News from Bioethics.com

Yemen Cholera Outbreak Grows, with Children Bearing Brunt

1 week 6 days

(CNN) – A cholera outbreak in war-torn Yemen continues to spread at a rapid pace. Over 124,000 cases have been recorded as of Tuesday, with 923 people — a quarter of them children — dead in the current outbreak, the United Nations Children’s Fund said in a statement Tuesday. Cholera is an infection caused by ingestion of Vibrio cholerae bacteria in water or food contaminated with feces. Symptoms include sudden onset of watery diarrhea that can lead to death by severe dehydration. According to the World Health Organization, cholera is widespread in the Middle Eastern nation of Yemen, with the number of cases surging since late April.

Gene-Editing Companies Hit Back at Paper That Criticizes CRISPR

1 week 6 days

(MIT Technology Review) – Two gene-editing companies are hitting back at a scientific publication that caused their stocks to plummet last week, calling it wrong, filled with errors, and saying it shouldn’t have been published. In separate letters sent to Nature Methods, scientists from Intellia Therapeutics and Editas Medicine criticized a report in the journal that claimed the gene-editing tool CRISPR had caused unexpected mutations in the genomes of mice and which cast a shadow over efforts to initiate human studies using the technique.

Artificial Intelligence Can Now Predict Suicide with Remarkable Accuracy

2 weeks 20 hours

(Quartz) – Walsh and his colleagues have created machine-learning algorithms that predict, with unnerving accuracy, the likelihood that a patient will attempt suicide. In trials, results have been 80-90% accurate when predicting whether someone will attempt suicide within the next two years, and 92% accurate in predicting whether someone will attempt suicide within the next week.

‘How Long Have I Got?’: Why Many Cancer Patients Don’t Have Answers

2 weeks 21 hours

(USA Today) – Surprisingly, huge numbers of cancer patients lack basic information, such as how long they can expect to live, whether their condition is curable or why they’re being prescribed chemotherapy or radiation, said Dr. Rab Razzak, director of outpatient palliative medicine at Johns Hopkins Medicine in Baltimore. The result: People with advanced cancer don’t know enough about their disease to make informed decisions about treatment or how they want to spend their remaining time.

‘Part of New Reality’: Despite Confusion, Zika Warnings Are Here to Stay

2 weeks 3 days

(STAT News) – Zika has faded from the headlines like a mosquito’s dying buzz. Puerto Rico declared its outbreak over this week. Brazil said its emergency was over in May. In the United States, summer approaches with little discussion of the virus outside public health circles. But the risk the insidious pathogen poses to a pregnancy hasn’t gone away, and public health authorities are grappling with how to get the message out to pregnant women. Despite public confusion over whether Zika remains a public health threat, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention continues to warn women who are pregnant to avoid traveling to wide swathes of Latin America and the Caribbean.

Kids Born Through Fertility Treatments Show Normal Mental Development

2 weeks 4 days

(Reuters) – Despite concerns that children born through Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ART) may develop differently from other kids, a UK study finds they have normal mental skills until at least age 11. In fact, at ages 3 and 5 years, kids born as a result of these techniques had greater verbal cognitive ability than those born through natural conception, though this gap diminished with time. Researchers say that the older, better educated and more financially well-off parents of ART kids may play an important role in this difference at early ages.

Daylight on Diabetes Drugs: Nevada Bill Would Track Insulin Maker’s Profits

2 weeks 4 days

(Kaiser Health News) – Patients notched a rare win over the pharmaceutical industry Monday when the Nevada Legislature revived a bill requiring insulin makers to disclose the profits they make on the life-sustaining drug. In a handful of other states, bills addressing drug prices have stalled. Many of the 1.25 million Americans who live with Type 1 diabetes cheered the legislative effort in Nevada as an important first step in their fight against skyrocketing costs of a drug on which their lives depend. The cost of insulin medications has steadily risen over the past decade by nearly 300 percent.

Yemen Cholera Cases Pass 100,000 Amide ‘Unprecedented’ Epidemic

2 weeks 4 days

(BBC) – The number of suspected cases of cholera resulting from a severe outbreak in Yemen has passed 100,000, the World Health Organization says. A total of 798 deaths associated with the disease have been recorded in 19 out of 22 provinces since 27 April. The charity Oxfam said the epidemic was killing one person almost every hour. Yemen’s health, water and sanitation systems are collapsing after two years of war between government forces and the rebel Houthi movement.

ISIS’s Mass Killings of Civilians in Mosul

2 weeks 4 days

(The Atlantic) – A UN report Thursday said more than 200 Iraqi civilians attempting to flee western Mosul have been killed by the Islamic State since the end of May, which the UN Human Rights Office called a “signifiant escalation.” The report noted three specific incidents of civilian killings in ISIS-controlled parts of western Mosul, during which the militant group reportedly shot and killed individuals attempting to flee to areas controlled by Iraq’s security forces, resulting in the deaths of approximately 231 civilians. The report also cited civilian fatalities caused by airstrikes in ISIS-held areas of western Mosul on May 31, which caused between 50 and 80 civilian deaths.

WHO Ranks Antibiotics in a Bid to Counter Drug Resistance

2 weeks 4 days

(Reuters) – The World Health Organization published a new classification of antibiotics on Tuesday that aims to fight drug resistance, with penicillin-type drugs recommended as the first line of defense and others only for use when absolutely necessary. The new “essential medicines list” includes 39 antibiotics for 21 common syndromes, categorized into three groups: “Access”, “Watch” and “Reserve”.

FBI Raids Offices of Lab That Pays Doctors to Promote Genetic Tests

2 weeks 4 days

(STAT News) – Federal investigators searched a California DNA testing lab Wednesday and hauled away boxes of documents as part of a health care fraud investigation, according to former employees familiar with the matter. Proove Biosciences, an Irvine, Calif., firm that purports to determine a patient’s likelihood of becoming addicted to opioids, based on genetic tests and questionnaires, was raided by FBI agents and officers from the inspector general’s office of the Department of Health and Human Services.

Baby Brain Scans Can Predict Who Is Likely to Develop Autism

2 weeks 5 days

(New Scientist) – A machine-learning algorithm has analysed brain scans of 6-month-old children and predicted with near-certainty whether they will show signs of autism when they reach the age of 2. The finding means we may soon be able to intervene before symptoms appear, although whether that would be desirable is a controversial issue. “We have been trying to identify autism as early as possible, most importantly before the actual behavioural symptoms of autism appear,” says team member Robert Emerson of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Death Row Doctoring: The Dicey Medical Ethics of Prison Executions

2 weeks 5 days

(Medscape) – A lethal cocktail of medicines would be injected into those tubes, and Coleman would die. That was the plan. But a spate of executions in the run up to her execution had been botched. Instead of dying quick deaths, men injected with a lethal cocktail of drugs had writhed, seized, and foamed at the mouth. I was sent to witness Coleman’s death in case it was a long and drawn-out affair.

Dozens of Recent Clinical Trials May Contain Wrong or Falsified Data, Claims Study

2 weeks 5 days

(The Guardian) – Dozens of recent clinical trials contain suspicious statistical patterns that could indicate incorrect or falsified data, according to a review of thousands of papers published in leading medical journals. The study, which used statistical tools to identify anomalies hidden in the data, has prompted investigations into some of the trials identified as suspect and raises new concerns about the reliability of some papers published in medical journals.

Death Toll in Yemen Cholera Outbreak Hits Nearly 700: WHO

2 weeks 6 days

(Reuters) – A cholera epidemic in Yemen has killed at least 681 people and the outbreak has yet to peak, according to World Health Organization (WHO) figures showing an increase in the death toll of nearly 50 percent since its last update on May 27.

New Science Data-Sharing Rules Are Two Scoops of Disappointment

2 weeks 6 days

(STAT News) – In an editorial this week, the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) — which counts among its members the editors of such hard-hitting publications as the New England Journal of Medicine, the Journal of the American Medical Association, and the BMJ — said that, starting in July 2018, members must require a data-sharing statement in all submitted manuscripts. But the committee stops short of requiring such sharing, saying only that editors “may” take into account authors’ plans for data sharing when they’re deciding whether to publish a paper.

A First: All Respond to Gene Therapy in a Blood Cancer Study

2 weeks 6 days

(ABC News) – Doctors are reporting unprecedented success from a new cell and gene therapy for multiple myeloma, a blood cancer that’s on the rise. Although it’s early and the study is small — 35 people — every patient responded and all but two were in some level of remission within two months. In a second study of nearly two dozen patients, everyone above a certain dose responded. Experts at an American Society of Clinical Oncology conference in Chicago, where the results were announced Monday, say it’s a first for multiple myeloma and rare for any cancer treatment to have such success.

How Asia’s Surrogate Mothers Became a Cross-Border Business

3 weeks 20 hours

(South China Morning Post) – In October, there was what Savouen viewed as a breakthrough: the health ministry followed other countries in the region by deciding to ban foreigners from seeking commercial surrogacy within its borders. That decision may have been welcomed by people like Savouen, but it’s had a host of unintended, and unpleasant consequences, not least among them the chaos it has caused for surrogates and intended parents whose embryos were implanted before the decision was made. The ensuing chaos forced Phnom Penh in recent weeks to announce an “exit strategy” for such children, though dozens of intended parents are still reporting problems in taking custody of their newborns.

The ‘Living Dead’: Prisoners Executed for Their Organs then Sold to Foreigners for Transplants

3 weeks 20 hours

(News.com.au) – Researchers say China is home to the most rampant illegal organ trade in the world and is the number one destination for ‘transplant tourism’. The practice sees desperate people — from countries where waiting lists are longer than their life expectancy or costs are exorbitant — travel overseas to buy an organ and have lifesaving surgery. But there’s a major catch: Researchers say the donor organs are often sourced illegally from prisoners executed for their religious, political or cultural beliefs, who have not consented to any of it. Many of China’s prisoners have testified to having been subjected to medical testing consistent with organ transplant screening but without explanation while behind bars.

Group: 504 Sought Life-Ending Drugs under New California Law

3 weeks 20 hours

(ABC News) – At least 504 terminally ill Californians have requested a prescription for life-ending drugs since a state law allowing doctor-assisted deaths went into effect in June 2016, marking the first publicly released data on how the practice is playing out in the nation’s most populous state. The number released Thursday represents only those who have contacted Compassion & Choices, an advocacy group that provides information on the process. The organization believes the overall figure to be much higher. State officials have not released data yet.

Surrogacy–the Impossible Dream of a Fair Trade Baby

3 weeks 4 days

(Medical Xpress) – One of Førde’s findings is precisely this: When you are privileged, you also have the privilege to define the world according to your own standpoint. With support from the way in which surrogacy has been organised in India, it is perfectly possible to see the exchange as a pure win-win situation. Another of Førde’s findings is, on the other hand, that it is impossible to defend surrogacy in India as an arrangement between equals. It gives highly unequal results for the involved parties. The western parents can bring a baby home with them. The Indian woman who has given birth to their baby, earn a sum of money that isn’t sufficient to get her out of poverty. The women are often left with a sense of loss: they have given someone a huge gift, but aren’t even close to be receiving the equivalent in return.

New Insights into How the Zika Virus Causes Microcephaly

3 weeks 4 days

(Science Daily) – A study published today in Science shows that the Zika virus hijacks a human protein called Musashi-1 (MSI1) to allow it to replicate in, and kill, neural stem cells. Almost all MSI1 protein in the developing embryo is produced in the neural stem cells that will eventually develop into the baby’s brain, which could explain why these cells are so vulnerable to Zika.

Resurrected: A Controversial Trial to Bring the Dead Back to Life Plans a Restart

3 weeks 4 days

(STAT News) – For any given medical problem, it seems, there’s a research team trying to use stem cells to find a solution. In clinical trials to treat everything from diabetes to macular degeneration to ALS, researchers are injecting the cells in efforts to cure patients. But in one study expected to launch later this year, scientists hope to use stem cells in a new, highly controversial way — to reverse death. The idea of the trial, run by Philadelphia-based Bioquark, is to inject stem cells into the spinal cords of people who have been declared clinically brain-dead. The subjects will also receive an injected protein blend, electrical nerve stimulation, and laser therapy directed at the brain.

A 5-Sentence Letter Helped Trigger America’s Deadliest Drug Overdose Crisis Ever

3 weeks 4 days

(Vox) – Now a new study in the NEJM has looked at just how much of a reach the letter had. Researchers Pamela Leung, Erin Macdonald, Irfan Dhalla, and David Juurlink found that the letter was cited more than 600 times since it was published, with a sharp increase after the opioid maker Purdue Pharma introduced OxyContin in the mid-1990s. The researchers concluded, “[W]e found that a five-sentence letter published in the Journal in 1980 was heavily and uncritically cited as evidence that addiction was rare with long-term opioid therapy. We believe that this citation pattern contributed to the North American opioid crisis by helping to shape a narrative that allayed prescribers’ concerns about the risk of addiction associated with long-term opioid therapy.”

The Puzzle of Housing Aging Sex Offenders

3 weeks 4 days

(The Atlantic) – Another blind spot is that almost no one is counting how many sex offenders require end-of-life care. Back in 2006, the U.S. Government Accountability Office counted 700 registered sex offenders living in nursing homes or intermediate care facilities. More recent numbers among the nation’s 15,600 long-term care facilities and their 1.4 million residents are hard to come by.

Pages

Creative Commons License