New Age guru has IVF twins at 57 </b>

Aleta St James A 57-year-old New Age mystic has become a single mother of twins after IVF treatment with donor eggs. Aleta St James, an American actress, singer, healer and motivational speaker, explained that "I'm very young and vivacious and my whole world is about manifesting, so I decided to manifest children." Her doctor, Jane Miller, of North Hudson IVF, a New Jersey fertility clinic, said that she normally discourages older women from having IVF treatment, but Ms St James was healthy enough to give birth.

Bioethicist Arthur Caplan scoffed at the highly publicised… MORE

Bioethics destined for “bankruptcy”</b>

A medical historian has published a stinging attack on the bioethicists and bioethics in the most recent issue of The Lancet. Roger Cooter, of the Wellcome Trust Centre for the History of Medicien at University College London, says the word was coined in 1970 and could soon disappear:

Hardly wet behind the ears, bioethics seems destined for a short lifespan. Conspiring against it is exposure of the funding of some of its US centres by pharmaceutical companies; exclusion of alternative perspectives from the social sciences; retention of narrow analytical notions of ethics in the face of popular expression and academic… MORE

ABI in the media </b>

ABI director Dr Amin Abboud delivered a widely reported paper at the World Congress of Bioethics in Sydney this week which suggested that women are often pressured into using IVF for their fertility problems when natural methods would be sufficient.

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    IN BRIEF: privacy, life support, animal law, stem cell hype...

    Privacy: Despite intense media interest in the exact cause of the death of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, French doctors have maintained a strict silence. According to France's code of medical ethics, doctors… MORE

  • Bioethics and the American election

    American voters handed George W. Bush the presidency this week in a close but convincing election result. However, they sent confusing signals about their support for controversial bioethical issues. The pundits agreed that Bush's appeal to conservative religious voters was a key factor in his victory. A national exit poll found that 22% of voters cited moral values as "the most important issue" -- more than the economy, terrorism and Iraq. If this is the case, opposition to abortion and same-sex marriage probably tipped the scales towards the president in key swing states like Florida and Ohio. But some voters… MORE

    Merck condemned over “public health catastrophe” </b>

    from New York Times The editor of The Lancet, Richard Horton, has condemned pharmaceutical giant Merck and the US Food and Drug Administration for acting out of "ruthless, short-sighted, and irresponsible self- interest" in dealing with Merck's painkiller Vioxx. A researcher for the FDA has suggested that more than 27,000 deaths could be attributed to Vioxx.

    Merck withdrew Vioxx from the market in September, citing new evidence that it increased the risk of heart attacks, strokes and other serious ailments. However, an article in the current issue of The Lancet argues that Merck could… MORE

    Drug shortages chronic in US</b>

    After laboratory contamination brought about a shortage of American flu vaccine at the beginning of the winter, the US public health authority, the Centers for Disease Control, appointed an ethics panel to knot out allocation problems. Now it seems that these Solomons will have work to do after solving the current crisis. Drug shortages, the New York Times has found, are endemic in the US, even for medicines which limit damage from spinal cord injury, which help premature infants, or which fight systemic bacterial infection.

    A Times survey found that many experts complain that America's unregulated drug market often leads… MORE

    Animal rights activists won’t monkey with Chinese research</b>

    China is poised to become a centre of primate research with the development of a world class facility. The Kunming Institute of Zoology in southwestern China has 1,400 experimental monkeys, including 300 in isolation. Drawn by low cost and the absence of animal rights groups, US and European researchers are working there and doing collaborative research. The director, Weizhi Ji, says that China has different ethical standards for animal research: "Human health is always given the first priority and there is less emphasis on animal rights." He acknowledges that China lacks the institutional… MORE

    Fertility chief to be carpeted over “designer baby” tests</b>

    The head of the UK's fertility authority, Suzi Leather, has been issued a "please explain" note by a House of Commons committee after she failed to consult Parliament or the public before allowing a London IVF clinic to screen embryos for an adult-onset medical condition. MPs, scientists and bioethics groups are alarmed that the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority has established a precedent for using pre-implantation genetic diagnosis to detect a genetic predisposition to diseases which will only affect people in later life. A spokeswoman for the HFEA would only reveal that the committee which made the decision was made… MORE

    Spain approves embryo research</b>

    The Spanish government has announced that researchers will be allowed to create embryonic stem cells from IVF embryos, despite bitter opposition. "It is not ethical to place obstacles and difficulties in the way of scientists who are using their talent and knowledge to improve our capacity to treat illness," deputy prime minister Maria Teresa Fernandez de la Vega explained. The health minister added that it would provide a "socially useful" purpose for spare IVF embryos.

    The Spanish government plans to spend 100 Euros (US$130 million) over the next four years on "regenerative medicine", including embryo research. The health minister indicated… MORE

    New method of creating embryonic stem cell lines</b>

    A Chicago IVF clinic has developed a new method of obtaining embryonic stem cells which some scientists say could bypass ethical objections. Yury Verlinsky, of the Reproductive Genetics Institute, says that his team has managed to create stem cell lines from four- day-old human embryos at the morulae stage. All previous embryonic stem cell lines have been created from older embryos at the blastocyst stage. There is only a day or two of difference in age, but it appears that stem cells can be extracted from the morulae without killing them. This raises… MORE

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