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MPs to investigate controversial three-parent IVF technique

The controversial IVF technique was developed by scientists at Newcastle University. Credit: PA
Experts say the treatment could help parents not to pass genetic diseases to their children. Credit: PA

A committee of MPs will today look at whether the UK should become the first country in the world to legalise babies with three biological parents.

The controversial IVF technique was developed by experts at Newcastle University, who say the treatment could help parents not to pass genetic diseases to their children.

However, religious groups have expressed concerns that the process would be unethical.

The Science and Technology Committee are due to begin their hearing shortly after 9am today (Wednesday 22 October). Professor Doug Turnbull, from Newcastle University, will give evidence to the influential group of MPs.

University staff vote for strike action over pensions

Staff at the universities of Newcastle and Durham have voted overwhelmingly in favour of industrial action in a row over pensions.

A total of 78% of members of the University and College Union (UCU) who were balloted across 69 universities voted in favour of strike action.

Talks between the union and the universities will be held on Wednesday to try to negotiate a solution.

The union said if the employers continued with their proposals then the union would meet on Friday to decide what form the disruption would take and when it would start.

A vote for action would by likely to include a marking boycott and a refusal to set exams. The action would stop students being set coursework or receiving formal marks and feedback, as well as halting exams.

Police release pictures from the room of student responsible for Newcastle University bomb scare

Following the sentencing of Russian student Vladimir Aust, who made explosives at his Newcastle University halls, the North East Counter Terrorism Unit and Northumbria Police release photographic evidence from his accommodation:

Gas mask found in Vladimir Aust's student accommodation. Credit: NE Counter Terrorism Unit
Vladimir Aust's worktop with switches, crocodile clips, bulbs and a battery which could be used to make a detonator. Credit: NE Counter Terrorism Unit
After a table embedded with knives was found, Vladimir Aust admitted he caused the damage and his room was searched. Credit: NE Counter Terrorism Unit
Vladimir Aust mixed various chemicals to make HMTD power (Hexamethylenetriperoxidediamine), which he stored in plastic boxes near his bed. Credit: NE Counter Terrorism Unit
A notebook found in Vladimir Aust's room where he wrote down how to make HMTD, a power Mr Justice Coulson called 'popular with terrorists'. Credit: NE Counter Terrorism Unit


Student responsible for bomb scare sentenced to prison

18-year-old Russian student, Vladimir Aust Credit: North East Counter Terrorism Unit

18-year-old, Vladimir Aust has been sentenced to two years in prison at Newcastle Crown Court for making an explosive 'highly popular with terrorists'.

The Russian student pleaded guilty to the manufacturing of an explosive substance, Hexamethylenetriperoxidediamine (HMTD), after chemicals were discovered at a Newcastle University student accommodation campus in June 2014.

Vladimir Aust's desk. Credit: North East Counter Terrorism Unit

Mr Justice Coulson said he received credit for his age, his remorse, his previous good character and his early guilty plea.

He added HMTD terrorists "explosive of choice" and that sentences passed on those who manufactured it needed to be a deterrent.

He said the other aggravating factors were the prolonged period of time over which he made the substance, between February and June, that he had detonated it at least four times, and that others in the halls had been put at risk.

The judge decided that Aust was not part of a wider terror group:

You were dangerous, but acting alone.

– Mr Justice Coulson

The charges follow an investigation by the North East Counter Terrorism Unit and Northumbria Police.

Vladimir Aust clearly had a growing fascination with chemicals and manufacturing them into explosives.

Some of the items recovered are classed as potentially volatile and therefore could have put those within the vicinity at risk.

Although there is no evidence or indication what Aust planned to do with the items he manufactured, the hours he spent researching and working on them is of great concern.

– Ian Wilson, Head of the North East Counter Terrorism Unit
Knives used as part of the evidence in the case against Vladmir Aust. Credit: North East Counter Terrorism Unit

A second 18-year-old man, arrested in connection with the investigation in June, has since been released without charge.

Student admits making an explosive after bomb scare

A Russian student has admitted to making an explosive substance after a bomb scare at Newcastle University.

Vladimir Aust has accepted making hexamethylenetriperoxidediamine (HMTD) between September 1 last year and June 11 this year.

The discovery of the volatile substance, sometimes used in the mining industry, outside the university accommodation building caused chaos in the busy city in the summer.

Read More: Bomb disposal experts called to Newcastle University

The 18-year-old pleaded guilty to the charge during a hearing at Newcastle Crown Court, where he appeared via video link.

A charge of having two lock knives when he was arrested at Bayswater Road in London, when he was believed to be heading for the Russian embassy, was denied and will be dropped.

The investigation was initially led by the Counter Terrorism Unit.

Judge James Goss QC adjorned the case until next month when Aust will be senteced via video link to the prison where he is being held.

Three-parent babies could be born by 2015

The first three-parent babies could be born by 2015 after the government set out new draft regulations which will allow donor DNA from a second mother to be implanted into a defective egg.

A debate is being held in Westminster about the UK becoming the first country in the world to legalise babies with three biological parents. The controversial IVF technique has never been tried before.

Scientists in Newcastle are pushing for the technique to made legal. But critics say it's completely unethical and would be a step too far for the human race.

Helen Ford reports on one woman who lost seven children to genetic illness, and is in favour of the change:

Clashing opinions over three-parent IVF

A controversial technique that could see babies born to three biological parents is being debated at Westminster.

Scientists at Newcastle University want the IVF treatment to be legalised to prevent rare genetic illnesses. But critics say the procedure would be completely unethical.

Colin Hart at The Christian Institute and Professor Doug Turnbull at Newcastle University voice the arguments against and for the treatment:

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