Author: Philip Ball

Seven ways IVF changed the world – from Louise Brown to stem-cell research

The first ‘test-tube’ baby turns 40 this month, but the impact of in vitro fertilisation extends far beyond solutions to fertility problems It sounds rather perverse and archaic today to call a child born by IVF a “test-tube baby”. The technique of assisted reproduction has become so widespread and normalised, more than 6 million babies down the road, that there’s nothing so remarkable or stigmatising in having been conceived in a petri dish (“in vitro”means in glass, although test tubes were never involved). In many countries worldwide, 3-6% of all children are now conceived this way. Related: The infertility...

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Why two brains are better than one

A radical technique that makes mature cells act like stem cells is growing a mini brain from tissue I donated. One day it could produce whole organs for transplant Last week, I was told my other brain is fully grown. It doesn’t look like much. A blob of pale flesh about the size of a small pea, it floats in a bath of blood-red nutrient. It would fit into the cranium of a foetus barely a month old. Still, it’s a “brain” after a fashion and it’s made from me. From a piece of my arm, to be precise....

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