ODD SPOT: Neo-Nazi sets up Aryan baby farm

 A German neo-Nazi has used an English shelf company to set up a racially-pure Aryan baby farm in a quiet commuter suburb near Bremen. The company, the Wilhelm Tietjen Foundation for Fertilisation Ltd, "aims to help childless couples produce children" with the help of surrogate mothers, says the organiser, Jurgen Riegen, a lawyer who has become notorious for defending members of the German far right.

Local townsfolk are outraged. "At first, we thought he was merely planning to develop agricultural fertilisers and manure," said the mayor of Doerverden. "We didn't realise human fertilisation is intended." The foundation is named… click here to read whole article and make comments





ABI Publications </b>

Ethics as Our Guide(letter)
by Michael Cook, PLoS Biology, June 2004

Blackburn and Rowley's (2004) criticism of a report on embryonic stem cell research from the President's Council on Bioethics (2004) is puzzling. Where is the bioethics?...
  

IN BRIEF: BMJ's ethics click here to read whole article and make comments





The Lancet launches embryo stem cell campaign

 One of the world's leading medical journals, The Lancet, has launched a campaign for human embryonic stem cell research as the UN approaches a debate on a cloning ban and US voters go to the polls. Its current issue is dedicated almost solely to medical, scientific and regulatory issues surrounding stem cells, with an editorial urging scientists to lobby hard for the cause. It also includes a profile of Australian stem cell scientist Alan Trounson and a personal plea from the father of a paralysed footballer. Ironically, the journal's press release highlighted only progress in the field of adult stem… click here to read whole article and make comments




New promise for adult stem cell research

 Two articles in the current issue of The Lancet highlight possible therapeutic uses of adult stem cells. In a German study, adult stem cells derived from bone marrow improved cardiac functioning after heart attacks.

Helmut Drexler, of the University of Freiburg, found that the transfer of patients' own bone-marrow cells could improve functioning of the left ventricle of the heart six months after treatment. Patients who had been given stem-cell transfers had around a 7% improvement in left ventricular function compared with only a 0?7% increase for patients given drugs.

In a second study, skin cells were… click here to read whole article and make comments





British doctors debate ethics at annual meeting </b>

The annual meeting of the British Medical Association defeated a motion that policy statements on controversial issues should be decided at the annual meeting rather than in its ethics committee. According to the BMJ, "there was a general feeling that the committee lacked transparency and was remote from the membership".

Dr Greg Gardner, a general practitioner from Birmingham, cited approval given by the BMA's ethics committee to the UK's fertility authority and also to artificial reproduction by same sex couples. "The ethics committee may be in close touch with the HFEA (Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority) but it is out… click here to read whole article and make comments





Bush under pressure from scientists

 More than 4,000 scientists, including 48 Nobel laureates and 127 members of the National Academy of Sciences have signed a letter accusing the Bush administration of imposing a conservative political ideology on American science. The same letter was released in February by an environmental lobby group, the Union of Concerned Scientists, with only 62 names. Their opponents, however, counter that government-funded science has always been politicised and that it is odd for scientists to be running a highly politicised campaign against politicised science.

Many of the scientist complain that they deserved to be appointed to important government boards and… click here to read whole article and make comments





Foetal stem cells persist in mothers </b>

Cells from babies live on in their mothers for her lifetime and could even prolong it, US researchers at Tufts-New England Medical Center have found. Foetal cells which appear to act like adult stem cells have been found in the livers, thyroids and spleens of women who have been pregnant. The discovery could influence the American debate about embryonic stem cells because these extremely rare cells appear to migrate to diseased organs and help to heal them.

"If we can prove these are stem cells, and harvest them from the blood or tissue of a woman who's been pregnant,… click here to read whole article and make comments





Singapore row over research ethics </b>

Singapore's dreams of becoming a world-class research hub for biotechnology are being tarnished by a dispute over the sacking of a UK scientist who used to head its National Neuroscience Institute. In 2002 Dr Simon Shorvon was accused of conducting tests without the proper consent of the patients involved and over whether ethics committees had been kept fully informed.

However, the UK-based Medical Protection Society has rejected all charges of professional misconduct on his behalf and three leading UK medical experts said that he acted ethically at all times. One of them, Professor Peter Sever, of Imperial College London, called… click here to read whole article and make comments





Italy’s new IVF law attacked after tragic case </b>

Italians are debating their strict new IVF law after it had unforeseen consequences for a 26-year-old Sicilian woman. Pregnant with triplets after an IVF procedure, her life was declared to be "at risk" by her doctor and she had a "foetal reduction" to abort one of the children. This is the second instance of foetal reduction since the law came into effect in March. The law, passed after years without regulation, stipulates that only stable, heterosexual couples of child-bearing age can receive treatment. They can only have a maximum of three embryos created and all embryos have to be implanted.… click here to read whole article and make comments




Facts with few readers—or readers with few facts? </b>

An exchange in the letters column of the leading journal Nature raises interesting points about whether scientists should worry about the message or the facts when they talk to the media. In January Nature published an article by a group of conservationists which predicted that many species would become extinct by 2050. Its argument was complex and used hard-to-understand statistics. Many articles in the media were wildly distorted. Most of them blared that a million or more species would become extinct by 2050. These exaggerated claims were subsequently taken up by some politicians and conservationists.

The solution of some Oxford… click here to read whole article and make comments




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