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MacKenna Roberts

MacKenna Roberts was previously a Volunteer Writer at BioNews, and is a Volunteer at the charity that publishes it, the Progress Educational Trust (PET). She is also an Associate at the law firm Lawford Davies Denoon, where she works with the Chair of PET's Advisory Committee, James Lawford Davies. She trained as a solicitor at Smithfield Partners and she has experience in high-profile cases including a well-known copyright dispute, and also the test case for the regulation of foreign satellite cards used for broadcasting Premier League football games in the UK. Previously, she studied Political Science at the University of Texas in Austin and then obtained an MA in Medical Ethics and Law from Kings College London. She has a particular interest in legal challenges to the regulation of regenerative therapies, direct-to-consumer genetic testing, genetic discrimination, and reproductive technologies.

BioNews Comment articles written by MacKenna Roberts:
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Sherley that's not ethical? A review of US law on embryo research
19 August 2011 - by MacKenna Roberts
Should human embryonic stem cell research be deemed unethical for its embryo destruction? The US court decision in Sherley v Sebelius on 27 July 2011 to allow federal funding of this research set a global precedent. The meaning of research was divided into two categories: that which directly involves embryo destruction and that which does not... [Read More]
So are we making progress?
7 January 2010 - by MacKenna Roberts
The contemporary media is increasingly flooded with stories where the cause, explanation or hope involves genetics. With all the reporting of genetic findings and its 'potential' to improve clinical care - has genetics really led to a marked improvement in our healthcare? And should genetic determinism be the focus of scientific research?... [Read More]
Is the embryo sacrosanct?: Faith in preimplantation genetic diagnosis
5 January 2009 - by MacKenna Roberts
In 1989, scientists first used preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) - a technique that merges IVF with genetic testing, enabling couples with increased risk of passing a genetic disorder onto their children to screen and select only unaffected embryos for implantation. PGD involves the removal of a single cell from three-day-old IVF... [Read More]

BioNews Review articles written by MacKenna Roberts:
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Event Review: Human Embryo Research - Law, Ethics and Public Policy
3 October 2011 - by MacKenna Roberts
On 8 September 2011 the Anscombe Bioethics Centre (a Roman Catholic organisation named after the philosopher Elizabeth Anscombe) organised the conference 'Human Embryo Research: Law, Ethics and Public Policy'. This was topical, in a month when it was announced that Europe's first clinical trials using human embryonic stem cells to treat Stargardt's macular degeneration (an incurable disease causing blindness in youth) would take place in the UK... [Read More]
Film Review: Stem Cell Revolutions - A Vision of the Future
26 September 2011 - by MacKenna Roberts
The short film 'Stem Cell Revolutions: A Vision of the Future' uses interviews to document how stem cells have 'vitally changed our understanding of the human body'. The film opens with a voiceover by the film's celebrity commentator novelist Margaret Atwood: 'Sometimes it seems stem cells are proposed as the answer to everything... What can't they do?'... [Read More]
Theatre Review: A Stroke of Genius
21 September 2009 - by MacKenna Roberts
As the curtain dropped on the closing night performance of the London-based PIT Theatre Cooperative's world premiere production performed throughout August at this year's Edinburgh Fringe Festival, so too ended the rare opportunity to witness a science communication creative, if not comical, success (of which I hope we see more). The PIT Collective's topical comedy entitled A Stroke of Genius bravely and uniquely informed its audience as its light-hearted plot turned on broad-sweeping bioethi... [Read More]

BioNews News articles written by MacKenna Roberts:
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Mother to donate womb to her daughter
20 June 2011 - by MacKenna Roberts
A British woman has agreed to donate her womb to her daughter if selected for an experimental womb transplant surgery to be performed by doctors at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden.... [Read More]
Australian woman granted possession of dead husband's sperm
31 May 2011 - by MacKenna Roberts
A widow has been granted possession of her late husband's sperm in an 'exceptional' Australian court ruling last week... [Read More]
Delay to avoiding mitochondrial disease in babies
3 May 2011 - by MacKenna Roberts
Further research is needed into the safety and effectiveness of techniques to prevent children being born with mitochondrial disease, a Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) report has concluded... [Read More]
'Landmark' neural stem cell trial underway
21 March 2011 - by MacKenna Roberts
A US company has launched an experimental neural stem cell clinical trial for patients paralysed by spinal injury. StemCells Inc will extract neural stem cells from donated aborted fetuses to be injected into the spines of patients with chest-level spinal cord injury... [Read More]
UK and US stem cell bank tie up announced
21 March 2011 - by MacKenna Roberts
The UK Stem Cell Bank (UKSCB) has announced it has forged an affiliation with the recently established University of Massachusetts (UMASS) Human Stem Cell Bank and Registry for the exchange of stem cell technology and expertise. The banks will collaborate on various aspects of stem cell banking, including best practice standards and the delivery of stem cell lines for clinical use... [Read More]
HFEA asks scientists for advice on mitochondrial disease treatment
14 March 2011 - by MacKenna Roberts
Health Secretary, Andrew Lansley has asked the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) to convene an expert group 'to assess the effectiveness and safety' of a fertility treatment that would enable children to be born without potentially devastating, incurable mitochondrial diseases.
New genetic markers for heart disease discovered
14 March 2011 - by MacKenna Roberts
An international research consortium has discovered 13 new genetic markers and confirmed ten previously identified markers associated with heart disease. The study, one of the world's largest, more than doubles the known genetic risk factors for coronary artery disease, a common cause of heart attacks and strokes.... [Read More]
'Octomum' doctor could still be struck off
14 February 2011 - by MacKenna Roberts
'Octomum' fertility doctor, Dr Michael Kamrava, could still be struck off despite a judge's recommendation to the contrary, according to a decision made by the Medical Board of California, the state's medical licensing body.... [Read More]
Canadian court hands fertility regulation to provinces
17 January 2011 - by MacKenna Roberts
The Supreme Court of Canada has ruled that several key powers to regulate and licence fertility practices under Canada's Assisted Human Reproduction Act (the Act) should fall under provincial jurisdiction.... [Read More]
'Fertility tourism' clinics urged to partner across borders
20 December 2010 - by MacKenna Roberts
European fertility clinics are being encouraged to collaborate and ensure fertility patients receive safe and fair access to treatment abroad, according to guidelines approved this month by the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology (ESHRE)... [Read More]