Effectiveness of IVF questioned

IVF can improve pregnancy rates amongst couples with unexplained fertility, but there is little evidence to show that IVF results in more live births than other treatments, according to a review of recent studies. "IVF is becoming popular when there is no specific explanation for unexplained fertility as it may be able to overcome a variety of problems," says Dr Zabeena Pandian, of the University of Aberdeen, Scotland. "However, it is expensive, complicated and can have many adverse effects, including multiple births."

In reviewing the research Dr Pandian found that most studies are small and vary considerably in their quality,… MORE





Was stem cell research oversold in California?

In the wake of jubilation over California's new US$3 billion stem cell institute, the media is beginning to do a reality check on the potential of embryonic stem cells for "miracle cures". Writing in the Sacramento Bee, Stuart Leavenworth says that "most scientists say it will take years, and possibly decades, before embryonic stem cell treatments are proven and made widely available". Arthur Caplan, the most widely-quoted bioethicist in the US media, and a supporter of embryo research, acknowledges that nothing will happen quickly. "No one knows if you can control embryonic stem cells. It is like trying to argue… MORE




Donor stem cells help restore sight

A pioneering stem cell treatment at the Centre for Sight in the UK is helping to restore sight to people blinded by chemical accidents or firecrackers. According to the Guardian, Dr Sheraz Daya has treated more than 20 people by growing stem cells, mainly from deceased donors, and transplanting them to the eye. Normally his patients' problem is the absence or severe shortage of limbal cells, which protect the eye and keep the surface of the cornea clean. Dr Daya believes that stem cell transplants trigger the production of new limbal cells which arrive as stem cells through the blood… MORE




Widow fights to use her husband’s frozen sperm

A Melbourne woman is fighting to use her husband's sperm which has been frozen for seven years after he died in a motorcycle accident. The woman, known only as AB, won a legal battle to have his semen removed and stored in 1998. AB and her husband had been married for 10 years before his death. Now she is 36 and wants to bear his child before she becomes infertile. However, the Victorian government argues that there is no evidence that her husband had consented to such a procedure. "One could not presume from marriage or duration of marriage that… MORE




Cancer victim who advertised for a liver dies

A Houston man who jumped the organ recipient queue and appealed to the public for a live-saving liver with billboards and an internet site has died eight months after his transplant. It was not clear whether Todd Krampitz died as a result of transplant complications or from his cancer. He was widely criticised at the time for undermining the American organ allocation system. His supporters argued that the eventual donor might never have donated anything unless he had broken ranks. The plea was of the 32-year-old was particularly poignant because he had been married for only two months when he… MORE




Surrogate mother has quints

A surrogate mother in Phoenix, Arizona, has given birth to quintuplets. Teresa Anderson, a married mother of two, waived her US$15,000 fee for Luisa Gonzalez and Enrique Morena. "With all their financial burden right now I don't think they need any more," she said. The five boys were delivered seven weeks early by Caesarean section. All are in good condition, although one will need heart surgery. The couple originally contacted Mrs Anderson through an internet surrogacy service. She agreed to have five of the couple's embryos implanted in her womb, in the hope that at least one would survive. In… MORE




Murderer denied right to decide wife’s end-of-life care

In a bizarre end-of-life care dilemma, an Australian man who botched the murder of his wife and left her in a persistent vegetative state, says that she would not want her life support turned off. Joe Korp and his lover have been charged with attempted murder after his wife Maria was found strangled in the boot of her car in February. If she dies, charges against Mr Korp could be upgraded to murder. His lawyer contends that Mrs Korp was a devout Catholic who would not want to be removed from a life support system.

However, the Victorian government has… MORE





IN BRIEF: saviour siblings; Nitschke; cosmetic surgery

Saviour siblings: The UK's House of Lords has ruled that parents can create children with IVF whose tissue will be used as therapy for a brother or sister who suffers from a genetic disorder. The technique for "designer babies", as it is called by its critics, involves creating several embryos, selecting one with the same tissue type and discarding the rest. MORE




Russian beauty clinics trading in aborted foetuses

Aborted Ukrainian foetuses are being smuggled into Russia to be used as beauty therapies in Russia, the Observer newspaper (UK) claims. Young women are being paid about US$200 for a foetus which can fetch $9,500 across the border. Earlier this month Russian border guards arrested a Ukrainian "mule" carrying 25 frozen foetuses in two vacuum flasks which he had purchased from a medical research centre. "We are talking about a huge, corrupt and dangerous trade in quack therapies,' says Professor Vladimir Smirnov, of Moscow's Institute of Experimental Cardiology.

Although abortion is restricted in… MORE





Euthanasia kits for sale in Belgian pharmacies

Family doctors who want to euthanase their patients can now purchase a 60-Euro kit with the necessary materials at 250 pharmacies throughout Belgium. According to the TV channel RTI-TVi, the GPs will have to order the kit and pick it up themselves 24 hours later. Belgian doctors have complained that it has been difficult to practice home euthanasia because of their lack of knowledge about products, doses or products. MORE



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