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Defending life from the moment of conception

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19 December 2005

19 December 2005

19 December 2005 A Swiss hospital is to become the first in Europe to allow assisted suicide.

The hospital of Lausanne University has announced that from the first of January, doctors and nurses will allow and help patients to kill themselves.

The hospital's legal and ethical director, Alberto Crespo claimed, "We are not trying to encourage suicide. But at the same time, as a hospital, we have to respect the wishes of someone who wants to die."

[The Guardian, 19 December ] President Bush is about to sign a bill into law which will increase the availability of umbilical cords blood cells in the US. Cells from the umbilical cord offer an ethical source of stem cells as an alternative to human IVF embryos, and research involving them has already proved fruitful.

Congressman Chris Smith, who proposed the Stem Cell Therapeutic and Research Act, said: "Cord blood stem cells are already treating patients and now, for the first time ever, my bill will establish a nationwide stem cell transplantation system once it becomes law."

[LifeSite, 19 December ] Research carried out on adult stem cells could result in a new treatment for arthritis. Scientists at Bristol University developed new cartilage from a patient's own stem cells and hope that this new method will enable future transplants. Other researchers have praised the results but say that the new technique may not be ready to use for another ten years.

[BBC News, 18 December ] An investigation has begun into embryo stem cell scientist Hwang Woo-suk from South Korea, who faces charges that his research and results were fabricated.

He published a study in May claiming that he had created patient-specific stem cells but collaborators now say that parts of the research were made up.

Hwang is being investigated by Seoul National University and also by the University of Pittsburgh.

He continues to defend his research and claims that the publication of another paper would explain matters.

[Reuters, 19 December ] [Time Magazine, 30/05/2005, reported that Hwang had declared that his team had created eleven human stem-cell lines using somatic cell nuclear transfer - human cloning - to match the DNA of patients.]

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