Women are putting their lives in danger by purchasing illegal IVF drugs from the online auction site EBay. Drugs can be bought off the website for a third of the normal market price, and many desperate women are turning to it as a last resort.
The fertility drugs include brand names Suprecur, Cetrotide and Menopur. They are hormone treatments used to stimulate the ovary to produce more eggs to increase fertility and as part of IVF procedures.
One British woman, 26-year-old Lorraine Davy, almost died after taking the ovulation stimulation drug Clomid. “I got rushed into A&E and they did an ultrasound and the doctor said I had a massive cyst on my ovaries”.
The British Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has contacted EBay to have the drugs removed from auction.
The United Kingdom is debating the merits of “three-parent embryos” to alleviate the burden of serious mitochondrial diseases. Scientists have reassured the public that this procedure will produce healthy children.
These assertions are largely speculative. However, something similar has happened before. About 30 children conceived from this technique have been born, 17 of them from an American IVF clinic between 1996 and 2002, when US government authorities put a stop to it. At the time the Saint Barnabas Medical Center, in New Jersey, called it “cytoplasmic transfer” and billed it as a way of jump-starting tired eggs. Twelve years after the US Food and Drug Administration recommended a retrospective study to see how these children have fared, the clinic is finally doing one.
He points out that despite strong support from UK scientists and bioethicists and generally favourable treatment in the media, no other country in the world has authorised modification of the human genome. “Do we really want to become a rogue state in terms of bioethics?” he asks.
He also argues that the procedure “cures” no one. It simply prevents the birth of handicapped children. But this comes at the cost of destroying a human embryo for its “useful parts”. “There is no way that that can be considered ethical,” he says.
This month’s issue of LGBT Health contains a fascinating interview with two Boston fertility specialists who cater for gays and lesbians who want to become parents. Dr Samuel Pang, one of the first doctors to help gays have biological children through gestational surrogacy, says that his passion “is to get the word out to the LGBT communities that there are options available if people want to have genetically related children”.
Perhaps the most controversial aspect of their work is provisions for the fertility of boys and girls who are transitioning to the opposite sex. “For children and young adolescents, it is often the parents who are thinking about future reproductive capacity, because they would like the possibility of grandchildren, and because they are looking after the future interests of their children,” says Dr Anderson Clark, a reproductive biologist.
Commercialisation of IVF is crossing new frontiers in New York with “egg freezing parties” for career women who want to keep their options open. A company called EggBanxx will retrieve and store eggs – for about US$7,000 to $8000 per cycle. The first year of freezing is free. Here’s the pitch:
“EggBanxx is the affordable egg freezing solution created by women for women. We believe egg freezing should be easy, affordable and stress-free! Through EggBanxx, women can preserve their fertility by freezing their eggs for later use at a fraction of the cost and at a reputable clinic. This elective procedure is becoming increasingly popular today with women who are holding off having children while furthering their education or career, or waiting to meet the right partner.”
A memorial to the 300,000 victims of Nazi euthanasia programs was opened in Berlin this week. It is striking piece of modern architecture: a 30-metre-long wall of blue glass in the open air near the Berlin Philharmonic.
“The Nazi murders of disabled people are among the most inhumane acts of history,” says Berlin’s mayor, Klaus Wowereit. “It is high time that these victims of Nazi inhumanity finally receive their own memorial.”
The regime had several methods of killing the mentally and physically disabled: starvation, lethal injections or chambers filled with carbon monoxide gas. The so-called T4 program became a trial run for the gas chambers of Auschwitz and other death camps. About 70,000 of the deaths occurred at the program’s headquarters at Tiergartenstrasse 4 in Berlin, thus giving the program its name, Aktion T4.
There are calls for a change in birth certificate regulations after a woman conceived by sperm donation had her adopted father erased as parent.
Emma Cresswell, 26, has won a six-year legal battle to have the man who she thought was her father removed from her birth certificate. Cresswell only discovered as an adult that she was conceived by a sperm donation, following a heated argument with her adopted father. Incensed at being deceived by her parents and feeling increasingly distant from her mother’s partner, Cresswell fought to have her adopted father’s details taken off her legal documents.
“I had thought I was one person for so long and then I found out that a whole side of that wasn’t true”, She said.
Scientists from MIT say they have managed to manipulate ‘good’ and ‘bad’ memories in mice, in a study that may have significant impact on research into human memory alteration.
The study, published in a recent edition of Nature, examined the neuronal circuits thought to be responsible for triggering memory recall in mice. The researchers said they successfully used optogenics technology to activate circuits bearing specific memories.
Researchers created good memories in male mice by giving them time with groups of females, whilst bad memories were created by electrocuting the mice’ feet. The researchers then studied the way the mice reacted when the memories were activated in an empty space. When ‘bad memory’ circuits were activated, the mice ran away from the space, whilst when ‘good memory’ circuits were queued the mice stayed.
Ashya, who recently had a severe brain tumour removed, has been at the centre of an international police investigation after his parents took him from a British hospital against doctors’ advice. Brett and Naghemeh King were concerned that he was receiving inadequate care in the UK and wanted him to receive proton beam treatment abroad. Mr. and Mrs. King were imprisoned in Madrid for 72 hours after British police issued a European Arrest Warrant. Charges of ‘child cruelty’ were dropped on Tuesday.
A Chilean priest is being investigated for coercing single women into give up their babies for adoption.
Fr. Gerardo Joannon of the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary (SSCC) was allegedly part of a network of priests and doctors that coerced single pregnant woman to agree to adoption arrangements after birth. It is alleged that the women who resisted had their babies taken after birth and were told they had died. An investigation conducted by the Catholic Church found that Fr. Joannon participated in at least two adoptions where mothers were anesthetised and told after labour that their baby had passed away.
The SSCC began the initial investigation into the matter. A spokesman for the group has condemned Joannon’s actions. “[his actions] were totally unacceptable. It was very important for us to speak out and speak with a strong voice”, said SSCC priest Fr. Sandro…
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