Most embryo donation parents don’t tell their child </b>

Only a third of parents whose child began life as a donated embryo tell them about their origins, compared with 100% of parents of adopted children and 90% of parents who used their own eggs and sperm. Fiona MacCallum, a psychologist at City University in London, told the ESHRE conference that parents believed that knowledge of their origins would upset the child and that since the mother bore the child, she was in fact the real mother.

Embryo donation parents also have a different parenting style. They tend to score higher on emotional over-involvement. Mothers tend to put the needs… MORE

Human stem cells used to treat rats with Parkinson’s </b>

Israeli scientists have found that human embryonic stem cells have helped rats with symptoms of Parkinson's disease to recover. Dr Benjamin Reubinoff told the ESHRE conference that his team had directed the stem cells to grow into specialist neuron cells and had then injected them into the rats' brains. The results were encouraging and "set the stage for future development". Animal embryonic stem cells have been used before to treat animal models of Parkinson's disease, but this marked the first time that human cells have been used. MORE

First Australian human embryonic stem cells created</b>

A scientist at Sydney IVF celebrating the success of its stem cell tests. Photo: Peter Rae, Sydney Morning Herald A Sydney IVF clinic has created Australia's first embryonic stem cell line from a left-over IVF embryo donated by a couple interested in scientific research. The line was developed by Sydney IVF about a month it obtained a research licence.

The medical director of Sydney IVF, Professor Robert Jansen, says that the stem cells will be used for research. He predicts that they will eventually lead to therapies for degenerative diseases. "There are several… MORE

Japan debates rules for organ donation</b>

Faced with a lengthening list of candidates for heart transplants and a tiny list of donors, Japanese patients are going overseas to the US, Canada and Germany. Some parliamentarians claim that their law on organ donation is too restrictive and are calling for changes in the consent law. At the moment, Japan does not allow organs to be harvested from brain-dead patients unless they have expressed their wishes in writing. Without this in hand, even their relatives are not allowed to authorise a transplant. As a result, since 1997, only 29 Japanese diagnosed as brain dead have become organ donors,… MORE

Bride famine arrives in India</b>

Bride at Indian wedding Indian social scientists are predicting a rise in sexual violence and wife-sharing because 40 million aborted girls are missing from the population. It is estimated that 5 million girls are aborted each year. "In Haryana [state] a whole generation of young men is failing to find wives because a quarter of the female population has simply disappeared," says the London Times.

"All over India, since the 1980s when the country was flooded with cheap ultrasound technology, this mobile killing machine, wielded by doctors with no ethics, has been doing… MORE

Nobel laureates back Kerry as white knight of US science</b>

Forty-eight Nobel-Prize winning scientists have backed Democrat presidential hopeful John Kerry as the best hope for American science. President George Bush, they charge, had short- changed scientific research by accepting biased advice, reducing funding and restricting immigration of scientific migrants. "John Kerry will change all this," they said. "John Kerry will restore science to its appropriate place in government." Mr Kerry has promised to place America at the forefront of scientific discovery and amongst other moves, has promised to lift barriers to human embryonic stem cell research. MORE

Freezing eggs could be big business for US MBA student</b>

A Harvard Business School student has founded a company which promises to extend women's fertility with the unproven technique of egg-freezing. Christina Jones, 34, who has already helped to found two IT companies, is establishing a network of clinics which will harvest, freeze and store eggs. The target market for her company, Extend Fertility, is women from elite universities and business schools who want to delay child-bearing because of their careers or because they cannot find a partner. Women as old as 40 will be eligible.

The project seems premature to many IVF… MORE

Single cell could yield foetal diagnosis</b>

An Australian scientist working for a US pathology giant is developing single-cell fingerprinting in a new laboratory in Brisbane. The work of Associate Professor Jock Findlay gives a glimpse of the range of capabilities opening up for the IVF industry.

Professor Findlay's team is developing clinical diagnostic techniques which can yield cheap and accurate results in a single day from a single cell. Foetal cells taken from a Pap smear will allow doctors to determine the sex of an unborn child and whether it has single-gene defects or Down syndrome or other major chromosomal abnormalities. This will enable all women… MORE

Two more British suicide tourists die in Zurich</b>

The Swiss suicide clinic Dignitas has helped a mentally ill British couple to die in its Zurich clinic. Robert Stokes, 59, and his wife Jennifer Anne, 53, drank pentobarbitone with the help of a "euthanasia assistant", a Bedfordshire coroner found this week. Their son David said that his parents were mentally disturbed. "I know my parents were not terminally ill. The only terminal illness they had was inside their heads," he told the press. MORE

Scottish bioethics council calls for embryo research moratorium</b>

The Scottish Council on Human Bioethics has called for a moratorium on all research on human embryos in the UK because laws regulating the field are hopelessly out of date. The UK's Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, it says, grants licences for procedures which would outrage the public if they understood what was happening. The world-famous Roslin Institute in Midlothian which cloned Dolly the sheep, for instance, is creating embryos from human eggs without sperm, a process called parthenogenesis.

"Out of respect for democratic values and the view of the general public, a moratorium should be enforced on parthenogenesis… MORE

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