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Defending life
from conception to natural death


Ethical stem cell treatment could be used to rebuild damaged heart tissue

3 December 2008

British-based scientists hope they can rebuild damaged heart tissue by growing patients' muscle-building progenitor cells in the laboratory. The Imperial College London work is being described as potentially reducing the need for transplantation. Hearts cannot heal themselves and transplants are a risky last resort. The president of the British Cardiovascular Society pointed out that the use of patients' own cells overcame rejection problems. The new technique has worked on mice and is to be tested on pigs before possible human trials in 2011. [Telegraph, 3 December] Bone marrow cells have been used to restore speech and the use of an arm in a stroke victim with apoplexia. Surgeons in Hanover, Germany, used a British technique to put a sachet containing marrow stem cells in Mr Walter Bast's brain for two weeks. The treatment could be widely available in five years. [Daily Mail, 2 December] We report such stories as evidence of ethical alternatives to embryo research.

Abortion and miscarriage can triple the likelihood of drug and alcohol abuse, according to a study of more than 1,100 women in their 20s by Queensland University, Australia. The results are published in this month's British Journal of Psychiatry. [LifeNews, 2 December] This follows on from New Zealand research which found abortion made mental problems more likely.

Luxembourg's head of state has threatened to block a law to legalise euthanasia and the prime minister is prepared to change the constitution to stop such vetoes. Mr Jean-Claude Juncker seems to have cross-party support for challenging Grand Duke Henri; the change to the base-law would need a two-thirds majority in parliament. Mr Juncker also opposes the bill, which may soon be approved by parliament, and says he respects the grand duke's conscience. A royal veto would be unprecedented. [AFP on Yahoo!, 2 December] Neighbouring Belgium and the Netherlands permit euthanasia.

A British Catholic lawyer who has reportedly supported International Planned Parenthood Federation and the Family Planning Association is to speak at a papal university in Rome on Friday-week (the 12th). Ms Cherie Booth QC, the wife of Mr Tony Blair, the former UK prime minister, will talk at the Angelicum about women's rights. SPUC's Anthony Ozimic asked: "What about the rights of the countless unborn girls killed because of the pro-abortion groups Mrs Blair has endorsed? What about the countless millions of women suffering from post-abortion trauma?" Human Life International, Rome, said the university's invitation was surprising and that Catholics should protest. [LifeSiteNews, 3 December] SPUC wants the lecture cancelled and has published the email addresses of various university authorities. [John Smeaton, 2 December]

IVF with non-frozen eggs is less successful for African-American women than for white women, according to research on more than 70,000 treatments by Maimonides Medical Center, New York. Approximate birthrates per cycle were 19% for black women and 26% for whites. [Reuters, 2 December]

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