Embryology is a very topical subject these days with the Human Genome Project, Cloning, new In Vitro Fertilization Techniques, Developmental Abnormalities, Birth Control and the many Ethical issues associated with the unborn child.
Archival news items are listed chronologically and are linked back to both the original source (after the title) and the relevant section(s) of UNSW Embryology as a link at the end of the item. Go to the Current News Page.
Stem Cells Australian legislation, a private members bill put forward by Senator Kay PATTERSON was passed (06Dec06) by 20 votes in the House of Representatives amending an earlier "Prohibition of Human Cloning for Reproduction and the Regulation of Human Embryo Research Amendment Act 2006" relating to stem cells research. During the four day debate more than 100 MPs spoke on the bill and the majority were in favour of changing the law. The amendment will allow researchers to create and use embryos up to 14 days old for research. Stem Cells | ABC - Information on Threrapeutic Cloning | ABC - Researcher hails end of therapeutic cloning ban House of Representatives | Prohibition of Human Cloning for Reproduction and the Regulation of Human Embryo Research Amendment Bill 2006 |
In Vitro Fertilization The First World Congress on Natural Cycle/Minimal Stimulation IVF London, December 15th and 16th 2006 "Society is founded to promote a more physiological approach to assisted reproduction. It embraces not only Natural Cycle Assisted Reproduction but also minimal stimulation protocols and in vitro maturation of oocytes." Week 1 - In Vitro Fertilization
Neural Development regulation of spinal cord differentiation - a recent paper has analysed the transcription factors (proteins that bind DNA and activate/repress protein expression) that are active during development of the spinal cord Kioussi C, Shih HP, Loflin J, Gross MK. Prediction of active nodes in the transcriptional network of neural tube patterning. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2006 Nov 28 "Microarray comparisons across the partition led to an estimate of 500–700 active sequence-specific DNA-binding transcription factors (SSTFs) nodes in the transcriptional network of the developing NT. These included most of the 66 known SSTFs assembled from review articles and recent reports on NT patterning." PNAS Link | Neural Notes | Molecular Development
Molecular Development Matsubara K, Tarui H, Toriba M, Yamada K, Nishida-Umehara C, Agata K, Matsuda Y. Evidence for different origin of sex chromosomes in snakes, birds, and mammals and step-wise differentiation of snake sex chromosomes. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2006 Nov 16 "All human and chicken homologues of the snake Z-linked genes were located on autosomes, suggesting that the sex chromosomes of snakes, mammals, and birds were all derived from different autosomal pairs of the common ancestor." Other Embryos | X Chromosome |
Womens Health Issues Vaccination for human papillomavirus (HPV) approved in Australia, HPV Types 16 and 18 cause 70% of cervical cancer cases, and HPV Types 6 and 11 cause 90% of genital warts cases. "...the vaccine Gardasil will be available for a nationwide vaccination campaign commencing next year. There are three elements to the proposal. There will be an annual school vaccination program commencing, we hope, depending on the measure of co-operation by the states, in about April of next year for girls 12 to 13 years. There will be a catch-up program for girls between 13 and 18 years through the schools and for women 18 to 26 the vaccine will be available for two years through general practitioners. Joint Press Conference - Prime Minister and Minister for Health and Ageing 29 November 2006 | Womens Health Issues |
Molecular Neural Development The multi-talented signal molecule sonic hedgehog (SHH) has some new receptors (Boc, Brother of Cdon) involved with axon guidance during neural development. Okada A, Charron F, Morin S, Shin DS, Wong K, Fabre PJ, Tessier-Lavigne M, McConnell SK. Boc is a receptor for sonic hedgehog in the guidance of commissural axons. Nature. 2006 Nov 1 "...two Robo-related proteins, Boc and Cdon, bind specifically to Shh and are therefore candidate receptors for the action of Shh as an axon guidance ligand. Boc is expressed by commissural neurons, and targeted disruption of Boc in mouse results in the misguidance of commissural axons towards the floor plate." Molecular Development - sonic hedgehog | Neural Notes | OMIM - BROTHER OF CDON | OMIM - CDON
Molecular Development - Epigenetics "You are what you(r mother) eat(s)" A study in mice shows that maternal diet can have epigenetic effects on the future offspring. Cropley JE, Suter CM, Beckman KB, Martin DIK. Germ-line epigenetic modification of the murine Avy allele by nutritional supplementation PNAS 2006 103: 17308-17312 Molecular Development - Epigenetics | PNAS Abstract |
Neural Development A science news item rather than research article on premature babies and whether they feel pain. This question still remains essentially unanswered. Qiu J. Infant pain: does it hurt? Nature. 2006 Nov 9;444(7116):143-5. "At the moment, practitioners use 'pain-coding scales' to assess the amount of pain babies might feel. Each scale consists of a set of behavioural criteria, such as crying, withdrawal and facial expressions, as well as physiological indicators, such as heart rate, blood pressure and breathing patterns." Neural- Pain Development | Nature Article | Slater R, Cantarella A, Gallella S, Worley A, Boyd S, Meek J, Fitzgerald M. Cortical pain responses in human infants. J Neurosci. 2006 Apr 5;26(14):3662-6. | Bartocci M, Bergqvist LL, Lagercrantz H, Anand KJ. Pain activates cortical areas in the preterm newborn brain. Pain. 2006 May;122(1-2):109-17.
Stem Cells Australian legislation, a private members bill was introduced (19Oct06) and passed (7Nov06) in the Australian Senate amending an earlier act relating to stem cells research. The "Prohibition of Human Cloning for Reproduction and the Regulation of Human Embryo Research Amendment Act 2006" will allow human stem research using embryos under strict controls and now requires passing through the House of Representatives before the Amendment will become law. Stem Cells | Prohibition of Human Cloning for Reproduction and the Regulation of Human Embryo Research Amendment Act 2006 | Australia's Senate
Neural Development MET (on chromosome 7q31) is a cell surface receptor tyrosine kinase receptor (usually for growth factors) involved in neurological development and has now been associated with Autism susceptibility. Campbell DB, Sutcliffe JS, Ebert PJ, Militerni R, Bravaccio C, Trillo S, Elia M, Schneider C, Melmed R, Sacco R, Persico AM, Levitt P. A genetic variant that disrupts MET transcription is associated with autism. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2006 Oct 19 Neural Abnormalities | PNAS Abstract | OMIM - MET
Week 2 Development Inner cell mass and not trophoblast shell is dependent upon Sall4 transcription factor Elling U, Klasen C, Eisenberger T, Anlag K, Treier M. Murine inner cell mass-derived lineages depend on Sall4 function. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2006 Oct 23 "Sall4 is cell-autonomously required for the development of the epiblast and primitive endoderm from the inner cell mass. Furthermore, no embryonic or extraembryonic endoderm stem cell lines could be established from Sall4-deficient blastocysts. In contrast, neither the development of the trophoblast lineage nor the ability to generate trophoblast cell lines from murine blastocysts was impaired in the absence of Sall4." Week 2 | Stem Cells | Medline | PNAS Abstract | OMIM - SALL4
Stem Cells "Cell Press, is set to launch (July, 2007) a new monthly journal Cell Stem Cell published by Cell Press in affiliation with the International Society for Stem Cell Research (ISSCR) will include primary research, reviews, and commentaries while also serving as a forum for issues of stem cell research policy and ethics." Cell Stem Cell | Stem Cells |
Menstrual Cycle Wintermantel TM, Campbell RE, Porteous R, Bock D, Grone HJ, Todman MG, Korach KS, Greiner E, Perez CA, Schutz G, Herbison AE. Definition of estrogen receptor pathway critical for estrogen positive feedback to gonadotropin-releasing hormone neurons and fertility. Neuron. 2006 Oct 19;52(2):271-80. Using a mouse knock out model they have shown "...ovulation is driven by estrogen actions upon estrogen receptor alpha-expressing neuronal afferents to gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) neurons" Human Menstrual Cycle | Estrous Cycle
Abnormal Development Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) taken during early pregnancy may increase the risk of having a child with a congenital malformation. Wogelius P, Norgaard M, Gislum M, Pedersen L, Munk E, Mortensen PB, Lipworth L, Sorensen HT. Maternal Use of Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors and Risk of Congenital Malformations. Epidemiology. 2006 Oct 4; | BMJ - Editorial | Abnormal Development - Maternal Drugs
Postnatal Development Child health and survival in the Eastern Mediterranean region "Fifteen per cent of deaths in children under 5 around the globe occur in the Eastern Mediterranean Region and half could be prevented by cost effective evidence based interventions." "..Over 10 million children aged under 5 years die every year, almost 90% of them in a few countries in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.1-6 Landmark series on child and neonatal survival suggested that this high mortality persists despite low cost solutions being known and that almost 60-70% of these deaths could be prevented by making these interventions widely available." Zulfiqar A Bhutta, Asim Belgaumi, Mohammad Abdur Rab, Zein Karrar, Mohamed Khashaba, and Nezha Mouane Child health and survival in the Eastern Mediterranean region BMJ 2006 333: 839-842. BMJ - Editorial | BMJ Article | Postnatal Development
Stem Cells Embryonic stem cells and not bone marrow cells can regenerate cardiac function Kolossov E, Bostani T, Roell W, Breitbach M, Pillekamp F, Nygren JM, Sasse P, Rubenchik O, Fries JW, Wenzel D, Geisen C, Xia Y, Lu Z, Duan Y, Kettenhofen R, Jovinge S, Bloch W, Bohlen H, Welz A, Hescheler J, Jacobsen SE, Fleischmann BK. Engraftment of engineered ES cell-derived cardiomyocytes but not BM cells restores contractile function to the infarcted myocardium. J Exp Med. 2006 Oct 2;203(10):2315-27. Epub 2006 Sep 5. Stem Cells |
Abnormal Development - Smoking A component within cigarette smoke has been identified as a potential lung cancer agent. Feng Z, Hu W, Hu Y, Tang MS. Acrolein is a major cigarette-related lung cancer agent: Preferential binding at p53 mutational hotspots and inhibition of DNA repair. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2006 Oct 9. "The tumor suppressor gene p53 is frequently mutated in cigarette smoke (CS)-related lung cancer. ...Acrolein (Acr) is abundant in CS, and it can directly adduct DNA. Together these results suggest that Acr is a major etiological agent for CS-related lung cancer and that it contributes to lung carcinogenesis through two detrimental effects: DNA damage and inhibition of DNA repair." Abnormal Development - Smoking |
Bone Winzenberg T, Shaw K, Fryer J, Jones G. Effects of calcium supplementation on bone density in healthy children: meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials. BMJ. 2006 Sep 15 "There was a small effect on total body bone mineral content (standardised mean difference 0.14, 95% confidence interval 0.01 to 0.27) and upper limb bone mineral density (0.14, 0.04 to 0.24). ... The small effect of calcium supplementation on bone mineral density (in healthy children) in the upper limb is unlikely to reduce the risk of fracture, either in childhood or later life, to a degree of major public health importance." Bone | Postnatal
Placenta/Blood The mouse placenta is a source of as well as a niche for blood stem cells. Brandon M. Zeigler, Daisuke Sugiyama, Michael Chen, Yalin Guo, Karen M. Downs, and Nancy A. Speck The allantois and chorion, when isolated before circulation or chorio-allantoic fusion, have hematopoietic potential Development 2006 133: 4183-4192. "chorio-allantoic placenta forms through the fusion of the allantois (progenitor tissue of the umbilical cord), with the chorionic plate" "...tissues that form the mammalian placenta, like the allantois in avian embryos, have intrinsic haematopoietic properties" Development link | Placenta | Blood
Spermatogenesis "... in addition to its well known role in DNA repair, Parp-2 exerts essential functions during meiosis I and haploid gamete differentiation." Dantzer F, Mark M, Quenet D, Scherthan H, Huber A, Liebe B, Monaco L, Chicheportiche A, Sassone-Corsi P, de Murcia G, Menissier-de Murcia J. Poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase-2 contributes to the fidelity of male meiosis I and spermiogenesis. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2006 Sep 25 Week 1 - Spermatogenesis
Sensory Sox2 is required for development of taste bud sensory cells Tadashi Okubo, Larysa H. Pevny, and Brigid L.M. Hogan Genes Dev. 2006;20 2654-2659 "Sox2 is expressed in basal epithelial cells of the tongue, with high levels in taste bud placodes, fungiform papillae, and mature taste cells, and low levels in filiform papillae."
"GATA, Nkx, and Hand constitute a "kernel" of the gene regulatory network for heart development. Mesp plays a key role in specification of heart progenitor cells in chordates.
A new finding by Davidson et al. (2006) has proven that the FGF signaling system is involved in Ciona heart development."
FGF signaling delineates the cardiac progenitor field in the simple chordate, Ciona intestinalis Brad Davidson, Weiyang Shi, Jeni Beh, Lionel Christiaen, and Mike Levine
Genes Dev. 2006;20 2728-2738
Infertility A longitudinal study of Danish national birth cohort: "Hormonal treatment for infertility may be related to the occurrence of malformations of genital organs, but our results suggest that the reported increased prevalence of congenital malformations seen in singletons born after assisted reproductive technology is partly due to the underlying infertility or its determinants. The association between untreated infertility and congenital malformations warrants further examination."Zhu JL, Basso O, Obel C, Bille C, Olsen J. Infertility, infertility treatment, and congenital malformations: Danish national birth cohort. BMJ. 2006 Sep 30;333(7570):679. BMJ Link
Oogenesis A study looking at all the genes expressed in the mature human oocyte shows "5,331 transcripts significantly up-regulated and 7,074 transcripts significantly down-regulated in the oocyte.
Of the oocyte up-regulated probe sets, 1,430 have unknown function. A core group of 66 transcripts was identified by intersecting significantly up-regulated genes of the
human oocyte with those from the mouse oocyte and from human and mouse embryonic stem cells."
Kocabas AM, Crosby J, Ross PJ, Otu HH, Beyhan Z, Can H, Tam WL, Rosa GJ, Halgren RG, Lim B, Fernandez E, Cibelli JB.
The transcriptome of human oocytes. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2006 Sep 12
Spermatogenesis "We tested whether mouse male germ cells could be cryopreserved without cryoprotection by simply freezing epididymides, testes, or whole bodies. The reproductive organs were isolated from killed mice and frozen for 1 week to 1 year at -80 degrees C before spermatozoa and spermatids were collected and injected into mature oocytes. ... freezing of either male reproductive organs or whole bodies is the simplest way to preserve male germ cells. Restoration of extinct species could be possible if male individuals are found in permafrost." (Jurassic Park lives!) Ogonuki N, Mochida K, Miki H, Inoue K, Fray M, Iwaki T, Moriwaki K, Obata Y, Morozumi K, Yanagimachi R, Ogura A. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2006 Aug 18; [Epub ahead of print] Spermatozoa and spermatids retrieved from frozen reproductive organs or frozen whole bodies of male mice can produce normal offspring. Week 1 - Spermatogenesis
Placenta "During pregnancy decidual NK (dNK) cells, regulate trophoblast invasion by production of the interleukin-8 and interferon-inducible protein–10 chemokines and secrete an array of angiogenic factors which induce vascular growth in the decidua" (text modified from abstract) Hanna J, Goldman-Wohl D, Hamani Y, Avraham I, Greenfield C, Natanson-Yaron S, Prus D, Cohen-Daniel L, Arnon TI, Manaster I, Gazit R, Yutkin V, Benharroch D, Porgador A, Keshet E, Yagel S, Mandelboim O. Decidual NK cells regulate key developmental processes at the human fetal-maternal interface. Nat Med. 2006 Aug 6; Placenta Development
Diabetes "Perinatal mortality and prevalence of congenital anomalies in babies of women with pre-gestational type 2 diabetes are as high as in babies of women with type 1 diabetes." Macintosh MC, Fleming KM, Bailey JA, Doyle P, Modder J, Acolet D, Golightly S, Miller A. Perinatal mortality and congenital anomalies in babies of women with type 1 or type 2 diabetes in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland: population based study. BMJ. 2006 Jun 16 Endocrine Notes - Pancreas | Endocrine Notes - Maternal diabetes mellitus | Abnormal Development - Maternal diabetes
Neural Stem Cell Differentiation "Upon evaluating distinct growth-permissive substrates in an embryonic stem cell–neurogenesis assay, we found that laminin, fibronectin, and gelatin instruct neural fate and alter the functional specification of neurons when applied at distinct stages of development." Goetz AK, Scheffler B, Chen HX, Wang S, Suslov O, Xiang H, Brustle O, Roper SN, Steindler DA. Temporally restricted substrate interactions direct fate and specification of neural precursors derived from embryonic stem cells. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2006 Jul 10; [Epub ahead of print] PNAS Link | Stem Cell Notes | Neural Notes
Abnormal Development - Bacterial Infection "Meningitis and sepsis caused by serogroup B meningococcus are two severe diseases that still cause significant mortality. To date there is no universal vaccine that prevents these diseases. In this work, five antigens discovered by reverse vaccinology were expressed in a form suitable for large-scale manufacturing and formulated with adjuvants suitable for human use. The vaccine adjuvanted by aluminum hydroxide induced bactericidal antibodies in mice against 78% of a panel of 85 meningococcal strains representative of the global population diversity." Giuliani MM, Adu-Bobie J, Comanducci M, Arico B, Savino S, Santini L, Brunelli B, Bambini S, Biolchi A, Capecchi B, Cartocci E, Ciucchi L, Di Marcello F, Ferlicca F, Galli B, Luzzi E, Masignani V, Serruto D, Veggi D, Contorni M, Morandi M, Bartalesi A, Cinotti V, Mannucci D, Titta F, Ovidi E, Welsch JA, Granoff D, Rappuoli R, Pizza M. A universal vaccine for serogroup B meningococcus. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2006 Jul 6; [Epub ahead of print] PNAS Abstract | Abnormal Development - Bacterial Infection
Human Ovary "Bone morphogenetic protein 15 (BMP-15) gene cause female infertility in the monoovulatory human and sheep; however, in the polyovulatory mouse, loss-of-function of BMP-15 results only in reduced ovulation rate. ...The species-specific differences in the phenotypes caused by BMP-15 mutations may thus be attributed to the temporal variations in the production of the mature form of BMP-15." Yoshino O, McMahon HE, Sharma S, Shimasaki S. A unique preovulatory expression pattern plays a key role in the physiological functions of BMP-15 in the mouse. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2006 Jul 3 Notes Week 1 - Oogenesis
An in vitro model of vasculogenesis and hematopoiesis in mouse has been used to identify a separate developmental pathway in which the angioblast lineage forms from mesoderm prior to and independent of hemangioblast development. This result differs from our current understanding where hemangioblasts are considered the common progenitors of cells in vessels and in blood. Furuta C, Ema H, Takayanagi S, Ogaeri T, Okamura D, Matsui Y, Nakauchi H. Discordant developmental waves of angioblasts and hemangioblasts in the early gastrulating mouse embryo. Development. 2006 Jul;133(14):2771-9. Cardiovascular Notes - Blood
A review paper on external genitalia development looks at the molecular similarities between formation of the genital tubercle and limb formation. Yamada G, Suzuki K, Haraguchi R, Miyagawa S, Satoh Y, Kamimura M, Nakagata N, Kataoka H, Kuroiwa A, Chen Y. Molecular genetic cascades for external genitalia formation: An emerging organogenesis program. Dev Dyn. 2006 Jul;235(7):1738-52. Genital Notes
A recent UK study on the effects of maternal diabetes on development showed "Perinatal mortality and prevalence of congenital anomalies are high in the babies of women with type 1 or type 2 diabetes. The rates do not seem to differ between the two types of diabetes." Macintosh MC, Fleming KM, Bailey JA, Doyle P, Modder J, Acolet D, Golightly S, Miller A. Perinatal mortality and congenital anomalies in babies of women with type 1 or type 2 diabetes in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland: population based study. BMJ. 2006 Jun 16; Endocrine Notes - Pancreas | Endocrine Notes - Maternal diabetes mellitus Abnormal Development - Maternal diabetes
Neural Stem Cell Differentiation A recent study has shown the differentiation of embryonic stem cells into neural cells by contact with extracellular matrix components of the human amniotic membrane in serum-free medium. Ueno M, Matsumura M, Watanabe K, Nakamura T, Osakada F, Takahashi M, Kawasaki H, Kinoshita S, Sasai Y. Neural conversion of ES cells by an inductive activity on human amniotic membrane matrix. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2006 Jun 9 PNAS Link | Stem Cell Notes | Neural Notes
Polycystic ovary syndrome affects around 20% of Caucasian women (even more common in some ethnic groups) and 4-9% of women of reproductive age. This recent Dutch study of 228 women with polycystic ovary syndrome found: "Metformin (insulin sensitiser) is not an effective addition to clomifene citrate as the primary method of inducing ovulation in women with polycystic ovary syndrome." Moll E, Bossuyt PM, Korevaar JC, Lambalk CB, van der Veen F. Effect of clomifene citrate plus metformin and clomifene citrate plus placebo on induction of ovulation in women with newly diagnosed polycystic ovary syndrome: randomised double blind clinical trial. BMJ Link | Human Menstrual Cycle Notes | Reproductive System Abnormalities | OMIM- Polycystic Ovary Syndrome | NCBI Bookshelf - Endocrinology |
Hair Follicle Pattern Formation a study has looked at the signaling pathway involved in establishing the regular patterning of hair follicles using embryonic skin cultures. "We find that ectodysplasin receptor (Edar)–bone morphogenetic protein (BMP) signaling and transcriptional interactions are central to generation of the primary hair follicle pattern, with restriction of responsiveness, rather than localization of an inducing ligand, being the key driver in this process." PNAS Link | Integumentary Development - Hair
Mammary Epithelial Pattern Formation a study looking at the molecular signals leading to establishment of surface epitelial mammary placodes (in mice) identifies a patterning role for the growth factor Fibroblast Growth Factor 10 (FGF10, also called keratinocyte growth factor 2). "We propose that the intra-somitic Fgf10 gradient, together with ventral elongation of the somites, determines the correct dorsoventral position of mammary epithelium along the flank." Veltmaat JM, Relaix F, Le LT, Kratochwil K, Sala FG, van Veelen W, Rice R, Spencer-Dene B, Mailleux AA, Rice DP, Thiery JP, Bellusci S. (Development Link) Gli3-mediated somitic Fgf10 expression gradients are required for the induction and patterning of mammary epithelium along the embryonic axes. Development. 2006 Jun;133(12):2325-35. Integumentary Development - Mammary Glands | Molecular Development- Fibroblast Growth Factor
UK Miscarriage Management Study (MIST) of 1200 women with early fetal loss or retained products of conception given either expectant, surgical, or medical management showed no difference in infection rates with any of the 3 management protocols. "However, significantly more unplanned admissions and unplanned surgical curettage occurred after expectant management and medical management than after surgical management." Trinder J, Brocklehurst P, Porter R, Read M, Vyas S, Smith L. Management of miscarriage: expectant, medical, or surgical? Results of randomised controlled trial (miscarriage treatment (MIST) trial). BMJ. 2006 May 17 Abnormal Development
New international Child Growth Standards for infants and young children released (27 Apr) by the World Health Organization (WHO) provide evidence and guidance for the first time about how every child in the world should grow. "The new standards prove that differences in children's growth to age five are more influenced by nutrition, feeding practices, environment, and healthcare than genetics or ethnicity." Growth Charts
Molecular Development A recent paper has identified yet another role for Sonic Hedgehog in developing pattern, this time in the (postnatal) organization of the developing cerebellum. Corrales JD, Blaess S, Mahoney EM, Joyner AL. The level of sonic hedgehog signaling regulates the complexity of cerebellar foliation. Development. 2006 May;133(9):1811-21. "Foliation of the mouse cerebellum occurs primarily during the first 2 weeks after birth and is accompanied by tremendous proliferation of granule cell precursors (GCPs). .....Our studies have uncovered a mechanism by which the level and length of Shh signaling could be integral to determining the distinct number of fissures in each species." Molecular Development - SHH
Human Menstrual Cycle - A review study shows women with endometriosis have improved IVF pregnancy rates with prior gonadotrophin releasing hormone therapy. Sallam HN, Garcia-Velasco JA, Dias S, Arici A. Long-term pituitary down-regulation before in vitro fertilization (IVF) for women with endometriosis. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2006 Jan 25;(1):CD004635. "The administration of gonadotrophin releasing hormone (GnRH) agonists for a period of three to six months prior to in vitro fertilization (IVF) or intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) in women with endometriosis increases the odds of clinical pregnancy by fourfold. Data regarding adverse effects of this therapy on the mother or fetus are not available at present." Human Menstrual Cycle - Endometriosis
Molecular Development - Epigenetics - A study has shown the accumulation of chromosome metheylation differences over our lifetime, pointing to potential epigenetic mechanisms of inheritence. Fraga MF, Ballestar E, Paz MF, Ropero S, Setien F, Ballestar ML, Heine-Suner D, Cigudosa JC, Urioste M, Benitez J, Boix-Chornet M, Sanchez-Aguilera A, Ling C, Carlsson E, Poulsen P, Vaag A, Stephan Z, Spector TD, Wu YZ, Plass C, Esteller M. Epigenetic differences arise during the lifetime of monozygotic twins. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2005 Jul 26;102(30):10604-9. "...We found that, although twins are epigenetically indistinguishable during the early years of life, older monozygous twins exhibited remarkable differences in their overall content and genomic distribution of 5-methylcytosine DNA and histone acetylation, affecting their gene-expression portrait. These findings indicate how an appreciation of epigenetics is missing from our understanding of how different phenotypes can be originated from the same genotype." Molecular Development - Epigenetics
There has been a significant recent increase in spontaneous preterm births, with an as yet unknown cause, in primiparous women (who have given birth only once) with singleton spontaneous pregnancies. Langhoff-Roos J, Kesmodel U, Jacobsson B, Rasmussen S, Vogel I. Spontaneous preterm delivery in primiparous women at low risk in Denmark: population based study. BMJ. 2006 Apr 22;332(7547):937-9. "The overall proportion of preterm deliveries increased significantly (22%) from 1995 to 2004 and primiparity and multiple birth were the most important contributing factors. The rise in spontaneous preterm deliveries in the standard population of primiparous women at low risk was greater than in the total population." Birth
Heart regeneration in cardiac repair, has been very difficult to achieve. A recent study using mesenchymal stem cells shows some therapeutic promise and application for stem cell technology. Mesenchymal stem cells (adipose tissue-derived) grown in culture and transplanted into scarred heart myocardium "After transplantation, the engrafted sheet gradually grew to form a thick stratum that included newly formed vessels, undifferentiated cells and few cardiomyocytes. The mesenchymal stem cell sheet also acted through paracrine pathways to trigger angiogenesis." Miyahara Y, Nagaya N, Kataoka M, Yanagawa B, Tanaka K, Hao H, Ishino K, Ishida H, Shimizu T, Kangawa K, Sano S, Okano T, Kitamura S, Mori H. Monolayered mesenchymal stem cells repair scarred myocardium after myocardial infarction. Nat Med. 2006 Apr;12(4):459-65. Stem Cells | Heart Notes
In Vitro Fertilization - European IVF success rates Data from 2001 show that more than 2% of babies born in some European countries are now the result of assisted reproductive technology (ART), though there is a wide range from country to country of IVF success rates (0.2% in Latvia to 3.9% in Denmark). Week 1 - In Vitro Fertilization | Nyboe Andersen A, Erb K. Register data on Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) in Europe including a detailed description of ART in Denmark. Int J Androl. 2006 Feb;29(1):12-6. | BMJ Mar 18 Proportion of babies born in Europe after IVF varies 20-fold
Abnormal Development - Maternal Factors There is mainly anechdotal evidence in humans linking maternal stress to pregnancy loss. This recent paper has attempted to initially address this scientifically by measuring a marker of stress (urinary cortisol levels) to correlate with the occurance of spontaneous abortion. Note that altered urinary cortisol levels can also be associated with other endocrine disorders and medications. "...We examined the association between miscarriage and levels of maternal urinary cortisol during the first 3 weeks after conception. Pregnancies characterized by increased maternal cortisol during this period (within participant analyses) were more likely to result in spontaneous abortion (P < 0.05)." Nepomnaschy PA, Welch KB, McConnell DS, Low BS, Strassmann BI, England BG. Cortisol levels and very early pregnancy loss in humans. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 7 March 2006; Vol. 103, No. 10 Abnormal Development - Maternal Factors | Endocrine Abnormalities | MedlinePlus Cortisol - urine
Week 1 - Spermatogenesis/Capacitation - A recent paper has described protein translation occuring in sperm during activation (capacitation) which is contrary to the accepted dogma that "spermatozoa are translationally silent" (Genes and Development Feb 06) Gur Y, Breitbart H. Mammalian sperm translate nuclear-encoded proteins by mitochondrial-type ribosomes. Genes Dev. 2006 Feb 15;20(4):411-6. Week 1 - Spermatogenesis | Week 1 - Capacitation
In Vitro Fertilization/Stem Cells - UK HFEA ask for more information on protection and finance before agreeing a new policy for donors for research "... before they bring in a new policy on the donation of eggs, sperm and embryos for research. People have been donating eggs, sperm and embryos to medical research for many decades, for example to help investigate techniques around egg freezing. Hundreds of eggs are currently donated directly to research each year." (Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (UK) press release Feb 15) Week 1 - In Vitro Fertilization
Human Menstrual Cycle - Who is responsible in Australia for RU486 approval? Australian Senate Committee Inquiry "Inquiry into Therapeutic Goods Amendment (Repeal of Ministerial responsibility for approval of RU486) Bill 2005" Report "1.8 The Committee acknowledged that in accordance with Senate procedures the inquiry should be restricted to the stated purpose of the Bill, which is to remove the responsibility for approval of RU486 from the Minister and to provide responsibility for approval of RU486 to the Therapeutic Goods Administration." (modified extract from the Senate report) (Feb 08) Human Menstrual Cycle - RU486
Abnormal Development - March of Dimes Global Report on Birth Defects: The Hidden Toll of Dying and Disabled Children. "Every year an estimated 8 million children (about 6% of total births worldwide) are born with a serious birth defect of genetic or partially genetic origin..... Birth defects are a global problem, but their impact is particularly severe in middle- and low-income countries where more than 94% of births with serious defects and 9% of the deaths of these children." (March of Dimes Website Jan 30) Abnormal Development
Human Ovary - the number of oogonia was shown to increase in each female embryo ovary from approximately 26,000 (at week 6) to 250,000 (at week 9). Meiosis was also identified in the fetal ovaries from week 9. (Hum Reprod. Jan) Bendsen E, Byskov AG, Andersen CY, Westergaard LG. Number of germ cells and somatic cells in human fetal ovaries during the first weeks after sex differentiation. Hum Reprod. 2006 Jan;21(1):30-35. Ovary
Stem Cells - Hwang Woo-suk (Korean pioneer of stem cell research) Resigns A Seoul National University investigation of the original data in Science paper Jun (2005;308: 1777-83) "Eleven human embryonic stem cells (hESC) lines were established by nuclear transfer (SCNT; NT) of skin cells from patients with disease or injury into donated oocytes." announced 29 Dec 2005 that he had faked the results. The journal Science also announced it will retract the original paper (see links below). (BMJ 07 Jan) Stem Cells | Science News 06 Jan | Special Online Collection: Hwang et al. and Stem Cell Issues
Human Menstrual Cycle - Inquiry into Therapeutic Goods Amendment (Repeal of Ministerial responsibility for approval of RU486) Bill 2005 Who should be making the final decision on drug approval in Australia, the Minister or Therapeutic Goods, and on what basis are these decisions being made. (Senate's Community Affairs Committee 15 Dec) Birth Control | ABC 2004 No room at the inn for RU486 | eMJA 1997 Mifepristone (RU486) and abortion
Molecular - Left and right determination An article appearing in the journal Development looks at the earliest signals associated with the primitive node that determine polarity and axis formation "Wnt3a functions in the trunk organizer to coordinate patterning and morphogenesis along multiple body axes" (Wnt3a activates the Delta/Notch signal pathway) (Development 15 Dec) Molecular Axes | Left/Right Axes | Wnt 7a | Stage 7
Statistics - 257,900 births registered in the year ended 30 June 2005 Australia's fertility rate hit a ten year high for the year ended 30 June 2005, according to preliminary figures released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). (ABS 09 Dec) Australian Statistics | Australian Maternal Statistics
Human Menstrual Cycle - RU486 for Australia? Research Note no. 19 2005–06 a document prepared to support the work of the Australian Parliament. (Parliamentary Library 29 Nov) Birth Control | ABC 2004 No room at the inn for RU486 | eMJA 1997 Mifepristone (RU486) and abortion
Newborn - Face recognition In an article in PNAS, researchers have studied how newborns recognise faces and its not by their orientation but by contrast. "We find that for both schematic and naturalistic face images, the contrast polarity is important. Newborns did not show a preference for an upright face-related image unless it was composed of darker areas around the eyes and mouth. This result is consistent with either sensitivity to the shadowed areas of a face with overhead (natural) illumination and/or to the detection of eye contact." (PNAS 11 Nov) Farroni T, Johnson MH, Menon E, Zulian L, Faraguna D, Csibra G. Newborns' preference for face-relevant stimuli: Effects of contrast polarity. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2005 Nov 11; [Epub ahead of print] Postnatal Development
Twins - Medically conceived twins have an increased risk of preterm birth "Compared with naturally conceived twins, twins resulting from subfertility treatment have a slightly decreased gestational age at birth and an increased risk of preterm birth." (BMJ 19 Nov) Verstraelen H, Goetgeluk S, Derom C, Vansteelandt S, Derom R, Goetghebeur E, Temmerman M. Preterm birth in twins after subfertility treatment: population based cohort study. BMJ. 2005 Oct 25 [Epub ahead of print] Twinning | Week 1 - In Vitro Fertilization
Prenatal Diagnosis - Down's Syndrome Screening A large team of clinical researchers have compared the effectiveness of first and second trimester screening methods for this chromosome 21 trisomy disorder "First-trimester combined screening at 11 weeks of gestation is better than second-trimester quadruple screening but at 13 weeks has results similar to second-trimester quadruple screening." (NEMJ Nov 10) Malone FD, Canick JA, Ball RH, Nyberg DA, Comstock CH, Bukowski R, Berkowitz RL, Gross SJ, Dugoff L, Craigo SD, Timor-Tritsch IE, Carr SR, Wolfe HM, Dukes K, Bianchi DW, Rudnicka AR, Hackshaw AK, Lambert-Messerlian G, Wald NJ, D'Alton ME. First-Trimester or Second-Trimester Screening, or Both, for Down's Syndrome. N Engl J Med. 2005 Nov 10;353(19):2001-2011. Prenatal Diagnosis | Down's Syndrome
Prenatal Diagnosis - Should we be allowed to test at conception for conditions such as Alzheimer's and Cancer? The UK fertility regulator, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA), has launched a public debate with a discussion paper "Choices & boundaries - which looks at key questions raised by the embryo testing technique known as preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD). People are being asked give their views on where they feel the boundaries should lie on which conditions PGD can be used to test for." Download PDF Choices & boundaries (HFEA 10 Nov) Prenatal Diagnosis
Placenta - The daughters of women who had pre-eclampsia during pregnancy had more than twice the risk of pre-eclampsia themselves Researchers in Norway have identified a generational linkage for pre-eclampsia in women. "Maternal genes and fetal genes from either the mother or father may trigger pre-eclampsia. The maternal association is stronger than the fetal association. The familial association predicts more severe pre-eclampsia." (BMJ 15 Oct) Placenta Abnormalities
Prenatal Diagnosis - Chim SS, Tong YK, Chiu RW, Lau TK, Leung TN, Chan LY, Oudejans CB, Ding C, Lo YM. Researchers from Hong Kong and China have been able to identify differences between fetal blood DNA and maternal blood DNA in the mother, therefore allowing the first steps in developing a non-invasive genetic testing of the embryo. Detection of the placental epigenetic signature of the maspin gene in maternal plasma. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2005 Oct 3 "The discovery of fetal DNA in the plasma of pregnant women has opened up new approaches for noninvasive prenatal diagnosis and monitoring....... Differential DNA methylation between the placenta and maternal blood cells may be exploited to develop further markers for noninvasive prenatal assessment." (PNAS 03 Oct) Prenatal Diagnosis
Neural Development - Support for the Homeobox Transcription Factor Gene ENGRAILED 2 as an Autism Spectrum Disorder Susceptibility Locus Link between autism and Engrailed 2 (EN2), may contribute to up to 40% of autism cases in the general population (EN2 is involved in normal neural development). ".....Together, these data provide further genetic evidence that EN2 might act as an ASD susceptibility locus, and they suggest that a risk allele that perturbs the spatial/temporal expression of EN2 could significantly alter normal brain development." (Am. J. Hum. Genet., 77:851-868, November 2005) Neural Development | Abnormal Neural Development | Autism
In Vitro Fertilization - Robert Winston argues on HFEA (UK) role The IVF meddlers must go... Robert Winston argues that patients, and clinical researchers, are being ill-served by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (UK) "My retirement from clinical medicine eases a burden. I no longer look over my shoulder at the regulatory body, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA), whose workings the government is to review. I can speak plainly because I no longer have a conflict of interests. I believe there is a strong case for abolishing this body." (Guardian Newspaper 01 Sep) Week 1 - In Vitro Fertilization
Molecular Development - The chimpanzee genome published in Nature. "We share our genes with rodents (88%), chicken (60%) and chimpanzee (98%) so "What makes us human?" (edited from paper summary) (Nature 437, 47 01 Sept) Molecular Development
In Vitro Fertilization - UK government responds to call for change in reproduction technology "Internet based sperm donation services do need to be regulated, the government has accepted, in launching a consultation on its review of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act. It plans to consult on the extent of regulation needed for such online services, as well as on a wide range of other controversial reproduction issues, including the sex selection of embryos, use of preimplantation genetic diagnosis, and welfare of children born through assisted reproduction." (BJM 2005;331:421 20 Aug) Week 1 - In Vitro Fertilization
In Vitro Fertilization - UK Fertility agency is to investigate single embryo transfer "The common practice in Britain during in vitro fertilisation (IVF) treatment of implanting more than one embryo in women may be banned under new (UK) (Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority) guidelines aimed at reducing the number of multiple births." The authority's chief executive, Angela McNab said "We know that the biggest risk from fertility treatment is caused by multiple births--having twins or triplets--and this is a risk both to the mother and to the children born." (BJM 331:308 06 Aug) Week 1 - In Vitro Fertilization
Fetal Origins Hypothesis - Extremely low birth weight linked to chronic illness risk Chronic Conditions, Functional Limitations, and Special Health Care Needs of School-aged Children Born With Extremely Low-Birth-Weight in the 1990s Hack, M. etal., JAMA. 2005;294:318-325. This paper of a USA study of extremely low-birth-weight babies (ELBW, less than 1000 g) born in the 1990s and that survived, were later analysed at 8 years of age. Their conclusion was that these ELBW children "have considerable long-term health and educational needs". This is an extreme case, with ELBW babies, but does relate to the current Fetal Origins Hypothesis which links birth weight and later health outcomes. (JAMA 20 Jul 2005, see also paper review BJM 23 Jul) Abnormal Development - Fetal Origins Hypothesis
Stem Cells - Full Spectrum of Stem Cell Biology PHILADELPHIA - Stem cell research - including research involving human embryonic stem cells - is essential to the advancement of cancer research, according to a position statement adopted by the Board of Directors of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR). "As the community of scientists on the front lines of the battle against cancer, we are firm in our belief that continued experimentation with human stem cells is necessary to improve evaluation of anti-cancer drugs, to identify markers for early detection of cancer, and to illuminate the path to novel, targeted treatments," said Lynn M. Matrisian, Ph.D. (AACR website 13 Jul 2005) Week 2- Stem Cells
Integumentary Development - Eyelid Development In normal mammalian development the eyelids grow across the eye, fuse and then reopen. In an article in the journal Development (Development 132, 3217-3230), researchers have now identified in the mouse that fibroblast growth factor 10 (FGF10) signalling is required in this process for "both proliferation and coordinated migration of eyelid epithelial cells by reorganization of the cytoskeleton" (Development 15 Jul 2005) Integumentary Development
Oestrus Cycle - Diet Phytoestrogens derived from plants and available in varying levels in commercial rodent diets has been found to have an impact on rodent uterine growth, gene expression and implantation timing. "Variability in phytoestrogen content in commercial rodent diets, both within and between brands, influences experimental results stresses the importance of this investigation and raises caution for investigators using rodents as animal models." (PNAS 12 Jul 2005) Oestrus Cycle
Postnatal Development - Outcome of meningococcal disease in children "Adequate early treatment is vitally important for the final outcome of meningococcal disease in children." In this UK study of 498 children, 3 factors were found associated with an increased risk of death: not being cared for by a paediatrician, junior staff working with not enough supervision, and failure of staff to administer adequate inotropes. (BMJ 25 June) Postnatal Development
Stem Cells - Riches in stem-cell niches "Nature Magazine presents an archive consisting of research articles, News and Views and reviews of work in this burgeoning field. Three niche systems are explored: the spectacular fly gonad, the therapeutically important but inaccessible bone marrow, and the surprisingly adaptable neuronal niche." (Nature Online) Week 2- Stem Cells
Women's Health - Special Issue: Women's Health Science Magazine has published a collection of articles online that focus specifically on issues of women's health, including Endometriosis, Preeclampsia, Cardiovascular diseases and clinical trials data. (Science 10 Jun 2005) Women's Health
Ovary - Successful Ovary Transplant "Monozygotic 24-year-old twins presented with discordant ovarian function. One had had premature ovarian failure at the age of 14 years, whereas her sister had normal ovaries and three naturally conceived children. After unsuccessful egg-donation therapy, the sterile twin received a transplant of ovarian cortical tissue from her sister by means of a minilaparotomy. Within three months after transplantation, the recipient's cycles resumed and serum gonadotropin levels fell to the normal range. During the second cycle, she conceived, and her pregnancy progressed uneventfully. At 38 weeks' gestation, she delivered a healthy-appearing female infant." Ovarian Transplantation between Monozygotic Twins Discordant for Premature Ovarian Failure. Silber SJ et al. N Engl J Med. 2005; 353 (NEJM 07 June 2005) Week 1 - Ovary
Immune Development - Exposure to early infections may decrease risk of childhood acute lymphoblastic leukaemia A UK population study published in BMJ describes how exposure to common infections in early postnatal development (through day care) can decrease the risk of developing acute lymphoblastic leukaemia. "Childhood leukaemia is a biologically diverse disease and probably occurs by several aetiological pathways. The common, B cell precursor, form of acute lymphoblastic leukaemia accounts for the incidence peak between 2 and 5 years of age, and immunological isolation may be a causal factor. Children attending day care have an increased risk of contracting a variety of common infections." Day care in infancy and risk of childhood acute lymphoblastic leukaemia: findings from UK case-control study C Gilham, J Peto, J Simpson, E Roman, T O B Eden, M F Greaves, F E Alexander (BMJ 04 June 2005) Blood Development
Stem Cells - See update to this original news article Jan 2006
Patient-Specific Embryonic Stem Cells Derived from Human SCNT Blastocysts. "Eleven human embryonic stem cells (hESC) lines were established by nuclear transfer (SCNT; NT) of skin cells from patients with disease or injury into donated oocytes." Hwang WS etal. College of Veterinary Medicine, Seoul National University, Korea See also editorial article - Cloning of Human Stem Cells Speeds Up (Science. 2005 May 19) This paper is now to be withdrawn see Jan 2006 Week 2- Stem Cells
In Vitro Fertilization - IVF multiple birthrates in a recent BMJ paper researchers have looked at the changes in Sweden since the early 1990s when the number of embryos transferred in the clinic was reduced from 3 to 2: "The rate of multiple births after IVF increased to a maximum of 29% in 1991 but fell to 18.5% by 2001, resulting in a 70% reduction of preterm births" (BMJ Reproductive Medicine 13 May 2005) Week 1- In vitro Fertilization
Viral Infection - Report of polio outbreak in Indonesia Indonesia has not had a wild poliovirus case since 1995, which suggests recent introduction of a wild poliovirus form an overseas source. Global polio cases 1267 for 2004 (as of week 26 April 2005): Nigeria (792) India (136) Pakistan (53) Niger (25) Afghanistan (4) Egypt (1) (Polio Eradication Org 04 May 2005) Abnormal Development - Viral Infection | Abnormal Development - Polio
Bacterial Infection - First Combination Vaccine Approved to Help Protect Adolescents Against Whooping Cough USA Food and Drug Administration has approved booster immunization against pertussis (whooping cough) in combination with tetanus and diphtheria for adolescents. Pertussis is a highly contagious bacterial disease. (FDA 03 May 2005) Postnatal Development
Stem Cells - US experts draw up guidelines for stem-cell research "Ethics committees should ban primate chimaera experiments. US stem-cell research needs a coherent set of rules, according to experts from the National Academy of Sciences. Every institution working with human embryonic stem cells should create a committee to oversee the research, says the panel, which also recommends that some experiments should be banned." (Nature 28 April 2005) Week 2- Stem Cells
Preimplantation genetic diagnosis - Baby gene test safety 'unchecked' In the UK, "PGD was first introduced in 1990 as an experimental procedure, since then an estimated 1,000+ babies have been born following PGD. In November 2001, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) agreed on conditions in which PGD could be used under the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act (1990) to screen for : genetic form of cystic fibrosis, Huntington's disease and inherited form of bowel cancer called familial adenomatous polyposis." (BBC 25 April 2005) Abnormal Development- Prenatal Diagnosis
Ovary - Second ovary transplant success "Ouarda Touriat gave birth last year after an ovarian tissue transplant A second woman has had a successful ovarian tissue transplant, Belgian doctors have announced." (BBC 16 March 2005) Week 1- Ovary
Maternal Effects - Chromosomal Instability in Amniocytes From Fetuses of Mothers Who Smoke A spanish study by Rosa Ana de la Chica and others has shown a relationship between maternal lifestyle and possible genetic effects on embryo genome. "Our findings show that smoking 10 or more cigarettes per day for at least 10 years and during pregnancy is associated with increased chromosomal instability in amniocytes. Band 11q23, known to be involved in leukemogenesis, seems especially sensitive to genotoxic compounds contained in tobacco." (JAMA Vol. 293 No.10, March 9, 2005) Abnormal Development - Maternal Factors
See also article by DeMarini, DM and Preston RJ, Smoking While Pregnant Transplacental Mutagenesis of the Fetus by Tobacco Smoke
Human Cloning - UN committee approves international declaration against human cloning "An international declaration calling for a ban on human cloning has been approved in a contentious vote by the main United Nations Legal Committee. The "Sixth Committee" voted 71 in favor to 35 against - with 43 abstentions - to pass the text along to the General Assembly for formal adoption. The declaration calls for countries to prohibit all forms of human cloning inasmuch as they are incompatible with human dignity and the protection of human life." (21 February 2005)
Measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine is most unlikely to be a main cause of autism spectrum disorders (ASD) Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry- No effect of MMR withdrawal on the incidence of autism: a total population study Hideo Honda, Yasuo Shimizu, Michael Rutter "The significance of this finding (Japan study) is that MMR vaccination is most unlikely to be a main cause of ASD, that it cannot explain the rise over time in the incidence of ASD, and that withdrawal of MMR in countries where it is still being used cannot be expected to lead to a reduction in the incidence of ASD." (text edited from abstract Online publication date: 18-Feb-2005)
USA Human Embryonic Stem Cell Lines Contaminated Current Human Embryonic Stem Cell Lines Contaminated With Potentially Dangerous Non-Human Molecule " In a study published online January 23, 2005 in the journal Nature Medicine, the UCSD/Salk Team found that human embryonic stem cells, including those currently approved for study under federal funding in the U.S., contain a non-human, cell-surface sialic acid called N-glycolylneuraminic acid (Neu5Gc), even though human cells are genetically unable to make it." January 23, 2005 (By Sue Pondrom)
Australian IVF Embryo Australian IVF Embryo testing prevents rhesus factor disease "Abigail's birth made medical history - she is the first child born through an IVF process that screens for the blood disorder, rhesus factor disease." (Thursday, January 20, 2005. 8:42pm (AEDT) by Karen Barlow for The World Today)
Frozen Ovary Baby "A woman made infertile by cancer treatment 6 years ago, has conceived after an operation using her own frozen ovarian tissue." BBC News 24 Sept2004 Tamara is the first baby to be born to a woman after an ovary transplant. This human work follows on from pioneering animal studies in sheep carried out in 2001 "Frozen ovary graft yields live births" NewScientist 03 July 01
Sydney Stem Cells "Embryonic stem cells created in Australian first"ABC News Thursday, June 24, 2004
The medical director of Sydney IVF, Robert Jansen, says while mainstream uses are still a few years away, the team's breakthrough will lead the way for new research. "They can be used by researchers for developing or learning more about how cells become other more specialised cells that might be used, for instance, to repopulate someone's pancreas if they have juvenile diabetes," he said.
see also UNSW Embryology- Stem Cells
NIH Clinical Trials Launches Study of Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation for Severe, Treatment-Resistant Lupus (NIAMS, May 13,2004)
A clinical therapeutic trial in the USA for hematopoietic stem cells in an autoimmune disease.
"A five-year study to see whether a therapy using transplantation of hematopoietic stem cells, blood stem cells found in bone marrow, can produce long-term remission for patients with severe, treatment-resistant systemic lupus erythematosus (or lupus), a rheumatic autoimmune disease that can affect the body's major organs. The study will include a basic research component to examine the roles of B and T cells, white blood cells in the immune system, in triggering lupus symptoms."
Read more of the NIH Press Release
Note that a May search of NIH Clinical Trials with "stem cell" found 302 study results.
Repeat search: NIH Clinical Trials with "stem cell"
"Human cloning" read headlines around the world as a paper from a research team in South Korea published a paper in Science.
These highly emotional headlines misled and overstated what was a real breakthrough in Embryology.
ABC Online Scientists hail cloning 'breakthrough'. 13/02/2004. ABC News Online
ABC News in Science - Cloned human cells spell embryonic first - 13/02/2004
BBC News - Scientists clone 30 human embryos
Published online February 12, 2004 | Submitted on December 9, 2003 | Accepted on February 4, 2004
Evidence of a Pluripotent Human Embryonic Stem Cell Line Derived from a Cloned Blastocyst Woo Suk Hwang 1*, Young June Ryu 2, Jong Hyuk Park 3, Eul Soon Park 2, Eu Gene Lee 2, Ja Min Koo 4, Hyun Yong Chun 2, Byeong Chun Lee 2, Sung Keun Kang 2, Sun Jong Kim 3, Curie Ahn 5, Jung Hye Hwang 6, Ky Young Park 7, Jose B. Cibelli 8, Shin Yong Moon 5*
1 College of Veterinary Medicine, Seoul National University, Seoul 151-742, Korea; School of Agricultural Biotechnology, Seoul National University, Seoul 151-742, Korea. 2 College of Veterinary Medicine, Seoul National University, Seoul 151-742, Korea. 3 Medical Research Center, Mizmedi Hospital, Seoul, 135-280, Korea. 4 Gachon Medical School, Incheon, 417-840, Korea. 5 College of Medicine, Seoul National University, Seoul, 110-744, Korea. 6 School of Medicine, Hanyang University, Seoul, 471-701, Korea. 7 College of Natural Science, Sunchon National University, Sunchon, 540-742, Korea. 8 Department of Animal Science-Physiology, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48824, USA.
* To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com.
Somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT) technology has recently been used to generate animals with a common genetic composition. In this study, we report the derivation of a pluripotent embryonic stem cell line (SCNT-hES-1) from a cloned human blastocyst. SCNT-hES-1 cells display typical ES cell morphology and cell surface markers and are capable of differentiating into embryoid bodies in vitro and of forming teratomas in vivo containing cell derivatives from all three embryonic germ layers in SCID mice. After continuous proliferation for >70 passages, SCNT-hES-1 cells maintain normal karyotypes and are genetically identical to the somatic nuclear donor cells. Although we cannot completely exclude the possibility of a parthenogenetic origin of the cells, imprinting analyses provide support that the derived human ES cells have a somatic cell nuclear transfer origin.
"The Real Brain Drain– Why Putting Children First is so Important for Australia" Professor Fiona Stanley AC (Australian of the Year)PDF Transcript National Press Club (Australia) Address, Wednesday 6 August 2003
Reproductive Technology and the Law Couple at centre of IVF controversy begin treatment "The first couple in Britain to be allowed to try to conceive a baby to save the life of an existing child were due to start in vitro fertilisation treatment as the BMJ went to press this week." BMJ 2003;326:1106 (24 May) Population Changes France offers a E800 reward for each new baby "The French prime minister, Jean-Pierre Raffarin, announced last week that a bonus of 800 (£560; $895) will be awarded to mothers for each baby born after 1 January 2004. The bonus is part of a series of measures to encourage families to have more children. It is estimated that 90% of families will qualify for the childbirth bonus" BMJ 2003;326:1002 ( 10 May)
Human cloning Human cloning may be impossible "Fundamental flaws in the development of embryos with techniques currently used to clone cells may make reproductive cloning of primates, including humans, impossible, a research study has said.....The study showed that cell division was abnormal when four different techniques for nuclear transfer were used to clone primate cells ( Science 2003;300:297) "BMJ 2003;326:838 ( 19 April )
Stem Cell Debate in Australia continues with new Federal Legislation
ABC Lateline disscussion- Broadcast: 14/8/2002 Stem cells: science and ethics clash "As the Federal Parliament debates a bill that will legalise embryonic stem cell research, the moral debate continues. Many hope embryo stem cells will hold the promise of cures for diseases and even allow paraplegics to walk again, but is it acceptable to use the cells from a potential human being?" Full transcript and audio version of this discussion available online.
Parliament of Australia- House of Representatives Bills Digest No. 17 2002-03 Research Involving Embryos and Prohibition of Human Cloning Bill 2002 "Purpose: To ban human cloning and other 'unacceptable practices' and to regulate the use of excess human embryos created by assisted reproductive technology (ART). The Bill is designed to be part of a national scheme which will include complementary State and Territory laws."
Dr Michael Wooldridge MP, Minister for Health and Aged Care, Media Release, 'National Framework Agreed to Prevent the Exploitation of Human Cloning', 31 July 2001 NATIONAL FRAMEWORK AGREED TO PREVENT THE EXPLOITATION OF HUMAN CLONING Australian Health Ministers today agreed to the development of a national framework to prevent the exploitation of human cloning. Meeting in Wellington today, Australian Health Ministers acknowledged that the development of complementary legislation across the states and territories was essential to ensure a consistent national approach to the cloning of humans.
NHMRC Fact Sheet No. 5 Stem cells and the regulation of stem cell research. "What are stem cells? Stem cells are cells that can replicate themselves and have the potential to differentiate into particular cell and tissue types. Stem cells occur at all stages of human development, from embryo to adult, but their versatility and abundance gradually decrease with age."
Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee activities (inquiries and reports) Human cloning: scientific, ethical and regulatory aspects of human cloning and stem cell research.
Biotechnology Centre of Excellence Centre for Stem Cells and Tissue Repair The Centre for Stem Cells and Tissue Repair will be established to bring together Australia's expertise in embryonic and adult stem cell technology, both in the public and private sectors, and cement Australia's world standing in this field.
The mammalian oocyte orchestrates the rate of ovarian follicular development PNAS 2002;99 2890-2894, This PNAS paper shows that the oocyte (egg) regulates the development of the ovarian follicle (the surrounding cells).
NHMRC- Stem Cells Derived from Human Embryos At its 141st session in March 2002, the NHMRC reaffirmed its commitment to rigorously applying the standards developed by the Australian Health Ethics Committee (AHEC) in the conduct of research in Australia involving humans. These standards consist of the National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Research Involving Humans (1999) and associated guidelines.
Embryonic Stem Cells and Parkinson's Disease. This PNAS paper and commentary discuss the possibilities of stem cells being used in the treatment of Parkinson's Disease.
Stem Cells and Grafting this Nature paper demonstrates the possible therapeutic use of embryonic stem cells in grafting, where host-graft rejection normally requires substantial ongoing immunosuppression. Preimplantation-stage stem cells induce long-term allogeneic graft acceptance without supplementary host conditioning FANDRICH etal.
US President Bush has named 17 scientists, doctors, ethicists, lawyers and theologians to his Council on Bioethics. Chaired by Leon Kass, a bioethicist from the University of Chicago, the council will consider the ethical implications of embryo and stem cell research, assisted reproduction, cloning and uses of techniques derived from knowledge of human genetics. (Whitehouse Press release Jan16)
France outlaws the right to sue for being born A new law has been introduced into the French Assembly to try to clarify the question of whether doctors should be held responsible when a child is born disabled. BMJ 2002; 324: 129a.
Depression and unintended pregnancy in the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth: a cohort study BMJ 2002;324:151-152
Thyroid disease 'raises birth risk' Women with thyroid disease are more likely have babies with birth defects even if tests show no problem with the gland during pregnancy, say Johns Hopkins University researchers. (BBC report Jan 20).
Giving pregnant women weekly steroid shots to reduce complications in premature infants offers little or no benefit in most cases and may even lead to brain damage in newborns, researchers say. (CNN 2 October)
American Society for Reproductive Medicine -The chair of the ethics committee wrote a letter endorsing gender selection testing of embryos created by in vitro fertilization. (CNN 1 October)
UK Parenting link to asthma- Researchers have found that psychological factors may increase the likelihood that children whose genetic make-up makes them vulnerable to asthma will actually develop the condition. (BBC 1 October)
September 2001- Quit cigs to help prevent SIDS One-third of SIDS deaths could be prevented if all pregnant women stopped smoking, say Australian researchers, published in Medical Journal of Australia. (ABC report 17 September) See also Abnormal Development Smoking and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome pages.
Doonsebury comment- event the cartoon's have a comical view of the USA stem cell debate.
Herbal remedy linked to birth defects American scientists have discovered that women taking one type of the supplement Ginkgo biloba had high levels of the toxin colchicine. (BBC Report 29 August)
NIH Update on existing Human Embryonic Stem Cells. Read also "Stem Cells: Scientific Progress and Future Research Directions"
An Australian research team isolates stem cells from the adult brain. Purification of a pluripotent neural stem cell from the adult mouse brain. R L RIETZE, H VALCANIS, G F BROOKER, T THOMAS, A K VOSS& P F BARTLETT
Human Stem cells in the News mainly in regard to USA political position on Human Stem Cell Research (BBC links)
Read this May 2000 article on Stem Cells from NIH USA
The debate rages on concerning Human Cloning in the News. The external links below to CNN and are videos and require Quicktime Stem Cell Animation
Doctor talks about cloning plans- CNN's Elizabeth Cohen interviews Dr. Panos Zavos on his plans to clone humans (August 6)
Human cloning plan outlined, defended Researchers talk about their plan and defend accusations healthy clones cannot be produced (August 7)
Illegal to clone humans in U.S. CNN's Kyra Phillips talks to CNN Legal Analyst Roger Cossack about U.S. cloning laws (August 7)
July 2001- Human Stem cells in the News mainly in reguard to USA position on Human Stem Cell Research (BBC) Row over made-to-order stem cells (12 July)
Read this May 2000 article on Stem Cells from NIH USA
May 2001- British IVF expert Professor Robert Winston predicts humans will not be cloned in the future, nor genetically engineered to have enhanced characteristics. SMH article
March 2001- Italian doctor claims he will carry out first human cloning. Generates enormous furore in Scientific/Medical/Ethical communities. See CNN articles.
USA considers human embryo research under the new Bush administration, an article from the BBC.
Transcript of discussion on ABC Radio (Dr. J Kahn , Dr. JWagner) on Genetic Technology And Ethics
February 2001- The Human Genome was simultaneously published in papers in both Science and Nature journals. While still incomplete it is the most accurate map of the genetic background for development. The sequence was developed by both an international consortium and a commercial group. Note that knowing what genes are present in the genome is only the first step, you then have to know their function. See also introduction to the Human Genome pages.
January 2001- The British parliament passes a law under the 1990 Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act to allow cloning of human embryos. This cloning is to be carried out for scientific research purposes only to human stem cells.
special article on Cloning from the New Scientist magazine, a good place begin researching this topic.
January 2000- Splitting of an early embryo to clone a monkey described in BBC article.
March 1999- Scientifc American article on Visualizing Human Embryos by Brad Smith. Explores the many new ways of looking at embryos, not previously available to us.
January 1999- Time Magazine article on Designer Babiescovering the issues of picking your child's sex, genetic testing etc.
The ABC Radio National Health Reports are a series of radio broadcasts covering many different current health issues, not just development.
External Link: http://www.abc.net.au/rn/healthreport/default.htm
For those wanting to see dynamic processes of development (and have a reasonably quick connection) then the Movies pages are good for watching changes occur.
The study of human development has relied extensively on studying the process in other model animals. For those wanting to see the process of development in other species then the other embryos pages are a good start.