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Randox Research’s Physiology 2014 Highlights

Randox Research Physiology 2014 HighlightsThe Randox Research division recently had the pleasure of exhibiting at Physiology 2014 held in the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre just a few minutes walk from Westminster and Big Ben. The meeting was attended by scientists at all stages of their careers and allowed for a broad range of topics to be covered, creating an open and uninhibited scientific exchange.

The Physiological Society Annual Public Lecture- Professor Lord Robert Winston, Imperial College London

Research representative Alex Melvin had the pleasure of attending Lord Robert Winston’s seminar, below is her summary:

Professor Lord Robert Winston who is well renowned for his research at Imperial College London on fertility studies, presented at Physiology 2014 on the topic “Shall we remain human?”  Lord Winston, to name but a few of his achievements, won the Faraday medal from the Royal Society, presented the popular BBC TV series “Child of our Time”, and was made a Lord in 1995.

Lord Winston began the talk by introducing the movement of Eugenics with the focus on Francis Galton and his theories of inheritance of intelligence.  Lord Winston touched upon the disadvantages that these ideas on Eugenics had on humanity which he described that to this day society finds hard to think about.

Studies which were carried out in Lord Winston’s own laboratory, he mentioned could be described as eugenic as one of the things they had investigated was the removal of a single cell from an embryo to screen for single cell defects.  The DNA was analysed using nested PCR, a form of gene amplification.  These studies were carried out before the human genome was sequenced and identified the specific gene defect in a particular embryo which belonged to a woman who had lost a baby from a single gene defect at the age of 3 and a half.  Over 5 years the group demonstrated that biopsies seemed to be safe and although the press described it at the time as “the perfect baby?” and that screening for single gene defects could be seen as eugenic, there seemed to be a genuine medical need for offering such a technique.

Lord Winston further mentioned the role epigenetics played in shaping the future of further generations as he mentioned studies carried out which observed that when some rodents do not nurture their young, methylation patterns change which resulted in a cognitive difference from controlled groups which passed on traits to younger generations (Champagne FA, 2008).

Studies have been carried out on transgenic mice.  In particular the PEPCK-Cmus Supermouse verses the Wild Type mouse in which the supermouse has had its DNA modified to allow it to tolerate a lot more exercise that normal.  After about 10 minutes the Wild Type mouse dropped out of the exercise whereas the Supermouse continued and was still running 4 hours later.  There are some issues with making transgenic mice models in enabling the trans gene to be successfully expressed.  However there is potential power of modifying muscle activity in these models.

On conclusion of the talk Lord Winston mentioned that although there is a potential power of enhancement of certain genes and given the history of eugenics this technology could be misused.  At what price would this be to humanity?  His concluding remarks emphasised that it is very easy to get seduced by one’s own cleverness.

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The Randox Research division would like to thank the Physiology 2014 team for organising the conference as well as the researchers and speakers that made up a host of the unforgettable talks– we’ve had a thoroughly enjoyable and informative time.

If you would like to learn more about how the Randox Research division can aid your research studies, download any of our research brochures: Immunology Research, Metabolic and Nutritional, Cardiovascular Research Solutions.

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