Could the First Amendment protect cloning? </b>

The First Amendment to the American constitution guarantees free speech -- and therefore the right to perform cloning research, an author has argued in the New York Times. Brian Alexander, an advocate of extending human potential through technology, says that a number of legal scholars believe that the First Amendment protects the right of scientists to do research. After all, if the Supreme Court protected the "right to inquiry" in Griswold v Griswold, the famous case that struck down a state ban on contraceptives, shouldn't the right to inquire in a laboratory also be protected?

Indeed, according to R. Alta… MORE

Scientists struggle to justify animal research</b>

mice have rights,too, The scientific community is ill-prepared for an increasingly bitter debate over animal research, according to a Newsday (US) feature. Over the past 40 years, the welfare of research animals has improved immensely -- but public standards have risen even more. A Gallup poll last year found that only 3% of American believed that animals don't need much protection because they are only animals -- but that 25% thought that they deserved "the exact same right as people to be free from harm and exploitation".

The Foundation for Biomedical Research and… MORE

Doctors to be shielded from big pharma’s influence</b>

US doctors who receive drug company funding will be limited in what they can teach their colleagues in continuing education courses. The Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education is attempting to limit so-called "stealth marketing" for pharmaceutical companies. In the past, a doctor teaching other doctors would often give glowing reports for drugs and anecdotal experience of "off-label" uses. From now on, a third party with no drug company ties will have to vet a speaker's recommendations and anecdotal observations will be replaced by results from systematic clinical trials. MORE

Ukrainian stem cell miracles don’t come cheaply</b>

Dr Alexandr Smikodub A stunning expose by the Boston Globe has revealed that at least nine clinics around the world are offering to cure patients suffering from disease like muscular dystrophy with injections of embryonic stem cells. After investigating the work of one sophisticated clinic in Kiev, the capital of the Ukraine, and consulting American experts in muscular dystrophy and stem cells, the Globe suspects that the clinic is "a poorly documented operation that appears to be capitalising on the excitement surrounding stem cells at the expense of desperate families".

Dr Alexander Smikodub, the… MORE

Bush says cloning is an affront to “human dignity” </b>

In an address to the United Nations , US President George Bush condemned human cloning -- both reproductive and therapeutic -- as part of his nation's wide ranging defence of human dignity. "Because we believe in human dignity, we should take seriously the protection of life from exploitation under any pretext... urge all governments to affirm a basic ethical principle: No human life should ever be produced or destroyed for the benefit of another."

Bush also placed the notion of human dignity at the centre of his major foreign policy initiatives -- the war on terror, a global fund… MORE

IN BRIEF: </b> Algeria; puffer fish; sex selection

  • Algerians are paying criminal gangs up to US$30,000 for Iraqi kidneys, according to an Algerian daily, La Nouvelle R?publique. However, the local kidney patients support association says that nine out of ten patients die after the operation because the organ is incompatible or because of diseases such as TB, AIDS or hepatitis. MORE

  • Bell rings on umpteenth round in Terri Schiavo case</b>

    Terri Schiavo A Florida law passed to prevent a brain-damaged woman from having her food and water withdrawn to bring about her death has been deemed unconstitutional by the state's Supreme Court. The court said on Thursday that "Terri's Law", hastily pushed through the legislature by Governor Jeb Bush last year, was "unconstitutional as a violation of separation of powers, as a violation of the right of privacy and as unconstitutional retroactive legislation".

    Terri Schiavo fell unconscious after a heart attack 14 years ago. She can breath on her own, but needs to be… MORE

    First baby born from frozen ovarian tissue</b>

    Ouarda Touirat with her baby A Belgian team has raised hopes that women who have treatment for cancer and women who want to delay motherhood until after menopause can still become pregnant naturally. In an article in this week's issue of The Lancet Dr Jacques Donnez outlined how he froze ovarian tissue from Ouarda Touirat when she was 25 in 1997. Six years after treatment for Hodgkin's lymphoma, Ms Touirat was cleared of cancer and had her tissue transplanted. Her ovarian function was restored and she became pregnant naturally.

    This new technique is good… MORE

    New animal research stats needed, says UK govt adviser</b>

    An adviser on animal research for the British government has called for clearer statistics on animal experiments which can be understood by the public. Professor Michael Banner, of Edinburgh University, chairs the Animal Procedures Committee. He has complained in the London Telegraph that no one really knows how much animals suffer and how many are subjected to experiments that make them suffer. Statistics which show that there were millions of "procedures" conjure up "an image of suffering on a vast scale", he says, but in fact many of these procedures are brief and… MORE

    Euthanasia deaths in UK could reach 18,000 each year</b>

    A British expert on euthanasia has called for the legalisation of euthanasia after estimating that 18,000 people are secretly killed each year by doctors. Dr Hazel Biggs, of the University of Kent, based her figures on extrapolations of figures from the Netherlands and Australia and on interviews with British doctors. What this says to me is that we know these practices are going on, but they are completely unregulated," she says. "We don't know how many people are volunteers or non-volunteers, and maybe because of that the law ought to be changed so that people can give voluntary consent, which… MORE

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