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CONTENTS Issue #540
Happy New Year
So are we making progress?
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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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Happy New Year
7 January 2010 - by Sarah Norcross
Happy New Year! Welcome back! I just wanted to take this opportunity to reflect on some of our activities from last year and to inform subscribers about what can be expected from the Progress Educational Trust (PET) and BioNews in 2010... [Read More]
So are we making progress?
7 January 2010 - by MacKenna Roberts
The contemporary media is increasingly flooded with stories where the cause, explanation or hope involves genetics. With all the reporting of genetic findings and its 'potential' to improve clinical care - has genetics really led to a marked improvement in our healthcare? And should genetic determinism be the focus of scientific research?... [Read More]
Sperm shortage drives some Brits to Denmark
11 January 2010 - by Antony Starza-Allen
A British woman has travelled to Denmark to undergo donor insemination after the fertility clinic where she had been receiving treatment in the UK ran out of sperm, BBC News reports. Single and 41, Abby, who is using a pseudonym, made the decision after three unsuccessful insemination attempts in the UK using donated sperm. Once the clinic informed her there was no more sperm available she contacted the Danish clinic. Following treatment there she gave birth to a... [Read More]
Gene mapping project will track hospital superbugs
10 January 2010 - by Sarah Pritchard
Researchers in the UK working toward a new initiative in the battle against so-called hospital 'superbugs' are developing a database containing the DNA of germs such as MRSA and clostridium difficile, to attempt to track and identify the source of disease.... [Read More]
Dog genes could give OCD clue
11 January 2010 - by Dr Charlotte Maden
Researchers in the US studying dogs have found a gene that is linked to the canine version of obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). It is hoped that the findings will shed new light on the human condition, which is a complex disorder, difficult to study in man.... [Read More]
Leading geneticist knighted
11 January 2010 - by Gozde Zorlu
A leading UK geneticist has received a knighthood in the New Year's Honours list for services to medicine. Professor John Burn, director of the Institute of Human Genetics, helped to establish the International Centre for Life in Newcastle.Last July, researchers at the Centre for Life grew human sperm from stem cells and created the first human-animal hybrid embryos in 2008.... [Read More]
UK MP highlights need for comprehensive cord blood strategy
10 January 2010 - by Dr Karen Devine
Conservative MP for Enfield, Southgate, David Burrowes, led an adjournment debate in the House of Commons this week on the issue of umbilical cord blood banking and use. Stem cells from the umbilical cord of newborn babies have been successfully used as an alternative to bone marrow in the treatment of many blood disorders such as leukaemia, sickle-cell disease and immuno-deficiencies. Clinical research has also shown that cord blood may be developed to treat diabetes, liver th... [Read More]
Diabetes study to sequence 3000 people's genome
11 January 2010 - by Rose Palmer
A landmark study is to sequence the entire genome of 3000 people to uncover the genetic roots of Type 2 diabetes, the Times newspaper has reported. The investigation, costing £15 million, is being carried out by an Anglo-American team. It is hoped that the results will help find improved ways to diagnose and treat the condition.... [Read More]
Medical board accuses 'octomum' doctor of negligence
10 January 2010 - by Nisha Satkunarajah
A disciplinary complaint has been filed by the California State Medical Board against Dr Micheal Kamrava, the fertility doctor who controversially assisted Nadya Suleman to give birth to octuplets in January 2009. Barbara Johnston, the executive director of the board, filed the complaint, which accuses Dr Kamrava of negligence and violation of professional guidelines. No date has yet been set for the hearing which could potential result in Dr Kamrava's licence being revoked or suspended.... [Read More]
Embryo culture pioneer Denis New dies, aged 80
10 January 2010 - by Heidi Colleran
Distinguished embryologist Denis New, who developed seminal techniques for embryo culture, has died at the age of 80, reports The Guardian newspaper.... [Read More]
New fossil virus found in human genome
11 January 2010 - by Dr Vivienne Raper
Around 8 per cent of human DNA is known to have come from retroviruses. This week, Nature reported scientists have discovered a second virus type can be passed between generations in our DNA... [Read More]
Fears over bogus stem cell clinics
10 January 2010 - by Dr Vivienne Raper
Scientist and patient groups want more safeguards to prevent clinics in the UK from offering unproven stem cell treatments, according to the Guardian newspaper. The calls come as a Harley Street doctor - Robert Trossel - comes before the General Medical Council (GMC) accused of misconduct, the newspaper reports. According to the Guardian, the upcoming GMC hearing will consider allegations that he offered, and made false claims about, stem cell therapy. Dr Trossel is accused of ... [Read More]
Will sports fans have 'the balls' for sperm donation?
11 January 2010 - by Dr Vivienne Raper
Sports fans in Manchester, UK, will be asked 'Have you got the balls?' to donate sperm by a National Health Service (NHS) promotional campaign.... [Read More]
IVF children may have altered gene activity, study finds
11 January 2010 - by Ailsa Stevens
Differences in the pattern of gene activity between children conceived naturally and those conceived following IVF (in vitro fertilisation) have been identified, the Sunday Times newspaper resported last week... [Read More]
Book Review: Choosing Life, Choosing Death - The Tyranny of Autonomy in Medical Ethics and Law
5 January 2010 - by Antony Starza-Allen
Autonomy is commonly thought of as a guiding ethical principle which promotes the ability of an individual to determine their own 'life path'. It is commonly translated in the legal area in positive terms of self-determinism and negative constraints of non-interference. But the term holds a special meaning in the ethics/rights discourse as an inalienable virtuous human quality which generates rights and warrants respect... [Read More]
Book Review: An Introduction to Stem Cells
6 January 2010 - by Dr Karen Devine
With modern day medico-scientific technology advancing at an incredible pace, it is very easy for the layperson to become caught up in the technical language used by scientists and academics in their specialist field. Often, out of a lack of expertise, even the media misrepresent information, particularly in relation to research involving stem cells... [Read More]

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