Many journal articles skewed toward positive results</b>

Articles in medical journals may be biased towards positive results, calling into question many "miracle drugs" and breakthrough developments, according to the Journal of the American Medical Association. Many scientists cherry-pick favourable results; others change direction when interesting results emerge. Many researchers change their main objectives in the course of research, violating basic guidelines for good research.

Dr An-Wen Chen, of Oxford University, analysed 102 trials and found that researchers had failed to report almost two-thirds of results relating to potentially harmful outcomes.

Mounting concern about the influence of drug companies upon researchers has prompted closer scrutiny of research methods in recent years. A study at the Yale School of Medicine showed that 80% of clinical trials backed by drug manufacturers were positive -- compared to 50% of those carried out by independent academics. click here to read whole article and make comments





Stem cell battle over Reagan’s Alzheimer’s death</b>

Nancy Reagan kisses the casket containing the remains of her husband, Ronald Reagan , at the Capitol rotunda shortly before he was taken away for a state funeral ceremony at the National Cathedral in Washington, DC.(AFP/Roberto Schmidt) Even in death, former US President Ronald Reagan is a flashpoint for controversy. Across the nation, editorial writers and columnists used his 10-year battle with Alzheimer's to urge his successor, George W. Bush, to fund embryonic stem cell (hESC) research. Abortion politics should not prolong the suffering of millions of Americans, mused USA Today: "Freeing researchers from needless restrictions that stymie progress would be a fitting way to remember and honour Ronald Reagan."

Reagan's widow Nancy, who nursed him with great devotion throughout his illness, has become an influential recruit for the stem cell research lobby. "I just don't see how we can turn our backs on this," she told a biomedical research fundraiser last month in… click here to read whole article and make comments





Nitschke cooks up “peaceful pill” in his kitchen</b>

Dr Philip Nitschke (from EXIT Australia website) Dr Philip Nitschke and some of his supporters have developed a lethal pill which can be manufactured at home with household ingredients. He says that details of the "peaceful pill" will be made available to members of EXIT Australia, the euthanasia group he founded. EXIT has about 3000 members with an average age of 75. "All the emphasis has gone into making a process which is straightforward enough that any competent person with reasonable ability and an average kitchen could easily manufacture it themselves," he told The Age. The pill is the latest in a series of do-it-yourself suicide gadgets developed by Dr Nitschke.

In view of impending legislation by the Australian Government to ban suicide websites, Dr Nitschke now plans to transfer information about his devices to a website in the US or Canada. click here to read whole article and make comments





Nancy Crick died without cancer, says autopsy</b>

The long-awaited autopsy of Australian euthanasia icon Nancy Crick has found that she did not have cancer at the time of her suicide. The 69-year-old grandmother became a controversial figure in 2002 when she claimed that she was terminally ill with cancer and wanted to die. She was strongly supported by the leading promoter of assisted suicide in Australia, Dr Philip Nitschke.

The news did not unsettle Dr Nitschke, who knew before her death that she was not terminally ill with cancer. "To Nancy's mind it didn't really matter and I guess to my mind it didn't matter either," he commented. "She was a dying woman... I think we should have been much clearer about the fact prior to her death that there was confusion about the unresolvable symptoms that she was getting. The euthanasia movement is about right of choice. Nancy had a choice." click here to read whole article and make comments





Loophole in law allows UK frog-human hybrid cells</b>

Scientists at Cambridge University in the UK created animal- human hybrid cells which are not regulated by existing laws, the London Times has revealed. Last year a team led by Professor John Gurdon fused the nuclei of adult human white blood cells with eggs from Xenopus frogs in an attempt to produce stem cells. Under UK legislation, government authorisation is only needed if human and animal gametes are fused or if the resulting embryo has the potential to develop into a human being.

"People shouldn't be regulating other people's work when it isn't really necessary," Dr Gurdon told The Scientist. "I can't imagine any conceivable ethical problem with our work, which did not produce anything that could vaguely be described as an embryo." Dr Gurdon is regarded as a pioneer of cloning after his ground-breaking work in cloning frogs in 1962. click here to read whole article and make comments





Chicago clinic creates diseased embryonic stem cells</b>

A Chicago IVF clinic has created 12 embryonic stem cell lines with genetic defects which it will offer to researchers. Dr Yury Verlinsky, of the Reproductive Genetics Institute, used discarded embryos donated by clients who wanted to screen their embryos. He says that his team has created diseased stem cell lines for beta thalassaemia, neurofibromatosis type 1, Marfan syndrome, myotonic dystrophy, Fragile X syndrome and Fanconi anaemia.

Dr Verlinsky plans to create more stem cell lines since he can screen for more than 100 diseases with pre-implantation genetic diagnosis. A report in the Boston Globe did not mention whether the stem cell lines would be sold or offered for free. Specialists in these diseases said that these new stem cell lines would be useful, but that they were not a revolutionary step forward. For instance, scientists have already created a mouse which is a good model for Marfan syndrome. click here to read whole article and make comments





Victoria to offer stem cells for world market</b>

The Australian state of Victoria will become a new source of human embryonic stem cells in a commercial partnership designed to raise its profile in the global biotechnology market. Premier Steve Bracks told a world biotech conference in San Francisco that stem cell research "holds great promise for treating a range of diseases".

The collaborative effort will involve the Melbourne-based National Stem Cell Centre, Melbourne IVF and a private company, Stem Cell Sciences, which will use the stem cells to test and develop drugs. The initiative is awaiting approval by the National Health and Medical Research Council. click here to read whole article and make comments





Ethics top priority for US biotechnology, says retiring head</b>

The retiring head of the US biotechnology association believes that ethics is the main issue which could derail his industry. "We have paid passionate attention to bioethics issues," Carl Feldbaum told the Seattle Times. "We have taken them dead seriously. We have gone beyond narrow commercial interests and have tried to contribute, without commandeering, debates about Dolly, stem cells and gene therapy... The mishandling of a bioethics issue could derail us in no time, but hopefully that won't happen." click here to read whole article and make comments




Stem cell support depends on pollster’s questions</b>

Support for embryonic stem cell research in opinion polls depends on the wording of questions, says Public Agenda Alert. "Within the complex issue of stem cell research, most Americans admit to not following the debate closely. When initially asked, more than half say they don't have enough information to develop an opinion," it says. In June 2001, one survey found that only 30% opposed and 58% supported the use of "extra embryos" "to find treatment for many diseases". However, another survey taken in the same month found that 70% of people opposed the "destruction" of "live embryos" for unspecified "experiments". click here to read whole article and make comments




Should US doctors help execute death row prisoners?</b>

Gurney for Florida's lethal injections Lobby groups are trying to expose doctors who participate in legal executions in the US and then charge them with violating codes of medical ethics. About 25 states allow or require doctors to be present during executions -- which is normally by way of a lethal injection.

Dr Arthur Zitrin, a retired professor of psychiatry at New York University, has vowed to expose these doctors and have them expelled their professional organisations. When he discovered that Dr Sanjeeva Rao was helping to execute prisoners in Georgia, he denounced him to the American College of Physicians. However, Dr Rao's membership had lapsed and he could not be expelled.

The legal status of doctors' participation in executions is hazy. Most states allow their medical boards to discipline doctors for violating medical ethics -- and nearly all medical codes forbid participation in executions. "A physician, as a member of a profession dedicated… click here to read whole article and make comments




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