Adult stem cells fail to spark heart

After several encouraging reports that adult stem cells had repaired damaged heart tissue, the latest research pours cold water on the idea. A study in the Journal of Clinical Investigation found that stem cells from bone marrow did not become "normal, mature muscle cells". Experiments with mice showed that bone marrow stem cells did migrate to the heart, but they failed to produce a muscle protein which is essential for normal functioning. Instead, the affected mice developed abnormal cardiac rhythms. Other scientists were disappointed but not disheartened. "It brings a new level of rigour to the field and tells us… click here to read whole article and make comments

France passes euthanasia law

France is edging closer to legalising some forms of euthanasia. On November 30 the National Assembly passed a law which attempts to clarify the situation of terminally ill and dying patients in the wake of the furore over a paralysed young man killed by his mother and a doctor last year. The bill still has to be ratified by the Senate. The new legislation allows dying patients to refuse burdensome treatment and also allows seriously disabled patients who are not terminally ill to request an end to their treatment. Doctors will be allowed to give increasingly stronger painkillers, even at… click here to read whole article and make comments

Dutch euthanasia for children surfaces in the media

News that a hospital in the Netherlands has been euthanasing children prompted cries of alarm around the world this week -- even though the story first surfaced in the English-speaking media several weeks ago (see BioEdge 135). The Groningen Academic Hospital has asked the Dutch government to review its protocols for actively ending the lives of newborns who appear to be in pain from incurable disease or extreme deformities. Perhaps anticipating approval by the authorities, the hospital announced that it had already carried out four killings of this kind in 2003. No charges… click here to read whole article and make comments

Another British suicide tourist dies in Zurich

A British woman has killed herself in a Swiss suicide clinic after a judge lifted an injunction which had banned her husband from accompanying her to Zurich. Mr Justice Hedley, said that the woman, known only as Mrs Z, was fully able to take her own decisions and that it would be wrong for a court to intervene. Although assisting a suicide is illegal in England, Mr Z has not been arrested. This has given heart to members of the Voluntary Euthanasia Society. "I think people can take from this judgement that their right to self- determination is now pretty… click here to read whole article and make comments

Israel forms national bioethics council

Israel's new national bioethics council has been stacked with a small, yet dominant, group of lecturers and researcher who tend to favour minimal regulation and the least possible limitation of research," complain several academics. According to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, the new council will be a statutory body overseeing bioethics, advising the Knesset, representing Israel in international bioethics bodies, and encouraging public comment. The role of the new council is particularly significant in Israel, where researchers are continually pushing the ethical envelope in reproductive technology. One source of the problem is the small number of experts. "There are always the… click here to read whole article and make comments

Is the commitment of dermatology to medicine only skin-deep?

To the disgust of some dermatologists, their specialty is in danger of becoming a branch of beauty therapy, according to a report in Business Week. A number of cosmetic companies are marketing cosmeceuticals" like Botox which blur the line between make-up and medicine. The market for such products is worth more than US$6 billion a year in the US. The sales of Botox alone were $564 million last year. Of course, some dermatologists are happy to promote beauty treatments. They open their own spas, lend their names to product lines and write books… click here to read whole article and make comments

Britain considers electronic chaperone for doctors

In an effort to combat abuses by predatory doctors and false accusations by patients, Britain's National Health Service may force doctors to have a nurse chaperone in potentially compromising situations. However, the waste of a nurse's time in a country where nurses are in short supply has prompted the invention of a "virtual chaperone", The Economist reports. The Synaptiq Virtual Chaperone is discreet but omnipresent. It creates a securely coded video recording of the conversation between doctor and patient which could be used for both clinical and legal purposes. The NHS is studying the system, which promises to save time… click here to read whole article and make comments

ODD SPOT: </b>poor cellsmanship

A Buffalo, New York, school bus driver was fired after she told students that actor Mel Gibson had said that embryonic stem cell research had not produced a single human cure in 23 years and encouraged them to inform their parents. Some of the parents complained and 42-year-old Julianne Thompson ended up on the street. The school superintendent explained that political and religious discussion should be carried on in a classroom setting where a range of viewpoints can be discussed. Ms Thompson is considering legal action. click here to read whole article and make comments

IN BRIEF: </b>designer baby; IVF; new bioethics centres

Designer baby: A British woman is pregnant with the UK's first designer baby". In July Julie Fletcher and her husband Joe won approval from the UK's fertility watchdog to have her embryos screened so that her second child would be genetically compatible donor for a two-year-old son with a potentially fatal blood disorder. click here to read whole article and make comments

Scientists grappling with chimera ethics </b>

chimeric mice The US National Academy of Sciences is studying the ethical limits of research with chimeras, or mixed-species animals, an issue which is becoming more urgent with the development of stem cell biology. Scientists are already developing animals which have human organs and cells: pigs with human blood, sheep with largely human livers and hearts; mice with some human neurons. They are useful for research on the development of cells and could become medical resources as well. Some scientists are growing partially human organs in animals, for instance.

However, there are concerns about… click here to read whole article and make comments

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