in children... [Read More]
Stem cell combined with gene therapy repairs damaged tissue in mice
12 October 2009 - by Dr Charlotte Maden
A team of scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), in Cambridge, US, has found a way of delivering genes into stem cells to ensure they are more effective at their function... [Read More]
Vaccine made from stem cells may help prevent colon cancer
12 October 2009 - by Dr Will Fletcher
Stem cells could potentially be used to vaccinate people against colon cancer. This surprising conclusion was made by researchers from China and the US after laboratory mice immunised with human embryonic stem (ES) cells experienced a dramatic decline in tumour growth compared to control mice. The idea that embryonic material may generate an anti-tumour response is an old one, but one that has never been tested outside animal research, so to find such an effect wit... [Read More]
Lawsuit against US clinic reignites sperm donor debate
12 October 2009 - by Nishat Hyder
A 35-year old single mother, identified as Jane Doe, has sued the New England Cryogenic Center (NECC) in order to learn the paternity of her ill eight year old twins who were conceived with anonymously donated sperm from the NECC... [Read More]
British scientists go abroad over lack of funding for human admixed embryo research
12 October 2009 - by Antony Starza-Allen
The UK's Independent newspaper has claimed that all research involving 'hybrid' embryos has been refused financial backing from the UK's research councils and has warned that scientists are taking their research abroad... [Read More]
UK's Department of Health consults on disclosure of identifying information for research
12 October 2009 - by MacKenna Roberts
On 8 October 2009, the UK's Department of Health (DH) announced the launch of a public consultation regarding amendments made to the draft Human Fertilisation and Embryology (Disclosure of Information for Research Purposes) Regulations... [Read More]
Nobel prize awarded for chromosome research
12 October 2009 - by Nienke Korsten
Three US scientists have won this year's Nobel prize for Medicine or Physiology for their work on how DNA protects itself from degradation, the Nobel Assembly at Sweden's Karolinska Institute announced on 5 October. Their discoveries 'have added a new dimension to our understanding of the cell, shed light on disease mechanisms, and stimulated the development of potential new therapies', the Assembly said.... [Read More]
Genetic variant increases success of type 2 diabetes treatment
12 October 2009 - by Dr Marianne Kennedy
A genetic variation in the CYP2C9 gene is associated with how people with type 2 diabetes respond to a group of anti-diabetic drugs called sulphonylureas, according to a new study.... [Read More]
Call to improve accuracy of predictive genetic tests
12 October 2009 - by Dr Jess Buxton
Companies offering 'direct-to-consumer' genetic tests to predict the risk of common conditions such as heart attack and rheumatoid arthritis should provide more information to consumers about the limitations of their services, say US scientists. Their recommendations follow the finding that several tests from two such companies gave different results for the same five individuals. Genome pioneer Craig Venter and colleagues also call for more research into the predictive power of geneti [Read More]

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