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CONTENTS Issue #575
Book Review: It Takes a Genome
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Is the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority fit for purpose?
13 September 2010 - by Professor David Jones
In the early 1980s many people both inside and outside Parliament were seeking to prohibit experimentation on human embryos. In response, the government convened a committee of enquiry, aiming by that means to circumvent the possibility of a ban. The Warnock Report duly concluded that 'the embryo of the human species should be afforded some protection in law'. The committee was in favour of research involving the destruction of human embryos but... [Read More]
Study war no more: Science, politics and the battle over US government funding for embryonic stem cell research
13 September 2010 - by Dr Megan Allyse
Have you ever played the children's game Red Light/Green Light? Someone yells 'green light!' and everyone runs as fast as they can (some in circles, but that's not against the rules). When they yell 'red light!', everyone freezes in some contorted position. Playing Red Light/Green Light seems not unlike the experience of conducting embryonic stem cell research in the United States... [Read More]
New study suggests that 'voluntary activity' may be inherited
13 September 2010 - by Dr Tamara Hirsch
Tendency to engage in voluntary exercise is heritable in mice according to a new study published in Proceedings of the Royal Society. US Scientists found that mice that exhibited high running levels, which were then selected for breeding, also produced offspring that were high runners, suggesting this was an inherited characteristic... [Read More]
Fresh evidence smoking damages fertility
13 September 2010 - by Seil Collins
Two new studies have revealed further evidence of the harmful effect of smoking on both male and female fertility... [Read More]
Tracker to prevent IVF embryo 'mix-ups' shortlisted for prize
13 September 2010 - by Rose Palmer
A new technology used by Hull IVF unit to prevent clinical mix-ups when sperm and eggs are combined in the laboratory is to be rolled-out for use across the UK, and has been nominated for an award... [Read More]
Average woman 'would spend £15,000' on IVF, survey finds
13 September 2010 - by Dr Charlotte Maden
British women are prepared to spend an average of 15,000 in order to conceive, a survey has shown, with one in ten willing to spend over 50,000 on fertility treatment... [Read More]
Surprise new link between obesity and infertility
13 September 2010 - by Dr Marianne Kennedy
Infertility in women is often linked to obesity. A new study published in Cell Metabolism suggests that insulin signalling in the pituitary gland could play a key role.... [Read More]
Genome maps could help predict risk of breast cancer
13 September 2010 - by Chris Chatterton and Jay Stone
A group of international researchers have become the first to link the cumulative effects of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNP) in genes responsible for the production of oestrogen, to a woman's risk of developing common breast and uterine cancers.... [Read More]
Two gene mutations linked to hardest-to-beat ovarian cancer
13 September 2010 - by Dr Lux Fatimathas
Two new genetic mutations associated with the aggressive cancer, ovarian clear cell carcinoma, have been identified by two independent studies. The mutations - in genes ARID1A and PPP2R1A - shed light on how clear cell tumours may arise and potentially provide potential new drug targets... [Read More]
The Irish are different - genetically
13 September 2010 - by Dr Rachael Panizzo
The genome of an Irish man has been fully sequenced for the first time, and reveals a unique 'Irish genetic signature'. Professor Brendan Loftus from the Conway Institute at University College Dublin, who led the study, hopes that the findings will contribute to the understanding of genetic diversity... [Read More]
NHS criticised for buying patients porn
13 September 2010 - by MacKenna Roberts
A conservative health think tank has criticised the NHS for spending an estimated 700 pounds of public funds per year on pornography. Roughly one in three of the 92 NHS hospitals with fertility clinics surveyed by provide pornographic material to male donors to help them produce a sperm sample... [Read More]
US stem cell research potentially back on track
13 September 2010 - by Antony Starza-Allen
A federal appeals court in the US has ruled that federal funding for embryonic stem cell research may continue and an injunction placed on the funding by a lower court last month is temporarily suspended... [Read More]
Directors of online sperm website on trial
13 September 2010 - by Antony Starza-Allen
Two men in the UK have been prosecuted for allegedly offering sperm for sale over the internet, according to BBC News. Ricky Gage, 49, and Nigel Woodforth, 42, both from Reading, are facing two charges brought under the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990 for operating a website known as Fertility 1st without a licence... [Read More]
Book Review: It Takes a Genome
13 September 2010 - by Dr Iain Brassington
I'll admit right from the start that I'm a bit of a waste of time when it comes to science: I dropped most of it at 14 in favour of Latin, and the remainder of my school science was taught by an ageing physicist who spent most of the following 18 months telling a very involved shaggy-dog story about an octopus and some bagpipes... [Read More]

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