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  • Ovary gene may explain certain aspects of infertility
    Harvard Medical School researchers have uncovered an ovary gene whose absence from mouse egg cells produced severe pregnancy complications. The gene, Fmn2, which produces the protein formin-2, is similar in mice and humans and offers promise for understanding embryo loss, birth defects, and infertility in women. The study appears in the December Nature Cell Biology.

  • Study Helps Explain Gene Silencing In The Developing Embryo
  • First biologic pacemaker created by gene therapy in guinea pigs
    Working with guinea pigs, Johns Hopkins scientists have created what is believed to be the first biologic pacemaker for the heart, paving the way for a genetically engineered alternative to implanted electronic pacemakers.
    The advance, reported in the Sept. 12 issue of Nature, uses gene therapy to convert a small fraction of guinea pigs' heart muscle cells into specialized"pacing" cells.

  • Evidence that adults stem cells differentiate like embryonic stem cells published in Nature
    Researchers at the University of Minnesota Stem Cell Institute (SCI) have found the first evidence that adult bone marrow-derived cells can differentiate in vitro and in vivo into cells of all three embryonic germ layers (endoderm, ectoderm and mesoderm) in similar manner as embryonic stem cells (ES cells). SCI Director Catherine Verfaillie, M.D., and her colleagues call these cells multipotent adult progenitor cells (MAPCs).

  • Embryonic mouse stem cells reduce symptoms in model for Parkinson's disease
    Embryonic mouse stem cells transformed into neurons in a lab dish and then transplanted into a rat model for Parkinson's disease (PD) form functional connections and reduce disease symptoms, a new study shows. The finding suggests that embryonic stem (ES) cells may ultimately be useful for treating PD and other brain diseases.

  • 11 January 2002: PROTEOMICS: Enhanced: Integrating Interactomes, abstract, Science
  • 11 January 2002: GENETICS: Do X Chromosomes Set Boundaries?, abstract, Science

  • 11 January 2002: STEM CELL RESEARCH: Stem Cells May Shore Up Transplanted Hearts, abstract, Science

  • France challenges patent for genetic screening of breast cancer The Institut Curie, France's top centre for research, diagnosis, and treatment of cancer, is challenging the patent awarded by the European patent office to the US company Myriad Genetics, of Salt Lake City, Utah, for a test to screen for predisposition to breast cancer.

  • New System For Transplanting Clusters Of Brain Cells
    Bioengineers at Cornell University have demonstrated a system for transplanting clusters of brain cells, together with controlled-release microcapsules of protein, to enable cell differentiation and growth.

  • Language gene found
    The first linking of a gene to language could speed our understanding of this most unique and most controversial of human abilities.

  • US heads for total ban on human cloning
    The US House of Representatives voted by a wide margin on Tuesday for a total ban on human cloning. The ban covers not only cloning, but also cloning human embryos for medical research and "therapeutic cloning", which allows the harvesting of cells from embryos to treat disease.

  • Patents, Secrecy, and DNA
    In this policy forum, Cook-Deegan and McCormack urge that DNA sequence information contained in patents be made publicly available soon after patent applications are filed.

  • Can Genes Explain Biological Complexity?
    When it comes to the complexity of organisms we immediately think of behavioral or morphological complexity or perhaps wish to count the number of cells in an organism or the number of genes in the organism's genome. As Szathmary et al. explain in their Perspective, biological complexity is not that simple. With the completed sequences of yeast, worm, fly, and human at hand, it is now clear that the number of genes cannot account for the complexity of organisms (the fly genome has about 25,000 genes and we only have about 35,000). The Perspective authors discuss whether we should think about complexity in terms of interactions among gene-regulation networks, using equations similar to those used by ecologists to determine the multitudinous interactions within food webs.

  • New Genomes Shed Light on Complex Cells
    At a genome sequencing and biology meeting last week, researchers announced that they have decoded the genetic complement of fission yeast and are in the midst of sequencing two fungi. By determining which genes the varied eukaryotic organisms sequenced to date have in common and removing those that are also shared by prokaryotes, researchers have identified the subset of genes that make possible the more complex cell functioning of eukaryotes.

  • BRCA2 gene plays previously unsuspected role in cell division.

  • Scientists isolate premature ovarian failure gene
    A genetic mutation appears to produce eyelid defects in newborns and trigger early onset of menopause decades later. The finding could help researchers decipher how genetic processes during fetal development can have immediate manifestations at birth and also lead to certain age-associated changes later in life.

  • New evidence of mammals' origins

  • Scientists have found that nearly half of all genes related to the earliest stages of sperm production reside not on the male sex (Y) chromosome, but on the X chromosome, raising the possibility that infertility due to low sperm production may be X-linked, passed on to sons through their mothers.

  • Gene Linked to Repeat Miscarriage
    Variations in an inflammation-related gene may explain why some women have recurrent miscarriages, according to an Austrian study.

  • Science and medicine
    When sperm meets egg.

  • Artificial Chromosomes Coming to Life
    "One of the biggest obstacles to gene therapy is the delivery of the therapeutic gene to the target tissue so that it is appropriately expressed. The potential advantages of using a human artificial chromosome to maintain expression of a therapeutic gene and the hurdles yet to be overcome before this gene delivery system can be tried out in the clinic..."

  • Liver stem cells ; future liver regeneration via cellular therapy
    After studies spanning more than a decade, scientists at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill have become the first to identify and purify hepatic stem cells, progenitor cells capable of regenerating liver and bile duct tissue."

  • US and UK governments approve stem cell research

  • New link between DNA replication and 'silent' chromosome architecture.

  • "New Clues to How Genes Are Controlled"information about how the transcription factor called Pit-1, which is needed to activate the genes for three different hormones, manages to turn on the right gene without activating the other two..."

  • Proteins Can Transmit Heritable Traits
    "...the discovery of a protein that transmits a genetic trait, a finding that hints at the presence of a menagerie of undiscovered protein-based "genetic elements" that may have driven evolution without the need for mutation of DNA genes".

  • Stem cell technology. Where are we going?

  • Microarray Analysis of Drosophila Development During Metamorphosis
    DNA microarray technology allows researchers to visualize the expression of thousands of genes simultaneously. A team at Stanford has now used DNA microarray technology to characterize the changes in gene expression that take place during the fruit fly Drosophila's metamorphosis to full adulthood.These results could pave the way for the use of microarrays in the study of complex genetic events in higher organisms, including humans.

  • Science Magazine
    17 December 1999: BREAKTHROUGH OF THE YEAR
    Capturing the Promise of Youth "Late last year, in a technological breakthrough that triggered a burst of research and a whirlwind of ethical debate, two teams of researchers announced that they had managed to keep embryonic and fetal human cells at their maximum potential, ready to be steered into becoming any cell in the body. Building on that achievement, in 1999 developmental biologists and biomedical researchers published more than a dozen landmark papers on the remarkable abilities of these so-called stem cells. We salute this work, which raises hopes of dazzling medical applications and also forces scientists to reconsider fundamental ideas about how cells grow up, as 1999's Breakthrough of the Year."

  • Molecular Classification of Cancer: Class Discovery and Class Prediction by Gene Expression Monitoring.

  • The Promise of Comparative Genomics in Mammals.

  • CHEERS!!!!! Historical Genetics: The Parentage of Chardonnay, Gamay, and Other Wine Grapes of Northeastern France. [summary - can be viewed for free once registered]

  • The evolution of the sex chromosomes: step by step.

  • September 1999: Learning how organs tell left from right, press release, Nature.

  • September 1999: Ethical Issues in Human Stem Cell Research, National Bioethics Advisory Commission (NBAC).

  • Genetic benefits enhance the success of polyandrous females, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

  • Pesticide exposure and decreased fertilisation rates in vitro, The Lancet.

  • Older mothers, older fathers
    Source: American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology 2003;
    189: 901-5
    Women aged 35 or more have long been known to have an increased risk of infertility. But does advancing age in the male partner have similar effects?
    The results of previous studies in this area have been conflicting.
    To investigate the risk of infertility associated with paternal age, researchers from the Human Fertility Research Group at Paule de Viguier Hospital in Toulouse, France, interviewed 3,287 couples in which both partners were within the range 25-44 years.

  • Does paternal age contribute to infertility?
    Source: American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology 2003;
    189: 901-7 Investigating the impact of the age of the male on fertility in a large European database.
    Once men reach the age of 40 years they become a risk factor for infertility, say researchers. Whereas a maternal age of 35 years of age and above is a well-known risk factor for infertility, the impact of the age of the male has been rarely investigated, note Patrick Thonneau (Paule de Viguier Hospital, Toulouse, France) and co-workers.

  • Primates successfully give birth following ovarian cryopreservation
    The first successful birth following ovarian cryopreservation in a primate model was reported at the XVII FIGO World Congress in Santiago, Chile (2-7 November 2003).
    Researchers have reported the first successful birth following ovarian tissue cryopreservation in a monkey. But they stress the research remains technically challenging at the current time.
  • PGD reduces recurrent miscarriage abortion rate
    A study presented at the XVII FIGO World Congress that was held in Santiago, Chile (2-7 November 2003) shows that less than one-third of embryos generated from recurrent miscarriage couples are normal.
    Preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) may have a role to play in the diagnosis and management of patients with recurrent miscarriage, according to Spanish researchers.

  • First human ovarian transplant reported Indian gynecologists reported the first successful ovarian transplant in humans at the XVII FIGO World Congress held in Santiago, Chile (2-7 November 2003).
    A patient with Turner’s syndrome has been successfully transplanted with an ovary from her living sister, said Dr. Parvin Mhatre (Kothari Hospital, Mumbai, India). The transplant was carried out from a live donor, who was 26 years old and had two children herself, to her younger sister, aged 17 years, in March 2002.
    The recipient had bilateral streak ovaries and chromosomal configuration of XO—Turner’s syndrome. The donor and recipient were immunologically matched by blood group, HLA matching, and lymphocytic cross matching.

  • Sex ratio at conception shows seasonal variation
    Seasonal patterns of conception may help preserve the male to female sex ratio.
    Couples who want to have a boy should try to conceive in autumn, while the chances of having a girl are increased by conceiving in spring, study findings indicate.
    Given that male fetuses and neonates are more fragile than females, the study authors believe that the seasonal variation helps to preserve the sex ratio, by allowing more boys to be conceived during optimal conditions for pregnancy and birth.

  • Egg-sharing does not damage a donor’s own chance of a baby say UK researchers
    Women who take part in egg sharing programmes run by fertility clinics are not compromising their chance of having a baby by donating some of their eggs, according to UK research published today (Thursday 30 October) in Europe's leading reproductive medicine journal Human Reproduction[1].
  • Danish study finds that taking a long time to conceive is linked to problems at birth.
    Women who take more than a year to conceive have a higher than normal risk of having a premature birth, a full-term baby with low birthweight[1], or a Caesarean section, according to a large Danish study reported (Thursday 30 October) in Europe's leading reproductive medicine journal Human Reproduction[2].

  • Fever impact on semen quality confirmed
    Testing the validity of claims that semen quality is affected by febrile illness. Semen quality may be impaired by the development of a fever up to 2 months before ejaculation, study findings suggest.
    Although previous publications have stated that "it is a well-known phenomenon that semen quality can be affected by febrile illness," the data supporting this claim are of low quality, note Elisabeth Carlsen (Rigshospitalet, Blegdamsvej, Denmark) and colleagues.
    To address this issue, the researchers examined the influence of febrile episodes on monthly sperm samples of 27 healthy men, over a 16-month period. htt

  • HPV and p53 inversely correlated in genital tract tumors
    Correlating human papillomavirus positivity with p53 over expression in cervical, vaginal, and vulvar squamous cell carcinomas. The overexpression of p53 and human papillomavirus (HPV) infection may reflect independent carcinogenic processes, say researchers.
    While "one well characterized pathway for the induction of growth arrest and apoptosis is through the activation of the p53 tumor suppressor protein," human papillomavirus appears to abrogate this response by targeting the tumor suppressor for ubiquitin-dependent degradation.
    Consequently, it has been suggested that p53 mutations play a role in HPV negative carcinomas, although evidence of an inverse relationship between the presence of HPV DNA and mutant p53 expression is conflicting, explain Yasuko Koyamatsu (Saga Medical School, Japan) and co-workers.

  • ** Fertility first with tissue transplant **
    US scientists use ovarian tissue to produce a live monkey birth, a move which could benefit women made infertile by cancer treatment.
    The procedure carried out in a rhesus monkey could, researchers say, be used for humans. The development gives new hope to women who have become infertile following cancer treatment.

  • New technique allows real-time placenta imaging
    Researchers recommend a new imaging technique for staging human placental development.
    Using a new imaging technique, it is now possible to monitor placental development during pregnancy, reveal researchers in a finding that holds promise for the real-time diagnosis of placental pathologies.
    "Maldevelopment of placental villous trees and their blood vessels results in impaired fetal growth, which can greatly compromise fetal, neonatal, childhood, and adulthood health," write Justin Konje (University of Leicester, UK) and colleagues. However, "there are no means of directly assessing such maldevelopment."

  • First trimester trisomy screening supported
    Researchers test the sensitivity of a combined approach to first trimester screening for the detection of trisomies 18 and 21.
    First trimester screening combining biochemical markers and fetal nuchal translucency for the detection of trisomies 21 and 18 is an accurate and efficient alternative to second trimester screening, say researchers.

  • Perimenopausal depression linked to ovarian function
    Examining the relationship between changes in mood and pituitary-ovarian axis function in perimenopausal women.
    A normal dietary intake of isoflavones is linked to lower levels of total body fat in postmenopausal women, and may prove useful for the prevention of chronic disease.
    "Previous studies suggest an association between isoflavone supplementation and improved body composition," write Deborah Goodman-Gruen and Donna Kritz-Silverstein from the University of California in San Diego, USA. However, "the effect of usual dietary isoflavone consumption on obesity among postmenopausal women consuming a typical Western diet," has not been reported.

  • Oxidative stress linked to infertility apoptosis
    Investigating whether semen quality is associated with apoptosis in the presence of oxidative stress. High levels of reactive oxygen species (ROS) in the semen of patients with male factor infertility are associated with increased levels of caspase-mediated apoptosis, a study shows.
    While both oxidative stress and high rates of apoptosis have been independently associated with testicular insufficiency in male infertility, "it is unclear whether the caspase-mediated pathway is involved in inducing apoptosis in ejaculated spermatozoa, and, if so, how it is influenced by oxidative stress," write researchers, led by Xia Wang from the Cleveland Clinic Foundation in Ohio, USA.

  • Iron supplementation improves birth weight
    Scientists hypothesize that prophylactic iron supplementation in early pregnancy reduces anemia and increases birth weight.
    Results from a randomized controlled trial suggest that prenatal prophylactic iron supplementation in iron-replete, nonanemic women improves birth weight, and may have beneficial effects on related health care costs.

  • IVF and ICSI synergy in unexplained infertility
    Researchers further examine the value of splitting sibling oocytes from patients with unexplained infertility between IVF and ICSI.

  • The International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics (FIGO) has published its World Report on Women's Health 2003, in a special issue of its journal.
    The report consists of a series of articles providing commentary on a wide range of issues that impact on women's health, highlighting new developments and initiatives that are leading to real improvements in care.

  • Sex selection for social reasons: religious and moral perspectives
    Two reports in the 25 September 2003 issue of Human Reproduction suggest that the coming availability of sex selection technology is not likely to skew the balance between the sexes.
    Two experts in religion and reproductive technology respond to this report and to the way it might be used in the ethics and public policy debate over the availability of sex selection technology.

  • Fetal exposure to two chemicals cause of male reproductive disorders later in life
    Primary author of several recent studies involving di-n-butyl phthalate (DBP) and linuron (L) discusses his findings and what they mean for understanding human development. (Philadelphia, PA) – Over the last ten years, US researchers have observed a marked increase in some male reproductive disorders, including undescended testicles, increased instances of testicular cancer, and decreased sperm count.
    In the last 20 years the rates for testicular cancer have grown almost five-fold in Denmark, yet neighboring Finland has not experienced such a dramatic increase.
    In an effort to explain this phenomenon, scientists have hypothesized that these human male reproductive deficits may have a common origin: a disturbance in the level of androgen and other critical hormones during fetal development.
    The results from tests with laboratory animals may help scientists better understand the effect of fetal exposure to certain chemicals has on male reproduction abilities later in life.
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