December
13
 

IF IT QUACKS, IT CAN PROVIDE SAFETY DATA

Researchers at prestigious medical schools in the US are telling some of their patients to go overseas for stem cell therapies which are regarded as quackery by some of their colleagues. In a feature in Nature Biotechnology, Monya Baker says that some American doctors who believe in the therapeutic potential of foetal stem cell transplants are forbidden to conduct trials in the US by the Food and Drug Administration. So they have clinics abroad or they collaborate in the work of stem cell clinics whose credentials are far from stellar.

Amit Patel, of the University of Pittsburgh, for instance, is head of the Cardiac Cell Therapy Center, but he does his cutting edge work in Thailand, injecting stem cells from a patient's own bone marrow into their hearts. Stephen Hinderer, of Detroit Medical Center, works with Carlos Lima, a neurologist in Lisbon who has had good results in helping spinal cord trauma victims with nasal cells.

The American doctors want… click here to read whole article and make comments




 
December
13
 

MIT STEM CELL PROFESSOR LASHES THERAPEUTIC CLONING

 Fear of reprisals is one reason why some scientists do not oppose therapeutic cloning, says a professor at the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Associate Professor James Sherley says that "I have asked the leaderships of both the American Society for Cell Biology and the International Society for Stem Cell Research to conduct anonymous on-line polls of their membership regarding their views on human embryo research. Neither has been willing to do so. Many scientists who do not support human embryo research are afraid to speak out because of possible reprisals from powerful scientists who can affect grant success, publication acceptances, tenure promotion, and employment."

Professor Sherley is an expert in adult stem cells and an outspoken critic of embryonic stem cell research because, he argues, it is ethically and scientifically flawed. Not mincing his words, he says that many researchers "can often turn an amazingly blind eye to the contradictions in their position on therapeutic cloning. For example,… click here to read whole article and make comments




 
December
13
 

IN BRIEF: stem cells; abortion pill

STEM CELL LINES: A mere 150 stem cell lines would provide treatments for 40% of the UK population, claim British geneticists. Based on a study of how kidney donors match transplant recipients, they found that a relatively small number of lines would be compatible -- when stem cell therapy becomes a viable treatment. According to a report in news@nature.com, the best source would be discarded IVF embryos because cloned embryos still develop abnormally. click here to read whole article and make comments



 
December
06
 

DOCTORS QUERY ETHICS OF FIRST FACE TRANSPLANT

French surgeons have performed the world's first face transplant, a development which has provoked mixed reactions amongst their colleagues and bioethicists. The patient is a 38-year-old woman, Isabelle Dinoire, who lost her lips, chin and part of her nose when she was savaged by her own dog.

Because of the dangers of transplant failure and psychological damage, doctors have been reluctant to perform this sort of operation, although a number of medical centres around the world have plans to do so. Unlike the heroes of Hollywood's saga of face transplant surgery, Face/Off, patients will probably end up with faces which are unlike their own or their donor's.

American surgeons were upset on several counts. First, the operation involved not one but two novel procedures: transplanting facial tissue and transplanting bone marrow stem cells from the donor to prevent rejection. Now, they say, if the experiment fails, it will be difficult to determine which technique was responsible. Second,… click here to read whole article and make comments




 
December
06
 

HWANG UPROAR CONTINUES

click here to read whole article and make comments



 
December
06
 

STOP FIRST COUSIN MARRIAGES, SAYS BRITISH MP

A government campaign is needed to make British Pakistanis aware of the medical risks of cousin marriages, says a Labour MP. Ann Cryer says that "as we address problems of smoking, drinking, obesity, we say it's a public health issue, and therefore we all have to get involved with it in persuading people to adopt a different lifestyle." The Asian community, she argues, "must look outside the family for husbands and wives for their young people."

According to the BBC, British Pakistanis are 13 times more likely to have children with genetic disorders like deafness and cerebral palsy than the general population. However, Dr Aamra Darr, of the University of Leeds, comments that "altering a whole community's marriage pattern is an inadequate and superficial response to a serious health issue". She points out in BioNews that 20% of the world's population live in communities which prefer cousin marriages and that 8.5% of all births are from such unions. click here to read whole article and make comments




 
December
06
 

TRADE IN PRISONERS’ ORGANS EXISTS, CHINA ADMITS, AT LAST

Chinese authorities have admitted for the fist time that organs from executed prisoners are being sold to ailing foreigners. According to the London Times, Huang Jiefu, the Deputy Health Minister, says that the practice is widespread and must be regulated more consistently. We want to push for regulations on organ tranplants to standardise the management of the supply of organs from executed prisoners and tidy up the medical market," Mr Huang told Caijing magazine.

The aim of new legislation, says Mr Huang, is to end the commercialisation of organ transplants. It will also improve China's image and give condemned prisoners a greater say in what happens to their bodies. There are no official figures on the number of official executions in China, but Amnesty International estimates that there are between 3,400 and 6,000. click here to read whole article and make comments




 
December
06
 

NOSE CELLS MAY HELP SPINAL CORD INJURIES

After 20 years of preparation, a British researcher has announced that he will use adult stem cells to try to cure or at least help patients with spinal cord injury. Professor Geoffrey Raisman, of University College London, says that he will test the regenerative ability of cells from the nose on 10 patients in a pilot study. The first group will be mostly teenagers whose arm has been paralysed after a motorcycle accident when the nerves were pulled out of the spinal column. Animal trials have been very promising.

"I don't know that it will work, but I think it will work," Professor Raisman told the Guardian. "I have been patient. I didn't jump in the dark. I have grown through the research all these years. It was in 1985 I discovered the cells. It has taken 20 years before I felt we had the technology to apply this to people."

The cells will come from the patients themselves, not… click here to read whole article and make comments




 
December
06
 

BACK TO THE CLONING DRAWING BOARD?

Therapeutic cloning has taken another body blow with a report in a leading journal that cloned embryos appear to be genetically normal, even though most cloned embryos develop abnormally. The implication is that scientists are still far from understanding the cloning process.

The findings also suggest that therapies from therapeutic cloning are not around the corner. "Even if cloned embryos are born, many are not normal and die prematurely," Wolf Reik, of the UK's Babraham Institute, told The Scientist magazine. "These late effects are not caused by early deficits in gene expression." At first embryonic stem cells may look normal, but problems may emerge later on. And Atsuo Ogura, of Japan's Riken Bioresource Center, remarked that this study clearly indicates that technical improvements cannot overcome the post-implantation problems of clones".

Despite this pessimism, the leading author of the article, Jerry Yang, of the University of Connecticut, still asserts that the findings are "good news for therapeutic cloning and bad news… click here to read whole article and make comments




 
December
06
 

DUTCH TO FORMALISE BABY EUTHANASIA PROCEDURES

 The Dutch government is to set up a commission to oversee the euthanasia of seriously ill newborns. The commission will be able to approve late abortions or killing newborns. Euthanasia will be possible if a child has no chance of survival and is suffering unbearably, if another doctor is consulted and if the parents agree. The Justice Minister and the Junior Health Minister say that the commission, which will begin work in mid-2006, will improve the transparency of infant euthanasia.

"We wanted to respond to the needs of doctors to create clarity in how to deal with ending the life of seriously suffering newborns as well as the legal consequences of late abortions," the ministers wrote in a letter to the Dutch parliament.

"The conventions, as well as the opinion of the commission, offer doctors the knowledge that cases will not just be seen from a legal perspective but also from a medical and ethical perspective... the… click here to read whole article and make comments




 

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 from the editor: Pointed Remarks
Bioethics and the caliphate
26 Jul 2014
Yes, Minister
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