News from Bioethics.com

10-Year-Old Somali Girl Dies Female Genital Mutilation

3 weeks 4 days

(ABC News) – A 10-year-old girl has bled to death after undergoing female genital mutilation in Somalia, an activist said, a rare confirmed death in the country with the world’s highest rate of the practice. The girl died in a hospital on Monday, two days after her mother took her to a traditional circumciser in a remote village outside Dhusamareb town in central Galmudug state, Hawa Aden Mohamed with the Galkayo Education Center for Peace and Development said in a statement.

Immigrant Shelters Drug Traumatized Teenagers Without Consent

3 weeks 4 days

(ProPublica) – Initially, staff described her as receptive and resilient. But as she was shuttled from one Texas shelter to another, she became increasingly depressed. Without consulting her grandfather, or her mother in El Salvador, shelter staff have prescribed numerous medications for her, including two psychotropic drugs whose labels warn of increased suicidal behavior in adolescents, according to court documents. Still languishing in a shelter after 18 months, the 17-year-old doesn’t want to take the medications, but she does anyway, because staff at one facility told her she wouldn’t be released until she is considered psychologically sound.

Long Waits to See Doctors in Puerto Rico Where Medical Needs Are Great Post-Maria

3 weeks 4 days

(Kaiser Health News) – Physicians are in short supply in Puerto Rico. From 2006 to 2016, the number of doctors on the island declined from 14,000 to 9,000, according the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Puerto Rico. And Hurricane Maria has helped fuel the exodus. Dr. José Cruz, a pediatrician with a practice in Ponce, said the island’s ongoing financial crisis and low payments from health insurers drove many physicians to seek work in the States.

Indigenous People ‘Attuned’ to Chronic Disease Risk

3 weeks 4 days

(SciDevNet) – Indigenous communities in northern Ecuador are concerned about rising rates of cancer in their ethnic group and “attuned” to the global phenomena behind the disease, researchers have found. A study carried out in two Kichwa communities located in the province of Imbabura, in the north of the country, found that villagers believe cancer rates are rising due to the use of chemical products, pollution, urbanization, lifestyle changes, as well as the increase of westernized diets and erosion of their culture.

Study Claiming Abortions Are ‘Reversible’ Retracted, Not Based on Science

3 weeks 4 days

(Newsweek) – A scientific journal withdrew a study that claimed women could halt the effects of an abortion pill after it failed to receive ethical approval. The study, initially published in April in the journal Issues in Law and Medicine, found that almost half of women who received a high dose of the hormone progesterone were able to successfully “reverse” the effects of mifepristone, one of two pills used to medically induce abortion. The study’s author, George Delgado, first presented his findings in a series of anecdotal journal entries in 2012 that prompted several conservative-leaning states to adopt legislation requiring doctors to inform women seeking abortions that the procedure can be halted.

Experts Say Recent ‘Alien’ Mummy Study Was Deeply Flawed and Unethical

3 weeks 4 days

(Gizmodo) – Earlier this year, scientists from Stanford University concluded that a strange skeleton known as the Atacama Mummy belonged to a human girl whose physical malformations were the result of several severe genetic mutations. A team of international experts is now questioning these findings, and accusing the scientists of breaching standard research ethics.

A Spike in Liver Disease Deaths Among Young Adults Fueled by Alcohol

3 weeks 5 days

(NPR) – The analysis revealed that deaths from liver-related illnesses have increased dramatically, and mortality in young people rose the fastest. Although these illnesses can be caused by several things including obesity and hepatitis C infection, the rise among young Americans was caused by alcohol consumption. The number of 25- to 34-year-olds who died annually from alcohol-related liver disease nearly tripled between 1999 and 2016, from 259 in 1999 to 767 in 2016, an average annual increase of around 10 percent.

Having 5 or More Babies May Increase Alzheimer’s Risk by 70%, Study Finds

3 weeks 5 days

(CNN) – Women who have given birth five or more times may be 70% more likely to develop Alzheimer’s later in life than those who have fewer births, according to a new study of more than 3,500 women in South Korea and Greece. Even women without dementia who had given birth five or more times scored lower on a commonly used cognitive test than those with fewer children. The study looked only at women older than 60; the average age of the women tested in both countries was 71.

Are ‘Breakthrough’ Drugs as Safe as Other FDA-Approved Medicines?

3 weeks 6 days

(CNN) – New research questions the quality of drugs given the “breakthrough therapy” designation by the US Food and Drug Administration. In late 2012, the FDA created this designation to speed the process for reviewing not-yet-approved experimental medicines intended to treat serious or life-threatening conditions. Commonly, the clinical trials supporting breakthrough drugs lack some of the scientifically rigorous features found in the research backing drugs that have not been granted that designation, a new study published in Tuesday in JAMA found.

A New Study Links Teens’ Screentime with Symptoms of ADHD

3 weeks 6 days

(Quartz) – American teenagers love their screens. Teens between 13 and 18 years old spend over six hours every day on smartphones, computers, tablets, and the like, well over the two-hour limit recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics. Health experts have been sounding the alarm about the pitfalls of too much screen time—including increased risk of obesity, depression, anxiety, and sleep disorders. Now a study published Tuesday (July 17) in the Journal of the American Medical Association suggests that frequent use of digital media by adolescents may also increase their odds of developing symptoms of attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD.

Record Three in Five HIV-Carriers Now Have Access to Drugs: UN

3 weeks 6 days

(Medical Xpress) – Almost three in five people infected with HIV, or 21.7 million globally, took antiretroviral therapy in 2017—a new record for anti-AIDS drug access, the UN’s HIV/AIDS agency said Wednesday. There were 36.9 million people living with the immune system-attacking virus in 2017, of whom 15.2 million were not getting the drugs they need—the lowest number since the epidemic exploded, UNAIDS reported.

Staggering Prices Slow Insurers’ Coverage of CAR-T Cancer Therapy

3 weeks 6 days

(Kaiser Health News) – Two drugs, Kymriah and Yescarta, were approved last year to treat patients whose blood cancers haven’t responded to at least two other rounds of treatment. Kymriah is approved for people up to age 25 with a form of acute lymphoblastic leukemia, the most common cancer in children. Kymriah and Yescarta are both approved for adults with advanced lymphomas. Researchers report that some critically ill patients who received the therapy have remained cancer-free for as long as five years.

Health Insurers Are Vacuuming Up Details About You. That Could Raise Your Rates

3 weeks 6 days

(STAT News) – With little public scrutiny, the health insurance industry has joined forces with data brokers to vacuum up personal details about hundreds of millions of Americans, including, odds are, many readers of this story. The companies are tracking your race, education level, TV habits, marital status, net worth. They’re collecting what you post on social media, whether you’re behind on your bills, what you order online. Then they feed this information into complicated computer algorithms that spit out predictions about how much your health care could cost them.

Genetically Modified Babies Given Go Ahead by UK Ethics Body

3 weeks 6 days

(The Guardian) – The creation of babies whose DNA has been altered to give them what parents perceive to be the best chances in life has received a cautious green light in a landmark report from a leading UK ethics body. The Nuffield Council on Bioethics said that changing the DNA of a human embryo could be “morally permissible” if it was in the future child’s interests and did not add to the kinds of inequalities that already divide society. The report does not call for a change in UK law to permit genetically altered babies, but instead urges research into the safety and effectiveness of the approach, its societal impact, and a widespread debate of its implications.

CRISPR Gene Editing Can Cause Risky Collateral DNA Damage–Study

4 weeks 1 hour

(Reuters) – Scientists studying the effects of the potentially game-changing gene editing tool CRISPR/Cas9 have found it can cause unexpected genetic damage which could lead to dangerous changes in some cells.  The findings, published in the journal Nature Biotechnology on Monday, have safety implications for gene therapies that are being developed using CRISPR/Cas9 – a type of molecular scissor technology that can be used to edit DNA.

Genetically Testing Human Embryos: What You Need to Know about the Debate

4 weeks 3 hours

(The Conversation) – Screening embryos for genetic abnormalities in IVF was first successfully performed in 1989, resulting in the birth of the Munday twins. A test to screen for a specific genetic abnormality was later developed, choosing embryos with the correct number of chromosomes and discarding those with too many or too few. This test is widely used in fertility clinics to increase the chance of live birth and a healthy baby. Whether it should be performed at all, however, is hotly debated.

Egypt Court Finds 37 Guilty at Illegal Organ Trading Trial

4 weeks 1 day

(Reuters) – An Egyptian court on Thursday convicted 37 people on charges related to illicit trading in human organs and sentenced them to prison terms ranging from three to 15 years in jail, witnesses said. The Cairo Criminal Court also cleared three people in the case involving a total of 41 people, including doctors, nurses and middlemen who were rounded up during a 2016 raid in which millions of dollars were recovered.

‘Like a Ghost Town’: Erratic Nursing Home Staffing Revealed Through New Records

1 month 2 days

(Kaiser Health News) – Most nursing homes had fewer nurses and caretaking staff than they had reported to the government, according to new federal data, bolstering the long-held suspicions of many families that staffing levels were often inadequate. The records for the first time reveal frequent and significant fluctuations in day-to-day staffing, with particularly large shortfalls on weekends. On the worst-staffed days at an average facility, the new data show, on-duty personnel cared for nearly twice as many residents as they did when the staffing roster was fullest.

Why the Case of Jahi McMath Is Important for Understanding the Role of Race for Black Patients

1 month 2 days

(The Conversation) – Much of the popular discussion in the case centered on the family’s refusal to accept the diagnosis of brain death. However, as a philosopher who writes on bioethics and race, I believe an underappreciated aspect of the discussion was the role of race – both in how the medical personnel dealt with the family and how the family interpreted their interactions with the medical establishment.

In Search of a Miracle

1 month 2 days

(San Francisco Chronicle) – When Luane first considered stem cell therapy for Jordan, she asked his neurologist at Stanford about it. I won’t stop you, the doctor told her, but I can’t recommend it. She knew of other parents who had sought out stem cell therapies, the doctor said. None had seen results. By American standards of medicine, there is no proven stem cell therapy for seizures or autism. Anyone claiming otherwise is offering, at best, an untested treatment with unknown benefits and consequences. At worst, they are selling something they know doesn’t work.

The Untested Drugs at the Heart of Nevada’s Execution Controversy

1 month 3 days

(Wired) – A district court judge today halted the execution of Nevada death row prisoner Scott Dozier—a man who has repeatedly expressed his desire to die—hours before he was scheduled to be put to death with an untested injection of three drugs: midazolam, fentanyl, and cisatracurium. The temporary injunction hinges on midazolam, a sedative produced by pharmaceutical company Alvogen. It doesn’t want anyone using its drug to kill people, and claims Nevada prison officials obtained the drug illegally. The company has demanded the state return its midazolam supply and not use it in Dozier’s execution.

System for Reporting Suspicious Opioid Orders Repeatedly Failed, Report Finds

1 month 3 days

(STAT News) – A Senate report released Thursday lays out systematic failures in the reporting system for suspicious opioid orders, faulting some drug distributors and manufacturers for their roles and criticizing the Drug Enforcement Administration for a years-long lull in enforcement actions.

Why Vaccine Opponents Think They Know More Than Medical Experts

1 month 3 days

(The Conversation) – Given the consistent message from the scientific community about the safety of vaccines, and evidence of vaccine success as seen through the eradication of diseases, why has the skepticism about vaccines continued? One possibility is that attitudes about medical experts help to explain the endorsement of anti-vax attitudes. Specifically, building on past research, our research team contends that some U.S. adults might support anti-vax policy positions in part because they believe they know more than medical experts about autism and its causes. We wanted to test this theory.

Trial of Anti-Ageing Drugs That Rejuvenate Immune System Hailed a Success

1 month 3 days

(The Guardian) – Scientists have hailed the success of a clinical trial which found that experimental anti-ageing drugs may protect older people from potentially fatal respiratory infections by rejuvenating their immune systems. In a trial involving people aged 65 and over, those who received a combination therapy of two anti-ageing compounds reported nearly half the number of infections over the following year as a control group who received only placebos.

Japan Flood: At Least 179 Dead After Worst Weather in Decades

1 month 4 days

(BBC) – Japan is still reeling from one of its worst flooding disasters in decades, which has killed at least 179 people and left 70 missing. Torrential rains triggered landslides and floods in central and western areas. More than 8 million people have been ordered to evacuate their homes. The rain has relented but the country is still struggling to deal with the extensive damage left in its wake. This is the highest death toll caused by rainfall in Japan since 1982.

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