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Stanford Report, February 19, 2003

In Print & On the Air

HANK GREELY, THE C. WENDELL AND Edith M. Carlsmith Professor of Law, discussed the legacy of Dolly, the cloned sheep, in a Feb. 15 San Francisco Chronicle article announcing her demise. "On the one hand, Dolly's legacy is that she is the incarnation of the work of scientists who showed that you could clone an adult mammal," said Greely, a member of the California Legislature's Advisory Committee on Human Cloning. "At the same time, her birth led to more consideration of how bioscience might be changing our lives, and in the long run, that's a good thing." Dolly is also the reason that six states, including California, and 30 countries now have laws on the books banning or regulating human cloning technologies, Greely said.

THE CHRONICLE ALSO REPORTED FEB. 14 that Bay Area residents were taking last week's heightened security alert warning in stride -- even if some denizens were buying duct tape and plastic sheeting. Psychology Professor PHILIP ZIMBARDO said that taking precautions, even untested ones, helps people feel better psychologically. "You have to do something," he said. "Doing anything is better than doing nothing." Zimbardo, who was speaking from Washington, D.C., said that people in New York and the nation's capital were palpably scared by the new alert. "This last message really reduces us to scared kids," he said. "It's like facing a monster. It's coming to get you in your house and your business. We don't know how to escape except get your duct tape and be alert." Zimbardo said psychologists are concerned about the continued state of anxiety in people who believe a disaster is imminent. Mental health experts have experience treating post-traumatic stress, he said, but the level of stress from a potential manmade disaster is unprecedented. "Once you have anxiety at this level, it's pre-traumatic stress," he said. REUTERS HEALTH AND NEWSDAY reported Feb. 12 and 13 that one dose of a cheap drug that may soon be used to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV in Africa and other poor regions causes the virus to mutate and concentrate in breast milk, according to a small study. The research raised questions about plans to escalate use of the drug, nevirapine. Combined with the drug AZT, nevirapine can cut the risk of mothers passing the infection on to their babies to just 5 percent, the articles explained. The Zimbabwe study, led by Associate Professor of Medicine DAVID KATZENSTEIN, raises the specter of drug resistance that could limit the mothers' future use of the drug. "I think it's important to understand this," he said. "But I would not want to see this interpreted as you should stop giving single-dose nevirapine to pregnant women."