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CONTENTS Issue #543
TV Review: Too Old to Be a Mum?
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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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The case for case-by-case regulation of PGD: a response to Dr David King
26 January 2010 - by Nick Meade
The Genetic Interest Group (GIG) welcomed the UK's Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA)’s review of the case-by-case approach to the licensing of preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) for late-onset conditions and for tissue typing of embryos to produce a 'saviour sibling'. I attended the HFEA's consultation event at which Dr David King spoke on 1 December last year and heard his presentation. Then, as in his BioNews comment [Read More]
CORRECTION: Telling is more important than ever by Dr Lucy Frith
1 February 2010 - by Dr Vivienne Raper
In Dr Lucy Frith's comment, Dr Jennifer M Speirs' surname is misspelt as 'Spiers' in reference five... [Read More]
Time to put a stop to postmenopausal mothers?
1 February 2010 - by Dr Anna Smajdor
When Liz Buttle (then aged 60) became the UK's oldest mother in 1997, she was subjected to a storm of media criticism. Since then, debate over appropriate age limits for fertility treatment has shown no signs of abatement, while a growing number of postmenopausal women seek treatment in the UK and abroad.... [Read More]
'Embryo destroyed' stories came from nowhere
1 February 2010 - by Dr Vivienne Raper
Newspaper stories claiming that fertility regulators in the UK have allowed embryos to be destroyed for 'minor disorders' are unrelated to decisions taken at a recent regulatory meeting. Stories last week said the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) had allowed doctors to routinely screen out more than 100 genetic disorders using PGD (preimplantation genetic diagnosis). But, according to HFEA sources, the list of genetic disorders approved for PGD... [Read More]
Step towards personalised breast cancer treatment
29 January 2010 - by Dr Charlotte Maden
Researchers in the US have found that they can predict how well breast cancer patients respond to a type of chemotherapy based on certain genes. The findings, published in the journal Nature Medicine, highlight the potential for personalised cancer therapies in the near future.... [Read More]
Genetic test helps predict risk of death from prostate cancer
31 January 2010 - by Ruth Pidsley
A combination of three genetic alterations that dramatically reduce chances of surviving prostate cancer have been identified by researchers at the UK's Institute of Cancer Research (ICR). It is hoped that this finding could lead to the development of a genetic test to help doctors decide how aggressively to treat tumours.... [Read More]
Household chemicals make it harder to conceive
31 January 2010 - by Dr Sophie Pryor
Exposure to chemicals found in household objects such as furniture, carpets and electronic equipment increases the time taken to become pregnant, according to a study published online in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives. Professor Kim Harley and colleagues at the University of California, Berkeley (UCB) School of Public Health found that women with a higher blood concentration of polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), which have been used as flame retardants since the 1970s, too... [Read More]
Study shows rapid decline in women's eggs after 30
31 January 2010 - by Maren Urner
The first study to chart the fate of a woman's supply of eggs from conception to the menopause, carried out by researchers of the University of St Andrews and Edinburgh University, UK, shows that the average 30-year-old woman will have just 12 per cent of her original ovarian 'store' of eggs left. The study, published in the journal PLoS ONE, also shows that by the age of 40, only three per cent of the estimated two million eggs a woman is born with are left. The rapid decrease... [Read More]
Gene patent lawsuit starts next week
1 February 2010 - by MacKenna Roberts
A landmark US lawsuit is due to begin this week in New York which will question the right of private companies to hold patents on disease-related genes and their exclusive license rights to be the sole provider of genetic tests for those diseases. Last May, lawyers from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Public Patent Foundation, filed a legal action that challenged seven US patents for two genes linked to hereditary breast and ovarian cancers. The action was lau... [Read More]
Bush stem-cell lines have brighter future
1 February 2010 - by Nishat Hyder
The US National Institutes of Health (NIH) has approved the first human embryonic stem cell (ES) line from the George W Bush era, according to Nature News. It will be included on the National Stem Cell Registry (NSCR), ensuring its eligibility for federal funding.... [Read More]
US company offers parents home testing for inheritable genetic diseases
1 February 2010 - by Dr Nadeem Shaikh
A company in the US is offering potential parents the chance to test whether their future offspring might develop serious health problems by selling them home genetic test kits. Counsyl allows customers to send a saliva sample via the post, which is used in conjunction with DNA chip technology to screen if the person is a carrier for a single genetic mutation known to cause a disease. If both parents carry the same mutation,... [Read More]
Merck receives EU approval for new infertility drug
1 February 2010 - by Dr Marianne Kennedy
The European Commission has granted approval of ELONVA, a first-in-class drug manufactured by White House Station pharmaceutical company, Merck. ELONVA is used for controlled ovarian stimulation in women embarking on in vitro fertilisation (IVF) treatment for infertility. With this approval, Merck has marketing authorisation for the drug in all EU member states.... [Read More]
HFEA squeezes multiple birth limit to 20 per cent
1 February 2010 - by Rose Palmer
The UK's Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) has set a 20 per cent maximum multiple birth rate for fertility clinics. Last year's maximum rate - the first since the HFEA's multiple births policy was introduced - was 24 percent. The new rate will become effective from 6 April 2010.... [Read More]
MP questions minister over fertility watchdog investigation
8 February 2010 - by Antony Starza-Allen
Questions have been raised in Parliament over the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority’s (HFEA) decision to launch an internal investigation into its operations during the investigation of Mohamed Taranissi, the 'person responsible' for the Assisted Reproduction and Gynaecology Centre (ARGC) in 2007... [Read More]
TV Review: Too Old to Be a Mum?
1 February 2010 - by Jenny Dunlop
I have a feeling that whether you work in the fertility field or not everyone has a strong point of view about the upper age that a woman should have fertility treatment and become a mother. Maybe this thought was behind the producers of this BBC documentary that they could challenge all our firmly held beliefs? Or maybe they just thought that it would make contentious sexy television?... [Read More]

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