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BioNews Comment articles written by Professor Marcus Pembrey:

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What's a bit of genetic interplay between friends?
29 January 2018 - by Professor Marcus Pembrey
The recent demonstration that friends share more of their genetic makeup in common than two people picked at random from their population has been making the headlines... [Read More]
Blurred boundaries – the language of DNA
8 August 2016 - by Professor Marcus Pembrey
The general public have appropriated the term DNA to mean much more than just the molecule itself. This may not be a problem most of the time but, in the case of donor eggs and sperm in particular, it's important that people are clear on what genetics and epigenetics really tell us... [Read More]
An epigenetic legacy of the Holocaust?
1 September 2015 - by Professor Marcus Pembrey
Human studies of transgenerational responses are fraught with difficulties, but definitely worth pursuing... [Read More]
Farewell from me and welcome to Fiona Fox
16 June 2014 - by Professor Marcus Pembrey
When the Progress Educational Trust - the UK charity that publishes BioNews - emerged from the Progress Campaign for Research into Human Reproduction in 1992, I had no idea that I would end up chairing the Trustees for 20 of the last 22 years!... [Read More]
A whiff of fear down the generations
9 December 2013 - by Professor Marcus Pembrey
Last week saw a lot of media interest around a US study published in Nature Neuroscience reporting the transgenerational effects of fear-conditioning in mice... [Read More]
A decade of progress and misunderstandings
28 June 2010 - by Professor Marcus Pembrey
The 10th anniversary of the first draft of the human genome sequence has been characterised by justifiable celebration at the extraordinary progress in DNA sequencing technology, yet disappointment with the impact it has had on medicine to date. Is this disappointment also justified? Not really... [Read More]
Dialogue around cousin marriage is a positive step, but it must be based on fact not fiction
22 March 2010 - by Professor Marcus Pembrey
A report and analysis promoting Baroness Ruth Deech's views on cousin marriage, published in the Times newspaper on Saturday, makes some serious errors and does nothing to either clarify the true health impact of cousin marriage or help couples at risk of recessive genetic conditions... [Read More]
Research into the epigenetic impact of assisted conception
18 January 2010 - by Professor Marcus Pembrey
Readers will have noticed a couple of news reports and Rosalind John's excellent commentary on this topic in the last few weeks, but I make no apology for returning to the subject so soon. I believe this area of research will spark interest from the media for years to come. This is not because I fear research will necessarily uncover some unsuspected risk to the health of people born after IVF (we can't know until we do the research) but because we are ... [Read More]
What role might epigenetics have in shaping a person's development?
2 August 2009 - by Professor Marcus Pembrey
Epigenetics is about the when and where of gene activity and about shaping development in response to early experience - from internal cues in the growing embryo to the prevailing physical and the social environment. So it is not surprising that discoveries in epigenetics are being enthusiastically embraced by those who find the fatalism often associated with classical genetics rather soul-destroying. But it is important not to overstate the case for epigenetics. DNA sequence, its vari
The medium is the message: assisted conception and the role of the media
8 September 2008 - by Professor Marcus Pembrey
The Medium is the Message' - a phrase coined by Marshal McLuhan in 1964 - implies that the type of presentation as much as the content of the message determines what gets incorporated into personal and societal views. This 'spin' element has and continues to be a significant component in the media... [Read More]
Reflecting on the role of PET and BioNews
25 March 2008 - by Professor Marcus Pembrey
We publish BioNews issue 450 as the new UK Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill heads from the Lords to the House of Commons. A lot has happened in the fields of human genetics, assisted reproduction and embryo research since BioNews 400, including the rejuvenation of PET! A year on, we... [Read More]
Reproducing regulation: new laws for fertility treatment and embryo research - will we get it right?
12 November 2007 - by Professor Marcus Pembrey
This conference (organised by the Progress Educational Trust (PET), held at the Institute of Child Health, London on 1 November) was extremely timely, given that the new Human Fertilisation and Embryology (HFE) Bill revising regulation of assisted reproduction and embryo research was published last week. This Bill is intended to... [Read More]
Reproducing regulation: issues arising from the Human Tissue and Embryos (Draft) Bill
3 September 2007 - by Professor Marcus Pembrey
A Parliamentary committee has recently challenged several proposals in the UK Government's draft revised legislation for assisted reproduction and embryo research, published earlier this year. These areas of biomedical research and personal reproductive decisions raise important ethical and social issues. As such, the committee report is welcome, because it re-opens... [Read More]
BioNews celebrates its 400th issue and Progress Educational Trust is revived
26 March 2007 - by Professor Marcus Pembrey
This is the 400th BioNews, a milestone that might never have been reached. Last year Progress Educational Trust (PET) was derailed by the vagaries of small charity fund-raising, staff fell below the critical mass of four and on 22 January the trustees announced that PET's activities would cease. This came... [Read More]
Putting genes in their place
29 May 2003 - by Professor Marcus Pembrey
The 50th anniversary of the discovery of the structure of DNA presents a golden opportunity to take stock of what impact this and subsequent discoveries in molecular genetics have had and what it promises for the future of human health and happiness. Genetics is now big business. Worldwide anniversary celebrations... [Read More]
Achieving international regulations on pre-implantation genetic diagnosis
22 October 2001 - by Professor Marcus Pembrey
It comes as no surprise that a British couple have used embryo screening at a clinic in Chicago to conceive a child who could act as a compatible bone marrow donor for his or her brother with leukaemia. If there are professionally approved clinics that are willing and able under... [Read More]
Do GM mice raise the spectre of designer babies?
6 September 1999 - by Professor Marcus Pembrey
The short answer is no! 'GENETIC SUPER BABIES STORM: key discovery raises spectre of designer children with high IQs' is how the Daily Mail announced the report of enhanced learning and memory in mice with over-expressed NMDA 2B receptors, the lead story in BioNews this week. A few weeks back... [Read More]
Genetic misnomers
23 August 1999 - by Professor Marcus Pembrey
Last year it was the 'good mum' gene and now we have the 'perfect husband' gene - the lead story in this week's BioNews. Like it or not, we will have to get used to the idea that genetic variation contributes to variation in behaviour and not just in mice and... [Read More]
Remixing reproduction and genetics
5 July 1999 - by Professor Marcus Pembrey
The European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology (ESHRE) held their annual meeting in Tours last week. The European Society of Human Genetics (ESHG) held theirs in Geneva at the end of May. However, these two clinical and academic disciplines - until now rather separate - are becoming increasingly integrated. In the... [Read More]
Is the SNP consortium philanthropy in action?
19 April 1999 - by Professor Marcus Pembrey
The Wellcome Trust is to fund 67% of a two year, $45m (£30m), international project to define some 300,000 DNA sequence variations in the human genome. The remaining funds come from a consortium of ten of the world's leading pharmaceutical companies, who have also agreed to put the newly discovered... [Read More]
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