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CONTENTS Issue #537
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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. 

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Epigenetics: responding to life by switching genes on and off
7 December 2009 - by Dr Aarathi Prasad
Session 3 of the Progress Educational Trust's annual conference (PET), held on Wednesday 18 November 2009 at Clifford Chance, was chaired by Professor Dian Donnai,Professor of Medical Genetics at the University of Manchester, and started with a talk by Karen Temple, Professor of Medical Genetics and Honorary Consultant in Clinical Genetics at the University of Southampton and Wessex Clinical Genetics Service. Professor Temple gave an intriguing talk on the influence of parent... [Read More]
Genetic susceptibility to common complex disorders
7 December 2009 - by Antony Starza-Allen
As our understanding of genetics and associated disorders has developed, many genetic tests performing functions - from predicting certain genetic predispositions and identifying rare monogenetic disorders, to ancestry and other 'novelty' tests - have been introduced to the healthcare market. Many geneticists are concerned about the regulation of these tests, which are performed by the NHS, the private sector, or distributed directly to consumers. Experts are calling for more transparent eval... [Read More]
Fatherless mice live longer
7 December 2009 - by Dr Rebecca Robey
Mice produced in the laboratory from two biological mothers and without a father have been found to live significantly longer than normal mice bred from a mother and a father. These findings indicate that genetic traits inherited from the father but not the mother may play an important role in ageing and longevity.... [Read More]
Scientists take major step towards personalised childhood vaccines
7 December 2009 - by Dr Will Fletcher
In the future children could be given 'personalised' vaccine shots if they are found to be in the genetic minority pf people who don't benefit fully from standard forms of a vaccine. Not everyone produces the same amount of disease specific antibodies in response to a vaccine, meaning that a vaccination will not protect some people when they later come into contact with that disease. However, scientists from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), Morgantown, West V... [Read More]
President Obama founds new bioethics council
7 December 2009 - by Rosie Beauchamp
This week it was announced that five months after dissolving the bioethics advisory council established by George W Bush, US President Barack Obama has put into place a new bioethics council. While it was thought that the previous council was focused mainly on issues regarding human embryo research and the connected moral concerns, the new committee will have a far broader scope, being involved in shaping and recommending policy implementation, regulation and legislative action... [Read More]
Adult tissue reprogrammed into stem cells faster
7 December 2009 - by Dr Rachael Panizzo
Researchers at the US Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), lead by Professor Rudolf Jaenisch, have identified genetic pathways that can speed up the process of reprogramming mature adult cells into stem cells, known as induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS cells).... [Read More]
Embryo donation is not adoption, says reproductive medicine group
7 December 2009 - by Dr Vivienne Raper
Calling embryo donation 'adoption' is 'inaccurate and misleading', according to a new report by the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM).... [Read More]
Hormonal 'on/off switch' may lead to male 'pill' and infertility cure
7 December 2009 - by Heidi Colleran
A team of scientists has taken male fertility research a major step forward, with the discovery of how androgenic hormones regulate the production of sperm in the testes of mice. The breakthrough, reported in the journal The Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB), may lead to greater understanding and control of male fertility, including the development of a male contraceptive 'pill', and treatments for infertility.... [Read More]
Study shows infertile men can be good IVF candidates
7 December 2009 - by Dr Jay Stone
Men suffering from from non-obstructive azoospermia (NOA), meaning they have undetectable levels of sperm in their semen, which is not caused by an obstruction in their reproductive system, have long been considered poor candidates for IVF. However new research published in the online journal of Reproductive Biology and Endocrinology has reported that NOA sufferers could be just as capable of producing viable embryos as oth... [Read More]
Reproductive research low priority for funders, says academic
7 December 2009 - by Alison Cranage
The latest developments in fertility research were discussed at the British Andrology Society's annual conference in Belfast, Northern Ireland on 19 November. Conference organiser, Professor Sheena Lewis from Queens University, Belfast, also highlighted the lack of funding going into fertility research in the UK. 'Research councils or charities across the UK spend less than one per cent of their income on reproductive research compared with nine per cent on cardiovascular and 27 per cent on c... [Read More]
Missouri could ban public funding for stem cell research
7 December 2009 - by Ben Jones
A Missouri Republican State Representative has proposed legislation to block public spending on embryonic stem cell (ES cell) research in the state. The proposed amendment to the Missouri constitution called for an end to public funding of any research that involved the destruction of embryos. The pro-life Republican representative, Cynthia Davis, also included a ban on funding for abortion and any use of cloning technologies... [Read More]
Rare gene mutation blamed for some childhood obesity
7 December 2009 - by Dr Vivienne Raper
A rare gene mutation may explain the weight of some severely overweight young children, a study has found. The new findings have already affected when social workers judge children to be deliberately overfed or neglected... [Read More]
Sperm linked to ART-related genetic disorders
7 December 2009 - by Dr Vivienne Raper
Mutations in sperm used for in vitro fertilization (IVF) and intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) may be responsible for causing the rare genetic disorders associated with these techniques... [Read More]
Performance review of fertility watchdog published
7 December 2009 - by Dr Vivienne Raper
An official review of the UK's Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) has commended the fertility watchdog in some areas, but warned that there is 'room for improvement'.... [Read More]

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