Chicago IVF clinic claims that PGD does not harm embryo </b>

pre-implantation genetic diagnosis A leading centre for pre-implantation genetic diagnosis, the Reproductive Institute of Chicago, has concluded that extracting a cell from an eight-cell embryo to test it for genetic disorders, does not cause birth defects. In research published in the journal Fertility and Sterility, the clinic said that PGD babies are no more likely to suffer birth defects than babies born after natural pregnancies. The news supports a recent decision by the UK's fertility watchdog, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, to allow PGD to create tissue matched "saviour siblings".

About 1,000 babies… click here to read whole article and make comments

Fears of animal liberation radicals growing in US </b>

The new president of the world's largest animal rights group has vowed to take his group into a new era of animal protection advocacy, while shunning violence. In an interview with the Washington Post, 38-year-old Wayne Pacelle says that he will be "more aggressive" in pursuing the goals of the Humane Society of the United States. He starts from a good base, as its previous president build the HSUS up into an organisation with 8 million members and US$80 million in revenue last year.

Although Mr Pacelle is an outspoken opponent of violence, some American observers fear the hair-raising activism… click here to read whole article and make comments

Curb potential conflicts of interest, US science boss told </b>

The US Office of Government Ethics (OGE) wants the National Institutes of Health to revise its revised ethical standards so that its scientists will not be involved in conflicts of interest. The head of the NIH, Dr Elias Zerhouni, recently submitted a draft of new regulations in response to reports that many officials and scientists had received millions of dollars in consulting fees and stock options from drug and biotech companies. Under the NIH's guidelines these were perfectly legal, but they left the scientists open to allegations of undue influence and conflicts of interest.

The OGE has questioned whether intramural… click here to read whole article and make comments

Australian call for a more liberal uniform abortion law </b>

A prominent Melbourne obstetrician and an Oxford bioethicist have called for a uniform Australian abortion law to allow termination at any stage in a pregnancy without danger of prosecution. Writing in the Medical Journal of Australia, Dr Lachlan de Crespigny and Dr Julian Savulescu argue that abortion as late as 34 weeks appears to be an accepted part of medical practice. With prenatal screening virtually universal, most Australian women seek an abortion if a problem exists which might lead to a serious handicap.

What prompted their article was a widely-publicised incident which took place in 2000 at Royal Women's Hospital… click here to read whole article and make comments

ODD SPOT: </b> letting off steam

Bioethical controversies often generate heated language -- often more heated than enlightened. This extract from a press release issued by the Libertarian Alliance, which describes itself as "Britain's most radical free market and civil liberties policy institute" is a particularly splendid instance of fustian diathermancy (hot air):

Human embryos and tissue are the property of human beings, not resources to be controlled by arrogant moralisers and the alleged "great and the good" in state socialist bureaucracies... The opponents of cloning, an unholy alliance of religious fundamentalist lunatics and the green slime of environmentalists and anti-scientific and anti-capitalist primitivists, are… click here to read whole article and make comments

UK scientists given green light to clone embryos</b>

The research centre at the University of Newcastle which will clone embryos Scientists at the University of Newcastle have been given permission by the UK's fertility regulator to clone human embryos for medical research. The university's stem cell group applied in May for a licence, which has been granted for one year. Professor Alison Murdoch, a member of the research team, says that clinical trials for possible therapies are still five to ten years away. More rapid progress could be made with more funding and the researchers are seeking partners from the private sector.… click here to read whole article and make comments

Kerry using promise of stem cell cures to unseat Bush</b>

Touting a particular cure for dread diseases seems an odd way to campaign for president of the United States. But Democratic candidate John Kerry thinks that it may just get him over the line in November's election. On the third anniversary this week of President Bush's decision to limit Federal funding for human embryonic stem cell research, Senator Kerry and his running mate John Edwards are promising to lift the restrictions and "say yes to knowledge, yes to discovery and yes to a new era of hope for all Americans". Senator Edwards has also promised Democratic backing for therapeutic cloning.… click here to read whole article and make comments

Terminal sedation becoming the way to go in the Netherlands</b>

Professor Paul van der Maas About 10 per cent of all deaths in the Netherlands in 2001 were due to terminal sedation -- drugging patients and stopping all food and water -- according to a report in the Annals of Internal Medicine. In most cases, the primary intention of the doctor was to alleviate symptoms of pain or distress, but in 17% the doctor explicitly intended to bring about the death of the patient. In many of these cases, death was not imminent. The lead author, Professor Paul van der Maas, of Erasmus University… click here to read whole article and make comments

Traditional Aborigines fear death in hospitals</b>

Many Australian Aborigines living in a traditional lifestyle end their days in city hospitals, lonely, confused and afraid of euthanasia, a researcher claims. Dr Pam McGrath, of Central Queensland University, says that palliative care facilities should be established in rural areas so that Aborigines can die at home with their families.

Aborigines from the Outback often do not have a good command of English and do not understand many basic medical procedures, such as taking blood. "Some have a fear that palliative care is associated with euthanasia. They think morphine is about ending life, not resolving pain," says Dr McGrath.… click here to read whole article and make comments

British patient wins right-to-life ruling</b>

Leslie Burke And in the UK, a patient who feared that doctors would withdraw food and drink against his wishes has won a landmark case. The High Court ruled that guidelines set by the General Medical Council were skewed towards the right of patients to refuse treatment rather than their right to require treatment. Leslie Burke, 44, who has a degenerative brain condition, says that "the onus should be on helping people to live, not despatching people too early. The patient should have the last say." The General Medical Council said that it welcomed… click here to read whole article and make comments

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