January
24
 

CAPTAIN KIRK STILL PRODUCING STAR TREK MEMORABILIA

Here's the ultimate in organ donation kitsch: a kidney stone passed by the commander of the Starship Enterprise has been sold to an on-line gaming casino. The money will be given to a charity. Actor William Shatner, looking a bit plumper and more relaxed than when he played the legendary Captain Kirk, mused that this takes organ donors to a new height, to a new low, maybe". GoldenPalace.com originally offered $15,000 but Shatner, a man who knows what he is worth, held out for $25,000.

Obtaining the stone was a costly business for the actor. He went to a hospital in great pain and ended up in a gurney for pregnant women. "They're wheeling me through the hospital," he recalled. "My legs are in the stirrups and I'm screaming -- and somebody says, Look, there goes Captain Kirk; he's having a baby!"

click here to read whole article and make comments



 
January
24
 

KOREAN ADULT STEM CELL THERAPY FAILS

A paralysed Korean woman who took some faltering steps after treatment with adult stem cells in 2004 says that her treatment has failed badly. She can not walk; she is in constant pain; and she can not even sit in a wheelchair. Doctors say that her spine became infected during a second round of therapy. Hwang Mi-sun, 39, now warns other patients not to place too much trust in stem cell treatment.

Although adult stem cells have had more clinical successes than embryonic stem cells (which have had none), no therapies have been approved by government health officials in any country. However, euphoria in 2004 over the apparently successful research of the now- disgraced Hwang Woo-suk led the South Korean government to relax restrictions on the use of adult stem cells in clinical trials. In 2003 no treatment with adult stem cells was reported. In 2005, 118 people were given experimental treatments.

The results were none too promising. According to… click here to read whole article and make comments




 
January
24
 

NO MORE FREE RIDES?

The idea that people have a moral duty to participate in medical research may be gaining traction. The notion surfaced last year when utilitarian British bioethicist John Harris argued that if people are to take advantage of the benefits of medical research, they should not be freeloaders and should participate in experiments. Later in the year, American bioethicist Rosamund Rhodes questioned the universally accepted concept of informed consent and suggested that ideally there should be some form of research conscription.

Now Dr Jess Buxton, the genetics editor of BioNews, a UK newsletter published by the Progress Educational Trust, says that such an approach is a positive development. She argues that the new UK BioBank, which will collect health information from half a million volunteers, is a sign that many people would agree. "The project may even help foster a new attitude to medical science -- that in order to reap the benefits of research, we must be prepared at least… click here to read whole article and make comments




 
January
24
 

CLAWS CAUSE ANGST

Animal rights activists are campaigning for humane treatment of lobsters, a move which alarms fishermen in the American state of Maine. "These creatures are suffering terribly the way they are being treated," says a coordinator of the Shellfish Network, an English group. "We know they have the capacity to suffer." In Maine, which supplies 85% of America's lobsters, lobster fishing is an important industry.

Normally lobsters are boiled live, which incenses animal welfare activists. A spokesman for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals describes it as "felony-level cruelty". However, a spokesman for Maine's Lobster Institute says that lobsters are like insects: They don't have the hardware to process pain." And the president of the Maine Lobstermen's Association ridicules the concerns of the activists: "The PETA people think there are lobster families walking on the bottom holding hands. They eat each other. They are cannibalistic. They are not lovely creatures." click here to read whole article and make comments




 
January
24
 

CORNELL UPDATES HIPPOCRATIC OATH

A leading American medical school has revised the Hippocratic Oath to take account of contemporary values. Weill Cornell Medical College's version is more inclusive and more positive, ending in an affirmation to be faithful to the honourable traditions of the profession rather than in a curse upon a doctor who does not respect the oath.

Most medical schools long ago revised the anachronistic Greek oath which invokes the god Apollo and assumes that no women work as physicians. Like oaths at other medical schools, Weill Cornell's no longer contains explicit commitments not to have sexual relations with patients, not to carry out abortions and not to administer euthanasia -- although admittedly these might be implicit in a more general commitment to "serve the highest interests of my patients". click here to read whole article and make comments




 
January
24
 

IN BRIEF: cloning; depression; Australia; fakes

  • Stem cells: Scientists at the Whitehead Institute for BioMedical Research in Cambridge, Massachusetts, claim that stem cells from cloned embryos are likely to be safe when they are used for human therapies. Their study found that mouse embryonic stem cells did not contain genetic abnormalities which could cause cancer. However, what actually goes wrong when animals are cloned is still unknown. click here to read whole article and make comments



  •  
    January
    17
     

    US SUPREME COURT UPHOLDS OREGON SUICIDE LAW

    The US Supreme Court has upheld Oregon's controversial assisted suicide law and declared that the Bush administration exceeded its authority in trying to undo the statute. In a 6-3 decision, the Court held that the Federal Attorney-General did not have the power to declare illegal "a medical standard for care and treatment of patients that is specifically authorized under state law".

    The Oregon law became effective in 1997 and is supported by the electorate. The most recent statistics show that 326 patients had received medications to help them end their lives and 208 had actually killed themselves.

    , Justice Antonin Scalia observed that "If the term 'legitimate medical purpose' has any meaning, it surely excludes the prescription of drugs to produce death... Virtually every medical authority from Hippocrates to the current American Medical Association confirms that assisting suicide has seldom or never been viewed as a form of 'prevention, cure, or alleviation of disease'".

    The… click here to read whole article and make comments




     
    January
    17
     

    HWANG IN DISGRACE

     Investigators have confirmed that stunning advances in embryonic stem cell research by a team of South Korean researchers were fraudulent. Stem cell researchers around the world were dismayed. "This has set us back several years," said Chris Shaw, a neurologist at King's College London who has a UK licence to clone human embryos. "It was as if Dr Hwang had sent us a picture of him on top of Everest, but it happened not to be Everest. He lied to us about that and Everest is still there to climb."

    Hwang Woo-suk's work has not been thoroughly discredited. found that he had indeed cloned a dog, as he reported in a paper in Nature last year. However, much of the data which he used to support claims that he had cloned human embryos and produced stem cell lines was fabricated. False, too, was his claim to have used only 427 human eggs. In fact, he used 2,061 eggs and… click here to read whole article and make comments




     
    January
    17
     

    UK CLONING RESEARCH TEAM SPLITS UP

    The only other research team to have successfully cloned human embryos has quarrelled and split up in a dispute about unprofessional self-promotion. Two professors at the University of Newcastle, Professor Miodrag Stojkovic, a stem cell biologist, and Professor Alison Murdoch, an IVF specialist who is head of the British Fertility Society, have fallen out over her orchestration of the announcement of their breakthrough research last May. She ensured that it would coincide with the day that Hwang's paper was published.

    The Newcastle team's announcement was criticised at the time by the journal Nature as "contrary to good scientific practice". It had breached convention by publicising results before its research had been peer-reviewed and published in full in a scientific journal. An incensed Professor Stojkovic claims that he had not agreed to this plan.

    Professor Stojkovic also claimed that he deserved the lion's share of the credit for their research. "There are plenty of people dissatisfied with Professor Murdoch taking the… click here to read whole article and make comments




     
    January
    17
     

    USE RABBIT EGGS, SAYS BRITISH STEM CELL EXPERT

    After Professor Hwang failed to derive embryonic stem cell lines from more than 2000 human eggs, it is obvious that cloning human embryos will not be achieved easily. If it is to happen, an enormous quantity of hard-to-obtain eggs will be needed. British scientists, therefore, are calling for the creation of hybrid embryos made by inserting human genetic material into rabbit eggs. "We have to think about alternative sources of eggs," says Professor Chris Shaw, of King's College London. "The fertility of rabbits is legendary. There may be opportunities to use human cells for nuclear transfer to rabbit oocytes (eggs). Legally the position is not clear, but that's something we'd like to discuss with the HFEA (Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority)."

    Although Chinese researchers claim to have created hundreds of these hybrid embryos back in 2003, in no country has this procedure actually been legalised (although a government committee recently proposed it in Australia). "I think it is right to… click here to read whole article and make comments




     

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