UK studying whether embryos can be stored for spare parts

The UK’s fertility watchdog is studying whether couples can create and store embryos to serve as spare parts. The controversial proposal means that IVF would be used to provide a body repair kit, not just as a solution to infertility. The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority has already approved the creation of "saviour sibling" babies created with IVF and screened to be a tissue match for an existing child with a serious health condition.

The new proposal would mean that embryos could be stored until a problem occurs, thawed, and developed into embryonic stem cells. British law is being… click here to read whole article and make comments

Is there a right not to procreate?

The question of harvesting sperm from recently-deceased sons and fiances pops up in the news from time to time. The courts seem easily persuaded that the dead man would have wanted to father children after his death on the word of the prospective mother – or grandmother. But what does the future hold in this shadow world of reproductive rights? Does a man have a right to refuse to allow his sperm to be used to procreate after he has shuffled off this mortal coil? I. Glenn Cohen, of Harvard Law School, argues… click here to read whole article and make comments

EU committee to study ethics of cyborgs

Human enhancement is not at the top of most bioethical agendas, but it is slowing moving up the ladder. A committee of the European Parliament will be studying the regulatory and ethical limits of new technology for adding to the capabilities of the human mind and body. It will debate issues surrounding smart drugs, cybernetic body enhancements, cosmetic surgery and so on over the coming months. Apparently this is the first time a legislature has looked into the scifi world of cyborgs.

Writing in the UK’s Guardian newspaper, Andy Miah, an academic specialising in… click here to read whole article and make comments

Virginia student has fathered 120 children… so far

American sperm banks are responsible for creating dozens of half-siblings who do not know each other, according to Le Devoir, a Canadian newspaper. The scale of the problem has only come to light because of an energetic American woman, Wendy Kramer, and her desire to know whether her sperm-donor son had half-brothers or sisters. In 2003 she set up a website, the Donor Sibling Register . This gathers information about sperm donors (identifiable only by codes assigned by the sperm bank) and enables mothers to see if their children… click here to read whole article and make comments

Sperm bank to be sued for defective product

A US court has ruled that a sperm bank can be sued for selling sperm that causes a child to have a genetic defect. The case was brought on behalf of a 13-year-old girl with Fragile-X syndrome, a common cause of mental retardation and shines more light on the market for sperm. According to the judgement, in 1994, Donna Donovan found a company which promised first-class sperm. Idant Laboratories guaranteed that its semen was exceptionally safe, that its screening standards were excellent, and that its donors had been rigorously screened for a good genetic background.… click here to read whole article and make comments

Nitschke welcomed in Singapore after cold shoulder in UK

Loathed by both supporters and opponents of legalised voluntary euthanasia, Australian activist Dr Philip Nitschke is thinking of moving to the UK because it has more "enlightened" attitudes. Australia has banned his how-to suicide book and has even made it illegal to distribute information about suicide over the internet. He is no better liked in the UK, but he is drawing small crowds for his suicide seminars. He is planning to launch a DIY kit for testing the strength of his favourite suicide drugs at "tutorials" in May. It will be launched by an… click here to read whole article and make comments

Draft guidelines for embryonic stem cells issued

Only stem cell research on "spare" IVF embryos should be funded by the Federal government, according to guidelines issued by the National Institutes of Health. The announcement came about 5 weeks after President Obama announced that he would scrap restrictions on human embryonic stem cell research imposed by his predecessor. However, he left the details up to the NIH. The guidelines are open for public comment for 30 days and the final rules will be issued in July.

American scientists put up a good front, but they were clearly disappointed. The guidelines… click here to read whole article and make comments

UK regulations stymie use of aborted foetuses

Out-of-date regulations prevent British scientists from using tissue from the 200,000 foetuses which are aborted each year in England and Wales, complains Professor Naomi Pfeffer, of London Metropolitan University. She claims that women are perfectly capable of giving informed consent to the use of aborted tissue and that doctors will act ethically in requesting the tissue.

It is possible to use tissue from aborted foetuses, but the paperwork involved is tedious and costly. The Royal College of Obstetricians objects to the current rule that researchers must… click here to read whole article and make comments

Embryonic stem cell research thriving in Iran

Iran is becoming a stem cell powerhouse, even though its scientists have to obtain some of their equipment on the black market because of political and economical sanctions. According to a recent survey of Iranian stem cell science published by two researchers at Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, scientists at theRoyan Institute have cloned a sheep, developed stem cell lines and differentiated them into pancreatic, heart and liver cells.

Although the government has banned human cloning, there is broad support for embryonic stem cell… click here to read whole article and make comments

Second embryo stem cell trial to begin in two years

British scientists are getting ready to roll out the world's second clinical trial of embryonic stem cells -- to cure blindness. With financial support from the drug giant Pfizer, researchers at the Institute of Ophthalmology at University College London will useESC cells to cure age-related macular degeneration (AMD), the most common cause of blindness. With an ageing population, AMD could become a major problem. The treatment involves replacing a layer of degenerated cells with new ones created from embryonic stem cells. Results have been promising with rats and the researchers hope to begin human trials… click here to read whole article and make comments

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