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Vegies can ward off Alzheimer's

A DIET deficient in fruit and vegetables is a prime cause of Alzheimer's disease, according to scientists working on behalf of the Alzheirner's Society. Eating fresh fruit and vegetables and less red meat during one's working years offers one of the best protections against the onset of the brain-wasting disease. People whose diets are high in fat and low in antioxidants between the ages of 20 and 65 are at greatest risk of developing Alzheimer's later in life. For those with high cholesterol the risk of contracting Alzheimer's is even higher than for those bom with the Alzheimer's gene. "It now appears that what is good for your heart may be good for your head. This is a completely new idea," Bill Theis, vice-president of medical and scientific affairs at the Alzheimer's Society, said. "A lot of data points towards diet and vascular factors as a major risk factor for Alzheimer's. Blood-pressure studies seem to indicate that having high blood,pressure in middle age is a significant risk. This is not so important later in life, so it seems like the damage is done early.

Researchers at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland in the US asked 214 healthy people and 96 carers of Alzheimer's patients to recall to the best of their knowledge what kind of diet they had at ages 20-39, 40-49 and from 60 onward up to five years before they were diagnosed with the disease. Two distinct paftems emerged, according to Grace Petot, who is leading the research. One diet, called the high-fat, low-antioxidant pattern, consisted of red meat, processed meat, eggs, fried chicken, high-fat dairy products, high-energy drinks with much sugar, chips, refined grains, margarine, snacks, nuts, sweets and desserts. The second was high in antioxidants, low in fat and included yellow and green vegetables, fish -and seafood, fruits, home-made and readymade soups, whole grains, tomatoes and other vegetables. The second diet was clearly linked with a reduction in risk for Alzheimer's. The Times

GM to dry onion tears

LONDON A milestone in human progress that moment when we wffl be able to chop an onion without weeping is in sight after the discovery of what it is about onions that makes our eyes water. Japanese scientists reporting in today's issue of British magazine Nature say the chemical culprit is a pungent enzyme that they have named lachrymatory-factor synthase. It plays no part in giving the onion flavour; this comes from another compound called thiosulphinate.

The researchers, from House Foods Corporation in Chiba, say the discovery means the time has come to create the world's flrst superonion. Onion genes will be tweaked so that they lose the tear-inducing enzyme and gain a thiosulphinate boost. "It may be possible to develop a non-lachrymatory onion that retains its characteristic flavour and high nutritional value by down-regulating the activity of this synthase enzyme," the team say in their article. AFP

NORTH KOREA nuclear secret revealed

WASINGTON North Korea has told the United States it has a secret nuclear weapons programrfie, in violation of an agreement signed with the Clinton Administration. A senior US official said North Korea also told US diplomats it was no longer beholden to the antinuclear agreement. The disclosure, which stunned senior Administration officials, is certain to chill US-North Korean relations. President George W. Bush had labelled the county pait of the "axis of evil" with Iraq and Iran, but hopes were raised that the reclusive nation wanted to build international ties when Bush sent Assistant Secretary of State James Kelly to Pyongyang for security talks. Kelly visited North Korea on October 3-5 and demanded that the communist state address concems about its nuclear and other weapons progranimes. In response, the Pyongyang Government accused Bush's special envoy of making "threatening remarks". Under a 1994 agreement with the United States, North Korea promise to give up its nuclear weapons programme, and it promised to allow inspections to verify that it did not have the material needed to construct such weapons. But it has yet to allow the inspections, drawing criticism from the Bush Administration. The source said Kelly also raised with North Korea evidence that it may have a uranium-enrichment Programme, which the United States believes wouia only be used to develop a nuclear bomb. Surprisingly, North Korea confirmed the allegation. The Administration has not decided how to respond. About 37,000 US troops are stationed in South Korea. AP

Black hole at heart of galaxy

LONDON -.Scientists say they have discovered at the centre of our galaxy a huge black hole, a mysterious celestial object that sucks in everything around it, including light. By observing the orbit of a star around the invisible gravitational field, an international team of scientists has eliminated other explanations for the phenomenon. "It is a great step forward," said team leader Dr Reinhard Genzel, of the Max-Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics, near Munich.

"We have been able to exclude some still possible alternative configurations ... there is nothing left that one would consider realistic and possible other than a black hole." Astronomers have gathered information about black holes, detected by measuring their effect on nearby stars or the activity at their edges, for more than 20 years. There has been growing evidence of a massive black hole, more than a million times the mass of the Sun, in the centre of our galaxy and others, but Genzel and his team believe their research is the best proof so far. "Most astrophysicists would accept that the new data provide compelling evidence that a supermassive black hole exists in the centre of the Milky Way," said Alvio Renzini, a scientist at the European Southem Observatory in Chile. Black holes, like the one in the centre of the Milky Way, are thought to be the remains of dead quasars, the Powerful, bright hearts of galaxies. First theorised by Albert Einstein, black holes have been described as the ultimate victory of gravity because of their ability to suck in stars and other galactic features. REUTERS

'Beam me UP, Blue' teleporting first

CANBERRA In a world breakthrough out of the realms of Star Trek, physicists in Canberra have teleported a laser beam from one spot to another in a split second. The Australian National University team, which includes New Zealanders, announced yesterday that they had successfully disembodied a laser beam in one location and rebuilt it in a different spot about one metre away in the blink of an eye. Project leader Dr Ping Koy Lam said there was a close resemblance between what his team had achieved and the movement of people in the science fiction series Star Trek, but beaming humans between locations was still years away. "In theory there is nothing stopping us from doing it, but the complexity of the problem is so huge that no one is thinking seriously about it at the moment." However Lam said science was not too far from being able to teleport solid matter between locations. "My prediction is ... it will probably be done by someone in the next three to five years that is the teleportation of a single atom." The laser beam was destroyed during teleporting, which is achieved using a process known as quantum entanglement. Lam, who has worked on teleporting since 1997, said humans posed a near-impossible task as we were made up of zillions of atoms quantified by a one with 27 zeroes. However the breakthrough opens up enormous possibilities for future super-fast and super-secure communications systems, such as quantum computers. Physicists believe quantum computers could outperform classical computers with enon-nous memory and the ability to solve problems millions of times faster. Teleportation became one of the hottest topics among physicists after the IBM lab in the United States provided theoretical underpinning for the work in 1993. Since then about 40 laboratories globally have been experimenting. Although teams in Califomia and Denmark were the first to do preliminary work, the ANU team of scientists from Australia, Germany, France, China and New Zealand was the first to achieve a trial with 100 per cent reliability. REUTERS

Greens tear into Evil Threesome

by Basildon Peta in Johannesburg

Environmental campaigners have branded the United States, Canada and Australia the "axis of evil" for their reluctance to co-operate with the rest of the world in tackling global poverty and environmental degradation. Washington opposes setting any new environmental targets at the Johannesburg world summit, beyond previously agreed UN goals such as halving the proportion of the world's people who live on less than US$l a day or lack access to drinking water. Tony Juniper, vice-president of Friends of the Earth International, said other Governments must ignore this axis of evil and press ahead on new international agreements "for people and the planet". British officials acknowledged yesterday that scant progress had been made so far by officials negotiating behind the scenes of this week's open plenary sessions. "It has been slow but that is to be expected at a summit of this size," one official said. But Friends of the Earth also accused Britain of promoting weak voluntary agreements rather than binding regulations on business. Juniper called on Tony Blair who is not due in Johannesburg until next week to seize the initiative and get the talks back on the rails. "This summit desperately needs political leadership if it isn't going to fail. Tony Blair must fly out here soon and work with other leaders to get these talks back on track." Juniper said the US, [email protected] and Canada had high standards of living, high rates of material consumption and consequently high rates of per capita impact on the enviromnent "And yet they have been most unconstructive in recognising their

impact as rich consumer countriegi" He said the three were not showing any seriousness in helping poor countries in environmental protection initiatives and in opening markets to goods from these poor countries. They were not bothered by calls to bridge the ever-increasing gap the rich and poor. The US had already withdrawn from the Kyoto treaty on climate change and Australia and Japan had shown little interest in the treaty, even though the three were the biggest polluters on the planet, Juniper said. -' The US decision to increase steel tariffs and introduce agricultural subsidles were fine examples of its lack of commitment to promoting free trade and helping poor countries. I

"The extent to which America is hypocritical is best reflected m President [George W.] BUS]Ys efforts in trying to build an international coalition is against terror while refusing to cooperate with the rest of the world on environmental protection issues," Juniper said.

Meanwhile, a combined platform of non-governmental organisations at the summit highlighted what they described as unaddressed Environmental and social issues since the 1992 Rio Earth Summit.

The groups said that "after 10 years of some progress in negotiations, but little actual implementation, the irmpact of these unftilfilled promises was becoming clear".

Massive flooding ffimughout Central Europe, China and South Asia, had caused thousands of deaths And billions of done in damage. I

Further, globalisation had m6Lde the "rich richer and the poor poorer', and chemically intensive agriculffim and biotechnology, compounded, by other factors, had "resulted in looming starvation, social dislocation and a threat to the entire world's food

Fury at Plan to Rope In McDonalds
by Charles Clover in Johannesburg

United Nations plans to involve multinational companies including McDonald's and Monsanto in projects to save the world's poorest countries from environmental degradation has provoked a bitter r-ow at the Earth Summit. Charities rounded on the initiative, which has the support of Britain and the United States, saying they were outraged .by a proposed partnership between the McDonald's fast-food chain and Unicef, the UN children's ftmd. The plan is intended by the summit's UN organisers to be complementary to new multilateral agreements on sanitation, health, fish stocks and energy which America and its allies are reluctant to sign. Britain and the US are supporting setting up partnerships between business, rich Goveniments and poor countries. The partnerships also represent a fallback position for the summit in case the political stages collapse such as at last year's sununit on racism in Durban so that at least it can be said to have achieved something. There is a formal process for registering a partnership and so far 192 have been registered at the suniinit.

But some partner ships are more controversial than others. Sir Jonathon Porritt, the British Govemment's chief green adviser, criti cised his Govern ment's "naive adula tion of big business" at the weekend. John Hilary of Save the Children criticised the UN's prized model partnership on children's vaccination. He said: "There are potential conflicts of interest which are not being addressed. "Companies have a tendency to push newer fonns of vaccine and reducing the supply of ones for crucial diseases, such as polio, TB and measles. The priority gets skewed in favour of the big companies concerned." Hilary said charities were outraged by the McDonald's partnership with Unicef, which has decided to hold a McDonald's World Day for Children this year. "Given the record this company has on nutrition in selling junk food we think it is completely irresponsible," he said. Green groups say a partnership for feeding the poor proposed by Croplife International, a global federation representing the plant science industry, could be a showcase for biotechnology companies such as Bayer, Monsanto and Syngenta.

Britain has already been working on several relatively uncontroversial schemes, including one to help South Africa, Uganda and Nigeria provide clean water to shanty towns and remote, poor areas. The partnership includes four Bntish Government departments, two water charities, a major engineering compal3Y, the union Unison and some of the blg British water companies. Officials say the Government and the companies would provide money for developing expertise at local level, as well as long-term ning. Companies theoret benefit from contracts E phase, although South Africa is insistent that contracts are not assured. This kind of partnership has the ftffl support of charities such as Tear Fund and Water Aid. Partnerships are being encouraged on all the sununit's areas for action identified by UN Secretary-General Kofl Annan. These are water, energy, health, agriculture and biodiversity. Lord Holme, vice-chairman of the Business Council for Sustainable Development, conceded that there was mistrust between campaigning charities and companies. "With all candour, that goes both ways," he said. "There are some that think even if we put on white sheets and green halos we would still be the eneftly. We need confidence ing measures " TELEGRAPH GROUP

Mother of Seven Shot as 'Collaborator'

TULKARM Palestinian militants wrenched an alleged collaborator with Israel from her West Bank home, took her to the town square and shot her, Palestinians said yesterday.

Ikhlas Yassin, a 35-year-old mother of seven, was forced from her Tulkarm house on Sunday night, made to confess to collaboraimg with Israel and then shot in the chest and head by militants from a group linked to President Yasser Arafat's Fatah faction. It was the first time a woman had been killed as an alleged collaborator.

Bakir, a 17-year-old son of the woman, claimed yesterday that he had been to by members of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades until he invented a story about his mother's involvement in a militant's death. Bakir said he told his torturers that he informed his mother of the whereabouts of militia leader Ziad Daas, killed by Israel on August B. But he said he made up the story to avoid further torture. Dozens of men have been shot by militants, their bodies sometimes mutilated and dragged through West Bank cities, since the 22-month-old Palestinian revolt began. In a videotaped "confession", the woman, who wore a yellow Islamic headscarf and glasses, sat before an upturned mattress and said she had passed on mfortnation to her brother about the movements of Daas. The woman, who appeared to be M&tened in the amateur footage, was asked by an unseen.man whether the confession was being coerced. She replied: "No". When asked if she had a message for Palestinians, she said: "I would like to tell all boys and girls, young and old, that even if it means death, do not collaborate." A spokesman for the Israeli human rights group B'Tselem said the killing was a "clear human rights violation like any -incident of execution or murder". "If it is true that she was a collaborator, the Israeli forc6s that recruited her have a heavy responsibility for what happened since they endangered her life." REUTERS

Beer is as good for you as red wine .

A University of New England ,study has revealed that beer has the 'Same positive effect as red wine in reducing cholesterol and preventing cell death in the body. Professor Ken Watson, of the university's School of Biological, Biomedical and Molecular Sciences, ,observed the effect of drinking on antioxidant levels in the blood. "There are two effects of moderate drinking," he said. "There is alcohol, which lowers bad cholesterol and increases good cholesterol, and there's a second effect which is the antioxidants in the drink itself. "In that respect, the beer is as good as red wine." , Antioxidants in wine, known as polyphenolics, are contained in the seeds and skins of grapes and are concentrated during fermentation. They act by "mopping up" or ""venging" free radicals, destructiveifor-ms of oxygen that damage ,DNA and can lead to premature ageing and cell death. Watson and his all-male team con .ducW their research by drinking beer, red wine and white wine during a series of two-hour sessions. Blood samples were taken at rega intervals. Antioxidant levels in the blood ,increased after drinking red wine and,beer, but less so after drinking white wine, Watson found. "With the support of our work, the',myth that red wine is a more effective source of antioxidants than lbeer is losing ground," he said. ','The scientific evidence that mod,erate drinking has health benefits is now overwhelming." But this did not mean the more you drank the higher your antioxidant levels. Watson said there was no further ,increase in the protective effect after two standard drinks. He added there was no need for teetotallers to take up drinking to reap,'the benefits of antioxidants, .which were also present to a lesser ,degree in grape juice. Watson now hopes to repeat the ,study using women.

Wine protects against dementia Tuesday, 12 November, 2002, 00:01 GMT Wine protects against dementia On way to ward off brain disease? People who drink wine occasionally may have a lower risk of developing dementia, including Alzheimer's disease, research suggests.

Scientists found people who drank wine weekly or monthly were more than two times less likely to develop dementia.

The lead researcher was Dr Thomas Truelsen, of the Institute of Preventive Medicine at Kommunehospitalet in Copenhagen, Denmark.

He said: "These results don't mean that people should start drinking wine or drink more wine than they usually do.

"But they are exciting because they could mean that substances in wine reduce the occurrence of dementia.

"If that's the case, we could potentially develop treatments or prevention methods based on these substances."

Key compound

Dr Truelsen's team believe the key to beneficial effect are a group of compounds called flavonoids which are found in wine, particularly red wine.

These compounds help to minimise the damage caused to the body's tissues by charged particles called free radicals which are released when oxygen is converted into energy in the body's cells.

Other studies have suggested that flavonoids may account for a lower occurrence of stroke and other cerebrovascular diseases among wine drinkers.

The researchers identified the drinking patterns of 1,709 people in Copenhagen in the 1970s and then assessed them for dementia in the 1990s, when they were aged 65 or older.

Over the two decades, 83 of the participants developed dementia.

There seemed to be no protective effect from drinking wine every day.

And people who drank beer regularly seemed to be at an increased risk of developing dementia.

Diet could be important

Dr John Brust, a neurologist at Harlem Hospital Center in New York, said the study was limited because it had failed to take into account eating habits.

He said: "Research suggests that wine drinkers may have better dietary habits than beer and liquor drinkers.

"There is also evidence that dietary vitamin E may reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer's. These factors were not accounted for in this study.

"Nonetheless, this is a provocative report providing evidence that there is indeed something specifically beneficial about wine."

The research is published in Neurology, the scientific journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

Spotlight of abuse turns to Nuns

CANBERRA The Catholic Church in Ausralia, already investigating allegations of child abuse by its most semor clenc, has been ham mered with further claims of brutality and sexual abuse. Former residents at a Brisbane orphanage run by the Sisters of Nazareth have made public allegations including rapes by priests and a nun using a flagstick, whippings with staple-studded belts, and the f6med eating of faeces. Although not admitting liability, the Church reached out-of-court settlements with some of the 17 women who lodged claims against the Order in the Brisbane Supreme Court three years ago. The women wer6e paid up to A$75,000 ($88,000), depending on the level of physical and sexual abuse, The Bulletin)magazine said in a report of the allegations. The claims, repeated on ABC Radio yesterday, follow a series of allegations of abuse by clergy and nuns most recently charges that the Catholic Archbishop of Sydney, Dr George Pell, sexually abused a 12-year-old boy in 1961.

The Church's National Committee for Professional Standards announced this week that the allegations against Pell will be heard in closed session, but that the findings may be made appropriate if the two co-chairmen deem it appropriate. The claims agamst Pell and the nuns of Nazareth House have renewed demands for a national inquiry into abuse by the Church, and brought new condemnation of continued secrecy in deamg with allegations of abuse. The Bishop of Canberra and Goulburn said the culwm of secrecy was causing great harm to the Church, and Karen Walsh, coordinator of the QueenWmd viet ims' support group the Esther Centre, said the Church had a mandate to protect the weak. "These principles are not just found in the legal process," she said. The allegations reported by the Bulletin follow an exhaustive 1999 inquiry mto the abuse of children at Queensland institutions, which found widespread physical, sexual and mental abuse by government and religious schools, homes and orphanages. Nazareth House, which operated an orphanage from 1927 to 1982, was described by one child officer as "a cold, imposing place ... extremely frightening for a child". The inquiry reported that Nazareth children lived in overcrowded, substandard dormitories, and fed on a diet so deficient that many ate clover and grass, and scavenged from rubbish bins. One of the alleged victims, Lizzie Walsh, told ABC Radio she had been raped by a nun as a young girl in the 1950s. "There was a flagstick, and the n for it was to get the devil out of me," she said. "After, I'd been raped with the stick I was sitting on the floor in a pool of blood [and] a nun found me and she said 'What are you doing here?' "She said to me 'Get up off the floor, clean yourself up and get back to the classroom with the other kids'."

Walsh said other nuns had ignored her being raped by two pnests She said she had also been forced to eat a nun's faeces, rotting fish and vomit, and to drink her own urine. Another alleged victim, Bobbie Ford, reported regular brutal beatings.

"From the time I was seven we were stripped naked, thrown on the bed on our stomachs, and we'd be thrashed with a machine strap with staples in them," she said. and we got that every night" "That was one of the punishments"

The head of the Order in Australia, Sister Clare Breen, refused od legal advice to discuss individual allegations, but expressed in a statement her sorrow at the claims.

"I'd like to say that the Sisters Of Nazareth are saddened to know that some ofthe women who were in their care as children are carrying with them such unhappy memories."

Last Chance for Planet Earth?

CLIMATE CHANGE

At the Earth Summit, 170 nations agreed to voluntarily reduce gwnhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels. But carbon-based emissions increased globally by 9 per cent in the past 10 years and by 18 per cent in the US. The United States has rejected the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which seeks to codify the Rio pledges and make emissions reductions binding. Bush says the treaty would cost the US economy $400 billion ($858 billion) and 4.9 million jobs. Instead, he suggests voluntary, incentive-based emissions reductions. Those reductions could be illusory, critics say, if the economy grows to expected levels. , Australia, the world's largest coal exporter, has refused to sign Kyoto without the US, and ener-gy-rich Canada is reconsidering its support.

Europeans widely support the Kyoto aocord Gennany has significantly reduced carbon emissions and boosted renewable energy to 20 per cent of supply. ; , But a cooling economy and rising unemployment are weakening the re-election chances of Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, one of Kyoto's biggest supporters.

BIODIVERSITY

Since Rio, 182 nations pledged to prevent the loss of species. But only about one in three nations have submitted national conservation plans. In 1993, President Bill Clinton reversed the US position and endorsed the biodiversity treaty. But Congress never ratified it.

During the 1990s, the UN reports, 2.4 per cent of the world's forests were destroyed, almost all in tropical regions in Africa and America. 'The estimated total area destroyed 89 million hectares is larger than the size Of Venezuela.

Nearly one-third of coral reefs were seriously degraded and 60 per cent of the world's oceans have been overfished. In a UN report, scientists say species extinction is unrivalled since the dinosaurs were wiped out 65 million years ago. EXample: One in four mammals risks extinction within 30 years.

WATER

Rio pledged univer&al access to clean water. But at least 1.1 billion people lack clean water and sanitation. : , 'Fresh water demand is doubling worldWide every 21 years. Agriculture represents 70 per cent of this consumption By 2025, the world's projected 8 billion population is expected to be thirsty. "BY 2015, the United Nations wants to reduce by half the number of people lacking clean water.

PUBLIC HEALTH

Deaths from four leading infectious diseases, including measles and diarrhoea, htive declined since Rio. But 60 million people have been infected with Aids, with 20 million deaths. Another 46 million infections are predicted in the next eight years, mainly in Africa. 'The World Hean Organisation says 2.7 million people die from malaria each year. Most of the victims are young and live in stib-Saharan Africa, but the mosquitohome disease is surging again In South America and parts of Asia, too. More than 3 million people die every year from the effects of air pollution, and 2.2 million people die from contaminated whiter, the UN found.

DNA from GM finds its way into Gut bacteria

DNA material ftm genetically engineered crops can find its way mto ,human gut bacteria, according to research commissioned by Britain's ,'Food Standards Agency. Researchers at the University of Newcastle in the north of England say in a report issued yesterday that they gave seven volunteers, who had had their lower bowel removed, a single meal of a burger and milkshake contaming gene-spliced soya. Samples of intestinal bacteria were taken and, for three of the seven, a herbicide-resistance gene from the GE soya was detected at a very low level. Genetically engineered or modified material in most GE foods poses no risk to human health, but many GE crops have antibiotic resistant marker genes inserted, raising concems that the ability to flot infection could be compromised if such material passes to humans. The researchers also cultured bacteria from samples taken before the GE meal was eaten, which also had low levels of the herbicide-resistance gene. "It is surprising that a relatively large proportion of the GMS [geneti-cally modified soya] dna survives passage through the small bowel in view of the depurination that occurs in the stomach," the report says. The researchers fed the same meal to 12 other volunteers, whose stomachs were intact, but no GE material or bacteria containing herbicide resistance genes were detected m their faeces. An agency spokeswoman dismissed fears that human resistance to illness could be harmed. "Because of the low levels of dna, there's no evidence that this would affect antibiotic resistance, which is why the researchers concluded that the likelihood of dna being taken up by bacteria in the human gut is extremely low," she said. Environmental pressure group Friends of the Earth said the report's findings raised serious questions about the safety of GE crops. "This report should set alarm ringing. Industry scientists and goveminent advisers have always played down the risk of this ever happening, but when scientists looked for it they found it," a spokesman said. "GM food should be withdrawn from the market and further research must be conunissioned as a matter of urgency." Reuten

Spark of Life discovered

Scientists have found the gene that provides the Spark of life, when an egg is fertflised by a sperm, in research that promises dramatic advances ' fertility treatment and stem cell experiments. A lo-year study has revealed that the gene in sperm bears the crucial process by which an egg starts dividing to form an embryo, solving a twocentury old medical science mystery.

The breakthrough by ers at the University of Wales School of Medicine in Cardiff and University College, London, should help infertile couples and treatments that use cloned stem cells to tackle Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and diabetes. Scientists believe it will eventually allow them to fertilize eggs using sperm that have previously been considered useless, and to transform success rates in therapeutic cloning. It has long been known that fertilisation is followed by a surge of calcium but the molecules that start this process have remained elusive The Cardiff team has found that the new gene, which they call a "sperm factor", makes a -protein called PLCzeta that kick-starts the vital calcium reaction. It appears to hold the key to generating a new life. "We're thrilled to be at the forefront of such an exciting discovery," Professor Lai said. The potential benefits to medicine are immense. "We knew that a calcium spark, or wave, throughout the egg caused ft to start dividing, but we didn't know what generated it Now we've found that this single molecule kicks the whole process Off. The researchers believe many men are infertile because their sperm, though otherwise normal, lack the gene. Ir this , is so, it should be possible to inject the protein into an egg with a single sperm cell giving it all it needs to form an embryo. t could also be used for spare part tissue for degenerative diseases. PLC-zeta should greatly increase the success rate of cell nuclear, replacement, the process used to clone dolly the sheep. In Professor Lai's experiment, details of which are published in the respected journal Development, the PLCzeta molecule was added to unfertilized mouse eggs m the laboratory. This led to a calcium surge, and the eggs developed into pinhead-sized cell clusters called blastocysts the first stage of embryo formation. The blastocysts did not go on to form viable embryos because they lacked the full complement of maternal and paternal genes, but the study provesthe principle that PLC-zeta is vital to fertilizsation. Professor Lai is now investigating if the gene and protein also exist and have the same effect m in human beings. Mouse spem behave in similar fashion to human equivalents. Jerry Schatten, professor of reproductive science at the University of Pittsburgh, said the study was of great significance. "'Ibe search for the sperm signal that awakens the egg began two centuries ago and is vital for understanding how, a fertilized egg starts life anew. Innovative strategies for male contraceptives, new therapies for overcoming infertility, and significant breakthroughs in embryonic stem cell potential are are anticipated now because of this remarkable discovery."

Women tricked into sterility Herald July 26 2002

In a push to control births, many were, into having their tubes tied

Nearly a quarter of a million people in Peru were pressed into being sterilized between 1996 and 2000. Most were pressured or tricked into the sterilizations, and authori- ties are preparing cases against Fujimori and two of his health minis- ters for human rights violations. Fujimori will be accused of genocide, a lawyer said yesterday, "We are preparing a con- stitutional accusation against Fujimori ... for genocide [and crimes against] personal liberties and health," said legislator Hector Chavez, who heads a health commission investigating allegations some women, many of whom were poor or illiterate, had been "tricked, obligated or intimidated' into having the surgery a form of birth control, often under situations medically unsafe in which 18 people died. Doctors were offered promotions in exchange for persuading poor women who are ofben illiterate ,and speak only local Indian languages. Of 507 patients interviewed by the health Ministry only 10% said they had sgreeed voluntarily and then only after promises of food and medicines. Others said they were told that if they they would be fined and would not be entitled to medical help for their existing children. There were 16,547 male vasectomies in the same period. Chavez's accusation will also include two for-mer health ministers and other officials involved m the steruisa- tion programme. F6rrner Health Minis- ter Aleiandro Aguinaga said the accusations were excessive and that said the family planning pro- e had been based on people's reproductive needs in Peru, where more than half a million people live on US$1.25 ($2.67) or less a day. Officials at the US Embassy in Lima said they denied any support Of the sterilisation programme. - TELEGRAPH GROUP LIMITED, REUTERS