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CONTENTS Issue #541
Book Review: Enhancing Evolution - The Ethical Case for Making Better People
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The case for case-by-case regulation of PGD
18 January 2010 - by Dr David King
On 20 January, the UK's Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) will decide whether to continue the case-by-case regulation of two types of preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) applications: those for late onset conditions and tissue typing of embryos to produce a 'saviour sibling'.... [Read More]
Research into the epigenetic impact of assisted conception
18 January 2010 - by Professor Marcus Pembrey
Readers will have noticed a couple of news reports and Rosalind John's excellent commentary on this topic in the last few weeks, but I make no apology for returning to the subject so soon. I believe this area of research will spark interest from the media for years to come. This is not because I fear research will necessarily uncover some unsuspected risk to the health of people born after IVF (we can't know until we do the research) but because we are ... [Read More]
Cord blood banking - why aren't we doing it?
19 January 2010 - by David Burrowes MP
In 2008 I was the first UK MP to raise the issue of umbilical cord blood (UCB) banking as a private members bill in Parliament and several MPs spoke to me of their previous ignorance of UCB. It is an ignorance I shared despite being a parent of six children and living close to one of the National Health Service (NHS) hospitals that collects it.... [Read More]
Scientists wake destructive 'squatter' viruses in DNA
17 January 2010 - by Sarah Pritchard
Researchers in Switzerland have unravelled part of the mystery of dormant endogenous retroviruses (ERVs) found in our DNA which, if woken, 'multiply, induce innumerable mutations' and kill embryos at an early stage of development, as reported by the publication Scientific Computing.... [Read More]
Gene activity linked to heart disease
18 January 2010 - by Dr Aarathi Prasad
A new study by scientists at the University of Cambridge, UK, has indicated that people in the later stages of heart disease carry specific changes in three key genes. However, these alterations to the genes are not permanent mutations, rather, they consist of a reversible change that may be influenced by the environment and diet, and may be responsible for integrating lifestyle and dietary signals to later heart failure.... [Read More]
Fertility watchdog action against IVF doctor 'misconceived'
18 January 2010 - by Antony Starza-Allen
The UK's Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) is conducting an internal investigation into its own failings when investigating Mohamed Taranissi, the 'person responsible' for the Assisted Reproduction and Gynaecology Centre (ARGC), London, in 2007 concerning allegations that he was operating without a licence, The Times newspaper has reported.... [Read More]
Cholesterol control gene could provide dementia protection
18 January 2010 - by Alison Cranage
American scientists have found that a genetic variation could be associated with slower memory decline and a lower risk of Alzheimer's disease and dementia. The preliminary findings shed light on processes in the brain that could contribute to memory loss and dementia. The work was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association last week.... [Read More]
UK scientists discover 'pacemaker' gene variant
18 January 2010 - by Heidi Colleran
UK researchers have discovered a gene variant that regulates the rhythm of the heart, raising the prospect of new treatments for avoiding heart attacks and heart disease. The finding, by a team led by Imperial College London (ICL), and published in the journal Nature Genetics, may also help doctors to better understand why some patients are more susceptible to heart problems than others.... [Read More]
DNA sequences linked to 'spine-fusing' arthritis
16 January 2010 - by Dr Jay Stone
An international consortium composed of research groups in America, England and Australia has published its work in January's edition of the Nature Genetics journal, identifying six genetic regions associated with the autoimmune sidease ankylosing spondylitis (AS).... [Read More]
Y chromosome evolving rapidly
18 January 2010 - by Rose Palmer
Scientists have found that the Y chromosome is evolving more quickly than any other part of the human genetic code. In the first comparison of human and chimpanzee Y chromosomes, a team from the Whitehead Institute, Massachusetts, US, found that the two differ dramatically in structure and gene content. The finding was published in the journal Nature.... [Read More]
India sequences its first human genome
18 January 2010 - by Dr Vivienne Raper
India has sequenced its first full human genome becoming the sixth country to do so, according to the Indian Government. The genome of a 52-year-old man from Jharkhand, eastern India, was reportedly sequenced by a top Indian science research body at a cost of $30,000. The breakthrough will help pharmaceutical companies develop drugs better suited to Indian physiology, according to India's Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR).... [Read More]
Woman, 59, wanted second IVF baby
18 January 2010 - by Dr Vivienne Raper
A 59-year-old British woman who conceived her two-year-old daughter by in IVF (vitro fertilisation) has faced criticism after saying she wants more children. Sue Tollefsen, from Essex, had told makers of a BBC documentary about older mothers to be shown later this month that she was '110 per cent' sure she wanted more treatment.... [Read More]
Book Review: Enhancing Evolution - The Ethical Case for Making Better People
12 January 2010 - by Dr Iain Brassington
Quite understandably, eugenics got a bad name during the 20th century; and, in many people's minds, it is still associated with programmes of mass forced sterilisation and industrial killing. On the other hand, the project of 'improving' humanity - which is what eugenics is really about - doesn't have to demand these measures... [Read More]

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