By cloning a litter of pigs, a Texan university has become the world's first academic institution to have successfully cloned three different species of mammal. The College of Veterinary Medicine at the Texas A&M University had previously cloned cattle and goats.
The Paris Institut Curie, one of the world's best known cancer research centres, is challenging two gene patents held by Myriad Genetics, a biotechnology firm based in Salt lake City, US. Myriad was granted the US patents for the breast cancer genes BRCA1 and BRCA2 in the mid-1990s. Holding the patent for the genes means that Myriad could prevent other companies doing tests to identify them. The patents were extended to Europe earlier this year - this means that each time any European woman with hereditary breast cancer needs a test, they must use the Myriad one, costing £1800, rather than others that may cost less. The Institut Curie is contesting the patents, saying they are too broad and the monopoly they give Myriad means that faster or more reliable tests cannot be developed for use.
Israel has banned the importation of human embryos. The Israeli health ministry believes that they could carry diseases as IIVF clinics in other countries may not screen for HIV (human immunodeficiency virus), hepatitis or other diseases. Meanwhile, in India, regulation of embryo stem cell research is to be made stricter in preparation for work within the country and exportation of stem cells. India has emerged as a potential source of the cells as there is comparatively little ethical or religious problem with such research there. A new national bioethics panel has been set up and has produced draft guidelines on the research, collection and storage of embryonic cells.