Nitschke cooks up “peaceful pill” in his kitchen</b>

Dr Philip Nitschke (from EXIT Australia website) Dr Philip Nitschke and some of his supporters have developed a lethal pill which can be manufactured at home with household ingredients. He says that details of the "peaceful pill" will be made available to members of EXIT Australia, the euthanasia group he founded. EXIT has about 3000 members with an average age of 75. "All the emphasis has gone into making a process which is straightforward enough that any competent person with reasonable ability and an average kitchen could easily manufacture it themselves," he told The… MORE

Nancy Crick died without cancer, says autopsy</b>

The long-awaited autopsy of Australian euthanasia icon Nancy Crick has found that she did not have cancer at the time of her suicide. The 69-year-old grandmother became a controversial figure in 2002 when she claimed that she was terminally ill with cancer and wanted to die. She was strongly supported by the leading promoter of assisted suicide in Australia, Dr Philip Nitschke.

The news did not unsettle Dr Nitschke, who knew before her death that she was not terminally ill with cancer. "To Nancy's mind it didn't really matter and I guess to my mind it didn't matter either," he… MORE

Loophole in law allows UK frog-human hybrid cells</b>

Scientists at Cambridge University in the UK created animal- human hybrid cells which are not regulated by existing laws, the London Times has revealed. Last year a team led by Professor John Gurdon fused the nuclei of adult human white blood cells with eggs from Xenopus frogs in an attempt to produce stem cells. Under UK legislation, government authorisation is only needed if human and animal gametes are fused or if the resulting embryo has the potential to develop into a human being.

"People shouldn't be regulating other people's work when it isn't really necessary," Dr Gurdon told The Scientist.… MORE

Chicago clinic creates diseased embryonic stem cells

A Chicago IVF clinic has created 12 embryonic stem cell lines with genetic defects which it will offer to researchers. Dr Yury Verlinsky, of the Reproductive Genetics Institute, used discarded embryos donated by clients who wanted to screen their embryos. He says that his team has created diseased stem cell lines for beta thalassaemia, neurofibromatosis type 1, Marfan syndrome, myotonic dystrophy, Fragile X syndrome and Fanconi anaemia.

Dr Verlinsky plans to create more stem cell lines since he can screen for more than 100 diseases with pre-implantation genetic diagnosis. A report in the Boston Globe did not mention whether the… MORE

Victoria to offer stem cells for world market</b>

The Australian state of Victoria will become a new source of human embryonic stem cells in a commercial partnership designed to raise its profile in the global biotechnology market. Premier Steve Bracks told a world biotech conference in San Francisco that stem cell research "holds great promise for treating a range of diseases".

The collaborative effort will involve the Melbourne-based National Stem Cell Centre, Melbourne IVF and a private company, Stem Cell Sciences, which will use the stem cells to test and develop drugs. The initiative is awaiting approval by the National Health and Medical Research Council. MORE

Ethics top priority for US biotechnology, says retiring head</b>

The retiring head of the US biotechnology association believes that ethics is the main issue which could derail his industry. "We have paid passionate attention to bioethics issues," Carl Feldbaum told the Seattle Times. "We have taken them dead seriously. We have gone beyond narrow commercial interests and have tried to contribute, without commandeering, debates about Dolly, stem cells and gene therapy... The mishandling of a bioethics issue could derail us in no time, but hopefully that won't happen." MORE

Stem cell support depends on pollster’s questions</b>

Support for embryonic stem cell research in opinion polls depends on the wording of questions, says Public Agenda Alert. "Within the complex issue of stem cell research, most Americans admit to not following the debate closely. When initially asked, more than half say they don't have enough information to develop an opinion," it says. In June 2001, one survey found that only 30% opposed and 58% supported the use of "extra embryos" "to find treatment for many diseases". However, another survey taken in the same month found that 70% of people opposed the "destruction" of "live embryos" for unspecified "experiments". MORE

Should US doctors help execute death row prisoners?</b>

Gurney for Florida's lethal injections Lobby groups are trying to expose doctors who participate in legal executions in the US and then charge them with violating codes of medical ethics. About 25 states allow or require doctors to be present during executions -- which is normally by way of a lethal injection.

Dr Arthur Zitrin, a retired professor of psychiatry at New York University, has vowed to expose these doctors and have them expelled their professional organisations. When he discovered that Dr Sanjeeva Rao was helping to execute prisoners in Georgia, he denounced him… MORE

Guantanamo interrogators using prisoners’ medical records</b>

Detainees sit in a holding area at the US naval base in Guantanamo Bay. ).(AFP/US Navy/File/Shane T. McCoy) American military interrogators have been given access to the medical records of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. Medical ethics experts have denounced this as a serious breach of medical confidentiality. According to the Washington Post, the files are still being made available to interrogators despite complaints by the International Red Cross.

The US is constantly searching for legal ways to make prisoners reveal information about terrorist organisations. Early last year the Defense Department formally… MORE

IN BRIEF: new embryo rules ~ Greek nursing homes</b>

  • New rules to safeguard frozen embryos, sperm and eggs have been introduced by the UK's Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority after a number of incidents in which they were accidentally destroyed or mixed up. The latest scandal occurred last year when a freezer failed at a hospital in Bristol and sperm samples belonging to 28 men undergoing cancer treatment were destroyed. MORE

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