FRC Blog

Lack of Truth in Advertising at IVF Clinics

by David Prentice

October 21, 2009

A paper published in the journal Fertility and Sterility by researchers at Columbia University finds that most IVF clinics fail to mention negatives associated with genetic testing of embryos.

Pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) is used to test for various genetic disorders, as well as to choose the sex of an infant. However the eugenic procedure, which involves removing one or two cells from an early embryo for the genetic testing, is not completely reliable and can harm or destroy the embryo. The researchers looked at websites of 83 IVF clinics that offered PGD; 22 of the clinics were hospital- or university-based, while 61 were private clinics. Only 1/3 of the clinic websites mentioned the possibility of misdiagnosis, and only 14% mentioned the risk to the embryo.

The lead author, Dr. Robert Klitzman, noted that “The information that clinics offer on their websites is, in essence, advertising, and should be seen as such by consumers.”

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Fetal Cell Experiments on Patients: Not Learning Their Lessons

by David Prentice

October 20, 2009

The journal Science reports that scientists in Europe, in collaboration with American researchers, are planning new trials using aborted fetal tissue in an attempt to treat Parkinson’s disease, despite what is termed a “growing scepticism” among the scientific community about the wisdom of such fetal cell trials.

Scepticism indeed. Perhaps they need to be reminded of the last few times when fetal cells were used in attempts to treat patients for neurological conditions, especially Parkinson’s. Most prominent was the 2001 published report of the clinical trial showing that Parkinson’s patients not only did not improve, but a significant number of the transplants were deleterious to the patients. The New York Times story called the outcome “devastating”; “the patients writhed and jerked uncontrollably.” Or there was the other large clinical trial published in 2003, showing similar results, with significant numbers of patients with worsened conditions. Or the followup report on some of the patients who did not worsen immediately, published in 2008, showing that those fetal grafts had developed Parkinson’s characteristics. And then there are the papers showing “graft overgrowth” (interesting euphemism) in a Parkinson’s patient and a Huntington’s patient, both treated with injections of fetal cells into their brains.

According to the story in Science, even the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinsons Research has become much more cautious about cell therapy, noting the foundation is now funding new drug development and very little stem cell research.

Another feature of the “graft overgrowth” that has been seen is tumors. In February 2009 the story broke that a young Israeli boy had developed tumors, from a fetal stem cell transplant.

All of this endangering of patients with fetal cells, while adult stem cells already have shown real promise. An Australian group has successfully treated Parkinson’s in mice using adult stem cells. And in February 2009, Levesque et al. published a case study showing a Parkinson’s patient’s own adult stem cells ameliorated his symptoms for almost five years. It would seem the payoff is already coming from adult stem cells.

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It Has Been Worse

by Robert Morrison

October 19, 2009

I’ve been on travel the past week, visiting with college administrators, staff, and students. I’m often asked by concerned young people: “Has it ever been this bad before?”

Oh, my yes. When I was your age, I tell them, 300 American cities went up in flames after Dr. King was assassinated, riots in the streets turned huge areas of America’s cities into no-go zones. Bob Kennedy was assassinated en route to a likely presidential nomination. Three hundred young Americans were dying in Vietnam every week, with no strategy for victory and no end in sight. Inflation was rampant and few Americans could see our country healing after such terrible divisions.

But heal she did. Last week, I witnessed American troops coming home from Iraq in two of our major airports. Welcoming committees cheered them wildly. What a great improvement on the sullen indifference that greeted too many of our returning Vietnam vets. One of my pool pals—guys I swim with every morning—was one of those Vietnam vets who came home to no welcome. Today, he joins the welcomers in applauding our magnificent troops. God bless you, Bob Hogan!

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Adult Stem Cells Help Patients With Spinal Cord Injury

by David Prentice

October 19, 2009

A new report by researchers in Portugal and at Wayne State University shows adult stem cells increased mobility and quality of life for spinal cord injury patients. Dr. Jean Peduzzi-Nelson collaborated with Dr. Carlos Lima and colleagues for the study, published in the journal Neurorehabilitation and Neural Repair.

The study follows 20 patients with severe chronic spinal cord injuries. All of the patients had total paralysis below the level of their spinal cord injury before the treatment, with treatment 18 months to 15 years after the injury. Patients received a combination of partial scar removal, transplantation of nasal tissue containing adult stem cells to the site of the spinal cord injury, and rehabilitation. All patients had no use of their legs before the treatment, while after treatment 13 patients improved in the standard measures used to assess functional independence and walking capabilities.

Dr. Peduzzi-Nelson noted:

This may be the first clinical study of patients with severe, chronic spinal cord injury to report considerable functional improvement in some patients with a combination treatment. Normally, in people with spinal cord injuries that happened more than 18 months ago, there is little improvement.

Lima and Peduzzi-Nelson had also published earlier results on 7 spinal cord injury patients; Lima also recently published a review on olfactory mucosa, the source of the cells for this treatment.

Dr. Peduzzi-Nelson and Dr. Jay Meythaler of Wayne State are seeking FDA approval to perform the procedure in the United States.

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Plan B: A Failure to Meet Falsely Inflated Predictions

by Moira Gaul

October 16, 2009

A recent article published in the journal Contraception, discusses the failed “effectiveness” of the drug Plan B (a form of emergency contraception or “EC”) on a population level. The author of the articles concedes:

Our expectations for EC’s effectiveness were biased upwards by an early estimate that expanding access to emergency contraception could dramatically reduce the incidence of unintended pregnancy and subsequent abortion. This estimate made a compelling story and is likely a key reason why donors and other were willing to support efforts to expand access to EC.

The falsely inflated predictions noted above were —- in order to dramatically decrease the incidence of unintended pregnancy and subsequent abortion —- touted as valid estimates during the lead up to and the drug’s change to over the counter status to women 18 years and older in 2006. The admission of failures at a population level following expanded access is poignant. Additionally, it is clear that Planned Parenthood has been a primary profiteer through the increased marketing and sales process.

The article goes on to deflect from valid flags raised by the continued self-administration of Plan B and ignores salient women’s health issues surrounding drug usage including: the lack of medical oversight by a licensed clinician during usage to screen for contraindications; the lack of medical studies to determine safety for repeated and long-term usage; and, the failure to inform women of the potential abortifacient action of the drug —- a violation of informed consent.

Additionally, the non-medical provider oversight during drug usage ignores a 2008 study release by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stating that young women most at-risk for contracting sexually transmitted infections and disease are not being referred for testing and treatment. The self-administration of Plan B knocks out a critical link in the care and referral chain for many women at-risk for disease. Such a link is vital for both secondary prevention or screening efforts and thus, the protection of women’s reproductive health.

Expanded access of Plan B to both women and adolescent girls are not in the best interest of either adolescent or women’s health promotion and disease prevention.

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Obama Adviser, Dalia Mogahed, Hearts Sharia

by Chris Gacek

October 16, 2009

Well, President Obama sure knows how to pick em. His latest appointee miscue if you exclude recent news of White House communications director, Anita Dunn, explaining why she admires Chairman Mao came from his adviser on Muslim affairs, Dalia Mogahed.

As reported in an article by Andrew Gilligan and Alex Spillius of the Daily Telegraph (U.K.), Mogahed appeared on a British TV program hosted by a member of an extremist group to talk about Sharia Law. For more details, go to the article itself, but here are some key paragraphs:

Miss Mogahed, appointed to the Presidents Council on Faith-Based and Neighbourhood Partnerships, said the Western view of Sharia was oversimplified and the majority of women around the world associate it with gender justice.

The White House adviser made the remarks on a London-based TV discussion programme hosted by Ibtihal Bsis, a member of the extremist Hizb ut Tahrir party.

The group believes in the non-violent destruction of Western democracy and the creation of an Islamic state under Sharia Law across the world.

* * *

She said: I think the reason so many women support Sharia is because they have a very different understanding of sharia than the common perception in Western media.

The majority of women around the world associate gender justice, or justice for women, with sharia compliance.

* * *

The video of the broadcast has now been prominently posted on the front page of Hizb ut Tahrirs website. [See the interview from the groups Australian website.]

For a liberal Yemeni womans critique of Mogaheds assessment of worldwide Muslim opinion, go to this link. Dr. Elham Manea wrote this piece on July 1, 2009.

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Bill Gates Takes on Radical Environmentalism

by Rob Schwarzwalder

October 15, 2009

In a speech today at the World Food Prize forum, Microsoft founder Bill Gates took the extreme environmental movement to task for putting rigid ideology ahead of basic human need.

Here’s an excerpt of his comments: “Some people insist on an ideal vision of the environment. They have tried to restrict the spread of biotechnology into sub-Saharan Africa without regard to how much hunger and poverty might be reduced by it, or what the farmers themselves might want.”

Gates noted that the international initiative “to help small farmers” in the developing world “is endangered by an ideological wedge” that pits higher productivity through the use of new agri-technologies and those who speak only of “sustainability,” often a code word for policies that would allow people to die for the sake of perceived environmental “purity.”

The Microsoft chief applauded some things that are anathema to the environmental purists, such as genetically-modified seeds that can increase crop yields and possibly even the nutritional content of such developing world staples as maize and sorghum. Drought-resistant seeds can be used by small farmers throughout Africa to help them feed their families and strengthen their nations’ economies.

One of the world’s wealthiest people, Gates and his foundation have poured an estimated $1.4 billion into combating hunger, malnutrition and disease in places like sub-Saharan Africa. Sadly, Gates is also a supporter of abortion-related “family planning” services in these regions. But he deserves credit both for his commitment to providing sustainable agriculture to the world’s neediest populations and for taking on the radical environmental movement, which would rather see people die than advance dynamic new agriculture technologies that could save millions of lives.

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Embryo Fate on the Docket

by David Prentice

October 15, 2009

It was barely reported in the media, but a lawsuit was filed in federal court (Sherley et al. v. Sebelius et al.) on August 19 to reverse the guidelines put out by NIH that open federal funding to more human embryo destruction.

In further developments, a hearing was held Wednesday, October 14 in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., on a preliminary injunction to block implementation and federal funding under the NIH guidelines. Chief Judge Royce C. Lamberth listened to oral arguments, and will likely issue a decision by November 1 (in the meantime, NIH has indicated that it will not permit the expenditure of any funds for human embryonic stem cell research before that date.)

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