Drug companies may have “suppressed” data about children’s anti-depressants

The use of anti-depressants for children is a "disaster", says the leading medical journal The Lancet. In an article in its latest issue, six psychiatrists and child health experts suggest that drug companies may have suppressed evidence that many selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs, are unsuitable or even dangerous for children. The research team , headed by Dr Craig Whittingdon from University College London, say that benefits outweighed risks for only one of the five SSRIs studied, Prozac (or fluoxetine). For three of the other four, paroxetine, citalopram and venlafaxine, there was clear evidence of a small risk of… MORE




Will doctors stand and fight or will they skedaddle?

Outbreaks of infectious diseases in the US and Canada could give the medical profession a chance to test its commitment to a value even more fundamental than informed consent or autonomy: their duty to provide care to the sick and dying. A feature in the New York Times Magazine about an outbreak of monkeypox in the American Midwest suggests that many doctors and nurses might shrink from being heroes when faced with highly infectious patients carrying dangerous diseases. There were several dozen cases of monkeypox, a disease related to smallpox with a 1% to 10% fatality rate, in June 2003.… MORE




Wanna clone your loved one? Ring (888) 699-2672 today!

Hollywood is once again mining the rich lode of cloning, this time with a paranormal horror-thriller. "Godsend" stars Robert De Niro as a suave, mysterious cloning doctor and Greg Kinnear and Rebecca Romijn-Stamos as a couple grieving for their deceased five- year-old son. It is due to open in US cinemas at the end of April. Part of the marketing for the purely fictional Godsend is a brilliantly realistic website for the Godsend Institute, which is described as "a fertility clinic and practice, specialising in the replication of cells for the purpose of creating life from life". It has a… MORE




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… MORE





“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… MORE





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… MORE





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… MORE





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… MORE





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… MORE




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… MORE




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