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Genetic Crossroads
September 14th, 2006

"Stem cell research: a cautionary tale from California," University of Sydney News (September 8)
"In 2004, the people of California voted "yes" on one of the most controversial ballots in the state's history-to establish a constitutional right to conduct human embryonic stem cell research (hESC), and to devote $US 3 billion ­towards it. But the benefits of biotechnology were sold to the public in such a way that thousands of Californians are now expecting miracle cures that simply won't eventuate, according to researcher Tamra Lysaght from the Faculty of Science."

"MSU find could alter debate on stem cells," Lansing State Journal (September 7)
"Michigan State University researchers have taken the first steps toward developing a process that could allow scientists to produce embryonic stem cells without using human embryos or even human eggs....Marcy Darnovsky, the associate director of the Center for Genetics and Society, said acquiring eggs for research is an ethically problematic process and one that is currently unregulated."

"Stem cells: Next type of sports doping?" Associated Press (September 7)
"For athletes, stem cells have much more than the potential to cure disease and save lives-they may be able to heal injuries, boost strength and endurance, and provide a lasting edge over the competition. If it sounds like stem cells are the next frontier for doping in sports, it's because they very well may be....While such applications could be years away, their potential use raises more ethical questions about doping in sports."

"Couples Cull Embryos to Halt Heritage of Cancer," New York Times (September 3)
"Prospective parents have been using the procedure, known as preimplantation genetic diagnosis, or P.G.D., for more than a decade to screen for genes certain to cause childhood diseases that are severe and largely untreatable. Now a growing number of couples like the Kingsburys are crossing a new threshold for parental intervention in the genetic makeup of their offspring: They are using P.G.D. to detect a predisposition to cancers that may or may not develop later in life, and are often treatable if they do."

"Blair wants state to prevent growth of problem children," Reuters News Agency (September 1)
"British Prime Minister Tony Blair said yesterday the state should intervene early-possibly even before birth-to stop the children of problem families growing up into troublemakers. One think tank said the idea, the latest step in Mr. Blair's drive against crime and antisocial behaviour in Britain, verged on 'genetic determinism'."

"Live forever," BBC News (August 31)
"A Harley St plastic surgeon plans to sell an anti-ageing drug. But do you want to live forever, or perhaps to the ripe old age of 1,000? There was a time when beating biology to become immortal was the stuff of dreams....There has been heated debate between scientists excited about the possibilities for life extension and those who think the discussion needs an injection of perspective. So what is the reality? Are we on the cusp of overcoming our natural limitations, or is this the stuff of science fiction? And would it even be desirable to live much longer lives than we do now, much less to live forever?"

"State council backs stem cell rules, but critics fear scientists at risk," Boston Globe (August 30)
"State regulators appointed by Governor Mitt Romney adopted rules for stem cell research yesterday that Harvard University and most of Boston's major hospitals and research centers opposed, fearing they could subject scientists to criminal penalties for certain research activities."

"Some Scientists See Shift in Stem Cell Hopes," New York Times (August 14)
"In the five years since President Bush authorized and at the same time restricted research on human embryonic stem cells, a marked shift has taken place in some scientists' views of how the research is likely to benefit medicine. Many no longer see cell therapy as the first goal of the research, parting company with those whose near-term expectations for cell therapy remain high."


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