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14 November 2005

14 November 2005

14 November 2005 An American embryologist has ended his partnership with Korean human cloning pioneer Hwang Woo-Suk over ethical concerns regarding egg donation.

Dr Gerald Schatten, of the University of Pittsburgh, said that he had reason to believe that Professor Hwang had obtained eggs for his research from a junior scientist in his laboratory, in violation of regulations designed to prevent coercion of donors, an allegation which the Korean scientist has previously denied.

Schatten said he was 'sick at heart' over the revelations, but still believed Hwang's research meant 'landmark discoveries accelerating biomedical research'.

[The Guardian, 14 November ] Scientists at Sheffield University's Centre for Stem Cell Biology are developing a technique which may allow them to create egg and sperm cells from the stem cells of cloned human embryos.

Professor Harry Moore said that, if scientists can stimulate stem cells created from a man's cells to develop into eggs, it would be possible to produce children with the genetic material of two male parents, although a woman would still be needed to carry the child. He said that this 'is not what this technology is being developed for, however. It is being attempted as a way to alleviate infertility which is still a cause of considerable unhappiness for many couples.'

[The Observer, 13 November ] The US Food and Drugs Administration has issued a warning that use of the Ortho-Evra birth control patch exposes women to an increased risk of potentially fatal blood clots, linked to the fact that the patch administers 60% more oestrogen than the birth control pill. Since Ortho-Evra went on the market three years ago, several families of women who died or suffered blood clots as a result of using it have filed lawsuits against Johnson&Johnson/Ortho-McNeil, the manufacturers.

[Medical News Today, 12 November ] Representatives of a number of Christian groups have voiced opposition to the Joffe Bill.

The Christian Medical Fellowship, representing over 5,000 doctors and the Evangelical Alliance both urged members of the House of Lords to reject the proposals which would legalise euthanasia.

Peter Saunders of CMF said: "A lot of pressure has been exerted to convince peers and the public that PAS [physician assisted suicide] is not 'euthanasia proper'.But the key issue is intention... In both cases what the doctor means to do is to bring about the death of the patient... PAS is simply euthanasia 'one step back'."

Church of England bishop Rt.Rev.Christopher Herbert of St.Albans also criticised the bill, commenting 'It is one thing to draft so-called safeguards which make sense to healthy people with everything to live for, but another to ensure that they are applied as intended in the highly stressful situation of terminal illness...We all wish for a dignified death and I truly believe that investment in palliative care is the way to achieve this.'

[Christian Today, 12 November ] Researchers at Florida State University have invented a device that could massively increase the number of adult stem cells available for research.

The device, called the 'perfusion bioreactor' works by simulating the conditions stem cells would encounter in the human body, stimulating fast reproduction of cells and directing their growth into different types of tissue.

This research uses only stem cells obtained from adult donors.

Because only about 1 in 100,000 cells obtained from each donor is a stem cell, the ability to reproduce them is highly significant for research and clinical trials. [Pharmaceutical Business Review, 11 November ; LifeNews.com, 12 November ]


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