Monday, January 29, 2007

Some articles we're looking at today

The weekend and this morning is just chock full of interesting bioethics news tidbits, so we thought we give you a sampling of these:

World's Oldest New Mom Lied to Clinic

The Associated Press
Sunday, January 28, 2007; 4:56 PM

LONDON -- A 67-year-old woman who is believed to be the world's oldest new mother told a British Sunday newspaper she lied to a U.S. fertility clinic _ saying she was 55 _ to get treatment.

Carmela Bousada said in her first interview since she gave birth to twin boys on Dec. 29 that she sold her house in Spain to raise $59,000 to pay for in vitro fertilization at a California clinic, The News of the World reported.

Someone (Other Than You) May Own Your Genes


THE Food and Drug Administration’s recent declaration that food from cloned animals is safe was a fresh reminder of how poorly the biotech industry and its regulators have managed the field’s portfolio of innovation over the years.

A recent survey found that Americans overwhelmingly distrust government and industry to provide truthful information about biotech’s risks and safety. Yet equally important as risk — and more often overlooked — are the public’s equally real and unaddressed concerns about who is looking out for its interests as the genes of plants, animals and microbes, as well as entire organisms, become privatized through the patenting system.

Can Food From Cloned Animals Be Called Organic?

By Rick Weiss

Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, January 29, 2007; Page A06

There's nothing like a tender steak from a free-range, grass-fed, hormone-free, antibiotic-free, organic and -- oh, yes -- cloned cow.

Or is there?

That's a question being raised by scientists, activists and government bureaucrats since the Food and Drug Administration concluded in December that meat and milk from cloned animals should be allowed on the market.

In the opinion of some in the biotechnology arena…

Cancer drugs: too toxic?

Side effects of newer lifesaving medications are too much for many breast cancer patients.

By Shari Roan, LA Times Staff Writer
January 29, 2007

Side effects of newer lifesaving medications are too much for many breast cancer patients.

New drugs developed in the last decade can dramatically cut the chances that breast cancer will return. But as many as one-third of women stop taking the drugs before the end of the recommended five-year course of therapy, often because of the side effects.

The poor compliance worries doctors, who say women could be reducing their chance of survival.

"These are lifesaving drugs for these women," says Dr. Cary Presant, a clinical professor of medicine at USC and the author of a recent study on the side effects of these medications. "We want to see women continue taking them."

Like tamoxifen before them, the drugs, known as aromatase inhibitors, benefit women with estrogen-specific breast cancer, which constitutes about 80% of all breast cancers. In this type of disease, the tumors are fueled by the hormone estrogen.

Conservative Judicial Activism? Inventing a constitutional right to "medical self-defense."

by Robert F. Nagel
02/05/2007, Volume 012, Issue 20, The Weekly Standard

Do you have a bright idea (albeit a controversial one) that you would like to see implemented as national policy? Would you prefer to achieve this without the inconvenience of having to persuade Congress and the president, let alone the American people? Well, here's how to do it.

Japan's health minister criticized for calling women 'birth-giving machines'

By Carl Freire


5:39 a.m. January 28, 2007

TOKYOJapan's health minister described women as “birth-giving machines” in a speech on the falling birthrate, drawing criticism despite an immediate apology.

“The number of women between the ages of 15 and 50 is fixed. The number of birth-giving machines (and) devices is fixed, so all we can ask is that they do their best per head,” Health, Labor and Welfare Minister Hakuo Yanagisawa said in a speech Saturday, the Asahi and Mainichi newspapers reported.

A Wheelchair That Reads Your Mind

by Emmet Cole|

02:00 AM Jan, 29, 2007

Patients who suffer from disease or injury that leave them unable to move have little hope of independent mobility. But that may be about to change. Researchers are developing a thought-controlled robotic wheelchair.

Spanish scientists have begun work on a new brain-computer interface, or BCI, capable of converting thought into commands that a wheelchair can execute.

Other researchers have already had some success with hard-wired brain computer interfaces, but they're powered by large computers and are physically plugged into the brain.

The Spanish researchers hope to develop a small, mobile interface that works with electroencephalogram electrodes, or EEG, placed on the scalp.

"We are planning to use non-invasive devices to record the rhythms from the surface of the skull," says Javier Minguez, a researcher at the University of Zaragoza in Spain. "We also plan to use this system with a school for disabled children that we collaborate with and (we) prefer to use non-invasive techniques with these children."

The Spanish Ministry of Education and Science has invested 180,000 euros in the "Biomedical Evaluation Of Robots to Assist Human Mobility" project. The goal is to bring mobility and a degree of independence to people with limited motor capabilities as the result of injury, disability or old age.

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