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CONTENTS Issue #542
Book Review: The Rough Guide to Genes and Cloning
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Telling is more important than ever: rights and donor conception
19 January 2010 - by Dr Lucy Frith
The last five years have seen a fundamental change in public policy in the UK over gamete donor anonymity. In 2004 the law allowed donor offspring to have access to identifying information about their donor when they reach 18 and the revised Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008 now includes new provisions for disclosure of information for donor-conceived individuals and gamete/embryo donors. However, there is an important omission in these recent polic... [Read More]
'Let's start at the very beginning': Cord blood banking - a response
25 January 2010 - by Dr Karen Devine
In last week's BioNews, Mr David Burrowes, MP, commented on his successful introduction of a private member's bill on umbilical cord blood (UCB) donation in the UK Parliament in 2008, and how his continued efforts to raise awareness of the benefits of saving UCB for public use has been favourably met in a recent adjournment debate in the House of Commons.... [Read More]
New technique creates genetic disease models in human stem cells
23 January 2010 - by Dr Rachael Panizzo
Scientists at the University of California San Diego (UCSD), US, have developed a technique to transfer modified genes known to cause disease in humans into human embryonic stem cell (ES cell) lines. The modified ES cells behave like diseased cells and can be used to study human genetic diseases in the laboratory. The new technique provides an alternative approach to mouse 'knock out' models of disease.... [Read More]
HFEA publishes a Grade A Incident report
25 January 2010 - by Ailsa Stevens
The UK's Human Fertilisation Authority (HFEA) has for the first time released internal documents from an investigation. These reveal the fertility watchdog's findings about two IVF Grade A incidents at Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Trust. In one, the wrong patient's sperm were used for micro-injection, although none of these eggs were allowed to proceed to fertilisation, and the patients involved were informed immediately; and in the other, four embryos were rendered unusable following PGD treatment [Read More]
Twins born after £100,000 of fertility treatment
23 January 2010 - by Rosie Beauchamp
On 29 December last year, British twins were delivered by Caesarean section at Stafford District Hospital, UK, to Monique and Neil Ward. The Wards had been attempting to conceive for 25 years and spent £100,000 on fertility treatment. The Wards were married in 1986 and after six months of trying to conceive tests revealed that Neil Ward had a low sperm count due to a reversed vasectomy. The couple then proceeded with an NHS-funded method of delivering sperm straight into ... [Read More]
Early cord blood trial points to treatment for blood disorders
25 January 2010 - by Dr Sophie Pryor
Scientists in the US have developed a new technique for multiplying the small number of stem cells found in umbilical cord blood and have tested it on leukaemia patients for the first time. It is hoped that the new technique could ultimately remove the need for tissue-matched bone marrow transplants.... [Read More]
New genetic markers for diabetes-related traits uncovered
25 January 2010 - by Maren Urner
An international team of 174 research centres has identified 13 new gene variants associated with blood glucose and insulin, with five linked to Type-2 diabetes. The findings - published last week in the journal Nature Genetics -raise hopes of better treatments for the condition.... [Read More]
Report recommends refusing IVF to women with unhealthy lifestyles
25 January 2010 - by Ruth Pidsley
'Fertility doctors should refuse treatment to women used to more than moderate drinking and who are not willing to minimise their alcohol consumption', according to a new report by the European Society for Human Reproduction and Embryology (ESHRE). The report, from ESHRE's Task Force on Ethics and Law, covers the effects of alcohol, smoking and obesity on pregnancy.... [Read More]
Online sperm services 'fill me with horror'
25 January 2010 - by Dr Vivienne Raper
Websites have sprung up offering fresh sperm delivered to your door for DIY insemination by UK women, according to an article in The Obstetrician and Gynaecologist (TOG). UK sperm donor shortages are blamed for creating a market for these 'e-semination' services, which have unclear legal status and are not covered by Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) regulations.... [Read More]
Apology for Huntington's test blunder
24 January 2010 - by Charlie McDermott
A nursing director from the UK's National Health Service (NHS) has issued a public apology to a patient - known as Mr C - and his family after he had been misdiagnosed with Huntington's disease (HD) for almost 20 years. The original genetic test for HD was issued in 1989, when Mr C was in his early 30s, and carried a four per cent chance for false positives. It is believed that Mr C fell into this four per cent and his case has been described as 'extremely rare, if not unique',... [Read More]
Rocking IVF embryos may boost success rates
25 January 2010 - by Harriet Vickers
Rocking growing embryos during IVF could improve pregnancy rates among women undergoing the procedure, and decrease its risks. Scientists at the University of Michigan, US, have built a device which mimics the movement felt by embryos on their way to the uterus. When they used this during IVF with mouse embryos, they found pregnancy rates were 22 per cent higher compared to those grown statically... [Read More]
Drinking mice have more brown offspring
25 January 2010 - by Dr Charlotte Maden
New research has shown that drinking during pregnancy can cause permanent genetic changes to the DNA of the developing fetus. The findings, published in the journal PLoS Genetics, may aid in the development of a diagnosis for fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS).... [Read More]
UK team tracks evolution of MRSA
25 January 2010 - by Heidi Colleran
For the first time, a Cambridge-led team of scientists has succeeded in tracking the evolution and transmission of methicillin resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) across the world, offering the possibility of affordable tests to identify and block fatal superbugs before they spread. The breakthrough, led by the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute (WTSI) in Hinxton, Cambridgeshire, UK, and published in the journal Science, means that researchers and public health officials may be better able to... [Read More]
deCODE is back
25 January 2010 - by Nishat Hyder
The pioneering genetics research company, deCODE, reemerged last week as a private company with new financial backing. Based in Reykjavik, Iceland, the original company deCODE Genetics, Inc led the way internationally in genetic testing and diagnostics for over a decade. With unique access to genetic information from Iceland's isolated population, the biotech firm has made important discoveries, such as identifying gene variants associated with common conditions ... [Read More]
Book Review: The Rough Guide to Genes and Cloning
14 January 2010 - by Nienke Korsten
This book does what it says on the tin: it is filled to the brim with information on genes and cloning. The authors have managed to treat the basics of the subject without dumbing it down, venturing into specialist areas such as laboratory techniques for cloning and behavioural genetics and explaining the associated jargon along the way, and exploring links with philosophy, culture and psychology... [Read More]

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