Stem cell breakthrough
WASHINGTON -- Using a technique that may provide an alternative to therapeutic cloning, researchers created a monkey embryo asexually -- without the use of sperm -- to make stem cells that then turned into heart, brain and other specialized tissue. In a study appearing today in the journal Science, a research team led by Dr. Michael West of Advanced Cell Technology reports using chemicals to cause a monkey egg to turn into an embryo, an asexual process called parthenogenesis. The scientists then extracted stem cells from the embryo and made specialized cells. "These were fully developed cells that could have been used medically," said West. Advanced Cell Technology sparked a torrent of criticism in November after announcing it had cloned a human embryo that was allowed to grow to six cells. West said although the new study used only monkey eggs, it demonstrates that it may be possible to make human embryonic stem cells through parthenogenesis. Other experts, however, said such a technique would have a medical application limited only to women of reproductive age and would not benefit males.
Leaders agree to focusattention on world needs
NEW YORK -- Giving up their usual lofty retreat in the Alps to come to terrorism-shattered New York, participants in the World Economic Forum pledged to turn their attention to the world's needs instead of its balance sheets. The nearly 3,000 attendees -- a who's who of business leaders, politicians and celebrities -- kicked off the five-day meeting Thursday as hordes of police on Manhattan's streets braced for unrest that never materialized. Forum participants painted the Sept. 11 attacks as a global wake-up call and encouraged efforts against poverty, the AIDS epidemic and other scourges that have bred frustration and anger toward wealthy countries. "This is a defining moment in history," Irish rock star Bono said during an evening plenary session. "There is an emergency in the world, and I don't think that's hyperbole."
Army defuses bombunder woman's car
GREYSTONE, Northern Ireland -- Soldiers defused a suspected bomb today found under a car belonging to a woman who was seven months pregnant, officials said. Army bomb disposal experts carried out several controlled explosions on the device, which police believed to be a bomb. It had been strapped to a car in Greystone, southwest of Belfast, said Michelle Gildernew, a legislator from the Irish Republican Army-aligned Sinn Fein party. Gildernew did not identify the woman. She linked the device to other recent attacks on Catholics and blamed Protestant paramilitaries. "This is worrying stuff," Gildernew said. "There have been fears about loyalist death squads in the area targeting Catholics, and I believe this has very sinister overtones."
Infant mortality dropped20 percent, officials say
ATLANTA -- Infant mortality in the United States dropped 20 percent in the 1990s, health officials said, crediting a push for prenatal care and new technology that helps keep low-birthweight babies alive. Nearly 28,000 infants died in 1999, or seven for every 1,000 live births, the National Center for Health Statistics said. The rate in 1990 was 8.9 deaths for every 1,000 live births. "This is very good news," NCHS demographer T.J. Mathews said Thursday. "But the rate is still too high in the U.S. Everybody agrees on that." U.S. infant mortality rate is still higher than that of many other developed countries. In Sweden, for example, the rate is roughly three deaths for every 1,000 live births, according to UNICEF. Health officials want to see the U.S. figure down to 4.5 by the end of this decade. The study found that babies born to women who smoke died at a 59 percent higher rate in 1999. And seeking care in the first trimester of pregnancy appeared to cut the risk of infant mortality by nearly one-third.
Gotti reportedlyrushed to hospital
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- Former New York mob boss John Gotti, who is terminally ill with throat cancer, was rushed from his prison cell to a hospital, a longtime family friend said. Gotti was in stable condition at an undisclosed hospital in Springfield, friend Lewis Kasman said. Gotti was transferred Thursday after some of his lesions began bleeding, Kasman said. Diane Smith, spokeswoman for the federal prison, said she could not comment on the situation, citing privacy laws. She said Gotti was "receiving appropriate medical care."
Gotti, 60, is terminally ill from head, neck and throat cancer, and has been hospitalized three times in recent months because of complications. His family and lawyers have made several unsuccessful attempts to get him moved from the U.S. Medical Center for Federal Prisoners in Springfield.