News from Bioethics.com

Australia Moves a Step Closer to ‘Three-Person IVF’

3 months 2 weeks

(Nature) – A group of Australian politicians has released a road map for the country to move towards legalizing mitochondrial donation. The group’s recommendations, published on 27 June, include that the government consult the public and scientific experts about permitting clinical use of the reproductive technology, which could help women avoid passing genetic defects to their children through mutations in their mitochondria, the structures in cells that generate energy.

Are We Spending Too Much on the Dying? New Research Challenges This Widely Held View

3 months 2 weeks

(STAT News) – A new study, published in the journal Science, pushes back on this notion. The researchers, a team of three economists and one physician, used machine learning to predict mortality and re-examine spending. In their new estimate, patients with the highest one-year mortality risk account for less than 5 percent of spending, much less than the original one-quarter claim. But the conclusion that most surprised author and Massachusetts Institute of Technology economist Amy Finkelstein: Death is highly unpredictable.

Mother: Girl at Center of Debate Over Brain Death Dies

3 months 2 weeks

(ABC News) – A girl at the center of the medical and religious debate over brain death has died after surgery in New Jersey, her mother said Thursday. Nailah Winkfield said doctors declared her daughter Jahi McMath dead on June 22 from excessive bleeding and liver failure after an operation to treat an intestinal issue.

Two Dads, an Egg Donor and a Surrogate: How a Freezer Failure Changed Everything

3 months 2 weeks

(CNN) – Having Henry required careful and complicated planning over the course of several years. To become fathers, they needed a support group, legal help, extensive research, reams of documents, reproductive science and about $150,000. But none of that mattered without the help of two women: an egg donor and a surrogate. One embryo brought them Henry. Five remaining healthy embryos they kept frozen in storage at the Pacific Fertility Center in San Francisco.

Why Spain Has More Organ Donors Than Any Other Country in the World

3 months 2 weeks

(Quartz) – Figures published for 2017 reveal that 2,183 people in Spain became organ donors last year after they died. That’s 46.9 per million people in the population (pmp)—a standard way of measuring the rate of donation in a country. Spain’s closest contender is Croatia, with 38.6 pmp (2016). It has maintained its position as the clear leader for the past 26 years. In a press release, Spain’s National Transplant Organization confidently describes the country as “imbatible”—unbeatable. When attempting to explain Spain’s success, it’s the ‘opt-out’ (or presumed consent) system for deceased organ donation that is perhaps cited more often than anything else.

Syrian Airstrikes Close Three Hospitals, 46 People Dead: Reports

3 months 2 weeks

(The Epoch Times) – Air strikes were reported across rebel-held areas in southern Syria on Wednesday, forcing three hospitals to shut down. On Thursday, 46 people died, including children, in Daraa province, Syrian War Daily reported. The group said that the air strike was part of a barrage of missiles that were fired in the area. Regime forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad are trying to make a push to gain territory and a strategic border crossing with Jordan. The southern part was supposed to be protected under a ceasefire, or “de-escalation zone,” by Russia, Jordan, and the United States.

In Nigeria, a Battle Against Academic Plagiarism Heats Up

3 months 2 weeks

(Science) – There’s no conclusive evidence that plagiarism is more common in poorer nations like Nigeria than in wealthier countries. But a 2017 survey of attitudes toward research misconduct in low- and middle-income countries found that respondents perceived plagiarism as “common,” a team led by researchers at Stellenbosch University in South Africa reported last year in The BMJ. Similar views emerged from a 2010 survey of 133 Nigerian scientists conducted by physician Patrick Okonta of Delta State University Teaching Hospital in Otefe, Nigeria. The survey, published in 2014 in BMC Medical Ethics, found that 88% believed plagiarism and other forms of misconduct were common at their institutions.

Women Are Spending Up to $20,000 to Freeze Their Eggs. Is It Worth It?

3 months 2 weeks

(Time) – Those are hefty price tags for what basically amounts to a gamble. The odds an egg freezing patient will have a successful pregnancy varies, but research from the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology (SART) shows that each frozen egg only has about a 4.5% to 12% chance of becoming a baby. The odds a woman will actually use that egg are just as slim. The majority of egg freezing patients never return for the implantation: Studies published in 2017 in the academic journals Fertility and Sterility and Human Reproduction put that number at less than 10%.

Justice Department Announces Crackdown on Fraudulent Opioid Prescriptions

3 months 2 weeks

(STAT News) – Federal agencies on Thursday announced charges in what Attorney General Jeff Sessions called “the largest health care fraud takedown in American history,” an investigation into over $2 billion in alleged fraud by doctors, pharmacists, and nurses. Many of the allegations centered on illegitimate opioid prescriptions. The Justice Department charged 162 defendants, including 76 doctors, for their roles dispensing opioids and narcotics, the result of investigations spanning 30 state Medicaid programs and numerous enforcement agencies.

Canadian Cord-Blood Procedure Passes Key Milestone in Cancer Trial

3 months 2 weeks

(The Globe and Mail) – Researchers behind a made-in-Canada technology for multiplying the number of stem cells that can be derived from donated cord blood say they are ready to move on to the next phase in their effort to prove the technology can save lives. Last week, the 25th and final patient to be admitted into a clinical trial of the technology was given a transfusion of stem cells derived from cord blood. The stem cells are used to regenerate the body’s capacity to make healthy blood cells in patients with severe forms of blood cancer including acute leukemia.

After Ketamine Concerns Hennepin Healthcare Will Suspend More Research Studies

3 months 2 weeks

(Minnesota Star Tribune) – A day after suspending its study of the use of ketamine on agitated people by paramedics, Hennepin Healthcare said it would halt similar clinical trials that seek consent from patients only after treatment. Dr. William Heegaard, chief medical officer for the hospital system, appeared before the Hennepin County Board Tuesday to respond to ethical concerns over a ketamine study in which patients are enrolled without their consent.

Doctors Try Genetically Modified Poliovirus as Experimental Brain Cancer Treatment

3 months 2 weeks

(NPR) – A genetically modified poliovirus may help some patients fight a deadly form of brain cancer, researchers report. The experimental treatment seems to have extended survival in a small group of patients with glioblastoma who faced a grim prognosis because standard treatments had failed, Duke University researchers say. “I’ve been doing this for 50 years and I’ve never seen results like this,” says Dr. Darell Bigner, the director emeritus of the The Preston Robert Tisch Brain Tumor Center at the Duke Cancer Institute, who is helping develop the treatment.

US Hospitals Grapple with Prolonged Injected Opioid Shortage

3 months 2 weeks

(ABC News) – There is another opioid crisis happening in the U.S., and it has nothing to do with the overdose epidemic: Hospitals are frequently running out of widely used injected painkillers. Manufacturing shortages are forcing many doctors and pharmacists to sometimes ration injected opioids, reserving them for the patients suffering most. Other patients get slower-acting or less effective pain pills, alternatives with more side effects or even sedation.

A Law Professor Explains Why Walgreens Can Deny Birth Control Prescriptions–And How Policies Might Change

3 months 2 weeks

(The Verge) – Walgreens has apologized for how Arteaga’s case was handled, but it said that the employee had not violated company policy. There have long been rules in place that don’t require doctors to assist with medical abortion because of religious or moral obligations. This particular Walgreens is in Arizona, one of six states that lets pharmacies refuse to provide contraception as well, again on religious or moral grounds. Such behavior is protected by the so-called “conscience clause.” (In this particular case, the drug was not for emergency contraception. The baby had stopped developing and Arteaga had written that she would eventually have had a miscarriage.)

Macchiarini Guilty of Misconduct, But Whistleblowers Share Blame, New Karolinska Institute Verdict Finds

3 months 2 weeks

(Science Magazine) – The Karolinska Institute (KI) in Stockholm has finally, officially, found disgraced surgeon Paolo Macchiarini guilty of scientific misconduct. Macchiarini was widely hailed as a pioneer in regenerative medicine for his technique of implanting artificial tracheae seeded with a patient’s own stem cells into patients, but KI fired him in 2016 amid allegations of fraud and other types of misconduct. However, the verdict is a bitter pill for the four people who raised the alarm about Macchiarini’s fraud.

ALS Drug Maker Walks Back Plan to Profit from Right-to-Try Law Following Heavy Criticism

3 months 3 weeks

(STAT News) – In the end, BrainStorm Cell Therapeutics’ dalliance with the newly enacted right-to-try law was little more than a publicity stunt. On Tuesday, the small biotech company said it would not offer its experimental stem cell therapy to patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, outside of an ongoing Phase 3 clinical trial. Just last week, BrainStorm CEO Chaim Lebovits had told Bloomberg that the company planned by take advantage of the new right-to-try law by selling its unapproved treatment, known as NurOwn, to ALS patients who could afford the high cost — as much as $300,000. Lebovits described the initiative as a “semi-commercial enterprise” that would generate “modest profits.”

Abortion Complications as Common in Clinics as ‘Surgery Centers’

3 months 3 weeks

(Medical Xpress) – More than a dozen US states have laws that require abortion clinics to meet hospital surgical standards, but a study published Tuesday found these standards unnecessary, expensive, and no safer than office settings. That’s because of more than 50,000 abortions analyzed from 2011 to 2014, just three percent had some kind of complication, including hemorrhage, missed ectopic pregnancy, and infection. There was no statistically significant difference whether the procedure took place in an ambulatory surgical center or an office-based setting, said the report in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

The Supreme Court Hands a Win to the Pro-Life Movement

3 months 3 weeks

(The Atlantic) – The Supreme Court handed a big win to the pro-life movement on Tuesday. In a five-to-four decision in NIFLA v. Becerra, the justices ruled that California can’t force crisis-pregnancy centers to post signs about state-sponsored abortion services, regardless of whether those facilities are licensed medical providers or not. The decision vindicated pro-life advocates who have long argued that states and cities unfairly target these centers, which exist to provide alternative pregnancy services to women who don’t want abortions. Even more importantly, the decision vindicated pro-life voters, who look to the Supreme Court to limit abortion rights in America.

Hundreds of New Genes May Underlie Intelligence–But Also Autism and Depression

3 months 3 weeks

(Science) – Being smart is a double-edged sword. Intelligent people appear to live longer, but many of the genes behind brilliance can also lead to autism, anxiety, and depression, according to two new massive genetic studies. The work also is one of the first to identify the specific cell types and genetic pathways tied to intelligence and mental health, potentially paving the way for new ways to improve education, or therapies to treat neurotic behavior.

Raid on Surrogacy Agency Nets Five

3 months 3 weeks

(The Phnom Penh Post) – Anti-human trafficking police in Phnom Penh’s Russey Keo district arrested five people on Thursday, including a Chinese national, and discovered 33 women who were paid to have children for Chinese clients, the unit’s chief said on Sunday. Keo Thea, the Phnom Penh anti-trafficking police chief, said Chinese national Liu Qiang, 49, was the alleged mastermind of the surrogacy ring. Four Cambodian women – Svay Sinuch, 34; Noeun Sreylang, 27; Lim Sopheap, 19; and Thai Pheap, 43 – were also arrested for abetting him.

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