Singapore legalises therapeutic cloning</b>

Singapore has joined the small group of nations which have legalised therapeutic cloning. The new law allows scientists to create human embryos for stem-cell research. They must be destroyed at 14 days. Amongst the other countries which have explicitly authorised the cloning of embryos for research are Britain, Japan and China. No companies are currently carrying out research cloning in Singapore at the moment.

MPs praised the new law for offering the prospect of cures for patients and economic benefits for Singapore. "Therapeutic cloning offers hope to victims of heart diseases, diabetes, Alzheimer's,… MORE

Therapeutic cloning” a misnomer, says stem cell society</b>

The term "therapeutic cloning" is a misnomer, says the International Society for Stem Cell Research, because it is not therapeutic and it is not cloning. "For a frank scientific, ethical and public debate on stem cells and their potential for medicine, accurate nomenclature is critical," it says. Instead, it suggests that the process should be called "nuclear transfer" or simply NT.

The society says that the word "cloning" is inaccurate, as the product will not be an exact copy of the organism. The egg into which the nucleus of the clone is transferred still contains maternal mitochondrial DNA. These can… MORE

IN BRIEF: Carl Wood; designer baby; Down syndrome; baldness</b>

  • Australia's IVF pioneer, Professor Carl Wood, has announced that he has Alzheimer's disease. Under his direction, Monash University produced Australia's first IVF baby in 1980. His former colleague, stem cell scientist Professor Alan Trounson, said that the news motivated him to work harder to find a cure or treatment. MORE

  • We’re speciesist and proud, says The Lancet</b>

    Human health must always trump animal rights, The Lancet argues in its lead editorial this week. "The use of animals in medical research and safety testing is a vital part of the quest to improve human health... without animal testing there will be no new drugs for new or hard-to-treat diseases," it contends.

    Although animal research is a highly controversial in Britain, The Lancet takes an unapologetically human-centred stand. "The creation and development of medicine, together with its vast influence over human life, is inherently speciesist. Rather than apologise for medicine as it… MORE

    US bioethics council battered at both ends</b>

    Dr Leon Kass, chairman of the US President's Council on Bioethics After weathering three years of criticism for being a conservative, biased, unscientific influence on George W. Bush, the US President's Council on Bioethics is now being thumped for lacking influence. Armed with records obtained under a Freedom of Information request, the Boston Globe found that the Oval Office has barely communicated with the Council since it was formed in 2001. In any case, it reports, the President's mind about cloning and embryro research was probably made up before its long and gracefully written… MORE

    More mysteries in embryology than once thought</b>

    As an example of how much scientists still have to learn about developmental biology, US researchers are investigating a largely unknown third group of cells which can form all major types of human tissue. "VENT cells are a unique category of multi-potent cells," says Dr Douglas P. Dickinson, of the Medical College of Georgia. In an article in the Journal of Anatomy he reviews the 10-year history of VENT cell research. It appears that these rare cells escape from the bottom of the neural tube early in development after the tube closes to form the brain.

    Although the very existence… MORE

    Nearly half of Chinese births by C-section</b>

    China's one-child policy is contributing to "soaring numbers" of women who choose to have their single child by Caesarean section, the Wall Street Journal has found. Despite risks of complications and prematurity, the World Health Organisation estimates that 47% of all infants in China are delivered by C-section, compared with 20% only 10 years ago. The World Health Organization recommends that the rate be no higher than 10 to 15%.

    There are several reasons for the huge increase. Many women believe that C-sections are more reliable and safer if they can only have one child. They also allow women to… MORE

    Embryo research “barbaric”, says Irish biotechnologist</b>

    However sceptical scientists may be about the ethics of using embryonic stem cells (ESCs) or about their therapeutic potential, few oppose the right of other researchers to do it. Even adult stem cell researchers tend to argue in favour of unrestricted freedom for scientific inquiry. So in the lead-up to a United Nations debate on cloning next month a blast from a respected Irish biotechnologist comes as a surprise. In an article in the Irish journal Studies, Dr Martin Clynes, the director of the National Institute for Cellular Biotechnology at Dublin City University, describes… MORE

    Sex selection increasing in Sydney</b>

    Couples are paying up to A$13,000 to select the sex of their child at IVF clinics in Sydney, according to the Sydney Morning Herald. The more prominent of these is Sydney IVF, run by Professor Robert Jansen. It does about social 100 sex selections a year, with another 100 done for medical reasons. Girls have been the choice of 63% of couples, says Dr Kylie de Boer, a sydney IVF embryologist. "When the mother is the driving force, the decision is almost always for a girl. It's about the mother-daughter relationship." The SMH's investigation of genetic testing uncovered another clinic… MORE

    Maverick scientist creates cow-human hybrids </b>

    Dr Zavos at one of his many media appearances Despite venomous quarrels, bitter hostility and mutual incomprehension amongst the doctors, lawyers, scientists and philosophers who wrangle about bioethics, there is one thing on which they can agree: Panayiotis Zavos is a bad, bad dude. The controversial American fertility expert, who combines technical expertise with the bumptious manners of a carpet salesman on late- night TV, has become notorious for attempting to clone humans -- unsuccessfully, so far, despite a number of tantalising press conferences. None of Zavos's work has thus far been corroborated by… MORE

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