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CONTENTS Issue #534
COMMENT
Understanding the autism spectrum
NEWS DIGEST
REVIEWS
TV Review: Octomum: Me and my 14 kids
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Understanding the autism spectrum
16 November 2009 - by Dr Elisabeth Hill
Numerous grant funding calls, as well as public and scientific debates are now focusing on the cause of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). While it is important that we search for the cause(s) of the disorder - in order to improve support, education, employment and so on for those on the spectrum - such an approach is problematic for two reasons. First, there is an implicit suggestion that the quest for a cause will be simple and thus achievable. Second, there is a general assumption that there... [Read More]
$230 million cash boost aimed at driving stem cell therapies into the clinic
16 November 2009 - by Nisha Satkunarajah
The California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) has awarded fourteen teams a total of $230 million for the advancement of stem cell therapy. The CIRM was created as a measure by the Californian State to fund work on human embryonic stem (ES) cells.Californian voters approved the 10-year, $3 billion effort in 2004 largely to get around restrictions on ES cell research imposed by the administration of President George W Bush. This year, President Obama's administration relaxed thes... [Read More]
Controversial egg modification technique could increase IVF success in older women
15 November 2009 - by Dr Rebecca Robey
A controversial new technique to improve the quality of eggs from older women undergoing IVF is being developed by Japanese scientists. Because the procedure involves using eggs from two women to create a single viable egg for fertilisation, it has sparked a media furore over the potential creation of what have been inaccurately dubbed 'three-parent embryos'.... [Read More]
Couple's frozen embryos may be destroyed under new law
16 November 2009 - by Nishat Hyder
A couple from County Derry in Northern Ireland have taken legal action to halt the destruction of their embryos, currently being stored at the Royal Jubilee Maternity Hospital, Belfast.... [Read More]
Gene discovery hints at why humans can talk
16 November 2009 - by Dr Will Fletcher
Scientists believe that they have found a gene that helps explain the fact that humans are the only animal that has developed speech. Subtle variations in the human version of the gene, known as FOXP2, appear to underpin the human development of language, according to recent research carried out by scientists at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), US, and published in the journal Nature. When comparing the human and chimp version of FOXP2 the researchers discovered... [Read More]
Gene therapy for muscle wasting conditions shows promise
15 November 2009 - by Alison Cranage
Research published in the journal Science Translational Medicine last week shows gene therapy can improve muscle size and strength in monkeys. The technique holds promise as a therapy for several neuromuscular disorders, and researchers hope that clinical trials will start next year.... [Read More]
Public consulted on research involving animals with human genes
16 November 2009 - by Ben Jones
The UK's Academy of Medical Sciences has launches a broad study into the scientific, social, ethical and legal implications of research on animals containing human genetic material. Such animals, mostly mice, are found in labs across the UK and mostly consist of animals into whose DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) single sequences of human genetic code have been inserted. However, with developing stem cell and other technologies, there is a perceived ethical crisis point ahead which t... [Read More]
Online dating sites offer to find your genetic match
16 November 2009 - by Rosie Beauchamp
Businessman Eric Holzle has launched ScientificMatch.com, one of the first dating sites to offer genetic testing to help you meet your match. Holzle claims that by seeking genetic compatibility you are likely to have a better sex life, increased fidelity - and that the benefits may even extend to your children.... [Read More]
Trial to re-grow breasts after cancer surgery planned for next year
16 November 2009 - by Dr Charlotte Maden
Scientists in Australia have developed a way for women diagnosed with breast cancer to regrow their breasts after a mastectomy. The group at the Bernard O'Brien Institute of Microsurgery in Melbourne plan to start clinical trials with the technique next year. It is believed that this will be only the second time in the world that tissue engineering has been carried out in a human.... [Read More]
Scientists identify gene involved in hearing loss
15 November 2009 - by Dr Jay Stone
Researchers at the University of Wisconsin, US have discovered that a gene called Bak contributes to age related hearing loss (AHL). Their findings, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, report that deleting the gene in mice appears to save the hair cells, resulting in fewer hearing defects.... [Read More]
Clarification: Gene test aims to predict reproductive lifespan
15 November 2009 - by BioNews
In BioNews 533, we reported on a new study suggesting an association between early ovarian decline and variations in the number of 'CGG' repeats present in a gene called FMR1. Whilst this finding is novel, we would like to clarify that the FMR1 gene has been known for many years, since the presence of excess CGG repeats causes the common genetic condition Fragile X syndrome in boys who inherit the mutation.... [Read More]
Stem cell treatment in irradiated rats offers hope for radiotherapy patients
16 November 2009 - by Dr Marianne Kennedy
Following radiation to the head, rats transplanted with stem cells had greater improvements in learning and memory, showed a research team at the University of California.... [Read More]
Circadian clock gene linked to bipolar disorder in children
16 November 2009 - by Gozde Zorlu
A new study has linked a gene implicated in regulating how much sleep a child needs to bipolar disorder in children. Variations in a gene called RORB, which is known to affect sleeping patterns through disrupting the regulation of the body's internal 'circadian' rhythm, are likely more common among children with bipolar disorder, according to research published online in the journal BMC Psychiatry. But more research is needed to validate the findings, said the researchers.... [Read More]
TV Review: Octomum: Me and my 14 kids
14 November 2009 - by Jenny Dunlop
Channel 4, 12 November 2009... [Read More]

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