Tag Archives: Ethics

Overfishing threatens the survival of seabirds

From gannets to seagulls, puffins to penguins, all seabirds suffer the same drop in birth rates when the supply of fish drops to less than a third of maximum capacity. That’s the result from an international study on the relationships between predators and prey in seven ecosystems around the world, published in the magazine Science […]

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Placebos and distraction: New study shows how to boost the power of pain relief, without drugs

Placebos reduce pain by creating an expectation of relief. Distraction — say, doing a puzzle — relieves it by keeping the brain busy. But do they use the same brain processes? Neuroimaging suggests they do. When applying a placebo, scientists see activity in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. That’s the part of the brain that controls […]

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‘Cute’ chimps in ads may harm the species’ survival

Television ads featuring cute chimpanzees wearing human clothes are likely to distort the public’s perception of the endangered animals and hinder conservation efforts, according to a team of primatologists and a marketing professor at Duke University. The researchers showed 165 study participants three different collections of television ads for products like toothpaste and soft drinks […]

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Researchers failing to make raw data public

Scientists are failing to make raw data publicly available, even when prompted to do so by journals, says a study published last week in PLoS ONE. The study of 500 papers from the 50 highest-impact journals reveals wide variation in data-sharing policies and in researchers’ adherence to them. The findings come amid a growing push […]

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A cure for euthanasia?

Humane organizations throughout the United States can’t surgically sterilize homeless cats and dogs fast enough to control their numbers, and developing countries with dangerous feral dog populations—such as China and India—fare even worse. As a result, millions of dogs and cats are euthanized in U.S. shelters each year, and millions more are shot and poisoned […]

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Decision to relocate colony of ageing research chimpanzees becomes political

After a ten-year hiatus, the chimpanzees of the Alamogordo Primate Facility in New Mexico are being called back to duty. The 186 chimps, already grizzled veterans of medical research, will be pulled from an un­official retirement and sent back into the lab by the end of 2011, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced last […]

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Looking beyond the glamour of conservation

Australia’s bridled nailtail wallaby (Onychogalea fraenata) may be a more pragmatic conservation focus than seeking iconic but missing species like the thylacine. With species going extinct at an alarming rate worldwide, scientists are calling for a more targeted approach to conservation efforts. Rather than desperately searching for surviving individuals of charismatic, but probably extinct, species […]

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Medicine may be key to cloning’s future

Genetically modified cows and goats can produce proteins in their milk that can be extracted as a drug component. Cloning animals to create living drug factories could lower the costs of medicines used to save lives. Examples include cows that pump pharmaceutical proteins and antibodies in their milk and blood; chickens that lay drug-producing eggs; […]

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Mouse pain study stirs debate

A study monitoring facial expressions of mice in pain drew fire but was ruled as complying with Canadian regulations. A Canadian research team that induced pain in mice to help develop a ‘grimace scale’ recently came under fire from a researcher-support organization, which posted an online commentary suggesting that the scientists may not have complied […]

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Brain-imaging programme suspended after violations

The work of a leading brain-imaging centre has been suspended after an investigation found that researchers had injected impure psychiatric drugs into clinical-trial volunteers. Experts say that the episode should prompt other centres to review their practices, and it highlights the shortcomings of an oversight system in which academic labs are largely self-policing. Researchers at […]

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New complication seen in stem cell therapy: Stem cell recipient developed mysterious masses at injection sites

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Following stem cell therapy, an adult patient experienced a new and previously unrecognized complication, which required removal of one of the kidneys, according to a case report appearing in an upcoming issue of the Journal of the American Society Nephrology (JASN). The report suggests that stem cell therapy may cause patients to develop blood vessel […]

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Sponsoring by the pharmaceutical industry can bias the results of drug studies, study suggests

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Drug studies financed by pharmaceutical companies frequently show positive results in favour of the sponsor. In the current issue of Deutsches Ärzteblatt International (Dtsch Arztebl Int 2010; 107(16): 279-85), a research group headed by the Chairman of the Drug Commission of the German Medical Association, Prof. Wolf-Dieter Ludwig, describes the influence of sponsoring on the […]

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Bald eagle comeback could come at expense of other species

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Fishing, farming, and pesticides have decimated the bald eagle population of California’s Channel Islands. But current efforts to reintroduce the birds could likewise threaten some of the islands’ other endangered species, including foxes, according to a new study. Bald eagles once ruled the Channel Islands, an archipelago of eight islands just off the coast of […]

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US bioethics commission promises policy action

Five months after abruptly dismantling the bioethics advisory council left by his predecessor, US President Barack Obama last week created a new bioethics commission that will move beyond the issues that consumed previous panels, such as stem cells and cloning. Based within the Department of Health and Human Services, the Presidential Commission for the Study […]

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Rescuing male turkey chicks

A novel approach to classify the gender of six-week-old turkey poults could save millions of male chicks from being killed shortly after birth, according to Dr. Gerald Steiner from the Dresden University of Technology in Germany and his team. Their use of infrared spectroscopy to determine the gender of young birds shows that it is […]

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Night home hemodialysis shown to be as good as transplant in treating kidney failure

For the first time, it has been shown that patients who receive night home hemodialysis live just as long as those who receive kidney transplants from deceased donors. In a study published in the international September issue of Nephrology Dialysis Transplantation, a total of 1,239 patients were followed for up to 12 years. Night home […]

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Extensive study to examine egg-laying hen housing

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A multiyear study involving tens of thousands of egg-laying hens could improve understanding of the impacts and sustainability of housing systems for egg-laying hens. Michigan State University and the University of California-Davis are leading the study, and officials with McDonald’s and Cargill said their companies will serve as contributors and advisers. Jeffrey D. Armstrong, PhD, […]

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Hunters are depleting lion and cougar populations

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Sport hunters are depleting lion and cougar populations as managers respond to demands to control predators that threaten livestock and humans, according to a study published in the June 17 issue of PLoS One. The study was led by Craig Packer, a University of Minnesota professor and authority on lion behavior, who worked with an […]

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West Nile virus as cause of fatal neurologic disease in horses, South Africa

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Serologic evidence suggests that West Nile virus (WNV) is widely distributed in horses in southern Africa. However, because few neurologic cases have been reported, endemic lineage 2 strains were postulated to be nonpathogenic in horses. Recent evidence suggests that highly neuroinvasive lineage 2 strains exist in humans and mice. To determine whether neurologic cases are […]

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Bias, spin, and misreporting: Time for full access to trial protocols and results

Although randomized trials provide key guidance for how we practice medicine, trust in their published results has been eroded in recent years due to several high-profile cases of alleged data suppression, misrepresentation, and manipulation. While most publicized cases have involved pharmaceutical industry trials, accumulating empiric evidence has shown that selective reporting of results is a […]

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Side effects severely under-reported in ENT medical journals

Harms and adverse events (untoward side effects of surgery or medicine) have been under-reported or poorly described at an alarming low rate by the publishing authors in the four leading otolaryngology medical journals, according to new research presented at the 2008 American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery Foundation (AAO-HNSF) Annual Meeting & OTO EXPO, […]

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The ethics of rodent control

Because western societies generally see animals as objects of moral concern, demands have been made on the way they are treated, e.g. during animal experimentation. In the case of rodent pests, however, inhumane control methods are often applied. This inconsistency in the human-animal relationship requires clarification. This paper analyses the criteria that must be met […]

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Many cancer patients receive insufficient pain management therapy

Pain is one of the most common symptoms of cancer patients, yet many of them do not receive adequate therapy for the pain caused by their disease or treatments, according to a study in the September 1 issue of the International Journal of Radiation Oncology Biology Physics, the official journal of the American Society for […]

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Bears: Handle with care

Like physicians, wildlife biologists first want to cause no harm to the animals they study. But an analysis of the long-term effects of capturing and handling two species of bears–grizzly (Ursus arctos horribilis) and American black (Ursus americanus)–indicates that the animals suffer more than previously thought. “We’re throwing up a red flag,” says Roger Powell, […]

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Consent issues restrict stem-cell use

Some human embryonic stem cells may have been obtained without adequate consent for research. Stanford University is to tell its researchers that around one-quarter of the human embryonic stem-cell lines eligible for US government funding are now off-limits because of ethics concerns. The institute, in Palo Alto, California, is concerned that some of the women […]

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Newly approved ocular safety methods reduce animal testing

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Federal regulatory agencies have accepted recommendations of the Interagency Coordinating Committee on the Validation of Alternative Methods (ICCVAM) for two methods that can reduce live animal use for ocular safety testing, the committee announced today. ICCVAM is a permanent interagency committee composed of representatives from 15 federal regulatory and research agencies, including the National Institutes […]

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New research offers insight into oral cancer, chronic pediatric ear infections, and hearing health

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Three new studies published in the June 2008 edition of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery focus on what role gender plays in the prognosis of oral tongue cancer, chronic ear infections in children, and the success rates of hearing aid implants in the elderly. “These studies are prime examples of the wide variety of […]

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Is that sea otter stealing your lunch — or making it?

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Hunted to near extinction, sea otters are making a steady comeback along the Pacific coast. Their reintroduction, however, is expected to reduce the numbers of several key species of commercially valuable shellfish dramatically, such as sea urchins and geoducks. Despite of this potential conflict, Kai Chan of the University of British Columbia believes there is […]

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Fighting for flamingos

The world’s most important breeding site for lesser flamingos, whose colorful gatherings at East Africa’s Rift Valley lakes are one of the continent’s greatest spectacles, will be threatened if an industrial building plan in Tanzania goes forward, conservationists are alleging. Although the proposal has not yet gained government approval, the first public presentation of the […]

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Taking animals out of laboratory research

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Pioneering work to reduce the use of animals in scientific research — and ultimately remove them from laboratories altogether — has received a major boost at The University of Nottingham. A laboratory devoted to finding effective alternatives to animal testing has been expanded and completely remodelled in a £240,000 overhaul designed to hasten the development […]

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