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CONTENTS Issue #535
COMMENT
NEWS DIGEST
REVIEWS
TV Review: Is It Better to Be Mixed Race?
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Welcome to BioNews by email, published by the Progress Educational Trust, providing you with news, comment and reviews on genetics, assisted conception, embryo/stem cell research and related areas. 


Visit the BioNews website at www.bionews.org.uk where you can subscribe for free to receive BioNews by email in one of three formats, and search the archive of more than 8,000 articles.

Sperm donor screening needs to be overhauled
16 November 2009 - by Wendy Kramer
Writing in the 26 May 2009 edition of BioNews, the Donor Sibling Registry reported about the recent birth of a severely handicapped and profoundly retarded baby girl who had inherited an unbalanced translocation from New England Cryogenic Center sperm donor D-250. Now, the same problem has been disclosed as occurring at the London Women's Clinic. A donor was found to be a balanced translocation carrier only after his semen had been widely commercialised. A couple had to destroy 22 embryos c... [Read More]
Children's human rights and assisted human reproduction
17 November 2009 - by Professor Margaret Somerville
A recent article by journalist, Allison Cross, described how a shortage of Canadian donor sperm could be prompting women and their partners to turn to the Internet to find free donors: 'Many of these people want 'do-it-yourself' donor insemination, without intervention by doctors'... [Read More]
Too much exercise may be bad for fertility
22 November 2009 - by Sarah Pritchard
High frequency and high intensity exercise can triple a woman's chances of experiencing fertility problems, say Norwegian researchers... [Read More]
Fertility doctor accused of substituting own sperm for patient's husband's
22 November 2009 - by Ailsa Stevens
A fertility doctor based in Greenwich, Connecticut, has been allowed to practice for seven years after being found guilty of using the wrong man's sperm to fertilise one of his IVF patient's eggs and further accused by one of his former patients of substituting his own sperm for her husband's in the conception of their two twin girls. The case was drawn to a close in 2005, when the clinician in question was forced to pay a $10,000 fine, but had been kept a secret until the information was dis... [Read More]
'Empathy gene' may provide clues to autism
23 November 2009 - by Heidi Colleran
In the first study of its kind, researchers in the US have identified a genetic variant that appears to influence both a person's ability to empathise, and how they respond to stress. The research, by a team from Oregon State University and the University of California at Berkeley and published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, may shed significant light on scientists' understanding of autism, which is characterised by problems with empathy and social communicati... [Read More]
Key to long life may be in a mutant enzyme
22 November 2009 - by Sarah Pritchard
Scientists have discovered among a group of very elderly Jews that their longevity could be due to a mutant enzyme which stops cells ageing. Researchers at the Albert Einstein School of Medicine in the USA studied 86 Ashkenazi Jews with an average age of 97, as well as 175 of their children, and 93 'control' patients whose parents had had an average lifespan.... [Read More]
New US law will protect personal genetic information
23 November 2009 - by Ben Jones
The US Genetic Information Non-Discrimination Act 2008 (GINA) has come into force introducing new protection against discrimination on the basis of genetic predisposition to disease. The act, signed into law in March of last year by President Bush, outlaws the usage of 'genetic information' to discriminate in the provision of health insurance and prohibits the usage of such information in the making of employment-related decisions such as hiring, firing or promoting.... [Read More]
Genetic data company deCODE has filed for bankruptcy
22 November 2009 - by Dr Jay Stone
The commercialisation of 'personalised' genetic medicine was delivered a blow last week as the Icelandic biopharmaceutical company deCODE genetics was forced to file for bankruptcy. The company was reported to be restructuring but are now considering an offer from Saga investment for their drug development branch and have been forced to put their other assets up for sale also.... [Read More]
Stem cell hope for skin grafts
22 November 2009 - by Dr Rebecca Robey
Human skin suitable for transplants has been grown from embryonic stem (ES) cells for the first time. The new technique, pioneered by researchers at the Institute for Stem Cell Therapy and Exploration of Monogenic Diseases, Evry, France, may one day provide a source for life-saving skin replacements for people suffering from severe burns.... [Read More]
Human trials of ES cell research could begin soon
23 November 2009 - by Alison Cranage
Stem cell therapy came one step closer to being tested for the first time in people this week, as a US company applied to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for a licence to start a clinical trial. The embryonic stem (ES) cell therapy is being developed to treat Stargardt, a currently incurable disease that causes blindness in young people.... [Read More]
Five new genes linked to Parkinson's disease
23 November 2009 - by Dr Charlotte Maden
New investigations into the genetics of Parkinson's disease have identified five new genes associated with the sporadic form of the disease. The worldwide collaborative effort, published in Nature Genetics last week, gives new insight into the progression of the devastating disease that affects so many people.... [Read More]
New drug could help treat Down's syndrome
23 November 2009 - by Dr Will Fletcher
A new drug that is being developed may lessen the effects of learning difficulties caused by the genetic condition Down's syndrome. Children with the condition are not developmentally delayed at birth, but often fall behind as they grow older because of memory deficits. A new study in mice, published in the journal Science Translational Medicine, has identified the key brain defects responsible and has pointed out a strategy for dealing with them through medication. The US resea... [Read More]
London clinic calls for end to IVF 'postcode lottery', offers 21 free IVF cycles
23 November 2009 - by Ailsa Stevens
The Lister Fertility Clinic in London is offering free fertility treatment to 21 couples to mark its 21st birthday and the opening of their newly expanded clinic. Mr Sam Abdalla, Medical Director of the clinic, said that the gesture was part of the clinic's 'duty to make treatment more accessible' and an ongoing commitment to offer a number of free cycles each year as part of the clinic's 'community programme.'... [Read More]
Company markets 'over-the-counter' paternity test to the UK
23 November 2009 - by Gozde Zorlu
Over-the-counter paternity tests have become available in more pharmacies across the UK, despite concerns being raised about the dangers of making this information available without medical supervision. Last week 'International Bioscience', a leading DNA analysis company, began marketing its paternity testing service to the UK through 'Clockwork pharmacies'. The UK's first over-the-counter paternity tests went on sale in pharmacies earlier this year, marketed by the company 'Anglia DNA ', spa... [Read More]
TV Review: Is It Better to Be Mixed Race?
23 November 2009 - by Monica Mascarenhas
Channel 4, Monday 2 November 2009... [Read More]

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