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September 29, 2006

Genetic map reveals how drugs fight diseases

U.S. scientists reported on Thursday an initial success in building an extensive catalog of information about how drugs affect various healthy and diseased cells. (Xinhua)

Egg donors may face unknown pitfalls, stem cell researchers say

The women who donate eggs to California’s $3 billion stem cell research program may take great pride in serving as medical pioneers, but they could also face psychological and health risks that have not been fully explored by scientists, experts said Thursday. (Contra Costa Times)

Wisconsin: Stem-cell license waived in-state

Companies sponsoring stem- cell research exclusively in Wisconsin will no longer have to buy a costly license to use the technology under an agreement announced by Gov. Jim Doyle on Thursday. (Wisconsin State Journal)

NHGRI Funds Assessment of Public Attitudes About Population-Based Studies on Genes and Environment

The National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), today announced it has awarded $2 million to the Genetics and Public Policy Center of the Berman Bioethics Institute at Johns Hopkins University to conduct a public discussion about future potential large U.S. population-based studies examining the roles of genes and environment in human health. (NIH)

Op-Ed: Bush’s Conception Conflict

Bush, as we know, believes deeply and earnestly that human life begins at conception. Even tiny embryos composed of a half-dozen microscopic cells, he thinks, have the same right to life as you and I do. (Washington Post)

September 28, 2006

New Bioethics Center

Cedarville University is launching a Center for Bioethics this fall. The official launch is set for early October, but their website is already up and running. The director of the Cedarville Center is Biology Prof, Dennis Sullivan, M.D., who wrote “Stem Cells 101,” which appears at the top of the Stem Cells Page here at

Organ sales ‘thriving’ in China

The sale of organs taken from executed prisoners appears to be thriving in China, an undercover investigation by the BBC has found. (BBC)

Governor Signs Bill Protecting Egg Donors

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Tuesday signed a bill designed to protect women who donate their eggs for use in stem cell research. (Los Angeles Times)

Diabetes Treatment Fails to Live Up to Promise

The cell transplants did free patients from insulin shots, but only temporarily. Within two years, 86 percent needed insulin again, according to a report being published today in The New England Journal of Medicine. (New York Times)

Scientists Form Group to Support Science-Friendly Candidates

Several prominent scientists said yesterday that they had formed an organization dedicated to electing politicians “who respect evidence and understand the importance of using scientific and engineering advice in making public policy.” (New York Times)

Is Hysteria Real? Brain Images Say Yes

Functional neuroimaging technologies like single photon emission computerized tomography, or SPECT, and positron emission tomography, or PET, now enable scientists to monitor changes in brain activity. And although the brain mechanisms behind hysterical illness are still not fully understood, new studies have started to bring the mind back into the body, by identifying the physical evidence of one of the most elusive, controversial and enduring illnesses. (New York Times)

Op-Ed: Treat Me?

If anything is supposed to be certain in medicine, it’s that people with high cholesterol levels should be treated. But should they? Sifting through the underlying science reveals that the way in which scientists and drug companies describe the benefits of many medications—by framing the question in terms of “relative risks”—systematically inflates their value. (Slate)


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September 27, 2006

Egg Donation: Questions & Answers

On a recent business trip, I ran across an ad announcing “immediate availability” of donated eggs that a “sophisticated” couple could purchase for in-vitro fertilization. Meanwhile, USA Today has uncovered that some young women are paying their way through college by selling their eggs to fertility clinics like the one featured in my in-flight magazine.

Commercialized egg donation raises a number of serious ethical issues. Read on for a Q&A about this important – and controversial – subject.


3 Missouri Museums Offer Stem Cell Exhibits

The state’s three largest science museums are offering an identical exhibit discussing the scientific view of early stem cell research, just weeks before Missourians vote on a proposal to protect such research in the state. (AP)

The Gene Screen

DNA Direct is just one of more than two dozen online genetic-testing services springing up to take advantage of advances in genomics–and the growing willingness of consumers to conduct even their most personal business over the Internet. Launched last year, DNA Direct is about to close a second $3 million round of financing. (CNNMoney)

Shortage of family doctors predicted by 2020

The number of U.S. medical graduates going into family medicine has been falling — by more than 50 percent from 1997 to 2005 — with many young doctors preferring specialties that pay better and offer more control over work hours. (MSNBC)

Surgeons Do 1st Near-Weightless Surgery

A team of French doctors said they successfully operated on a man in near zero-gravity conditions Wednesday on a flight looping in the air like a roller coaster to mimic weightlessness. (AP)

UK: Centre to sell human stem cells

The Roslin Cells Centre will develop human stem cell lines to be sold worldwide for testing drugs and developing new medicines. (BBC)

Australia: Call for hybrid embryos

The move to permit “hybrid embryos” comes despite the advice of Australia’s chief scientist, who said the process should be banned.
Under the private member’s Bill, drafted by Victorian Senator Kay Patterson, any cloned embryos would not be allowed to survive beyond 14 days. (Herald Sun)

Book Review: Contemporary Issues in Bioethics: A Catholic Perspective

Bioethics and theology have had a rocky relationship. While bioethics was born out of theological reflection, and its major practitioners were originally theologians, it quickly came to be dominated by philosophy and law and their practitioners. One of the consequences of this development is that religion and theology came to be marginalized. They were not welcome at the table of bioethics discourse, unless, of course, they used the language of philosophy and law. Many theologically trained bioethicists obliged (albeit not the authors of this volume). They traded their distinctive theological convictions and language for that of secular bioethics. (JAMA)


The Bioethics Poll
Should individuals and/or institutions be allowed to patent human genes?
Yes, with some qualifications

View results

Which area of research should more money be invested in:
Animal-Human Hybrids
Gene Therapy
Reproductive Technology
Stem Cell Research
"Therapeutic" Cloning
None of the above

View results

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