November
28
 

SINGER SUPPORTS ANIMAL EXPERIMENTS

 Peter Singer has blindsided his many critics by backing some medical experimentation on animals. In a BBC documentary on the controversial issue, he says: "It is clear at least some animal research does have benefits. I would certainly not say that no animal research could be justified and the case you have given sounds like one that is justified." Singer, an Australian bioethicist now working at Princeton, is the author of the well-known book Animal Liberation.

His unexpected flexibility may offset remarks he made back in May to an Australian gay magazine. He asserted then that chimps were too social and sensitive to be used in AIDS research. He suggested that patients in a persistent vegetative state could be used instead. "Maybe we could keep them alive for another month or two to do some research that could save millions of lives potentially, and then allow them to die," he told an interviewer.

click here to read whole article and make comments



 
November
28
 

DRUG COMPANIES HIDE ADVERSE RESULTS,
    SAYS HARVARD PROFESSOR

In a stinging article in the New England Journal of Medicine, a Harvard Medical School professor has accused big drug companies of hiding evidence of adverse results of their products. The latest example, says Dr Jerry Avorn, is Bayer's behaviour over a drug used in cardiac surgery, aprotinin. On September 21, the Food and Drug Administration decided that despite a negative study in the NEJM, there was no need for an additional warning to consumers. But only a few days later, on September 30, it warned that the drug could cause renal failure, congestive heart failure, stroke or death. What had happened in the meantime was that the FDA had learned that Bayer had commissioned its own report. This confirmed the NEJM study's conclusions and showed that patients who received aprotinin had substantially higher mortality rates and renal failure. But it withheld the study from the FDA -- which Bayer later described as "a mistake".

Dr Avorn feels that drug… click here to read whole article and make comments




 
November
28
 

CHILDREN OF YOUNG MOTHERS LIVE LONGER

If you want to live to be 100, make sure that your mother is under 25. That's what scientists at the University of Chicago say after analysing historical data on 198 centenarians born in the United States between 1890 and 1893. They found that first-born children were 1.7 times more likely to live to 100. The reason, they surmise, is the age of the mother (but not of the father). Why? Perhaps a younger woman's eggs are more youthful; perhaps a younger woman has not been exposed to as many diseases and infections and therefore provides a healthier environment in the womb. The study was presented to the Gerontological Society of America's annual meeting. click here to read whole article and make comments



 
November
28
 

MIDDLE AGE IS UPWARDLY MOBILE

Cosmetic surgery has been given a big boost by consumers who think that their 60s are the new middle age, according to an A.C. Nielsen survey of 42 countries. In the US, 60% believe this, and on a global scale, 60% believe that the 40s are the new 30s. With more and more people turning back the clock on their mental age, cosmetic surgery is becoming more popular. The survey found that about 20%, world- wide, would consider cosmetic surgery to maintain their looks. The Russians were the most willing (48%), and people in Hong Kong the least willing (6%).

Cosmetic surgery has become more acceptable and financially it's become affordable, says Frank Martell, of A.C. Nielsen. "Our mothers might have gone to Tupperware parties but this generation is more likely to be invited to Botox parties." With Botox now considered mainstream, Martell predicts that the next beauty trend will be liposuction. "Lunchtime 'lipo' is likely to become the next… click here to read whole article and make comments




 
November
28
 

ARE IVF CLINICS CREATING TRANSGENIC HUMANS?

An Italian researcher has discovered that IVF clinics could unwittingly be creating transgenic humans. Dr Corrado Spadafora, of Italy's National Institute of Health, recently told the British Andrology Society that frog DNA had turned up in mouse sperm after his laboratory had somehow been contaminated. The reason seems to be that naked sperm -- those which have been stripped of their seminal fluid -- are remarkably good at absorbing strands of DNA and RNA from their environment.

This phenomenon has been observed in a number of species, including humans. Often the foreign genes have been incorporated into embryos when the sperm fertilised an egg. Occasionally the modification has been passed on to the next generation. "This work suggests, in theory at least, that IVF laboratories could unwittingly create transgenic sperm," reports The Economist. click here to read whole article and make comments




 
November
28
 

IN BRIEF: Hwang; animal thinktank; kidneys; Lanza

Hwang: Disgraced South Korean stem cell researcher Hwang Woo-suk wants to resume his work on therapeutic cloning. According to his lawyer, creating patient-specific stem cells is the only way that he can atone for "all the stir he has caused". Within six months he and his team could create the cells, he believes. click here to read whole article and make comments



 
November
21
 

GERMAN NURSE CONVICTED OF 28 KILLINGS

 A male nurse has been convicted of killing 28 patients -- making him Germany's worst serial killer since World War II. Stephan Letter, 28, injected patients in a nursing home with a lethal cocktail of tranquillisers and muscle relaxants between February 2003 and July 2004. He was found guilty of 12 counts of murder, 15 counts of manslaughter and one count of mercy killing. Most of his victims were over 75, but they included two women aged 40 and 47.

Although Mr Letter's defence lawyer argued that his client was motivated by compassion for seriously ill patients, this seemed implausible. Many of the patients were recent admissions and some had not even been thoroughly examined by a doctor. He also claimed to be responding to excruciating pain or to pleas for a quick death. But some of his elderly victims were sprightly and cheerful -- hardly eager for a merciful release.

"He killed as if it were… click here to read whole article and make comments




 
November
21
 

ANIMAL RIGHTS PARTY SET TO ENTER DUTCH PARLIAMENT

 The Dutch Party for the Animals could win one or even two seats in tomorrow's national election. "We see this as a follow-up to liberating slaves, giving rights to women, and finally giving rights to animals," says party leader Marianne Thieme. She would like to see a constitutional amendment guaranteeing animals the right to freedom from pain, fear and stress caused by humans.

The Party for the Animals has become a force to be reckoned with since its formation in 2002. In 2003, it fell only 2,000 votes short of the number need to win a seat in the 150-seat parliament. Recent polls suggest that its support has tripled since them. Ms Thieme criticises other politicians for ignoring animal welfare. "They say: people are more important. People should come first. But if you always follow that line of reasoning, animals never make it onto the agenda," she said.

click here to read whole article and make comments



 
November
21
 

DO NOT RESUSCITATE VERY EARLY PREEMIES, SAYS UK REPORT

 Rejecting a call from British O&G doctors to consider legalising infant euthanasia, the Nuffield Council on Bioethics has recommended that active killing of newborn babies should not be allowed, no matter how serious their condition. However, the Council, whose reports are highly respected by the UK government, made its own controversial recommendation: to give only palliative care to all babies born before 22 weeks. It is extremely rare for babies born before 22 weeks to survive.

Only about 1% of babies born between 22 and 23 weeks live to leave hospital, says the Council. Normal practice should be not to give intensive care at this age, unless parents request it after a thorough discussion of the risks and if the doctors agree.

Natural instincts are to try to save all babies, even if the baby's chances of survival are low," said Professor Margaret Brazier, who chaired the committee that produced the guidelines. "However, we don't think it… click here to read whole article and make comments




 
November
21
 

ADVANCES FOR ADULT STEM CELLS

Adult stem cells have helped ease the symptoms of muscular dystrophy in golden retrievers, according to a report in the journal Nature. The study focused on Duchenne muscular dystrophy, the most severe and most common form. Lead researcher Giulio Cossu, of the Stem Cell Research Institute at the San Raffaele Scientific Institute of Milan, says that he hopes to launch a small clinical trial with children in the next year or two.

The researchers used stem cells from the affected dogs and from healthy dogs. The best results were obtained with cells from the healthy dogs. If the same method were used with humans, it would avoid the controversial method of destroying embryos to produce stem cells. click here to read whole article and make comments




 

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 from the editor: Pointed Remarks
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Creating memories.
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