German nurse murders 12 elderly in hospital</b>

A 25-year-old German nurse has confessed to murdering seven female and five male hospital patients aged between 60 and 89. The man, identified only as Stefan L, has told police that he wanted to relieve them of their suffering. He was not suspected until officials at the hospital in the small Bavarian town of Sonthofen noticed that drugs were missing from the ward he worked on. Police are now investigating a further 70 deaths as well as deaths in his former workplace in Baden-Wurttemberg. Psychiatrist Karl-Heinz Beine, who has studied hospital staff who kill, says that most want to ward… click here to read whole article and make comments

US to build 2 more maximum security infectious disease labs</b>

In the wake of the September 11 attacks, the US Department of Health is pushing ahead with plans to build at least five maximum security laboratories to study deadly diseases like Ebola, anthrax and smallpox. Five of these "level 4" labs already exist in the US. The government feels that the labs are essential in the war on terror. "To know that we can do this research and not do it would be irresponsible," says Rona Hirschberg, of the National Institutes of Health.

A lab in Boston has drawn fierce opposition from community activists -- and even from 150 scientists,… click here to read whole article and make comments

Shortage of primates slows research</b>

The first audit of non-human primates used in global research has found that not enough apes and monkeys are being bred for research, that the shortfall could be slowing scientific advances and that lack of information about the animals in papers makes it difficult to gauge their validity. A group at the University of Uppsala in Sweden conducted the survey. It estimates that in 2001 3,000 research papers were published based on experiments on primates, with 4,411 studies on 41,000 animals. However, the real number of animals used is likely to be 200,000, as many government studies are never published.… click here to read whole article and make comments

BOOKS: </b>enjoying Alzheimer’s

A sensitive review of two books in The Lancet highlights the dignity of people afflicted with Alzheimer's disease. "Amazing Grace: Enjoying Alzheimer's", by Ray Smith (ISBN 1-84358-089-6) tells the story of a British man whose wife Grace developed Alzheimer's at 56. Rather than let her vegetate, he travelled the world with her, even though she was confused and incontinent, going to places as exotic as the Galapagos, India, and Sri Lanka; took her on long hikes; and continued to have sexual relations. "Ray never lost sight of Grace; he did not reduce her to her disease; he was able to… click here to read whole article and make comments

ABI publications this week</b>

"Hippocratic oath a casualty of war"
By Michael Cook, Sydney Morning Herald, 23 August 2004

Why didn't the doctors at Abu Ghraib prison protect their patients? It is becoming clear that it was not just trailer trash who were corrupted by their power over Iraqi detainees in the prison...   

IN BRIEF: click here to read whole article and make comments

Lancet denounces doctors’ complicity in Abu Ghraib abuse </b>

A photo of the abuse at Abu Ghraib prison Military doctors and medics in Iraq should "protest loudly and refuse cooperation with authorities" if they are aware of "torture and inhumane and degrading practices against detainees", says one of the world's leading medical journals, The Lancet, in a stinging editorial.

In its current issue, Dr Steven H. Miles, of the University of Minnesota, highlights the complicity of medical staff in the scandalous events which took place in the Coalition prison. These included "failure to maintain medical records, conduct routine medical examinations and to provide… click here to read whole article and make comments

Cures from therapeutic cloning “distant at best”, says Nature </b>

The feverish excitement surrounding therapies from stem cells from cloned human embryos needs "a dose of reality", says a Nature news feature. The recent announcement that a British team will soon begin therapeutic cloning has raised hopes of individualised cures for degenerative diseases. "In reality, say those in the field, such a prospect remains distant at best," Nature comments.

Researchers in human embryonic stem cells distinguish between short- term and long-term benefits. The short-term benefits are insights into diseases such as diabetes and Parkinson's. But because of the enormous obstacles that must be overcome, cures are a long-term benefit. For… click here to read whole article and make comments

New study doubles number of US deaths caused by hospital error </b>

As many as 195,000 people a year die in hospital because of easily prevented mistakes, says a US health research company, HealthGrades Inc. A 1999 study by the Institute of Medicine had found that the figure was 98,000, but Dr Samantha Collier, of HealthGrade, says that this underestimated the number of deaths. Her figures include failures to rescue dying patients and the death of low-risk patients from infections, neither of which were included in the previous study. "If the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's annual list of leading causes of death included… click here to read whole article and make comments

Big pharma eager to begin clinical trials in India </b>

International drug companies will begin conducting drug R&D in India next year. Up until now, Big Pharma had shied away from doing drug design and preclinical testing there. But in accordance with an agreement with the World Trade Organization, from next year India will honour overseas drug patents. This gives drug companies the protection they need to do drug research and conduct clinical trials without too much fear of being robbed by drug pirates. The change in intellectual property law will also build up India's expertise in conducting clinical trials, which has not developed because its patent laws did… click here to read whole article and make comments

Chicago IVF clinic claims that PGD does not harm embryo </b>

pre-implantation genetic diagnosis A leading centre for pre-implantation genetic diagnosis, the Reproductive Institute of Chicago, has concluded that extracting a cell from an eight-cell embryo to test it for genetic disorders, does not cause birth defects. In research published in the journal Fertility and Sterility, the clinic said that PGD babies are no more likely to suffer birth defects than babies born after natural pregnancies. The news supports a recent decision by the UK's fertility watchdog, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, to allow PGD to create tissue matched "saviour siblings".

About 1,000 babies… click here to read whole article and make comments

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