Month: May 2018

Couples use IVF to pick genes

FERTILE women with genes that predispose them to breast and ovarian cancers are using IVF treatment at two Melbourne clinics to select embryos without the genes.
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In a new trend that has heightened ethicists’ fears of ”designer babies”, Australian IVF specialists say women are spending thousands of dollars on a technique called preimplantation genetic diagnosis to select embryos without the same genetic issues.

The women involved carry mutations of the BRCA 1 and BRCA 2 genes, which give them a 60-80 per cent chance of getting breast cancer in their lifetime.

Those with BRCA 1 also have a 30-60 per cent chance of getting ovarian cancer while those with BRCA 2 have a 5-20 per cent chance of getting ovarian cancer.

Couples where one partner has such a mutation have a 50 per cent chance of having a baby with the same mutation so the technique allows them to cut this risk to between 0.1 per cent and 10 per cent depending on the accuracy of the diagnostic test developed for their specific mutation.

Doctors from Victoria’s leading IVF clinics, Melbourne IVF and Monash IVF, said 10 couples had used the procedure for the breast and ovarian cancer genes since a 2008 change in reproductive treatment laws allowed such use.

Medical director of Melbourne IVF Lyndon Hale said some couples may choose the procedure to avoid the trauma of prenatal diagnosis, which raises the question of abortion. He said some had also seen family members endure breast cancer from a young age or had had their breasts removed to reduce their personal risk of cancer.

”Cancer is a horrible disease – so these people want to get rid of it from their family tree,” Dr Hale said.

Dr Elissa Osborne, of Monash IVF, said couples wanting to use the diagnostic tests had to wait up to six months for the one to be created for their particular mutation. This cost about $2000.

Once this was done, they could go through the usual IVF procedure of creating embryos that would be tested at day three or day five of life to see if they carried the gene mutation. This allowed couples to select unaffected embryos for implantation. This doubled the cost of IVF cycles from about $3500 to $7000.

While preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) has been used in Australia for 20 years to help couples remove the risk of a growing list of inherited diseases such as cystic fibrosis and Huntington’s disease, doctors and ethicists said using it for BRCA 1 and BRCA 2 gene mutations was controversial for several reasons.

First, the test does not remove all risk of breast and ovarian cancer for the child who will still have a 10 per cent ”background risk” of the cancers which exists for the rest of the population without gene mutations. And second, there is a theoretical risk that hormonal treatments used for these women to go through IVF increases their personal risk of developing cancer.

Willem Verpoest, an expert presenting research on the topic at a European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology meeting in Istanbul this week, said although there was no evidence of an increased rate of cancer in these women yet, it was the subject of continuing research and needed to be monitored.

Professor Verpoest said a study of 70 couples who had used PGD to eliminate breast and ovarian cancer gene mutations in Europe showed it was safe for their babies, who were born without any increased rate of deficiencies.

”We now believe this technique offers an established option for those couples seeking to avoid the risk of inherited BRCA in their children,” he said, adding that longer-term monitoring was still required to confirm its safety.

Professor Verpoest said the technique could also be used to avoid the use of embryos at increased risk of other cancers, such as bowel cancer, and as more genes were discovered, PGD would be used more often.

”There are between 7000 and 8000 genetic disorders that are caused by gene mutations so there is a lot of work to be done,” he said.

Melbourne ethicist Nicholas Tonti-Filippini said he was concerned about the increasing discrimination against embryos and questioned the idea that people with such gene mutations had lives that were not worth living. He feared it would lead to more genetic profiling to work out other features, such as athleticism or intelligence.

”The more information you can get with PGD, the more decisions you can make and the more discriminatory you can get,” he said.

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Remains found may be Victorian man

REMAINS found near Broken Hill could end a two-year mystery about the disappearance of a Bendigo man.
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Daniel Rosewall, 28, went missing in January 2010 near Silverton, the only trace of him the red Mazda 3 he had been driving, a mobile phone with a flat battery, his wallet and baseball cap.

Workers at Wilangee cattle station found the remains on Sunday.

Detective Inspector Mick Stoltenberg said an autopsy would be done on the remains this week. “We have our suspicions but we will need to wait for positive identification of whoever it is,” he said.

The Rosewalls have dedicated most of the past two years to finding Daniel. The family has been told of the discovery.

Police do not suspect foul play, and Detective Inspector Stoltenberg said there were no reports of other missing people in the area about the time Mr Rosewall vanished.

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Former judge to head new law reform body

Philip Cummins.A HIGH-profile former judge has been appointed to Victoria’s key law reform body.
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In a further incremental reshaping of the state’s legal system, Attorney-General Robert Clark yesterday appointed former Supreme Court judge Philip Cummins as the new chairman of the Victorian Law Reform Commission.

Mr Cummins, who recently completed a major inquiry into the child protection system in Victoria, will be joined on the commission by former Supreme Court judge Frank Vincent.

Mr Clark also appointed top lawyer Ian Hardingham to the commission to undertake a review of Victoria’s succession laws relating to wills and inheritance.

Mr Clark said the appointments would bring a wealth of experience to the commission.

”Mr Cummins’ wide judicial experience and strong leadership qualities will help ensure the [commission] continues to provide valuable reports and recommendations on law reform matters to the government and the community,” he said.

”The appointment of Mr Vincent, who served 16 years as a judge of the Supreme Court of Victoria followed by a further eight years as a judge of appeal, will further add to the commission’s capacity to contribute to improving Victoria’s legal system.”

Mr Clark said Dr Hardingham had great expertise in the law relating to wills and estates, making him an ideal person to lead the review.

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Buses miss a chance to join the fast lane

Seeing red: The traffic jam that is Hoddle Street in Collingwood in the mornings and evenings.VICTORIAN Public Transport Minister Terry Mulder has rejected advice from within his own departments to give crucial bus services to Melbourne’s east a better run in the afternoon peak – in part because the plan would have forced a cut to on-street parking.
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Documents released to The Age under freedom-of-information laws have revealed that the minister ditched a plan by VicRoads and the former Department of Transport to extend clearway times for outbound buses along Victoria Parade and Hoddle Street.

The proposal, put to Mr Mulder in February, was expected to have saved commuters eight minutes a day on average.

Studies found the buses took between five and 23 minutes to traverse the two major roads, depending on traffic. It was proposed to give buses a dedicated lane between 4pm and 7pm; 165 parking spaces and six trees would have been lost.

The rejected ministerial briefing states that ”VicRoads has satisfied itself that the clearways and bus lane proposal will provide major benefit to buses, will not negatively impact upon pedestrian or cyclist safety, will not degrade the local environment and that there is adequate alternative parking available”.

Mr Mulder told The Age: ”Hoddle Street and Victoria Parade are very busy roads where the needs of all road users must be balanced.”

The buses provide the only direct public transport to the north-eastern suburbs.

Plans to build a railway line to Doncaster date back to the 1960s but no state government has committed to it, although a $6.5 million feasibility study is under way.

The so-called DART (Doncaster Area Rapid Transit) network was launched in late 2010, with four bus routes given priority in-bound lanes and more regular services. In its first nine months DART bus patronage leapt more than 30 per cent to 10,700 passengers each weekday. But outbound priority lanes were not created along Victoria Parade and Hoddle Street, although they are on the Eastern Freeway and in Lonsdale Street.

Monash University public transport expert Graham Currie, who assisted the departments in their research, said outbound traffic on those two roads was holding up buses immensely.

”If you get the morning peak working that’s fine, people can get into town reasonably well,” Professor Currie said. ”But they want also to go home, and if they get stuck in the afternoon they’ll make a decision to drive in the morning.”

Extended peak-hour clearway times were a contentious issue at the last state election, and the Baillieu government has wound back many that were introduced by Labor.

Traders and inner-city councils opposed the extensions, arguing they hurt retail, but road-user group the RACV backed them.

Ten traders opposed the DART priority lane plan last year, as did the City of Yarra, which called for the bus lane to be installed at the expense of a lane of traffic, not parking.

Bus Association executive director Chris Lowe said the bus lanes’ benefits would outweigh the negative impact on traders and residents using the parking spaces.

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Gold-class dinner with Tony and John

BACK when Peter Costello was the other world’s greatest treasurer, he hosted a cocktail party at Federation Square’s Zinc with wife Tanya to hold court among admirers. That was in 2006, time moves on, friendships detonate and his former ally Michael Kroger vented that Costello refused to appear with John Howard at a fund-raiser for the seat of Higgins, meaning the Liberal Party had to wave goodbye to $500,000 that would have rolled in. Tony Abbott feels far more charitable about sharing the same oxygen with Howard. After the party’s federal council meeting on Saturday, the formalities wound down with a dinner at Zinc – and to keep the party afloat, an auction item was dinner with Abbott and Howard for 10 people in Sydney. The lucky person with the deepest pockets was Graham Burke, the chief executive of Village Roadshow, who paid $32,000 for the privilege. Village is a friend of the Liberals, donating $327,788 in 2010-11, but the company was chummier with Labor by giving $352,336. One of the Zinc guests envisaged the dinner group raiding a costume shop if there was a movie dress code. ”With The Great Gatsby coming out soon it could be a theme dinner.” All politicians can relate to this one: Ice Age: Continental Drift.
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Going Gaga over fish bones

FANCIER of carnivorous couture with her meat dress, Lady Gaga doesn’t mind dipping her toe in the piscatorial pond and not just by wearing a mermaid costume. When dining at Crown’s seafood restaurant the Atlantic, chef Donovan Cooke prepared his King George whiting, much to the delight of the performer, who teased: ”I would like to have a little King George in me.” But then requested “no bone”. She’s a lucky girl if the fish was de-boned by kitchen staff because it’s listed on the menu as ”On the bone” with a ”subtle, delicate texture”. The Lady turns on another Born This Way Ball concert tonight at Rod Laver Arena.

Science of a happy marriage

IT’S a mystery why the marriage of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes collapsed when the Church of Scientology runs the course ”Salvaging a marriage” and the empire’s founder, L. Ron Hubbard, believes: ”A marriage, no matter how strained, can be put back together again.” If I was Cruise, I’d want my membership fee refunded. Hubbard passed away in 1986, but you wouldn’t know it at the church’s Ascot Vale HQ because he has a fully furnished office; and like some TV characters written out of story lines, he might return one day. American gossip monger Perez Hilton reported the spooky connection that all Cruise’s marriages ended when the wives were 33, the line-up being Mimi Rogers, Nicole Kidman and Holmes. Hilton wrote: ”According to numerology, 33 is the ‘Master Teacher’. It is regarded as a representation of spiritual progress and the spread of positive energy.” Rupert Murdoch smells a rat, tweeting that Scientologists were ”creepy, maybe even evil”. Anyway, happy birthday to Cruise, who turns 50 today, a number pointing to great stability – and possibly a fourth wife to give him more stability before the next marital instability.

Costello puts his five cents in

INSTEAD of inhabiting the back of a couch or car console, Aussies have dug out 960,027 5¢ pieces and donated them to the ”Our World Needs Change” drive of Elliot Costello, raising $48,001 and 35 cents for his YGAP charity. His father, Tim Costello, the head of World Vision Australia, helped collect spare coins. But doing an even better job was grandmother Anne Costello, who nudged her friends to cough up 480 coins – $24. ” It’s one thing raising the money,” Elliot said. ”The other thing is getting the message out to Australians that there is value in the 5-cent piece.” Still hoping to collect 1 million coins, or $50,000, Elliot said supporters upped the creativity on traditional collection tins with a hollowed watermelon for deposits, and a mini-basketball hoop over a rubbish bin.

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Spain’s win streak ‘unique’

ANDRES Iniesta says Spain’s feat in retaining the European Championship, while also being the reigning world champions, is ”something that will never be repeated”.
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The midfielder, named man of the match after the 4-0 victory over Italy, said the achievement would remain ”unique” although Spain’s coach Vicente del Bosque declared that the next target was now also to retain the World Cup in Brazil in two years’ time.

Iniesta’s teammate Cesc Fabregas, meanwhile, said the hugely impressive performance had silenced critics who had accused Spain of playing so-called boring football. ”I think so. Those people who think we are playing boring … in my opinion they don’t understand the game,” he said.

”This feels really amazing, one of the best days of my life. I don’t think we’re ready to see what we have done yet. Three major trophies in a row has never been done before in the history of football. It’s difficult to realise what we have done, but in time I think we will. It’s amazing.”

Spain have now won the last three major tournaments – Euro 2008, the 2010 World Cup and Euro 2012 – and will now try to retain the World Cup. ”Now we have to just go on,” Del Bosque said. ”Qualifying for the World Cup, the Confederations Cup … this success for Spanish football is something historic now.

”We are talking about a great generation of footballers. They have roots, they know how to play because they come from a country where they learn to play, and this is the feeling of sport in our country. In football, we have done a great job. So this is a great era for Spanish football.”

His words were reinforced by Iniesta. ”We are not here to say that our game is the most beautiful of them all,” he explained. ”Today, we had a great level of play and we were faithful to our style.

”Now we want to enjoy the victory. It’s unique. It’s magical.”

Del Bosque brushed aside questions over his tactical formation – and the debate over whether Spain should play with a striker rather than with Fabregas as a so-called ”false nine”.

”I think there is not one ‘football’,” he said. ”The important thing is to score goals, and our players are very intelligent. We have security in our players, and we also have strikers. But we decided to play with players who fitted better into our style.

”It was an extraordinary performance against a difficult opponent. We played our own game. There were no external influences: we were faithful to what we’ve done in recent years.”

Italy coach Cesare Prandelli, who has overseen a remarkable transformation in his country’s fortunes in two years, said he would carry on.

”I think we deserve an eight out of 10,” he said. ”It’s a high mark because the lads have shown that if you show terrific team spirit and work hard then you can chase a dream. They have shown you can lose with dignity.”

TELEGRAPH

SPAIN 4 (David Silva 14, Jordi Alba 41, Fernando Torres 84, Juan Mata 88)

ITALY 0

CROWD: 63,170 at Olimpiyskyi, Kiev.

REFEREE: Pedro Proenca

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Panellist collapses on Q&A

Simon Sheikh faints on Q&A.The head of GetUp!, Simon Sheikh, collapsed on live television last night.
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The political lobby group’s national director was carried offstage less than halfway through the ABC’s Q&A, on which he was a panellist. He appeared to try to take a drink of water before leaning forward and collapsing onto the desk. He was later taken to hospital by ambulance.

A Coalition frontbencher, Sophie Mirabella, who was sitting next to him, appeared to first notice Sheikh collapse.

The Climate Change Minister, Greg Combet, who was speaking when the incident occurred, joined the show’s production crew to rush to his side.

”He’s not OK,” Mr Combet said.

Sheikh was said to be alert, conscious and talking with his wife, Anna Rose, who was in the audience before being taken to hospital to be checked.

”Sorry, I passed out,” he said before he was led off-screen.

A GetUp spokesman said Sheikh has had a ”busy workload”, with the political organisation involved in a number of campaigns.

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Online sharing reduces loneliness among the aged

Sharing photos online using iPads can reduce loneliness in elderly people who are socially isolated, a new study has found.
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Researchers at Melbourne University believe the trial is among the first to assess how technology can ease social isolation in Australia’s ageing population.

The university’s Institute for a Broadband-Enabled Society created an iPad app that allowed a small group of people aged in their 80s and 90s to chat online and share photos.

Computing and information systems associate professor Frank Vetere said the study produced promising results with some participants forming relationships in the real world.

‘‘As a result of being in the study some of them have become good friends,’’ he said.

Professor Vetere said the study revealed that social media and technology could play a bigger role in alleviating loneliness once the national broadband network is extended into Australian homes and provides better internet access.

But developing technology that is easy to use will be key to tackling social isolation among elderly people, Professor Vetere said.

Trialling the technology with a small group allowed the researchers to focus on ensuring the Enmesh app was simple to operate and required minimal training. The institute will extend the trial next year.

The app allowed the users to upload messages and photographs that everyone in the group could see. Researchers interviewed the participants and care managers three times during the 10-week trial. The participants had health and mobility problems but still lived at home.

One man said he had a ‘‘very bad time of depression’’ but sharing photos had made a big difference. The group met in person three times during the trial.

The study also found some participants struggled to think of messages and photographs they thought would be interesting to the other users. They were allowed to keep the iPads after the trial ended.

‘‘From all reports they’re enjoying their iPad experience,’’ Professor Vetere said.

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Thieves steal her scooter, torch it metres from home

HEARTACHE and despair gripped Emma-Louise Green yesterday morning when she discovered the theft and torching of her beloved Manhattan scooter.
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The West Albury phone systems saleswoman is the latest victim of a series of similar crimes on the

Border over the past week.

For Miss Green the $3000 uninsured scooter was the only way she could lead a normal life, because of a back injury she suffered in her previous job.

“I can walk down hill OK but I can’t get myself back up the hill — my back just screams in pain.”

The incident was one of two yesterday — the NSW Rural Fire Service was called to a fire on Nail Can Hill at 7.35am in which a stolen car had been set alight.

Albury Inspector John Wadsworth slammed the behaviour of joyriders for the emotional pain they inflicted on their victims.

“There’s no joy in these rides,” he said.

“The people who own these vehicles are usually battlers. The people who steal it — if only they could see the heartache they cause to decent people.”

Miss Green, 22, said she discovered her scooter missing from outside her Hill Street unit about 8.10am; she had gotten up early to get ready for a doctor’s appointment.

She reported the theft to Albury police.

“I talked to a constable and he said there had been two bikes or cars reported to be on fire this morning within the last two hours,” she said.

The police took her registration details, then called back soon afterwards to confirm her scooter had been set ablaze.

Miss Green’s scooter had been torched just a stone’s throw from her home.

When she initially walked outside yesterday, the smell of smoke made her think someone had lit a bonfire the night before.

She asked her flatmate if he had smelt anything — he hadn’t, but he did see smoke coming over the back fence.

“We went out and had a look down the alleyway next to our property” she said.

The shock of what happened was overwhelming.

“I thought ‘OK if you want to steal it, steal it but if you can’t ride it give it back, don’t set it alight 20 feet from my house’,” she said.

“I broke down in tears — it’s not insured, I can’t afford a new bike.

“I’ve got back problems so I can’t be running up and down the hill three or four times a day to go to work and do other things.

“I’m just distraught.”

Miss Green said her neighbours had been broken into twice recently.

“We’re always wary of strangers down in our little area,” she said.

“But nobody saw anything, it was too early in the morning.”

Also lost in the blaze

was a pair of $200 weatherproof pants in the scooter’s seat.

Miss Green has got a smaller bike at her mother’s house that needs a few bits and pieces put together on it but she also has to find another $500 to have it

registered.

Emma-Louise Green with the remains of her scooter, which was dumped then set on fire in a laneway next to her West Albury home. Picture: DAVID THORPE

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Appeal passes $2m milestone for carer centre

Lions members Andy Mojsiewicz, Bernie Goldsworthy, Tonia Timmermans and Kay Bennett from Zonta, Ian Crossley and Alf Armstrong from Rotary at the accommodation site. Picture: DAVID THORPE Lions members Andy Mojsiewicz, Bernie Goldsworthy, Tonia Timmermans and Kay Bennett from Zonta, Ian Crossley and Alf Armstrong from Rotary at the accommodation site. Picture: DAVID THORPE
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THE service clubs driving an appeal to raise $3 million for the Albury-Wodonga Carer Accommodation Centre are claiming a milestone.

The appeal passed the $2 million mark last month.

Local Rotary, Lions and Zonta clubs are joining with the Melbourne-based Fight Cancer Foundation to raise money for the new centre which will be completed at the end of the year and will provide accommodation for patients and carers who need to travel from throughout the North East and southern Riverina for cancer and other specialist treatment in Albury and Wodonga.

The centre is in Keene Street, Albury, next to the Albury Base Hospital.

Management committee spokesman Alf Armstrong said they were delighted with the support of the local and regional community and service clubs so far.

“We still have a way to go to meet our target and the continued generosity of the community for this badly needed facility will be required,” Mr Armstrong said.

He gave the example of a $150,000 donation and one for $50,000 which had been made by two anonymous Border donors.

“They do blow you away,” he said.

“When we started this fund-raising appeal we had an initial target of $2.5 million in 2½ years but we have been able to reduce that time frame.”

Mr Armstrong said other significant donors included $300,000 from the Cancer Council of NSW, $100,000 from both the Rotary Club of North Albury and the Albury Rotary Club Foundation, $50,000 from the Rotary Club of Belvoir Wodonga and $50,000 from Lavington Lions.

“We will have a stand at next week’s State of the Region event in Albury, giving us the opportunity to speak with a lot of local government councillors from across the region,” he said.

“There will also be $10 from every ticket sold for Friday’s hypothetical with Peter Couchman donated to the project.”

Mr Armstrong said the Albury and Wodonga councils had made a contribution of $25,000 each.

“The support from the local councils has been tremendous and we hope other councils will see the benefit for their communities,” he said.

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