The Parkinson's Experiment

This one had everything: aborted fetuses, sham surgery, desperate patients--and then it went awry

Even before the latest issue of the New England Journal of Medicine came off the presses, the new experimental surgery to treat Parkinson's disease had sparked more than its share of controversy. Pro-lifers hated it because the operation used cells from aborted fetuses to replenish patients' dying brain tissue. Many others were troubled because clinical trials of the procedure involved "sham surgery"--in this case, drilling through the skulls of half the patients in the study without giving them any treatment.

But when the first results of the trials appeared in the Journal last week, researchers found themselves mired in an even...

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