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News, 11 August 2004

11 August 2004

11 August 2004 Britain's first licence to clone human beings has been issued. The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) today gave permission for Newcastle university to use cell nuclear replacement to create embryos whose tissue might be used to treat Alzheimer's, diabetes and Parkinson's disease. [BBC, 11 August ] Anthony Ozimic, SPUC political secretary, commented: "Britain will regret giving approval to the unethical, dangerous and unnecessary practice of so-called therapeutic cloning. Human cloning is unethical because it exploits and destroys the lives of countless human beings at their most vulnerable stage of development. Extracting stem cells from embryonic humans kills them. Human cloning is dangerous because it will lead to so-called reproductive cloning. It is unnecessary because adult stem cell research, a rapidly advancing ethical alternative to embryo experimentation, is already providing treatments for the very same diseases that pro-cloning scientists claim to be interested in treating. Even in the unlikely event that experiments on embryos did prove to have some beneficial effect, it would still be unacceptable to use human beings in this way." [SPUC, 11 August ] Human embryo research shows little promise while adult stem cells are being used to treat many types of illness, according to the Family Research Council (FRC) in the USA. The American government has spent some $25 million in the three years since President Bush allowed funding for research only on existing embryonic stem cell lines. The FRC said that researchers concede that useful treatments from such cells could still be years away. Meanwhile, adult cells were already providing therapies for heart damage, spinal injury, blindness and cancer. [CWNews on EWTN, 9 August ] Mrs Laura Bush has defended her husband's decision to limit human embryo research. [BBC, 10 August ] The South Korean government is to support a scientist who cloned a human being, after he refused American money. The president's office is bringing together government departments to fund Mr Hwang Woo-suk who turned down more than $800 million from the US. Our source suggests that South Korea will benefit economically from such research. Mr Hwang last year produced cloned calves which were immune to bovine spongiform encephalopathy. [Medical News Today, 10 August ] Mr Alan Keyes, a former contender for the Republican presidential nomination, has highlighted the differences between his views on abortion and those of his Democratic contender for a US senate seat. Accepting his party's nomination last weekend, Mr Keyes pointed out how Mr Barack Obama supported partial-birth abortion and believed that babies who survived abortion should be left to die. Mr Keyes likened Mr Obama's stance to one which did not oppose slavery or racial segregation. The contest is for the post of Illinois senator. [LifeSiteNews.com, 10 August ] Bone marrow donation has been made less painful through a process which involves taking donors' blood. The new leucapheresis technique involves administering drugs which cause stem cells to proliferate in the bloodstream. Donors have customarily had cells removed from their hip-bones with syringes while under general anaesthetic. Our source describes how the method is in use at a Bristol, England, hospital, and cites the case of a donor whose gave cells to be used to help a seriously ill patient. The donation procedure was complete in a day. [This is Bristol, 10 August ] Doctors trying to correct thryroid deficiency in pregnant women should be aware of possible dangers to the unborn, according to findings by Chicago university. A change to the received view on the subject seems to be under way. Babies could be harmed by either too much thyroid hormone or too little. [Times, 11 August ] Anti-depressants, including those containing selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors, may have harmed the unborn children of women who took them late in pregnancy, according to a warning from the Canadian health department. There are plans to put warnings on the drugs' labels. [Canadian Press, 9 August ]

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