Bioethicists slated for ties to industry</b>

A bioethicist from Canada's McGill University has made a stinging attack on his colleagues for snuggling up to commercial interests to secure funding. Writing in Nature Biotechnology, Leigh Turner asks, "if bioethicists are incapable of maintaining financial and intellectual independence from the drug industry, what purpose will their social commentary serve?" He accuses the discipline of betraying its roots in social critiques of the late 1960s and early 1970s, when it criticised the conduct of biomedical research.

Like the outspoken philosopher Carl Elliott, Turner argues that "30 years later, the independence and integrity… MORE





Preemie tests limits of survival</b>

An American girl who was born at 27 weeks and weighed only 280 grams has grown into a healthy 14-year-old, according to a report in the New England Journal of Medicine. Although IVF baby Madeline Mann is small for her age -- only 136 cm, compared to an average of 163 cm -- she is in the top 20% academically. "I think her development is a miracle," says the doctor who helped deliver her, Jonathan Muraskas. Other doctors agree. They say that Madeleine's case is a rare exception and that most extremely premature and low birth- weight babies have serious… MORE




Cloning pets goes commercial in US</b>

Tabouli and Baba A California company which cloned the world's first cat nearly three years ago is starting to fill orders for cloned pets. Genetic Savings and Clone recently produced Bengal kittens Tabouli and Baba Ganoush. Now five customers are paying US$50,000 each for a clone of their cats, which should be ready by December. And several hundred clients are paying $150 a year plus an initial $900 to preserve tissue for future cloning. Critics say that the company is exposing animals to risks without any benefits. "The quest for immortality in ourselves and… MORE




Hysterectomy alternative “ignored” by gynaecologists</b>

A eight-year-old procedure for removing uterine fibroid tumours from women has highlighted a turf war between two medical specialities. The normal treatment for the tumours is a hysterectomy done by gynaecologists. But doctors in France discovered in the mid- 90s that it was possible remove the tumours with a much less invasive operation under local anaesthetic. The procedure, called uterine artery embolisation (UAE), seems to be as safe as a hysterectomy, although it is done by doctors who call themselves interventional radiologists.

However, says the Wall Street Journal, gynaecologists are keeping the news of the easier alternative to themselves, perhaps… MORE





German nurse murders 12 elderly in hospital</b>

A 25-year-old German nurse has confessed to murdering seven female and five male hospital patients aged between 60 and 89. The man, identified only as Stefan L, has told police that he wanted to relieve them of their suffering. He was not suspected until officials at the hospital in the small Bavarian town of Sonthofen noticed that drugs were missing from the ward he worked on. Police are now investigating a further 70 deaths as well as deaths in his former workplace in Baden-Wurttemberg. Psychiatrist Karl-Heinz Beine, who has studied hospital staff who kill, says that most want to ward… MORE




US to build 2 more maximum security infectious disease labs</b>

In the wake of the September 11 attacks, the US Department of Health is pushing ahead with plans to build at least five maximum security laboratories to study deadly diseases like Ebola, anthrax and smallpox. Five of these "level 4" labs already exist in the US. The government feels that the labs are essential in the war on terror. "To know that we can do this research and not do it would be irresponsible," says Rona Hirschberg, of the National Institutes of Health.

A lab in Boston has drawn fierce opposition from community activists -- and even from 150 scientists,… MORE





Shortage of primates slows research</b>

The first audit of non-human primates used in global research has found that not enough apes and monkeys are being bred for research, that the shortfall could be slowing scientific advances and that lack of information about the animals in papers makes it difficult to gauge their validity. A group at the University of Uppsala in Sweden conducted the survey. It estimates that in 2001 3,000 research papers were published based on experiments on primates, with 4,411 studies on 41,000 animals. However, the real number of animals used is likely to be 200,000, as many government studies are never published.… MORE




BOOKS: </b>enjoying Alzheimer’s

A sensitive review of two books in The Lancet highlights the dignity of people afflicted with Alzheimer's disease. "Amazing Grace: Enjoying Alzheimer's", by Ray Smith (ISBN 1-84358-089-6) tells the story of a British man whose wife Grace developed Alzheimer's at 56. Rather than let her vegetate, he travelled the world with her, even though she was confused and incontinent, going to places as exotic as the Galapagos, India, and Sri Lanka; took her on long hikes; and continued to have sexual relations. "Ray never lost sight of Grace; he did not reduce her to her disease; he was able to… MORE




ABI publications this week</b>

"Hippocratic oath a casualty of war"
By Michael Cook, Sydney Morning Herald, 23 August 2004

Why didn't the doctors at Abu Ghraib prison protect their patients? It is becoming clear that it was not just trailer trash who were corrupted by their power over Iraqi detainees in the prison...   

IN BRIEF: MORE





Lancet denounces doctors’ complicity in Abu Ghraib abuse </b>

A photo of the abuse at Abu Ghraib prison Military doctors and medics in Iraq should "protest loudly and refuse cooperation with authorities" if they are aware of "torture and inhumane and degrading practices against detainees", says one of the world's leading medical journals, The Lancet, in a stinging editorial.

In its current issue, Dr Steven H. Miles, of the University of Minnesota, highlights the complicity of medical staff in the scandalous events which took place in the Coalition prison. These included "failure to maintain medical records, conduct routine medical examinations and to provide… MORE




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