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Eye Experts Around The World Question Experiment On Babies In China Involving UCSD Researchers And More Local News

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Twenty-one researchers from the University of California San Diego were involved in a study performed on babies in China that has been called unethical, risky and misleading. Plus, a federal ruling could toss hundreds of “improper” immigrant convictions, a recent survey shows Chula Vista residents are concerned about homelessness and drug use in their community and a proposed update to the city’s affordable housing policy would require developers to pay higher fees in order to avoid building affordable housing.

Show transcript

Speaker 1: 00:00 It's Thursday, July 25th I'm Deb Welsh and you are listening to San Diego news matters from KPBS coming up, a federal ruling Coutaz hundreds of improper immigrant convictions and UC San Diego researchers were involved in a study that's been called risky and unethical. It is unusual for a large number of people reading a paper to come out against it that more San Diego news stories right after the break.

Speaker 2: 00:31 Um,

Speaker 3: 00:33 thank you for joining us for San Diego News Matters. I'm Deb Welch, 21 researchers from UC San Diego. We're involved in a study performed on babies in China that's been called unethical, risky, and misleading. I knew source investigative reporter Jill Castalano has the story. In 2016 a team of researchers from UC San Diego and China published a landmark paper in nature, one of the most high profile scientific journals in the world.

Speaker 4: 01:03 So what I show you today is a remarkable transformation of how we think about regeneration and repair our own tissue.

Speaker 3: 01:10 That's doctor Kang Zhang describing the research to an audience two years ago. John is the former chief of eye genetics at UC S. D he helped design the study which involved surgically removing the cloudy part of the eye so when new lens could regrow naturally,

Speaker 4: 01:28 and this is again before a surgery, the eye has a cataract and after surgery the entire declare. This is just the small incision that a little scar the patient can see very well and being functional very, very nicely in life.

Speaker 3: 01:41 The surgeries were tested on a dozen babies with cataracts and the researchers claim their results are much better than what you see with current treatments.

Speaker 4: 01:50 I want to thank you and also thank the chancellor for this wonderful opportunity. They'll tell you the research in my laboratory and an n and also want to thank you for your attention.

Speaker 3: 02:03 Dimitrios vulvas is an ophthalmology chair at Harvard medical school. As Volvo's read the paper, he became upset and angry. He called the study

Speaker 5: 02:14 both the scientifically not sound and ethically justifiable in the u s in the world.

Speaker 3: 02:23 Vivus was especially concerned that the surgeries were tested on infants in both of their eyes rather than just one. That means if the experiment went wrong, the researchers could have caused the babies to lose their vision. We are good to go. Craig Klugman is a bioethicist at DePaul University. If you do it in both eyes, the chance of having a bad outcome are increased. If you use the idea that you want to limit the amount of harm to a patient. Doing it in one eye makes more sense. After this study published Vav us and more than two dozen ophthalmologists around the world sent letters to nature about their concerns. A key point was that this new treatment did not work any better than treatments that already exist. Despite what the researchers claimed. Klugman says, having so many doctors reacted negatively to a research paper is unusual. I'd say that's not the Norman Science and what it tells me is that there's a real concern of how this work was gone.

Speaker 3: 03:24 About an ethics review board in China approved the cataract study, but experts told I knew source the experiment probably would not have passed an ethics review in the United States. Starting in 1996 China began setting up Western style ethics review boards that approved studies in advance and can shut them down if they're dangerous. But these review boards aren't consistent, efficient, or well organized and China's standards for research ethics continue to draw criticism. The head of the summit called doctor has study irresponsible. In November, a Chinese researcher announced he had performed gene editing on human embryos, sparking international outrage.

Speaker 6: 04:04 A line has been caused that should not have been caused. It's very disturbing. It's inappropriate.

Speaker 3: 04:09 Scientists around the world worried about the potential health effects for these children and the possibility of designer babies, which would be gene edited for traits like eye and hair color. Here's Klugman again describing research in China. One of their goals is to be, you're the foremost scientific research country in the world and by doing that, they are pushing the edges. Zhang told I new source that he and other scientists in the cataract study went through a proper ethics review in China. He said the study was not unethical, inaccurate, or misleading. UC San Diego would not respond to, I knew sources. Questions for KPBS. I'm I knew source investigative reporter Jill Castillano

Speaker 1: 04:53 for more on the issues raised by the infant cataract study. Go to I new source.org I knew source is an independent nonprofit partner of KPBS. A federal court issued a ruling Wednesday that could throw out hundreds of convictions against immigrants. KPBS reporter Max Rulon Adler explains how the Federal Prosecution program known as operation streamline as hit a constitutional roadblock

Speaker 7: 05:19 since last July. Many migrants caught crossing the border illegally in California were sent to federal court in San Diego where they were charged and convicted in mass hearings yesterday, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decided that the way immigrants were being charged was unconstitutional. Kara Hurtsler, an attorney with the federal defenders of San Diego explains

Speaker 6: 05:39 and today with the nature circuit said, is that the government was basically charging these cases wrong for the last year. It said that the way that they were charging them required you to show that they were coming through a court. Whereas almost all these cases involve people coming through the desert

Speaker 7: 05:55 and the ruling means that hundreds cases now on appeal can be overturned and that thousands of immigrants could clear their record if they returned to the u s Max [inaudible] Adler KPBS news.

Speaker 1: 06:07 A new survey of Chula Vista resident shows mixed results when it comes to safety. KPBS reporter Lynn Walsh says, while the police department received high marks, the survey highlights concerns with the city's homeless population and drug use.

Speaker 8: 06:22 More than 90% of those surveyed say they're satisfied with the Chula Vista Police Department in site. Their professionalism and ability to keep the community safe as areas they excel in. But the survey conducted by SANDAG also shows residents are avoiding places in the city like parks and do not feel safe walking at night due to suspected drug use. And the number of people who are homeless, police Captain Phil Column Says The Challenges of Homelessness go beyond the role of a traditional police department.

Speaker 9: 06:49 So he certainly worked very, very hard to try to lessen the impact of crime as it relates to any homelessness. We also recognize at the same time that where homelessness causes a challenge for our community. We're going to try to deploy resources as we have them.

Speaker 8: 07:04 Lynn Walsh KPBS news,

Speaker 1: 07:05 there's a new theater company in town and they're bringing in the San Diego Premier of the place straight to the 10th Avenue Arts Centers Forum stage KPBS arts reporter Beth luck Amando speaks with John Wills, the third founder of loud fridge theater group

Speaker 7: 07:21 after John Wells. The third wanted to see the new place straight come to San Diego, but if he wanted that to happen, he'd have to do it himself. The first challenge was that he could only get rights to perform the play if he had a theater company, so we created one. Then he christened it loud fridge theater group because one, because I thought it was a catchy name. It's funny, it's ironic, but also because I want to be a constant noise in the community. The play deals with sexuality and identity in an America that prides itself on the pretense of acceptance while still judging people and trying to label them. Here's wells as the main character. Ben, we're obsessed with drawing neat little lines around things that colonizing people don't like ambiguity. A man is straight by default. If it goes something with another guy, he just goes over to gay. That's it. Everything attached or I mean, yeah. Say Your bye. See you, believes you straight begins performances tonight at the forum stage of 10th Avenue Arts Center. It closes on August 4th, so you only have two weekends to see the debut show of loud fridge theater group Beth like Amando KPBS news.

Speaker 1: 08:27 San Diego County officials have identified more than two dozen projects that could help control cross borders, sewage flows. KPBS reporter Eric Anderson says the public will get a chance to chime in tonight.

Speaker 10: 08:40 The officials are finalizing a list of projects that could help fix the region. Sewage problems flows from Tijuana regularly foul. San Diego's ocean waters supervisor Greg Cox says the report identifies a number of strategies. He says he doesn't want to wait. Litigation over the pollution issue is resolved. He wants to come up with solutions. Now

Speaker 11: 09:00 if we can get some projects done now or identify some projects that get some funding, uh, we're going to be much further ahead than if we have to wait, you know, three, four or five years to get know litigation resolved. And let's be honest, it's a little bit of a crap shoot. Whether you ultimately win or not.

Speaker 10: 09:16 The final report and its recommended solutions could be out by the end of the year. Then local officials will have to identify funding. Some of that could come from legislation being pushed by the local congressional delegation. Eric Anderson, KPBS news

Speaker 1: 09:31 next week, San Diego City Council members are scheduled to vote on a major change to the city's affordable housing policy. The goal is to push the private market to more heavily subsidized homes for the poor KPBS Metro reporter Andrew Bowen says some developers are warning of unintended consequences.

Speaker 12: 09:52 Okay.

Speaker 7: 09:52 The intersection of Kansas Street and Howard Avenue in North Park construction crews are putting up the framing of a new apartment

Speaker 12: 09:59 building.

Speaker 7: 10:02 Come next year, this project will add 24 new homes to one of San Diego's most walkable bikeable transit rich neighborhoods. Three of these homes will be affordable to very low income households in San Diego. That could mean a single parent with one child making about $43,000 a year. These are two story living spaces and then the bedrooms off of the side and then they'll have a loft. You can see up the up there. Barry Varroa is this building's architect and developer. His project made use of the city's density bonus program which gives developers a pass on certain regulations if they set aside and subsidize a portion of their homes for low income renters. Varroa says incentives are the best way to fix the housing crisis. There's a lot of developers that want to do the right thing and provide affordable housing as well. We just need to create the right atmosphere to where that can be done, but Varroa is wary of the new affordable housing proposal going before the city council on Tuesday.

Speaker 7: 11:03 Council President Georgette Gomez is asking her colleagues to update the city's inclusionary housing policy. Right now, if a developer chooses not to include low income housing in their project, they have to pay a fee. The fees to support affordable housing elsewhere. Gomez wants to nearly double that fee. She says the policy is 16 years old and in need of an update. That was a long time ago. The conditions have completely changed. The demand for affordable housing are completely different than what they were in 2003 so it was time. I think it should have been done earlier, but no one wanted to look at it. Gomez also wants to require developers to charge cheaper rents for the low income units when they do include them in their projects and she wants to give developers a few extra options. How to avoid paying the fees, like donating a piece of land for future affordable housing.

Speaker 7: 11:58 That's huge. That's actually one of the things that is getting that is not getting more attention, but the developers love with that. They think that with very creative because there's different ways in which we can meet the need, right. And all of it will benefit. So I do believe right now that what I'm proposing is something that aid's not going to kill the market a. And. B, it's it's responsive to the crisis included some developers in a six month long outreach process. She commissioned a study that found most projects could absorb the costs of her stricter policy without major impacts. Still, she says she's not surprised to developers have lined up against her proposal. I think they would've opposed anything I would have presented. I'm not saying that this is going to resolve the crisis at all, but when we get more funding, if developers choose to pay the fee, um, with that, get us to supporting more housing. Yes, there's a lot of good intentions, but sometimes those good intentions have negative outcomes. Bury the role says there are things in the proposal he likes, but overall he fears it will make things worse. Homebuilding permits have gone down in the county for the past two years at a time when housing scarcity is already pushing up home prices and rents. He says the city can't make it more expensive to build while also asking for more housing.

Speaker 13: 13:24 Perhaps some of the bigger developers are going to choose to go elsewhere. I think that a carrot is far more effective than a stick. So yeah, I think we could be looking at ways to incentivize more development, more affordable development, rather than penalizing someone for not doing the type of development that we need.

Speaker 7: 13:45 Mayor Kevin Faulkner has been silent on Gomez proposal. If it passes the council, he'll be under pressure from his supporters in the building industry to issue a veto. And that will be a test for the councils Democrats who have yet to override a veto with their new six vote. Super majority. Andrew Bowen. KPBS news. Thanks for listening to San Diego News matters. If you like the show, do us a favor and tell your friends and family to subscribe to the show.

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