Dispute over Colorado man’s “brain death” </b>

A dispute over whether a Colorado man died before or after his organs were harvested has highlighted the ambiguous nature of "brain death". Last month 31-year-old William Rardin shot himself in the head after a history of mental illness. He was declared brain dead and an organ-recovery team removed his organs. However, the local coroner, Mark Young, later ruled the death a homicide, saying that the organs had been taken before adequate testing had been done to confirm the brain death diagnosis.

The subsequent uproar led to a study by a panel of experts (which included a representative of the… click here to read whole article and make comments

Wrongful birth lawsuit in Singapore</b>

A 47-year-old Singaporean woman is suing her obstetrician because he failed to offer her a chance to abort her Down Syndrome child. The case is the first of its kind in Singapore.

Katharine Soh Lea Chin was told by her doctor that because previous ultrasound scans had not detected any abnormality in the foetus, there was no need to have one later in the pregnancy. The doctor is defending himself by claiming that the woman consulted him two days past Singapore's legal limit of 24 weeks for abortions.

Mrs Soh says that caring for the child is "physically and emotionally… click here to read whole article and make comments

The UK’s other war on terror</b>

Police in Coventry have arrested two animal rights activists for desecrating the grave of a woman linked to a farm where guinea pigs are bred for sale to research laboratories. The incident is the latest skirmish in a long-running campaign of harassment to close the Darley death camp", as the protesters call it.

The woman was a relative of the Hall family which runs Darley Oaks farm. The Halls have experienced hate mail, malicious phone calls, hoax bombs, a paedophile smear campaign and arson attacks from extremists within the animal rights movement. The activists counter that they are fighting for… click here to read whole article and make comments

French green light for embryo research

 The French government has set in place a law which allows scientists to create embryonic stem cells from "spare" IVF embryos. The deputy minister for research, Fran?s d'Aubert, says that similar work was being undertaken around the world and that it would not be realistic to prevent it". The research, however, must be directed towards the development of treatments for serious diseases.

Until the new law comes into effect early next year, scientists will only be allowed to work on imported stem cell lines. It is estimated that there are 120,000 frozen IVF embryos in France which have accumulated… click here to read whole article and make comments

Research progress with embryonic stem cells</b>

Two research teams have claimed this month that embryonic stem cells (ESCs) can help restore heart function -- although human applications are still years away. In Israel, scientists at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology generated heart cells which functioned as biological pacemakers. The technique has been successful in pacing pigs' ventricles.

And in New York, scientists from Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center injected ESCs into mouse embryos which had a genetic heart problem which normally proves fatal. The cells developed into healthy heart tissue and influenced neighbouring cells by secreting two key signalling molecules. Their experiment indicates that there still much… click here to read whole article and make comments

Nobody here but me and my microbes</b>

A study by UK scientists in Nature Biotechnology indicates that ushering in the era of genetic engineering and personalised medicine may be more involved than anyone had imagined. It turns out that most of the cells in our body are bacteria, fungi and viruses. More than 500 species of bacteria exist in the human body, making up more than 100 trillion cells -- compared to a mere several trillion human cells. We humans, it seems, are "super-organisms" who share our bodies with an abundant quantity of other life forms.

It follows that much of the genetic material in our bodies… click here to read whole article and make comments

IN BRIEF: cyberchondria; postponing families; Italian referendum</b>

  • Browsing internet health sites can bring on a condition which doctors are calling "cyberchondria", according to a study by researchers at the University of Derby in Britain. People often incorrectly self-diagnose their ailments based on vague or misleading advice and then seek treatment that they do not need from their family doctors. The study found that sites linked to societies, charities or professional bodies normally gave sound advice, but sites run by individuals were often unreliable. click here to read whole article and make comments


    There will be no BioEdge on October 8. The next issue of BioEdge will be on October 15.

    Dolly's creator applies to clone human embryos

    Professor Ian Wilmut, the Scottish scientist who helped create the first cloned mammal, Dolly the sheep, has applied for a licence to clone human embryos in order to study motor neurone disease. He says that cloned embryos will be an "extremely powerful" tool . "We would emphasise that, at this time, our objective is to understand the disease," he says. "We hope one day it will lead to treatment, but we're not… click here to read whole article and make comments

    Spain to allow embryo research</b>

    It was not just Spain's foreign policy which changed after the Madrid bombing swept a Socialist government into power. Health minister Elena Salgado told a medical conference in Granada this week that embryonic stem cell research would be allowed in Spain from the end of October. The only remaining step is drafting an informed consent protocol.

    Research will be done at the Institute of Regenerative Medicine in Catalonia and in the National Stem Cell Bank in Andalucia. The move has been vigorously opposed by the Catholic Church, but Ms Salgado dismissed its protests. "The Church has the right to inform… click here to read whole article and make comments

    Parents fight hospital to keep their infant alive</b>

    The British parents of a seriously ill infant girl have won the right to challenge a hospital's plans not to resuscitate her if she requires a ventilator. Eleven-month-old Charlotte Wyatt was born three months premature with serious heart and lung problems and doctors believe that she will not survive beyond infancy because her lungs are so severely damaged. She has never been able to leave the hospital. Nonetheless, her parents believe that she can pull through and that future medical advances could extend her life expectancy. But St Marys Hospital, in Portsmouth, believes that it is not in her best… click here to read whole article and make comments

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