Pig stem cells could replace human organs

Another solution for the growing lists of patients needing organ transplants is embryonic stem cells from pigs, Israeli scientists claim. Previous experiments with pig stem cells have failed, but the Israelis have now discovered why. Apparently the stem cells need to be transplanted within a certain window of time or the procedure will fail. Pig liver cells work best when transplanted at 28 embryonic days while lung cells worked best at 56 days.

When embryonic pig cells are used, there appear to be fewer problems with rejection, although scientists still fear that there is a possibility of transmitting porcine endogenous… MORE





Women criticise California stem cell institute

As California's Institute for Regenerative Medicine, created after a state referendum last year, gears up for therapeutic cloning, questions are being asked about where it will obtain the huge number of eggs it will need for its experiments. "Payment to these women for their eggs, even if it is considered reimbursement, would create an economic inducement for women to put themselves at risk," says Marcy Darnovsky, associate director of the Center for Genetics and Society in Oakland. "This would be especially true for poor and young women." Francine Coeytaux, of the Pro-Choice Alliance for Responsible Research, complains that "this new… MORE




Oregon assisted suicide numbers fall

The number of assisted suicides in the American state of Oregon fell to 37 in 2004 from the peak year of 2003, when 42 terminally ill patients ended their lives with the help of a doctor. Supporters of assisted suicide are using the statistics to argue that the law is used seldom and that there are few complications. Opponents say that the issues are the same, whatever the numbers may be. Physician-assisted suicide is not medicine," comments Dr Kenneth Stevens, of Physicians for Compassionate Care. "It's contrary to what doctors should do, and it's not compatible with care of terminally… MORE




ODD SPOT: you won’t die laughing

Some readers have commented that when they finish their weekly fix of BioEdge they feel elated by the service but depressed by its contents. Our apologies -- we don't want to depress anyone. In fact, the latest research indicates that depression is morbid, literally. Dr Wei Jiang, of Duke University in North Carolina, has found that people with mild depression have a 44% greater change of dying. The good news is that laughter reduces the risk of a heart attack as it appears to inhibit hardening of the arteries, according to Dr Michael Miller, of the University of Maryland. Perhaps… MORE




BRIEFS: stem cells, IVF; Terri; abortion

Embryonic stem cells: A US company has developed a process for cultivating ESCs which will make it possible to grow them without feeder cells and without fear of contamination with animal or human viruses. Advanced Cell Technology, which first cloned a human embryo back in 2001, says that its breakthrough will make it much easier to grow defined cell tissues. MORE




TO OUR READERS

After an extended break, BioEdge is back on track. We are now operating out of Melbourne. We apologise for the interruption of service and look forward to communicating with you every week from now on.

UN calls for ban on all forms of human cloning

 A non-binding ban on all forms of human cloning, including research or therapeutic cloning, has been passed by the UN General Assembly. More than half of the 155 nations voting supported the resolution, giving a moral victory to opponents of therapeutic cloning and embryonic stem cell research. The resolution states that "member… MORE




PLEASE NOTE

BioEdge will not be published during February. The next issue will be on
March 8. We are moving our office to Melbourne. Our apologies for the interruption of service. MORE




Doctors uneasy over drug for short children

A year after the US pharmaceutical regulator liberalised restrictions on a growth hormone for short but healthy children, prescriptions have increased 38%. But the popular drug, Humatrope, which is made by Eli Lilly, is controversial amongst endocrinologists. Some describe it as a necessary treatment for short children whose self-esteem might be at risk. Others call it cosmetic endocrinology.

The drug is prescribed for extremely short children in mid-puberty who are predicted to be shorter than 4 feet 11 inches as women or 5 feet 3 inches as men. It is not a remedy for the financially- challenged, as it… MORE





Some UK anglican clerics back euthanasia

In the midst of a public debate over a bill which would allow assisted suicide, prominent Anglican clergymen in Britain are voicing their support for euthanasia. One of the chief advisers to the Archbishop of Canterbury has told the Observer newspaper that there is a very strong compassionate case for voluntary euthanasia". Canon Professor Robin Gill even goes so far as to contend that "in certain cases... there is an overwhelming case for it". Last week Archbishop Rowan Williams sent Professor Gill to testify before a parliamentary committee on euthanasia, a move instantly interpreted by the Voluntary Euthanasia Society as… MORE




California’s stem cell institute under fire

The governance of California's new US$3 billion institute for stem cell research, which was approved by voters last November, has come under attack for insufficient transparency. An appointed oversight committee of 29 people will decide how to allocate the funds based on the recommendation of three working groups. These groups are not required to have public meetings and their members are not required to disclose their business ties. "It is like a legislature that meets openly but with committees that are totally secret," says Terry Francke, of California Aware, a lobby group for open government. "In essence, you will have… MORE



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