March
28
 

IN BRIEF: stem cells, organ donors, cosmetic surgery…

Bioethics conference: Conservative and liberal bioethicists will hash out their differences at a July conference in Albany, New York. The Future of Bioethics in a Divided Democracy" is sponsored by the Alden March Bioethics Institute. The speakers range from pro-life advocates like Nigel Cameron, Richard Doerflinger and Wesley Smith to utilitarian writers like Arthur Caplan, Glenn McGee and Alta Charo. click here to read whole article and make comments



 
March
21
 

HEALTHY YOUNG MEN NEAR DEATH AFTER DRUG TRIAL

 A drug trial run by an American research company for a German biotech has left six young men seriously ill in London, two of them fighting for their lives. The six were participants in a Phase 1 trial, the first humans to use an experimental leukaemia drug called TGN1412. Minutes after taking it, they became violently ill. One sobbing woman told the press that her swollen, discoloured and unconscious boyfriend looked like "the Elephant Man".

The drug company, TeGenero, is one of a new breed of university spin-offs hunting for miracle cures. Its leading product, TGN1412, is a monoclonal antibody. This is a new and very promising type of drug, a genetically engineered "humanised" protein which binds to a targeted protein. TeGenero engaged Parexel to recruit volunteers and conduct the drug trials. TeGenero says that the calamitous result was "completely unexpected". The UK's Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Authority is investigating what happened, along with Scotland Yard.

click here to read whole article and make comments




 
March
21
 

HANDICAPPED BRITISH CHILD SAVED FROM HOSPITAL

A British couple have won a reprieve for their severely handicapped son after his hospital asked to let him die because of his poor quality of life. The parents of the 19-month-old child known only as "MB", thanked the judge for his decision.

MB has a condition called spinal muscular atrophy which leaves him almost totally paralysed. He requires a ventilator to breathe and cannot cry, chew or swallow. All his doctors and the guardian appointed to represent the child's interest in court argued that the burdens of his existence outweighed the benefits.

However, MB's mother told the High Court, in London, that the child was conscious. He responded to cartoon films such as Shrek and Finding Nemo, but did not appear to like the news or the TV soap Eastenders. "It must be assumed that he processes all of those sights and sounds like any child of his age and gains pleasure from them," said Justice Holman. "No court… click here to read whole article and make comments




 
March
21
 

TWO MORE WOMEN DIE AFTER USING RU-486

 Two more American women have died after taking the abortion pill RU- 486, the Food and Drug Administration has announced. It issued an alert warning patients and doctors to follow instructions for using the drug carefully and to report warning signs such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea or abdominal pain. The New York manufacturer of the drug, Danco Laboratories, said it was deeply saddened by the deaths and was investigating.

Abortion provider Planned Parenthood has begun telling women to take the drug orally, as recommended by the FDA, instead of vaginally, a common off-label use in the US. It emphasised that only a tiny fraction of American women taking the drug had died. Four of these women, including the latest two, received the abortion pill at clinics affiliated with Planned Parenthood.

click here to read whole article and make comments



 
March
21
 

ITALIAN MINISTER CALLS DUTCH NAZIS OVER CHILD EUTHANASIA

 Despite furious protests from the Dutch government, an Italian minister has dug in his heels and refuses to apologise for comparing Dutch euthanasia laws to the Nazi regime. "Nazi legislation and Hitler's ideas are re-emerging in Europe via Dutch euthanasia laws and the debate on how to kill ill children," Parliamentary Affairs Minister Carlo Giovanardi said during an radio debate on euthanasia.

When his opponent called upon Giovanardi to apologise during the program, he refused and repeated his remarks. "I have nothing to apologise for, because I am against murders of ill people," Giovanardi said. "It is the Dutch, who are to explain to Europe their homicidal practices. In the Netherlands it is allowed to put to death gravely ill children starting from the age of 12." Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende denounced the analogy as scandalous and intolerable." and said he would raise the issue with Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi at an EU meeting next week.… click here to read whole article and make comments




 
March
21
 

AMERICANS DEBATE CHILDREN’S “WRONGFUL BIRTHS”

Parents in Ohio can now sue doctors whose misdiagnosis leads to the birth of a disabled child whom they would otherwise have aborted. A 4-3 State Supreme Court ruling earlier this month limits the damages to the costs associated with a pregnancy and the birth of the child. Parents cannot sue for pain and suffering or for repayment of the cost of raising a disabled child.

In a New York Times Magazine review of the ethical morass surrounding "wrongful birth" suits in the US, Elizabeth Weil writes that "the moral quandary we find ourselves in pits the ideal of unconditional love of a child against the reality that most of us would prefer not to have that unconditional-love relationship with a certain subset of kids". Ms Weil, who aborted a disabled child herself, focuses on the painful experience of Anthony and Donna Branca. Their child AJ was born with Wolf-Hirschhorn syndrome, which causes severe retardation and physical disability. Eventually they… click here to read whole article and make comments




 
March
21
 

EMBRYONIC STEM CELL FUNDING SCARCE

Finding private funding for stem cell treatments is getting no easier, according to reports in the financial magazines Red Herring and Forbes. "I would say the venture [capital] community has more or less abandoned this area over the last five years," says Ralph Snodgrass, CEO of VistaGen Therapeutics, a California company investigating embryonic stem cell technologies. A major obstacle is the continuing debate in legislatures over the ethical issues. Venture capitalists are willing to take financial risks, market risks, management risks, but the one thing they are not happy to do is take political risks," says William M. Caldwell IV, CEO of another embryonic stem cell company in Massachusetts, Advanced Cell Technology.

Although some industry figures predict that human embryonic stem cell treatments will be on the market within 5 to 7 years, a British regulator disagreed. "I think we really need to be responsible when we talk about the time frame of the technologies, such as saying they will… click here to read whole article and make comments




 
March
21
 

DOLLY’S “DAD” DEFENDED BY COLLEAGUES

After a blast of criticism following reports in the British press that he was not the main figure in cloning Dolly the sheep, Professor Ian Wilmut as been defended by fellow scientists. "I have no reason to think Wilmut did anything wrong," Dr Richard Henderson, of the Medical Research Council Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge told The Scientist. And German scientist Eckhard Wolf, of the University of Munich, noted that first authors do not have to be directly involved in a project. "If the basis of the research was his idea, then there is no reason why he should not be first author," he said. Also, contrary to a report in The Scotsman newspaper, the Frankfurt-based Paul Ehrlich Foundation has denied that it intends to strip Wilmut of a prestigious prize.

Naturally, there were other scientists who still feel that Wilmut should not have taken the lion's share of the credit for the landmark experiment. "Yes, this is common… click here to read whole article and make comments




 
March
21
 

IN BRIEF: Hwang-gate…

Hwang-gate: Hwang Woo-suk, the disgraced Korea stem cell researcher, has been fired from his post at Seoul National University. Six of his colleagues were also disciplined by the university. The Korean government has also revoked Hwang's licence to work in human cloning research. click here to read whole article and make comments



 
March
14
 

DOLLY’S “DAD” HAD ONLY SUPERVISORY ROLE

 Cloning researchers seem to have a knack for coming up with embarrassing surprises. First the South Korean government ended up with egg on its face for pinning its dream of becoming a major biotech player on the fraudulent experiments of Hwang Woo-suk. Now the German government has come under fire for giving its most prestigious scientific prize to the wrong man.

It turns out that Professor Ian Wilmut, internationally famed as the creator of the first cloned mammal, Dolly the sheep, played second fiddle in the landmark experiment. This has emerged in an improbable venue, an employment tribunal where Wilmut is being accused of racial harassing and bullying an Asian colleague, Prim Singh.

He was asked by a lawyer whether the statement "I did not create Dolly" was accurate and was forced to reply, "Yes". Sixty-six per cent of the credit, said Wilmut, should go to another colleague, Professor Keith Campbell; he had only had a supervisory… click here to read whole article and make comments




 

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