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Dr Will Fletcher

Dr Will Fletcher was previously a Volunteer Writer at BioNews, having originally joined the publication under the auspices of its writing scheme. He obtained his PhD from University College London (UCL)'s Research Department of Genetics, Evolution and Environment, where his research focused on Computational Statistics in Molecular Phylogenetics and where he developed a software application for biological sequence simulation called INDELible. He is also a Quantitative Analyst at the football betting consultancy Smartodds, and he is a former Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council supported Fellow at the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology, where he conducted research into edemocracy. Previously, he studied Mathematics at UCL, then went on to obtain an MSc in Theoretical Physics from King's College London and an MRes in Modelling Biological Complexity from UCL's Centre for Mathematics and Physics in the Life Sciences and Experimental Biology. He is particularly interested in cutting-edge genetic research, and the advances in medical treatment that it makes possible.

BioNews News articles written by Dr Will Fletcher:
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Genetic fault linked to hereditary deafness
12 April 2010 - by Dr Will Fletcher
Scientists have discovered a gene mutation that can cause children to be born deaf... [Read More]
'Junk' DNA makes us unique, study finds
29 March 2010 - by Dr Will Fletcher
A recent study has lent more weight to the view that 'Junk DNA' may be anything but junk. A joint effort by the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) in Heidelberg, Germany and Stanford University, California, US, has uncovered large differences between the non-coding DNA of different individuals, which may be associated with differing levels of disease risk and other traits too... [Read More]
World first: entire genomes sequenced to find disease
15 March 2010 - by Dr Will Fletcher
Sequencing a patient's genome to find the genetic cause of their inherited disease has finally been proven to be a viable clinical approach in two recent independent studies. For some time gene sequencing has been heralded as ushering in a new era of medicine. However, until now, only around 10 people in the world had had their personal genomes sequenced in full, and all of these were healthy people. Now, in the ten years since the first full genome was sequenced (at a cost of ... [Read More]
High-fibre diets may affect fertility
8 February 2010 - by Dr Will Fletcher
Women who eat too much fibre may ovulate less and have lower oestrogen levels, according to a recent study... [Read More]
First non-embryonic stem cell product launched
21 December 2009 - by Dr Will Fletcher
A commercial product claiming to be the first to make use of induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS cells) has been launched, albeit not a product that can be directly used on humans. Cellular Dynamics International (CDI), a biotech company based in Madison, Wisconsin, US, has recently announced that it has released human heart cells derived from iPS cells for commercial use. CDI intends its trademarked iCell Cardiomyocytes to be used by pharmaceutical companies to aid in the drug... [Read More]
Scientists take major step towards personalised childhood vaccines
7 December 2009 - by Dr Will Fletcher
In the future children could be given 'personalised' vaccine shots if they are found to be in the genetic minority pf people who don't benefit fully from standard forms of a vaccine. Not everyone produces the same amount of disease specific antibodies in response to a vaccine, meaning that a vaccination will not protect some people when they later come into contact with that disease. However, scientists from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), Morgantown, West V... [Read More]
Thousands of genomes sequenced to map Han Chinese genetic variation
30 November 2009 - by Dr Will Fletcher
The first genetic historical map of the Han Chinese has been published in the American Journal of Human Genetics by scientists from the Genome Institute of Singapore (GIS). Based on genome-wide variation in 8,200 individuals, the new map has provided many insights into the evolutionary history and population structure of the Han Chinese which is the largest ethnic population in the world. The map is of great importance as it has helped uncover subtle differences in the genetic ... [Read More]
New drug could help treat Down's syndrome
23 November 2009 - by Dr Will Fletcher
A new drug that is being developed may lessen the effects of learning difficulties caused by the genetic condition Down's syndrome. Children with the condition are not developmentally delayed at birth, but often fall behind as they grow older because of memory deficits. A new study in mice, published in the journal Science Translational Medicine, has identified the key brain defects responsible and has pointed out a strategy for dealing with them through medication. The US resea... [Read More]
Gene discovery hints at why humans can talk
16 November 2009 - by Dr Will Fletcher
Scientists believe that they have found a gene that helps explain the fact that humans are the only animal that has developed speech. Subtle variations in the human version of the gene, known as FOXP2, appear to underpin the human development of language, according to recent research carried out by scientists at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), US, and published in the journal Nature. When comparing the human and chimp version of FOXP2 the researchers discovered... [Read More]
UK considers plans to expand newborn screening programme
9 November 2009 - by Dr Will Fletcher
The UK National Screening Committee is considering plans to screen newborn babies for a greater number of rare conditions. Currently, on a newborn's fifth day, a single spot of blood is taken from their heel, and they are screened for five conditions including sickle-cell disorders (SCD) and cystic fibrosis (CF). Parents then receive the results of the tests around eight weeks later. This lags behind some areas of Europe where they test for 10 or more conditions, and some American states that... [Read More]