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USA UK and Malta News
21/03/2008 - 22:29

UK today Editoweb, 21 march 2008

Cancer patients offered trial drugs - Easter First: Bookies Open On Good Friday - Cardinal quit call over embryo bill - Captured energy workers freed.

Cancer patients offered trial drugs
Experimental drugs are to be given to terminally ill cancer patients in a bid to halve the amount of time it takes to develop new medication. The Department of Health has given approval for a new unit at St Bartholomew's Hospital, London, where patients with no other hope of recovery will be given drugs previously untested on humans. It currently takes an average of 10 years to get a new drug approved, but doctors are hoping to halve that length of time for cancer medication.
Professor John Gribben from Barts and The London NHS Trust said: "We're not talking about cutting any corners in terms of patients' safety. "We would argue that for patients who've got cancer 10 years is too long to wait and we've got to try to cut that period down as much as possible." Blood samples will be analysed within a day and the treatment only continued if it proves effective. Patients will be given a tiny dose at first to minimise the risk, and only those who have failed to respond to existing medication will take part.

Easter First: Bookies Open On Good Friday
Betting shops are open for a flutter this Good Friday - for the first time since they were legalised in 1961.
Controversial new government legislation has lifted the ban on betting on one of the most sacred days in the Christian calendar. Despite there being no horse racing in the UK today, thousands of bookies are open for business. The gambling industry thinks it is about time. "I remember Sunday opening was seen as sacrilegious when that first happened, but people have got used to it," Kate Miller from bookmaker William Hill told Sky News Online.

Cardinal quit call over embryo bill
The head of the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland urged Catholic ministers serving in the Cabinet to quit the Government rather than support "monstrous" legislation on embryo research. Cardinal Keith O'Brien said there was an "obligation" on all Catholic MPs to consider the guidance of the church's leaders when they came to vote on the controversial Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill. While he said that, ultimately, it was a matter of individual conscience, he hoped that Catholic ministers would be prepared to resign rather than accept Government orders to back the legislation.

Captured energy workers freed
Around 15 oil and gas workers - including up to 10 Britons - have been freed after being taken captive on a vessel off Africa. The group were held by authorities in Equatorial Guinea for about three weeks after allegedly illegally straying into the country's waters. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office confirmed the oil workers had been held and was checking reports they had now been freed. The wife of one of the Britons held said her husband had been in contact to say they had been released.

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