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DOCTORS CURE & TREATMENT KILLED HIS PATIENT COURT FINDS & AWARDS COMPENSATION

June 22nd, 2016

Newcastle Private Hospital.image www.newcures.info

Newcastle Private Hospital.NSW.Australia. Photo: Fiona Morris

Colleen Stefanyszyn, of the Newcastle suburb Merewether, vomited faecal material for several days before her death following surgery at Newcastle Private Hospital in December, 2008.

It was “the worst red flag that a surgeon would see”, a medical expert said during a NSW Supreme Court hearing that resulted in negligence findings against her gynaecologist and the hospital, and the possibility of contempt action against the hospital relating to the Supreme Court proceedings.

Mrs Stefanyszyn’s death was preventable, NSW Supreme Court Justice Monika Schmidt found in a decision on Tuesday that was highly critical of the hospital and its breaches of duty of care that contributed to Mrs Stefanyszyn’s death.

Justice Schmidt accepted Newcastle gynaecologist and obstetrician Dr Oliver Brown’s admission that he breached his duty of care to Mrs Stefanyszyn and that it had resulted in her death.

Mrs Stefanyszyn’s death “could have been prevented, had available surgical steps been taken”, Justice Schmidt said.

Mrs Stefanyszyn, 61, had vaginal hysterectomy elective surgery at the hospital on December 1, 2008.

During the operation a loop of suture material “inadvertently looped around Mrs Stefanyszyn’s bowel”, resulting in a blockage, Justice Schmidt said.

She lived for just four days after the surgery, vomiting faecal matter from the third day, starting with a “coffee-coloured fluid” on the night of December 3.

While Dr Brown’s response to Mrs Stefanyszyn’s symptoms until the third day was reasonable, it was the medical experts’ common ground that his approach to her subsequent care “was not only wrong, but inexplicable, given her deteriorating condition” that included continued faecal vomiting, Justice Schmidt found.

“Despite Mrs Stefanyszyn not recovering from the surgery as was expected and her deteriorating condition, the cause of her symptoms was not investigated, the blockage was not identified and surgical steps necessary to remove it were not taken, with her death the result,” Justice Schmidt found.

“The result was that the blockage was not identified or addressed; infection set in; she repeatedly vomited faecal material; she inhaled some of that material with resulting pneumonia; her electrolytic balance became disordered; her oxygen levels deteriorated; and finally, she suffered a fatal cardiac arrest.”

Justice Schmidt was highly critical of the hospital, its breaches of duty to Mrs Stefanyszyn which were “more extensive than it finally admitted”, the failure of its staff to record observations of Mrs Stefanyszyn on the three days before her death, and the hospital’s decision not to call evidence to address issues of its breaches.

Dr Brown’s “failure to give evidence in support of his own case and the hospital’s failure to call evidence in its, is that such evidence would not have assisted their respective cases”, Justice Schmidt found.

The hospital’s failures “did not give rise to a mere possibility of injury, but actually materially contributed to the death which resulted from both its failures and those of Dr Brown”, Justice Schmidt found.

The matter returns to court on Friday where Justice Schmidt will consider whether the hospital should face contempt proceedings over aspects of the court case.

Justice Schmidt noted the hospital, Mrs Stefanyszyn’s husband Walter and daughters Leigh and Megan had settled a compensation case.

In a notice in the Newcastle Herald on the second anniversary of his wife’s death Mr Stefanyszyn wrote: “I have lost my soul’s companion, a life linked with my own. Day by day I miss you more, as I walk through life alone. Forever Wal.”

Her daughters wrote: “What is home without a mother? All things this world may send, but when we lost our darling mother, we lost our dearest friend. Love Leigh and Megan.”

Newcastle Herald

www.ozrural.com.au

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Henry Sapiecha

The Big Pharma Scam on Treatments & Treatment of Disease [Must see ] Video Documentary

June 6th, 2016

SSS

Henry Sapiecha

‘It Eats Cancer Cells’:Melanoma Treatment Explained for footballer Jarryd Roughead

June 1st, 2016

footballer Jarryd Roughead's Melanoma Treatment image www.newcures.info

Immunotherapy. Nope, we’d never heard of it either.

Radiotherapy and chemotherapy are two well known forms of cancer treatment. But immunotherapy? What exactly is that?

The Huffington Post Australia contacted Cancer Council Australia to learn more about the revolutionary treatment which Hawthorn star Jarryd Roughead is set to undergo to tackle his melanoma.

We spoke to Cancer Council CEO, Professor Sanchia Aranda, who explained that it’s a relatively new treatment which has been worked on for decades by both Australian and international experts. But only recently has it come into common usage.

“Generally immunotherapy is the use of medicines in a way that stimulates your own immune system to recognise and destroy cancer cells,” Aranda explained.

“Your immune system is killing off cells all the time that have the potential to become cancer. The immunotherapy drugs [of which there are two classes — and we don’t know which Roughead is taking] basically boost the immune response.

“They cause immune cells or T-cells — which are a particular a particular type of white blood cells — to attack the melanoma cells. They recognise a particular protein expressed by the cancer cell, and they attach to that and then basically gobble the cancer cells up.”

Aranda said there were some side effects, which could include fatigue, itching, skin rash pain in joints and sometimes diarrhoea.

“But not hair falling out and not quite so much vomiting and those kind of things,” she said.

Fan favourite Jarryd Roughead celebrates after winning the 2015 Grand Final. image www.newcures.info

Fan favourite: Jarryd Roughead celebrates after winning the 2015 Grand Final.

Like any cancer treatment, there is no 100 percent certainty of success. But immunotherapy has been proven to work in many cases.

The treatment was in its infancy just seven years ago when AFL legend Jim Stynes was diagnosed with melanoma which metastasised to his brain. Aranda is well familiar with his case, and said he lived for three years thanks to immunotherapy, where most patients with his diagnosis would expect to live less than a year.

Seven years down the track, the fledgling field of immunotherapy has hugely advanced.

“In melanoma some of these drugs lead to complete remission,” Aranda said. “It’s important to understand that the state of of play regarding treating melanoma is changing on a daily basis. There’s been a sudden and dramatic shift.”

Aranda said further good news for Roughhead is that he is in the “very best place”, the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre in Melbourne, which is known to most people as just “Peter Mac”. Aranda described Peter Mac lead researcher Professor Grant McArthur as a “world leader” in the field.

Sanchia-Aranda & Jarryd's in a very good place image www.newcures.info

Sanchia Aranda & Jarryd’s in a very good place.

Roughead would also have a fantastic nurse on his side, in Dr Donna Milne. Milne has a PhD in the field of cancer care, which is why she’s a nurse with a doctor in her title.

“She’s really smart,” Aranda said. “And she’s a Hawthorn supporter too.”

creams

Henry Sapiecha

IVF baby born using the latest revolutionary genetic-screening process

May 28th, 2016

Next-generation sequencing could enable IVF clinics to determine the chances of diseases developing in children

David-Levy-and-Marybeth-S-010 with dna selection image www.newcures.info

Baby Connor Levy with his parents David Levy and Marybeth Scheidts

The first IVF baby to be screened using a procedure that can read every letter of the human genome has been born in the US.

Connor Levy was born on 18 May after a Philadelphia couple had cells from their IVF embryos sent to specialists in Oxford, who checked them for genetic abnormalities. The process helped doctors at the couple’s fertility clinic in the US select embryos with the right number of chromosomes. These have a much higher chance of leading to a healthy baby.

The birth demonstrates how next-generation sequencing (NGS), which was developed to read whole genomes quickly and cheaply, is poised to transform the selection of embryos in IVF clinics. Though scientists only looked at chromosomes – the structures that hold genes – on this occasion, the falling cost of whole genome sequencing means doctors could soon read all the DNA of IVF embryos before choosing which to implant in the mother.

If doctors had a readout of an embryo’s whole genome, they could judge the chances of the child developing certain diseases, such as cancer, heart disease or Alzheimer’s.

Marybeth Scheidts, 36, and David Levy, 41, had tried another fertility treatment, called intrauterine insemination (IUI), three times without success before they signed up for IVF at Main Line Fertility clinic in Pennsylvania.

As part of an international study with Dagan Wells, a fertility specialist at Oxford University, the couple were offered NGS to check their IVF embryos for abnormal chromosomes. Abnormal chromosomes account for half of all miscarriages.

The chances of an embryo having the wrong number of chromosomes rises with the mother’s age, and potentially with the father’s. For women in their 20s, one in 10 embryos may have the wrong number of chromosomes, but for women in their 40s, more than 75% can be faulty.

Most of the time, embryos with abnormal chromosomes fail to implant in the womb. Those that do are usually miscarried. The portion that survive to full term are born with genetic disorders, such as Down’s syndrome and Turner syndrome.

After standard treatment at the US clinic, the couple had 13 IVF embryos to choose from. The doctors cultured the embryos for five days, took a few cells from each and sent them to Wells in Oxford for genetic screening. Tests showed that while most of the embryos looked healthy, only three had the right number of chromosomes.

“It can’t make embryos better than they were in the beginning, but it can guide us to the best ones,” said Wells.

Based on the screening results, the US doctors transferred one of the healthy embryos into Scheidts and left the rest in cold storage. The single embryo implanted, and nine months later Connor was born. Details of the study will be given at the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology (Eshre) meeting in London on Monday.

“I think it saved us a lot of heartache,” Scheidts told the Guardian. “My insurance covered me for three cycles of IVF. We might have gone through all three without the doctors picking the right embryos. I would not have a baby now.”

A second baby who had the same genetic screening is due to be born next month, after a US couple had IVF at New York University fertility centre.

Doctors can already screen embryos for abnormal chromosomes using a technique called Array CGH, but the procedure adds more than £2,000 to the cost of IVF. Wells said NGS could bring the cost down by a third. To check the number of chromosomes is much simpler than reading all of the DNA accurately.

“It is hard to overstate how revolutionary this is,” said Michael Glassner, who treated the couple at the Main Line Fertility clinic. “This increases pregnancy rates by 50% across the board and reduces miscarriages by a similar margin. It will be much less expensive. In five years, this will be state of the art and everyone who comes for IVF will have it.”

In Britain, doctors are banned from selecting embryos for anything other than the most serious medical reasons. But as scientists learn more about genetic causes of disease, the urge to choose embryos to avoid cancer and other diseases later in life will intensify.

“You can start to have a very scary picture painted if you talk about height and hair colour and so on,” said Glassner. “We have to make sure this is used judiciously.”

The prospect of “designer babies” is remote for now, even if it were made legal. IVF produces only a dozen or so embryos at best, so the odds that one has all the traits a couple desires are very low. “IVF is still expensive and uncomfortable with no guarantee of a baby at the end. I can’t imagine many people wanting to go through the strains of IVF for something trivial,” said Wells.

The Oxford team now plans a large trial of the screening procedure to assess how much it boosts pregnancy rates, and which age groups it benefits the most.

Scheidts still has two screened embryos in cold storage, but has not yet decided whether to use them. “We haven’t even thought about that. We’ll see how the first year goes.”

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Henry Sapiecha


Families hope ‘Frankenstein science’ activists will not stop gene cure for mitochondrial disease

May 28th, 2016

Deniz-Safak-died 23 yrs image www.newcures.info

Deniz Safak’s condition continued to worsen until he died last year at the age of 23.

Deniz Safak was five years old when he first displayed symptoms of the disease that would later take his life. “He started being sick and had intense, stroke-like seizures,” his mother, Ruth, recalled.

Doctors were baffled by the boy’s condition and it took months before a diagnosis was made. Ruth and her husband, Erdhal, were told that Deniz was suffering from mitochondrial disease, an incurable condition that is passed from mother to child and can often be fatal.

Deniz’s condition continued to worsen. By the time he died last year at the age of 23, he had become deaf, suffered intense migraines and was confined to a wheelchair. “That is how he spent his life at the end,” said Ruth, who lives in Sunderland. “He was very bright and he knew what he was missing from life.” There is no cure for mitochondrial disease and, although its symptoms vary in their severity, the condition is often fatal. Health officials estimate that there are several thousand people in Britain affected by the condition, which is caused by mutations in the DNA in the mitochondria, which exist inside the cells of their bodies.

“Mitochondria are the little power packs that provide our cells with energy and they have their own DNA,” said Professor Douglas Turnbull, director of the Wellcome Trust Centre for Mitochondrial Research at Newcastle University. “The disease particularly affects cells that use a lot of energy, including those involved in hearing, pumping blood and firing nerves. About a third to a half of those who have the condition face an early death.”

It is a grim scenario. However, hopes of tackling mitochondrial disease will be raised in a few weeks when the government announces regulations that will permit the use of an IVF technique that should rid affected families of the disorder. If these plans are approved by parliament, Britain will become the first nation to permit germ-line gene therapy, which will change the DNA of future generations in order to eradicate the condition.

The technique involves taking an egg with healthy mitochondria from a donor female. Its main set of nuclear genes is then scooped out and replaced with those of a woman affected by mitochondrial disease but whose basic nuclear DNA is healthy. The egg is then fertilised using her partner’s sperm. In this way an embryo is created that has the central genes of the two parents but no longer carries the mutated mitochondrial DNA once carried by the mother. The technique is known as mitochondrial replacement. It has never been tried on humans, but has worked in animal studies.

Most scientists and doctors, particularly those who work with families touched by mitochondrial disease, support the introduction of the technique. However, some groups vociferously oppose its use. “The social benefits for a relatively small number of women … do not come near to justifying the potential health risks from these techniques to the child and the risks to global society that stem from human genetic engineering,” said the campaign group Human Genetics Alert.

Anti-abortion groups also oppose mitochondrial replacement, while some tabloid newspapers have described the creation of embryos using the nuclear DNA of two parents and the mitochondrial DNA of a third-party donor as “three-parent babies” and have claimed that this represents a slippery slope to a “Frankenstein future”.

This last claim particularly infuriates researchers. “It is wrong to say this produces three-parent babies,” said Turnbull. “More than 99.9% of DNA is nuclear DNA and that will not be affected. Mitochondrial DNA accounts for around 0.1% of our total DNA. We are changing only mitochondrial DNA. We are not changing a person’s hair or height or eye colour.”

The potential of mitochondrial replacement is demonstrated through another of Turnbull’s patients: Marie Austen, also from Sunderland. Her son, Adam, was seven when he was diagnosed with mitochondrial DNA disease. His heart was subsequently found to have been damaged but, before he could have a transplant, Adam’s condition worsened and he died last year at the age of 13. “I wanted to see Adam grow up, but that has been taken from me,” said Marie.

Austen has another child, a daughter, who at present has no symptoms. However, the disease varies in the severity of its symptoms as it passes from generation to generation. This poses problems for Marie’s daughter. “One day she may want to have her own kids, but she will not be able to have them safe in the knowledge that this disease will not kill them when they are young. That is why I want this new technique to be given the go-ahead, so my daughter will have healthy mitochondria and can have children who will not die when they are teenagers, as her brother Adam did.”

The disease is passed through the maternal line because men do not pass on mitochondrial DNA to future generations. Only women do that. However, the mutated versions do so with unpredictable consequences. Both Ruth and Marie have severe hearing problems, for example. However, the version picked up by their sons was far worse in its effects.

Last year the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) completed an extensive public consultation on mitochondrial replacement and found widespread support for it. Now the proposed regulations that will allow it to be carried out, under licence from the HFEA, are to published. Interested parties will give their views on these regulations before they are debated by parliament, probably on a free vote, later this year.

Alison Murdoch, professor of reproductive medicine at Newcastle University,hopes that parliament will approve the new regulations – though she is only cautiously hopeful. “This is controversial in some people’s eyes and there will be attempts to block the regulations. My fear is that the government could still get cold feet and delay the vote, which would not be good news given we will have a general election next year.

“The trouble is that the people who oppose this work are much better organised and proactive than the people that actually need the treatment,” Murdoch said. “They claim that around 30% of the population is against this kind of medical intervention. But when you actually sit down with a group of people and explain what you want to do, they all say the same thing: why not?”

Ruth Safak will also be watching the forthcoming battle over the implementation of mitochondrial replacement therapy. She is passionately in favour of the procedure. “When you lose a child, there is not enough time to get over it. This thing wipes out your life. The point is that if this treatment had become available for me when I was beginning my family, I could have had Deniz and he would still be with me now.”

TTTT

Henry Sapiecha

Britain ponders ‘three-person embryos’ to attack genetic diseases

May 28th, 2016

Doug-Turnbull-director-dna research image www.newcures.info

Doug Turnbull, director of the Wellcome Trust centre for mitochondrial research at Newcastle University, has urged the government to move quickly allow the new treatment. Photograph: Christopher Thomond for the Guardian

The government is considering whether to propose legal changes that would allow radical new treatments for families at risk of incurable genetic diseases that involve the creation of so-called “three-person embryos”.

A national consultation released on Wednesday by the UK’s fertility watchdog found public support for techniques that involve introducing DNA from a third person to embryos which could prevent mothers from passing on devastating diseases, such as muscular dystrophy, to their children.

If ministers and MPs give the procedures the green light, Britain would become the first country to offer treatments that lead to children being born with DNA from three people: their parents and a woman donor. The amount of DNA from the donor is tiny compared with the parents.

About one in 6,000 people is born with a disease caused by genetic glitches in their mitochondria, the biological batteries that power the cells in our bodies. Mitochondria are inherited only from mothers and contain just 37 genes, held separately to the 23,000 genes that shape our appearance and define much of who we are.

Mitochondrial diseases tend to worsen with age, and affect parts of the body that burn the most energy: the heart, brain and muscles. Many children diagnosed early in life go on to suffer catastrophic organ failure.

Scientists have developed two techniques to prevent faulty mitochondria being passed on to children. Known as maternal spindle transfer and pronuclear transfer, they both involve transferring the genetic material from the parents into an egg donated by a healthy woman.

The treatment is controversial on several grounds, not least that the genetic modifications in the embryo pass down to all future generations. The techniques have never been tried in humans, but have worked in animal studies.

The HFEA ran a series of consultations and focus groups to gauge public attitudes towards mitochondrial replacement. Among a randomly selected sample of 1,000 people, 44% approved of the techniques, while 29% were against them. An open consultation, which allowed anyone with an interest to complete an online questionnaire, found 455 in favour, with 502 saying the procedures were not acceptable.

The report from the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, which stressed a need for more research to establish the safety and efficiency of the procedures, will now be passed to ministers who must decide whether to seek parliamentary approval for the treatments.

The HFEA recommended that women who donated eggs for the treatments should be regarded as tissue donors, and the child would not have a right to know the donor’s identity.

“We understand that more research is required but believe it is crucial that the government moves now to draft the regulations so that mitochondrial patients in the UK will have access to this treatment,” said Doug Turnbull, director of the Wellcome Trust centre for mitochondrial research at Newcastle University.

Sarah Norcross, director of Progress Educational Trust, said: “Techniques to prevent inherited mitochondrial disease received the green light from the Nuffield Council on Bioethics last year, and have now received the green light from the general public. We urge the government not to create unnecessary roadblocks, and to pass legislation so that families blighted by mitochondrial disease can benefit from these techniques.”

A spokesman for the Department of Health said: “Scientists undertaking research have developed new procedures which could stop these diseases being passed on. But such procedures would not be allowed in treatment under current law, so we asked the HFEA to consult the public as to whether we should change the law.

“Once we have received the detailed advice from the HFEA over the next few weeks, we and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills will carefully consider it and respond in due course.”

DOM GOD-14

Henry Sapiecha

Genetic editing is like playing God – and what’s wrong with that?

May 28th, 2016

child_dna-image www.newcures.info

Gene editing of human embryos to eliminate disease should be considered to be ethically the same as using laser surgery to correct eye defects.’

The announcement that scientists are to be allowed to edit the DNA of human embryos will no doubt provoke an avalanche of warnings from opponents of genetic modification (GM) technology, who will warn that we are “playing God” with our genes.

The opponents are right. We are indeed playing God with our genes. But it is a good thing because God, nature or whatever we want to call the agencies that have made us, often get it wrong and it’s up to us to correct those mistakes.

Sadly, of the half a million or so babies that will be born in the UK this year, about 4% will carry a genetic or major birth defect that could result in an early death, or a debilitating disease that will cause misery for the child and their family. This research will eventually lead to technologies that could edit DNA in the same way that we can edit text – to correct the mistakes before the child’s development goes to its final draft. Its successful implementation could reduce, and eventually eliminate, the birth of babies with severe genetic diseases.

But surely our DNA cannot be compared to the patterns of printer ink on page? Our DNA is considered to be so special that the phrase “it’s in his/her DNA” is said with the same sense of fatalism that our ancestors would have spoken of their fate or their soul. Anti-GM activists, many of whom are devout atheists, often insist that our DNA is somehow special, something donated to us by an all-powerful, wise and benevolent nature, which has taken God’s place as our creator. But nature is just blind chance – mutation – combined with the survival of the fittest. There’s no grand plan and no reason why nature shouldn’t, like the rest of us, occasionally make terrible mistakes. When those errors could lead to terrible human suffering, it is our duty to try to correct them.

Our DNA is just a chemical. Schoolchildren isolate it from cells in the class laboratory and it can be spooled out on a glass rod looking like slimy cotton wool. When dried, it looks like fibrous paper. You can eat it or burn it and it will return to those simple atoms and molecules from which it is made. There is no special magical ingredient between the atoms, no soul, just atoms and space. DNA is the most amazing chemical in the known universe, but it’s just a chemical – made of the same atoms of carbon, hydrogen, oxygen and nitrogen you can find in the air. It is no more spiritual than your fingernails or hair. And we don’t mind clipping those when we need to.

Gene editing of human embryos to eliminate disease should be considered to be ethically the same as using laser surgery to correct eye defects, or a surgeon operating on a baby to repair a congenital heart defect. DNA is just another bit of our body that might go wrong.

Yet gene editing could provide revolutionary benefits to our children. A team based at Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children in London recently used gene editing to treat a one-year-old girl with leukaemia, who is now in remission. More technology is in the pipeline. A team based at Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania reported in this week’s Nature Biotechnology that they were able to correct a genetic liver disease in newborn mice. Taking this technology into human embryos could correct devastating genetic diseases in the womb.

But isn’t this a slippery slope to designer babies genetically engineered to be healthier, cleverer or more beautiful than they would otherwise be? Wouldn’t it provide a technology that would only be available to the super-wealthy, potentially creating the kind of divided society that HG Wells envisaged in his futuristic novel, The Time Machine? Perhaps. But let’s worry about the future in the future.

In the present, if those of us with mostly healthy children are worried about the ethics of gene editing, then we should ask the parents of children born with haemophilia, cystic fibrosis or muscular dystrophy whether they would have used this kind of technology if it had been available to them. If science can be used to eliminate human suffering, then let’s get on with it.

CBB

Henry Sapiecha

British scientists seek the ok to genetically modify human embryos

May 28th, 2016

embryos would be used for basic research image www.newcures.info

The embryos would be used for basic research only. and cannot legally be studied for more than two weeks or implanted into women to achieve a pregnancy.

Scientists in Britain have applied for permission to genetically modify human embryos as part of a research project into the earliest stages of human development.

The work marks a controversial first for the UK and comes only months after Chinese researchers became the only team in the world to announce they had altered the DNA of human embryos.

Kathy Niakan, a stem cell scientist at the Francis Crick Institute in London, has asked the government’s fertility regulator for a licence to perform so-called genome editing on human embryos. The research could see the first genetically modified embryos in Britain created within months.

Donated by couples with a surplus after IVF treatment, the embryos would be used for basic research only. They cannot legally be studied for more than two weeks or implanted into women to achieve a pregnancy.

Though the modified embryos will never become children, the move will concern some who have called for a global moratorium on the genetic manipulation of embryos, even for research purposes. They fear a public backlash could derail less controversial uses of genome editing, which could lead to radical new treatments for disease.

Niakan wants to use the procedure to find genes at play in the first few days of human fertilisation, when an embryo develops a coating of cells that later form the placenta. The basic research could help scientists understand why some women lose their babies before term.

“The knowledge we acquire will be very important for understanding how a healthy human embryo develops, and this will inform our understanding of the causes of miscarriage. It is not a slippery slope [towards designer babies] because the UK has very tight regulation in this area,” she told the Guardian.

The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) has yet to review her application, but is expected to grant a licence under existing laws that permit experiments on embryos provided they are destroyed within 14 days. In Britain, research on embryos can only go ahead under a licence from an HFEA panel that deems the experiments to be justified.

“If we receive a licence, I would hope to start work as soon as possible,” Niakan said. “However, it is difficult to know how long it will take to carry out the project. In particular, we need to obtain sufficient embryos.” Those will come from a number of IVF clinics whose identities are kept confidential.

Niakan is one of a growing band of scientists working with a powerful new genome editing procedure called Crispr-Cas9. Invented three years ago, it has revolutionised biomedical research. It allows scientists to make precise changes to DNA, and has the potential to transform the treatment of genetic disorders by correcting faulty genes.

Niakan will use Crispr-Cas9 to switch genes on and off in early stage human embryos. She will then look for the effects the modifications have on the development of the cells that go on to form the placenta. “It is essential to study the function of these human genes in the context of the embryo in order to fully understand their roles,” she said.

Genome editing is cheap, easy and effective and has been adopted by scientists at breakneck speed. But the pace of change has made some researchers uneasy. They warn that the field is moving too fast for its ethical implications to be fully considered. Some fear that the procedure could be used to modify human sperm, eggs and embryos for clinical uses before it is safe to do so.

Earlier this year, two groups of scientists called for a voluntary ban on genome editing of human embryos, sperm and eggs. One urged scientists to rule out the procedure for clinical treatments because it is not safe. The other, led by Edward Lanphier, chairman of the Alliance for Regenerative Medicine in Washington DC, took a harder line, and pushed for a global moratorium on modifying human embryos, sperm and eggs, even if it was only for research.

Earlier this month, leading UK funders called for a national debate on whether editing human embryos could ever be justified in the clinic. Weeks later, international experts belonging to the Hinxton Group said it did not yet approve of GM babies being born, but added that “when all safety, efficacy and governance needs are met, there may be morally acceptable uses of this technology in human reproduction.”

Robin Lovell-Badge, head of stem cell biology at the Francis Crick Institute and a member of the Hinxton Group, said: “There is clearly lots of interesting and important research you can do with these techniques which has nothing to do with clinical applications.” But, he added: “We are absolutely not ready for clinical applications yet.”

The US National Institutes of Health will not fund any genome editing research on human embryos, and its head, Francis Collins, has said that altering the DNA of embryos for clinical purposes was “viewed almost universally as a line that should not be crossed.” But if the procedure is made safe enough in coming years, IVF embryos could, in principle, be modified to boost public health, by reducing people’s risk of Alzheimer’s disease, or to make them resistant to HIV, malaria or influenza.

“There are suggestions that the methods could be used to correct genetic defects, to provide disease resistance, or even to introduce novel traits that are not found in humans,” said Niakan. “However, it is up to society to decide what is acceptable: science will merely inform what may be possible.”

An HFEA spokesperson said: “Genome editing of embryos for use in treatment is illegal. It has been permissible in research since 2009, as long as the research project meets the criteria in the legislation and it is done under an HFEA licence. We have recently received an application to use Crispr-Cas9 in one of our licensed research projects, and it will be considered in due course.”

bbc

Henry Sapiecha


UK researchers get green light to genetically modify human embryos

May 28th, 2016

Scientists investigating miscarriage will not be able to implant embryos or study them for a few weeks, says HFEA

Dr Kathy Niakan wants to look at the first few days of fertilisation-image www.newcures.info

Dr Kathy Niakan wants to look at the first few days of fertilisation. Photograph: Francis Crick Institute

Britain’s first genetically modified human embryos could be created within months, after scientists were granted permission by the fertility regulator to carry out the procedure.

The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) regulator approved a licence application by Kathy Niakan, a stem cell scientist at the Francis Crick Institute in London, to perform so-called genome editing – also called gene editing – on human embryos.

The decision permits Niakan to study the embryos for 14 days for research purposes only. It does not permit them to be implanted into women. Niakan’s research is aimed at finding the genes at play in the early days of human fertilisation.

The decision was greeted positively by the Francis Crick Institute and British scientists but was met with anger and disqmay by those concerned that rapid advances in the field of genome editing is precluding proper consideration of the ethical implications.

Paul Nurse, director of the institute, said: “I am delighted that the HFEA has approved Dr Niakan’s application. Dr Niakan’s proposed research is important for understanding how a healthy human embryo develops and will enhance our understanding of IVF success rates, by looking at the very earliest stage of human development – one to seven days.”

The work, using embryos donated by couples with a surplus after IVF treatment, will look at the fertilised egg’s development from a single cell to about 250 cells. The basic research could help scientists understand why some women lose their babies before term and provide better clinical treatments for infertility, using conventional medical methods.

Niakan will use a powerful genome editing procedure called Crispr-Cas9 to switch genes on and off in early stage human embryos. She will then look for the effects the modifications have on the development of the cells that go on to form the placenta.

Crispr-Cas9 has revolutionised biomedical research since its invention three years ago. It allows scientists to make precise changes to DNA, and has the potential to transform the treatment of genetic disorders by correcting faulty genes.

Prof Robin Lovell-Badge, group leader at the Francis Crick Institute, said: “

The approval of her [Niakan’s] licence gives the exciting prospect that we will at last begin to understand how the different cell types are specified at these pre-implantation stages in the human embryo.”

Lovell-Badge said it would also provide invaluable information about the accuracy and efficiency of the technique, helping to inform the debate about whether genome editing could be used in future to correct faulty genes that cause devastating diseases.

That prospect remains a long way off but is already a subject of concern.

Dr David King, director of Human Genetics Alert, said: “This is the first step in a well mapped-out process leading to GM babies, and a future of consumer eugenics.” He claimed the government’s scientific advisers had already decided they were comfortable with the prospect of so-called “designer babies”.

Anne Scanlan, from the anti-abortion organisation Life, said: “The HFEA now has the reputation of being the first regulator in the world to approve this uncertain and dangerous technology. It has ignored the warnings of over 100 scientists worldwide and given permission for a procedure that could have damaging far-reaching implications for human beings.”

There are fears that changes to an embryo’s DNA could have unknown harmful consequences throughout a person’s body and be passed on down the generations.

Last year, leading UK funders called for a national debate on whether editing human embryos could ever be justified in the clinic. Some fear that a public backlash could derail less controversial uses of genome editing, which could lead to radical new treatments for conditions such as muscular dystrophy and sickle cell disease.

The US National Institutes of Health will not fund any genome editing research on human embryos at present.

But supporters of the HFEA’s decision said it had arrived at the right conclusion, balancing the benefits to research and ethical considerations.

“The ruling by the HFEA is a triumph for common sense,” said Darren Griffin, a professor of genetics at the University of Kent.While it is certain that the prospect of gene editing in human embryos raised a series of ethical issues and challenges, the problem has been dealt with in a balanced manner. It is clear that the potential benefits of the work proposed far outweigh the foreseen risks.”

Sarah Norcross, director of Progress Educational Trust, called it a victory for level-headed regulation over moral panic”.

Dr Sarah Chan, chancellor’s fellow at Usher Institute for Population Health Sciences and Informatics, University of Edinburgh, said: “We should feel confident that our regulatory system in this area is functioning well to keep science aligned with social interests.”

skin beaut-

Henry Sapiecha


Holland gives green light to grow human embryos

May 28th, 2016

Dutch government sanctions ‘limited research’ to help infertile couples and to tackle hereditary or congenital diseases

embryonic research-image www.newcures.info

The Netherlands will change its laws on embryonic research, which until now only allowed tests to be conducted on leftover embryos procured from IVF.

The Dutch government has announced it wants to allow growing human embryos “under strict and limited conditions” for scientific research, thereby giving hope to parents struggling to conceive.

The Dutch health minister, Edith Schippers, said she “wants to allow the creation of embryos for scientific research – and under very strict conditions to give people the possibility of (healthy) children”.

“The research has to do with infertility, artificial reproduction techniques and hereditary or congenital diseases,” the statement added.

It also specifically included people who became infertile after being treated for cancer at an early age.

The Netherlands will change its laws on embryonic research, which until now only allowed tests to be conducted on leftover embryos procured from in vitro fertilisation processes.

The so-called “14-day rule” – which says that human embryos cannot be cultured in the lab for more than two weeks – will also still strictly be adhered to, the statement said.

“Until now the ban on the cultivation of embryos have hampered research which could help with the treatment of diseases on the short to medium-long term,” it added.

This included various hereditary illnesses such as mitochondrial diseases, which affect cells in the body.

Britain this year granted its first research license to genetically modify human embryos to a project that will help women who battle to fall pregnant.

The decision made Britain one of the first countries in the world to grant this type of authorisation on one of science’s new frontiers and follows months of deliberation by the country’s embryology regulator.

US-based scientists earlier this month reported they had grown human embryos in the lab for nearly two weeks, for the first time challenging the 14-day rule simply because no one had succeeded in keeping the embryos alive for that long.

The scientists then destroyed the embryos in order to avoid breaching the two-week limit.

SKIN BEAUTY

Henry Sapiecha