Selection of gender high on agenda of many American couples

Judging from a CBS News interview with Dr Jeffrey Steinberg, of Fertility Institutes in Los Angeles, there is a strong market for selecting the sex of babies in the US. Dr Steinberg -- one of the few US doctors who does sex selection -- told 60 Minutes II that his business has taken off since he began offering it as part of his IVF business. "In the last two years since we've offered gender selection, we've seen a huge international onslaught of people that are just interested in balancing their families," he says.

He now handles 10 procedures a… click here to read whole article and make comments





“Immoral” not to clone, says Dolly’s creator

Professor Ian Wilmut, the Scottish scientist responsible for creating the first cloned mammal, Dolly the sheep, has applied for a licence to clone human embryos as part of his research into motor neuron disease. It is difficult to study the disease in patients, so he plans to create embryos which have the disease, experiment on them, and destroy them after a few days. "Because at this early stage the embryo does not have that key human characteristic of being aware, to me it would be immoral not to take this opportunity to study diseases," he told the BBC.

A spokesman… click here to read whole article and make comments





US Govt “aggressively” funding primate cloning

Although both Bill Clinton and George W. Bush have abjured human cloning, the US Government is "aggressively" funding cloning experiments for non-human primates, claims the Center for Public Integrity. Most of the government's largesse went to three researchers: Gerald Schatten, who helped to produce the first genetically-altered primate, Don Wolf, who has cloned monkey embryos, and James Thomson, the scientist who first isolated human embryonic stem cells.

The Center complains that this research is "relatively unregulated and has little public oversight". "Some experts warn that it will ultimately bring human cloning closer to reality -- unless clear laws are enacted… click here to read whole article and make comments





ODD SPOT: America’s most alternative family

The American state of Kentucky is the home of what may be America's most alternative family. Thomas Dysarz, a 32- year-old hairdresser, and his deputy-district-attorney-turned- hairdresser-boyfriend, Michael Meehan, moved from Los Angeles to the city of Lexington in search of an atmosphere more conducive to family values. There each of them has fathered IVF children by the same unmarried surrogate mother, Brooke Verity, who has three children of her own at home. Mr Dysarz is the father of quadruplets born in 2002 and Mr Meehan of a boy born early this year.

The altruistic Ms Verity received no payment… click here to read whole article and make comments





The Australian Government has granted its first licenses for research on embryos to two IVF clinics.

The Australian Government has granted its first licenses for research on embryos to two IVF clinics. Sydney IVF and Melbourne IVF have been given a green light to thaw up to 1060 embryos and to experiment on up to 860 of them. In accordance with a law passed in late 2002, the embryos must be left over from IVF treatment and must have been created before 5 April 2002.

Although the media highlighted the hope of treating degenerative diseases with embryo-derived stem cells, only 50 of the 1060 embryos are actually destined for this purpose. Most of the others… click here to read whole article and make comments





Long road ahead for adult stem cell research

Two steps forward, one step backwards seems to be the theme of adult stem cell research. As part of the forward march, researchers announced this month that baby teeth and adult fat could become sources of stem cells to cure a variety of ailments. Scientists at South Australia's Royal Adelaide Hospital told the media that the pulp in teeth could be used to cure Parkinson's disease or to grow organs and avoid the need for transplants. And at Stanford University in California, researchers found that stem cells derived from the belly fat of rats could be coaxed to heal skull… click here to read whole article and make comments




50 years on, Puerto Rico remembers the pill

 The 50th anniversary of the first trials of the contraceptive pill this year is shining a new light on the low ethical standards of their informed consent procedures. Critics have compared these early experiments with the notorious syphilis trials on poor black men in Tuskegee, Alabama, that were going on at about the same time.

In 1954, scientists Gregory Pincus and John Rock began the first human trials in the American state of Massachusetts. However, because they were carried out surreptitiously under the guise of fertility treatments, and not as birth control experiments, and because the pill had serious… click here to read whole article and make comments





Genetic sleuths forging bioethics guidelines

The new field of bio-history needs a code of ethics, says a Chicago group of scientists, historians and lawyers in the journal Science. Biohistory involves the use of genetic tests of historical figures. Researchers have tested strands of Beethoven's hair, for instance, and studied the remains of African slaves in a New York City graveyard. Many museums are now mulling over how to deal with bones or clothing of famous people. "The potential is enormous for answering historical questions through testing of these artefacts," says Lori Andrews of the Illinois Institute of Technology.

However, unrestricted use could involve ethical problems.… click here to read whole article and make comments





Is bioethics just an academic joke?

Bioethics needs to change its focus or risk becoming "a source of entertainment", says a bioethicist at Montreal's McGill University. Dr Leigh Turner says that he suspects "that there are a lot of physicians that, if they were to go to a week-long bioethics conference or look at the bioethics literature, they would find it completely irrelevant to what they're doing and what they focus on at work."

Instead of highfalutin speculation about immortality and genetic engineering, Turner contends, bioethicists should turn their attention to topics like gun violence, poverty, the breakdown of communities and access to food, clean water… click here to read whole article and make comments





Choose your baby’s sex for $199 plus postage and handling

 Kits for choosing your baby's sex are proliferating on the internet even though conventional doctors deride them as snake oil. One home-use product is GenSelect, sold by a South Carolina urologist for US$199 plus postage and handling. Touted as being 96% effective, it includes a thermometer to help predict ovulation, special douches and gender-specific mineral and herbal pills.

A dearer version is being marketed by Dr Panayiotis Zavos, the Kentucky scientist who has become notorious for trying to clone babies. For US$975, his customers can send a sperm sample in a special box which will be processed in his… click here to read whole article and make comments




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