News from Bioethics.com

More Patients Are Taking Home Recordings of Their Doctor Visits. But Who Else Could Listen?

2 months 4 weeks

(STAT News) – Doctors across the U.S. have begun doing what once seemed unthinkable in a litigious health care environment: recording their medical conversations with patients and encouraging them to review the audio at home. The rationale for the practice is as simple as the smartphone technology that enables it: having a recording improves patients’ understanding and recall of their doctor visits and helps them adhere to treatment regimens. Now the increasing power of artificial intelligence is promising to bring this technical capability to a new level — potentially offering big rewards, and risks, for patients and caregivers.

Creepy ‘Brain in a Bucket’ Study Spurs Medical, Ethical Debate

2 months 4 weeks

(NBC News) – First, a reality check: Sestan’s research used pig brains, not human ones, and nothing was reanimated. Bringing a dead brain back to life remains squarely in the realm of science fiction. But what Sestan and his team accomplished does take science into uncharted waters. Brain research is advancing so quickly that ethicists are scrambling to keep up.

WHO: Ebola in Congo Not Global Health Emergency

2 months 4 weeks

(ABC News) – The World Health Organization says the ongoing Ebola outbreak in Congo does not yet warrant being declared a global health emergency. For a health crisis to constitute a global health emergency it must meet three criteria stipulated by WHO: It must threaten other countries via the international spread of disease, it must be a “serious, unusual or unexpected” situation and it may require immediate international action for containment.

Opioid Crisis Makes More Organs Available

2 months 4 weeks

(NBC) – America’s opioid epidemic has one sad upside: more organs available for lifesaving transplants, researchers reported Wednesday. Close to 14 percent of people who donated an organ in 2016 had died of a drug overdose, the team of experts reported in the New England Journal of Medicine. That compares to just 1 percent in 2000. The numbers still are not large. In 2000, 59 organ donors had died of drug overdoses, compared to 1,029 in 2016.

Stem Cells: the Basics

2 months 4 weeks

(U.S. News & World Report) – Stem cells are packed with possibility. Embryonic or “pluripotent” stem cells have superpowers: They can give rise to various organs or tissue cells, or instead divide and renew themselves. Meanwhile, adult stem cells await throughout your body to replenish worn-out or damaged cells.  Researchers are finding ways to guide embryonic stem cells to generate new cells for potential treatments. Stem cells likely have a role to play in personalized or precision medicine.

After Nerve-Wracking Eye Surgery, the World Comes into Focus for Early Gene Therapy Recipient

2 months 4 weeks

(STAT News) – About eight weeks earlier, in March, his eyes had been just as hollow. He’d been the first person to get an $850,000 therapy called Luxturna since it had hit the market. It was intended to replace a mutant gene in Jack’s retinal cells that impaired his vision. After the surgery, with his eyes temporarily drained of liquid and pumped full of air, he’d had to lie back for six hours, staring at the ceiling, so that the medication would pool in the right part of his retina. His mother had held an iPad above him, streaming basketball games and music until her arms got tired. Sometimes, she fed him crackers. She could only hope that the drug had worked.

NSW Takes Crucial Step in Fight Against Human Organ Trafficking, Targets Crimes Overseas

2 months 4 weeks

(The Epoch Times) – Organ trafficking is a serious criminal offence in Australia but currently, state and commonwealth laws only prevent a person who is in Australia from engaging in an illegal trade of human organs. Loopholes in the legislation mean that if an Australia receives an organ in an illegal or unethical manner while overseas, they face no penalty when they return home. The passing of the Modern Slavery Bill 2018 in the state’s upper house could be the first step towards criminalising organ transplant tourism — an act where a person advertises for or seeks to purchase organs from overseas.

Is This Stem Cell Clinic Really Making a Cancer Vaccine?

2 months 4 weeks

(Wired) – Knoepfler writes a blog about stem cells, and that’s where he surfaced the video on May 9, after an acquaintance tipped him off. He’s sort of a watchdog for the industry. Since 2011, he’s tracked the proliferation of unregulated stem cell clinics and followed US Stem Cell’s cavalier approach to experimenting on its patients, sometimes to disastrous effect. In 2015, one of its clinics injected liposuction-derived stem cells directly into the eyeballs of three elderly women suffering from age-related macular degeneration. All three went blind, two sued, and US Stem Cell settled out of court. But this, he says, might be the most dangerous thing he’s seen yet.

Surrogate Mothers Ask Supreme Court to Stop ‘Exploitation’ of Women and Babies

2 months 4 weeks

(The Washington Post) – Cook and two other surrogate mothers — Gail Robinson and Toni Bare — are in Washington this week to call on the Supreme Court to provide more clarity on the rights of women and children in the controversial industry. The women, who have separately filed lawsuits in different states, say surrogacy contracts are exploitative to the birth mothers, create a class of women as breeders and commodify children.

California Judge Overturns End of Life Option Act

2 months 4 weeks

(CNN) – A California superior court judge on Tuesday overturned a 2016 state law that allows doctors to prescribe lethal drugs to terminally ill adult patients. Riverside County Superior Court Judge Daniel A. Ottolia said The End of Life Option Act, which took effect June 9, 2016, was unconstitutional because the Legislature passed it during a special session convened by Gov. Jerry Brown to address health care-related issues.

Judge Tosses California Law Allowing Life-Ending Drugs

3 months 5 hours

(Medical Xpress) – Superior Court Judge Daniel Ottolia ruled lawmakers illegally passed the law during a special session devoted to other topics, but he gave the state attorney general five days to appeal. The law allows adults to obtain a prescription for life-ending drugs if a doctor has determined they have six months or less to live, but plaintiffs say it lacks safeguards to protect against abuse.

Dying to Deliver: The Race to Prevent Sudden Death of New Mothers

3 months 5 hours

(ABC News) – Despite advances in technology and medical care, the United States is missing the mark on maternal health during three critical time periods: Pregnancy, during labor and the first year after delivery. While every other developed country has seen a decrease in maternal deaths, the U.S. has spent the last 20 years doing the opposite, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About 700 women die each year in the U.S. due to complications from pregnancy or giving birth, according to the CDC, and some 65,000 women nearly die of pregnancy-related severe complications.

The Smithsonian Unveils a Portrait of Henrietta Lacks, the Black Farmer Whose Cells Led to Medical Miracles

3 months 5 hours

(CNN) – Her cells are responsible for the polio vaccine, gene mapping and in vitro fertilization to name a few. But for a long time most of the public didn’t know her contribution to modern medicine. Neither did she because her cells were harvested without her consent.  This week, the Smithsonian unveiled a portrait of Henrietta Lacks, the black tobacco farmer who ended up changing the world. Her cells have allowed for advances in cancer treatment, AIDS research, cloning, stem-cell studies and so much more.

Study: Gender Discrimination Kills 239,000 Girls Under 5 Each Year

3 months 6 hours

(UPI) – Gender discrimination in India kills 239,000 girls under the age of five each year, according to a study released Monday. The International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis said the causes of death were mainly due to unwanted child bearing and neglect. Over the past decade, an estimated 2.4 million girls under 5 lost their lives. That number doesn’t include abortions of female fetuses, which has contributed to a gender gap of 63 million more boys than girls in India.

The Core of Compassion in Physician-Assisted Suicide

3 months 6 hours

(MD Magazine) – Switzerland has become something of a hub for physician-assisted suicide tourism. According to national statistics, the annual rate has boomed from 297 deaths in 2008 to 965 in 2015 – the most recent year of data available. Forms of the practice have also become legal — and therefore, more common — in countries like the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Luxembourg, Colombia, and Canada. In the United States, physician-assisted suicide is limited to state-by-state discretion, and the rhetoric surrounding its practicality and morality can burn as bright as any other national debate. Ironically, both sides tend to call for the same thing: humanity.

Drug Companies Bought Doctors Fancy Meals–And Then Those Doctors Prescribed More Opioids

3 months 1 day

(Vox) – Doctors who had just one extra meal paid for by an opioid company were more likely to prescribe opioids than doctors who got fewer free meals, according to a new research letter published in JAMA Internal Medicine. The study, from researchers Scott Hadland, Magdalena Cerdá, Yu Li, Maxwell Krieger, and Brandon Marshall, helps show how shady marketing practices by opioid companies contributed to America’s opioid epidemic, which now kills tens of thousands of people in the US each year.

At GP-Write, Scientists Take First Steps on Way to Synthetic Human Genome

3 months 1 day

(Chemical & Engineering News) – A year ago, a group of scientists convened in New York City to discuss an audacious plan: construct an entire human genome from scratch. The proposal was billed as a sequel to the Human Genome Project, the nearly $3 billion effort to sequence, or read, a human genome from start to finish for the first time. Now proficient in reading genomes, the scientists wanted to begin writing them. That New York gathering was the second meeting of what has come to be known as Genome Project-write, or GP-write.

This Fertility Doctor Is Pushing the Boundaries of Human Reproduction, with Little Regulation

3 months 1 day

(The Washington Post) – When future historians look back on the 21st century, one of the most iconic photos may be of a smiling, dark-haired man in blue scrubs protectively holding a newborn — the world’s first commercially produced “three-parent” baby. This is John Zhang, the Chinese-born, British-educated founder and medical director of a Manhattan fertility center that is blowing up the way humans reproduce.

Alabama ‘Miracle’ Boy Wakes Before Doctors Pull Plug

3 months 2 days

(BBC) – A 13-year-old boy in the US state of Alabama regained consciousness just after his parents signed the paperwork to donate his organs. Trenton McKinley suffered severe brain trauma when he fell from a car trailer which flipped over and hit his head. Doctors told his parents he would not recover and that his organs were a match for five children who needed transplants. A day before his life support was to end, Trenton showed signs of awareness.

Does a Woman’s Desire to Get Pregnant Justify the Risks Involved in a Uterus Transplant?

3 months 2 days

(Scroll.in) – Uterus transplants do not protect vulnerable women from using their bodies as a financial resource. Instead, like surrogacy, the procedure involves commodification – of experience, and of reproductive organs. This particular recipient made a calculated decision in order to have biological children. A hospital committee decided she was an appropriate and worthy candidate based on its inclusion criteria.

FDA Continues to Crack Down on Unapproved Stem Cell Clinics

3 months 2 days

(Medscape) – The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is seeking permanent injunctions to stop two US stem cell clinics from marketing stem cell products without the agency’s approval and for “significant deviations” from current good manufacturing requirements. The actions against the clinics, which are based in Florida and California, are part of a comprehensive approach to the oversight of regenerative medicinal products, the FDA said.

23andMe Sues Ancestry for Patent Infringement, Misleading Marketing

3 months 2 days

(Genome Web) – 23andMe sued rival Ancestry.com on Friday in a California federal district court, alleging infringement of its patented method of identifying relatives in a database and of false advertising. The company also asked the court to nullify the trademarked “ancestry” logotype.

DR Congo’s Kasai Crisis: 400,000 Children Face Starvation

3 months 5 days

(BBC) – Some 400,000 children are at risk of starving to death in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the United Nations says. Thousands of families in the Kasai region fled to the bush, where they stayed for months, short of food and water, many have already died. The Kasai region, once one of the most prosperous and peaceful in DR Congo, descended into violence in 2016. Long-simmering resentment exploded into rebellion against the government. In December 2017, the UN declared the crisis in DR Congo as the highest level of emergency – the same as Yemen, Syria and Iraq.

Testing for Zika Virus in Blood Donors Finds Few Infections–at a Cost of About $5.3 Million Each

3 months 5 days

(STAT News) – An expensive screening program designed to keep the Zika virus out of the Red Cross’ blood supply has caught fewer than a dozen infected donations, a new study published Wednesday revealed. The program, which costs roughly $137 million a year to operate, detected only eight units that tested positive for the virus between June 2016 and September 2017. And half of those units contained Zika antibodies as well as virus, which suggests they probably would not have been able to infect a recipient, if anyone had been transfused with them.

Alfie’s Law Could Undo Decades of Progress on Children’s Rights

3 months 5 days

(The Guardian) – There can be few parents unable to imagine going to the ends of the earth to save the life of a deeply loved child. But can this love know no bounds? Last month, former Ukip leadership challenger Steven Woolfe MEP and Parliament Street thinktank launched a national campaign for Alfie’s law to “re-empower parents”. Many decades of progress in establishing the rights of children – as human beings with individual worth and integrity – could be undone were such a call to be taken seriously.

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