It’s payback time for lawyers, says US doctor</b>

A doctor fed up with medical liability cases created a public relations nightmare for his colleagues in the American Medical Association when he proposed that doctors should be able to ethically deny medical treatment to trial lawyers and their spouses.

Dr J. Chris Hawk II, a surgeon from South Carolina, said that his proposal was just a "wake-up call" and withdrew it after it had circulated for two weeks. But other AMA members were outraged. Orthopaedic surgeon Dr John Cletcher said that the first rule of medicine was "do no harm" -- and, he complained, "this resolution has done a… MORE

Animal stem cell tests could lead to bonanza</b>

Tests for liver damage using animal stem cells from animals could be worth "several hundred million pounds", says a Scottish biotech company. CXR Biosciences, of Dundee, has teamed up with Edinburgh's Roslin Institute and the US company Geron to create tests which would make it unnecessary to carry out liver damage tests on animals. The liver is responsible for about 60%of all drug test problems. MORE

Many journal articles skewed toward positive results</b>

Articles in medical journals may be biased towards positive results, calling into question many "miracle drugs" and breakthrough developments, according to the Journal of the American Medical Association. Many scientists cherry-pick favourable results; others change direction when interesting results emerge. Many researchers change their main objectives in the course of research, violating basic guidelines for good research.

Dr An-Wen Chen, of Oxford University, analysed 102 trials and found that researchers had failed to report almost two-thirds of results relating to potentially harmful outcomes.

Mounting concern about the influence of drug companies upon researchers has prompted closer scrutiny of research methods… MORE

Stem cell battle over Reagan’s Alzheimer’s death</b>

Nancy Reagan kisses the casket containing the remains of her husband, Ronald Reagan , at the Capitol rotunda shortly before he was taken away for a state funeral ceremony at the National Cathedral in Washington, DC.(AFP/Roberto Schmidt) Even in death, former US President Ronald Reagan is a flashpoint for controversy. Across the nation, editorial writers and columnists used his 10-year battle with Alzheimer's to urge his successor, George W. Bush, to fund embryonic stem cell (hESC) research. Abortion politics should not prolong the suffering of millions of Americans, mused USA Today: "Freeing researchers from… MORE

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

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