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Dr Karen Devine

Dr Karen Devine was previously a Volunteer Writer at BioNews and a Lecturer in Obligations, including medical negligence, at the University of Kent's Law School. She is also the recipient of the UK's Law Teacher of the Year 2012 award, sponsored by Oxford University Press. Her PhD research concerned the field of umbilical cord blood stem cells, with a particular emphasis on the legal implications for those who procure the cells, the need for greater transparency of the risks and benefits involved in the collection process, and the role of informed consent.

BioNews Comment articles written by Dr Karen Devine:
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Private cord blood collection and cerebral palsy –  is there a connection?
22 November 2010 - by Dr Karen Devine
In April 2008, a Los Angeles Times article posed the question: 'Can a child's umbilical cord blood be used to treat his own cerebral palsy?' (1) The article referred to the extraordinary improvement in health of a little boy in the US, Dallas Hextell, who has the motor neurone disease, cerebral palsy... [Read More]
Cord blood in the car park: Cord blood stem cells, contamination and DIY collection exposed
16 March 2010 - by Dr Karen Devine
Back in 2002, I recall a story in Red magazine about a father who had allegedly collected the stem cells from his newborn baby's umbilical cord in the delivering hospital's car park. It said he had been handed the placenta - wrapped in newspaper - by the midwife and told that if he wanted to save the cord blood, it would have to be done outside. You might say that this is rather a strange place to procure such precious cells that have the ability to treat a range of blood cancers and disorder... [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]
'Badge of Honour' or Protective Shield? Are the HTA the new arbiters of the cord blood industry?
6 May 2008 - by Dr Karen Devine
In the 21st Century, the collection and use of stem cells from umbilical cord blood (UCB) is anything but a new phenomenon. Since the first successful UCB transplant in 1988, the use of UCB for transplantation purposes has been used in over 6,000 treatments worldwide and has proved to be... [Read More]
Menstrual blood banking and the Big C'elle? A period of reflection
18 November 2007 - by Dr Karen Devine
As a consumerist society, we are fast becoming familiar with the idea that for a price, we can bank our stem cells in case they are needed in the future to potentially fight disease, grow replacement body parts and help develop clinical therapeutic options. First came the commercial cord blood... [Read More]
Don't just encourage women to donate cord blood - give them the opportunity to do so
20 October 2006 - by Dr Karen Devine
Once again, umbilical cord blood (UCB) stem cell collection and storage has been in the headlines of the popular press. UCB can be collected at birth and stored for the future use of the donor, its siblings or donated for public use. There are two main types of banking - public... [Read More]
If cord blood stem cells are the future, why aren't we saving them?
15 June 2006 - by Dr Karen Devine
This week saw the long awaited report from the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG), which stated its latest position on the public and private banking of umbilical cord blood stem cells. Essentially, their stance remains unchanged from the one taken in their previous opinion paper published in 2001... [Read More]

BioNews Review articles written by Dr Karen Devine:
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Book Review: Stem Cells - Science and Ethics
25 October 2010 - by Dr Karen Devine
This colourful, illustrated guide to stem cells is the perfect companion for any student wishing to gain a greater understanding of stem cell research, use and ethical debates... [Read More]
Radio Review: Britain's Labs: Stem Cells
7 June 2010 - by Dr Karen Devine
BBC Radio 4's Stem cells provides a valuable insight into the current focus and prioritisation of stem cell research in the UK, which has received international support since US president, Barack Obama, put an end to the ban on the use of federal funding for embryonic stem cell research in the US... [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]

BioNews News articles written by Dr Karen Devine:
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UK's HTA warns of unlawful cord blood collections
11 March 2010 - by Dr Karen Devine
The UK's Human Tissue Authority (HTA) issued a press release this week warning of the dangers of collecting umbilical cord blood stem cells by those who are unqualified to do so. Cord blood is rich in stem cells that contain potentially powerful biological properties, which could be useful in the treatment of certain blood disorders and cancers, and may in the long term be used in regenerative medicine.... [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]
New codes of practice launched by the UK's HTA
17 September 2009 - by Dr Karen Devine
Following a three month online public consultation process, which began in late 2008, the UK's Human Tissue Authority (HTA) has this week announced the release of seven revised codes of practice relating to consent, transplantation, post-mortem examination, donation of bone marrow and peripheral stem cells, anatomical examination, disposal and public display... [Read More]
Launch of public cord blood bank and stem cell research centre
15 September 2008 - by Dr Karen Devine
The UK's Antony Nolan Bone Marrow Trust this week launched a new initiative - the Antony Nolan Cord Blood Bank and a combined stem cell research centre at Nottingham Trent University. Mothers who deliver babies at the Kings College Hospital, London, are being recruited to donate the stem... [Read More]
HTA to consult on new code of practice for human tissue
4 August 2008 - by Dr Karen Devine
The UK's Human Tissue Authority (HTA) has announced the launch of a consultation programme on a new code of practice for the storage of human tissue. This is the first code of practice to apply to the storage of tissue specifically for research purposes and includes stem... [Read More]
Licensing of cord blood collection comes into force in UK
7 July 2008 - by Dr Karen Devine
This week saw the introduction of licensing agreements for UK premises that wish to undertake the collection of umbilical cord blood (UCB) stem cells on behalf of pregnant women. Cord blood has been collected and used in the treatment of certain blood diseases such as leukaemia, and... [Read More]
The UK's HTA to regulate the collection of cord blood stem cells
6 May 2008 - by Dr Karen Devine
The UK's Human Tissue Authority (HTA) has announced that the collection of umbilical cord blood stem cells is to be regulated for the first time in the UK. Cord blood contains a rich source of stem cells that could be used to fight disease and may in... [Read More]
Cord blood stem cell hope for Alzheimer's
31 March 2008 - by Dr Karen Devine
The journal Stem Cells and Development has announced the results of an exciting new research project being carried out by a collaboration of researchers from the University of Florida, Yale University, New Haven, Cedars Sinai Medical Centre, Los Angeles, Saneron CCEL Therapeutics, Incorporated and The Saintama Medical... [Read More]
UK Labour MPs offered abstention from embryo bill vote
10 March 2008 - by Dr Karen Devine
The controversy sparked by the introduction of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill 2007, which is being debated in the UK House of Commons over the next few months, looks set to continue. The Daily Telegraph newspaper has reported that in an unusual move, Chef Whip Geoff... [Read More]
UK MPs threaten to walk-out over hybrid embryos
5 March 2008 - by Dr Karen Devine
This week, three Catholic Cabinet ministers in the UK have threatened to quit their posts following government proposals to allow the creation of hybrid embryos - embryos made using animal eggs that have their nuclei replaced with human genetic material, for use in stem cell research. The MPs... [Read More]