News from Bioethics.com

U.S. Hospitals Not Immune to Crippling Cyber Attack

2 months 1 week

(Scientific American) – Hospitals and medical devices in the U.S. are extremely vulnerable to the type of massive cyber attack that tore through more than 150 countries Friday, and some health care providers here may have already been—or soon will be—hit, cybersecurity analysts warn. The attack relied on a type of malicious software called ransomware, which keeps users from accessing their computer systems until they pay a ransom. The pernicious new strain, aptly named WannaCry, froze or slowed business and health care computer systems around the world, including several within the U.K.’s National Health Service.

Researchers Develop a More Precise and Controlled Method of Engineering Tissues from Stem Cells

2 months 1 week

(PhysOrg) – Nothing beats nature. The diverse and wonderful varieties of cells and tissues that comprise the human body are evidence of that. Each one of us starts out as a mass of identical, undifferentiated cells, and thanks to a combination of signals and forces, each cell responds by choosing a developmental pathway and multiplying into the tissues that become our hearts, brains, hair, bones or blood. A major promise of studying human embryonic stem cells is to understand these processes and apply the knowledge toward tissue engineering.

When Your Child Is a Psychopath

2 months 1 week

(The Atlantic) – Researchers shy away from calling children psychopaths; the term carries too much stigma, and too much determinism. They prefer to describe children like Samantha as having “callous and unemotional traits,” shorthand for a cluster of characteristics and behaviors, including a lack of empathy, remorse, or guilt; shallow emotions; aggression and even cruelty; and a seeming indifference to punishment. Callous and unemotional children have no trouble hurting others to get what they want. If they do seem caring or empathetic, they’re probably trying to manipulate you.

The Trouble with Medical “Volunteerism”

2 months 1 week

(Scientific American) – The desire to help those in need may confer volunteers with social esteem, yet few volunteers stay long enough to know patient outcomes, or realize their effect on the local health system. Research has found that volunteering in health settings can be detrimental, even if the volunteers don’t realize it. Volunteers often over-estimate their positive impact. Licensed doctors can also inadvertently cause harm in these settings.

Ebola Vaccine Could Get First Real-World Test in Emerging Outbreak

2 months 1 week

(Nature) – An outbreak of the Ebola virus has emerged in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the World Health Organization (WHO) said on 12 May. Congolese authorities have reported nine suspected cases of Ebola infection in the past three weeks; the WHO has confirmed one, and tests are pending on others. Now health officials are considering whether to deploy an experimental Ebola vaccine against the outbreak, for the first time since the WHO gave it preliminary approval in April.

Allow Nurses with Dementia to Continue Working

2 months 1 week

(BBC) – Nurses who have dementia should be supported to continue their work for as long as they are able, a nursing union has agreed. The decision was taken in a vote at the Royal College of Nursing’s annual Congress in Liverpool. The nurse who proposed the idea said reasonable adjustments could be made to the job for colleagues with dementia. The plan was controversial though, with some members arguing it could put patients at risk. A dementia nurse from London, Jo James, suggested developing an RCN strategy for supporting colleagues with the condition.

Scientists 3-D Print Mouse Ovaries That Actually Make Babies

2 months 1 week

(Wired) – Today, a team of bioengineers reported a possible fix: 3-D printed ovaries. Their proof of concept—published in Nature Communications—only works on mice so far, but they could end up replacing the uterus-flanking, chestnut-sized organs in humans, too. Ovaries are filled follicles—these are immature eggs surrounded by sacs of estrogen and other essential hormones. “The function of the ovary is to shepherd these follicles through maturity into full grown eggs every month,” says Teresa Woodruff, a reproductive scientist at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine, and co-author of the study.

Brazil Announces End to Zika Public Health Emergency

2 months 1 week

(The Guardian) – Brazil has declared an end to its public health emergency over the Zika virus, 18 months after a surge in cases drew headlines around the world. The mosquito-borne virus was not considered a major health threat until the 2015 outbreak revealed that Zika can lead to severe birth defects. One of those defects, microcephaly, causes babies to be born with skulls much smaller than expected.

As Demand for Surrogacy Soars, More Countries Are Trying to Ban It

2 months 1 week

(The Economist) – Now many of the developing countries whose low costs and lack of legal restrictions had made them popular surrogacy destinations are trying to end the business. Thailand barred foreigners from paying for surrogacy in 2015. Nepal banned it, even when unpaid, later that year. India, where surrogacy had been a booming business for more than a decade, suddenly barred foreign clients a few months later. A bill before its parliament would allow only unpaid surrogacy by close relatives.

Genetic Tests Often Overused and Misrepresented, Sometimes with Tragic Consequences

2 months 1 week

(San Diego Union Tribune) – One of every three genetic tests examined by a team of researchers at the San Diego Naval Medical Center shouldn’t have been prescribed, a finding that adds to a growing body of evidence suggesting that genetic tests are routinely overused and often misinterpreted. The new analysis earned a first-place award from the American Congress of Gynecologists and Obstetricians, which held its national meeting in San Diego this week.

The Last Person You’d Expect to Die in Childbirth

2 months 1 week

(ProPublica) – American women are more than three times as likely as Canadian women to die in the maternal period (defined by the Centers for Disease Control as the start of pregnancy to one year after delivery or termination), six times as likely to die as Scandinavians. In every other wealthy country, and many less affluent ones, maternal mortality rates have been falling; in Great Britain, the journal Lancet recently noted, the rate has declined so dramatically that “a man is more likely to die while his partner is pregnant than she is.” But in the U.S., maternal deaths increased from 2000 to 2014. In a recent analysis by the CDC Foundation, nearly 60 percent of such deaths were preventable.

Helping Cancer’s Forgotten Victims

2 months 1 week

(Scientific American) – Little noticed amid more glamorous world events was a historic meeting that took place in Nairobi about a month ago. Search for details of it online and you’d be hard pressed to find evidence of the conference. Yet, this low-key meeting—convened by a coalition of 30 cancer experts from 11 countries in sub-Saharan Africa, and by the American Cancer Society and National Comprehensive Cancer Network—took a significant step towards transforming treatment of a rising cancer epidemic in poorer countries. It deserves the attention, support and cooperation of the public, private and not for profit sectors.

Insulin Price Hikes Tell Us a Lot about What’s Wrong with Drug Pricing in America

2 months 1 week

(Vox) – When inventor Frederick Banting discovered insulin in 1923, he refused to put his name on the patent. He felt it was unethical for a doctor to profit off a discovery that would save lives. Banting’s co-inventors, James Collip and Charles Best, sold the insulin patent to the University of Toronto for a mere $1. They also wanted everyone who needed their medication to be able to afford it.  Today Banting and colleagues would be spinning in their graves: Their drug, which 30 million American diabetics rely on, has become the latest poster child for pharmaceutical price gouging.

Synthetic Bone Implant Could Replace Painful Marrow Transplants

2 months 1 week

(Gizmodo) – Thanks to advances in medicine, bone marrow transplants are no longer the last resorts they once were. Every year, thousands of marrow transplants are performed, a common treatment for ailments from bone marrow disease to leukemia. But because they first require a patient undergo radiation to kill off any existing bone marrow stem cells, marrow transplants remain incredibly hard on a patient. Now, engineers at the University of California San Diego have developed a synthetic bone implant with functional marrow able to produce its own blood cells. So far, researchers revealed in a paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences this week, they have successfully tested the engineered bone tissues in mice.

Universities Must Do More to Tackle Use of Smart Drugs, Say Experts

2 months 1 week

(The Guardian) – Universities must do more to tackle the growing number of students turning to “smart drugs” to cope with exam stress, leading academics have said. UK institutions are being called on to consider measures such as drug testing to stem the rise of cognitive enhancement drugs being used by young people to improve their academic performance. As hundreds of thousands of students across the UK prepare to sit their summer exams in coming weeks, Thomas Lancaster, an associate dean at Staffordshire University, said we were entering a “dangerous world” where students have access to the “study drugs”. He called on universities to have “frank discussions” with students and to develop policies around their use.

Yemen’s Cholera Outbreak Kills 51 People in Two Weeks: WHO

2 months 1 week

(Reuters) – A cholera outbreak in Yemen has killed 51 people since April 27, the World Health Organization said on Thursday, more than double the toll of 25 reported three days ago. WHO said there are 2,752 suspected cholera cases and 58 more people have been confirmed as having the diarrheal disease. A epidemic late last year faded but outbreaks are frequent and made worse by the degrading of health and sanitation systems by more than two years of civil war that has also killed at least 10,000 people and displaced millions.

Now That We Can Read Genomes, Can We Write Them?

2 months 2 weeks

(The Atlantic) – Since the Human Genome Project (HGP) was completed in 2003, scientists have sequenced the full genomes of hundreds, perhaps thousands, of species. Octopuses. Barley. Mosquitoes. Birch trees. Reading genomes is now commonplace, but that’s not enough for the group of scientists who gathered at the New York Genome Center on Tuesday. They want to write entire genomes with the same ease, synthesizing them from scratch and implanting them into hollow cells. One team already did this for a tiny bacterium in 2010, creating a synthetic cell called Synthia. But the New York group has set its sights on building the considerably larger genomes of plants, animals, and yes—after a lot of future discussion—humans.

FDA Proposes That Doctors Learn about Acupuncture for Pain Management

2 months 2 weeks

(STAT News) – Chiropractors and acupuncturists who have lobbied for a bigger role in treating pain have won a preliminary endorsement from federal health officials. The Food and Drug Administration released proposed changes Wednesday to its blueprint on educating health care providers about treating pain. The guidelines now recommend that doctors get information about chiropractic care and acupuncture as therapies that might help patients avoid prescription opioids.

ADHD Treatment Tied to Lower Car Crash Risk

2 months 2 weeks

(Reuters) – People with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are already at increased risk of motor vehicle accidents, but it is significantly reduced when they are taking ADHD medication, a 10-year study finds. The researchers estimate that one in five of the vehicle accidents among more than 2 million people with ADHD during the study period could have been avoided if these individuals had been receiving medication the entire time.

Hindu Nationalists Are Trying to Create Designer Babies That Are Fair, Strong, and Smart

2 months 2 weeks

(Quartz) – The health wing of the Hindu nationalist group Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) has an astonishing plan to use eugenics to help dark-skinned Indians produce fair and lovely children. The Garbh Vigyan Sanskar (pregnancy science culture) project claims to use a combination of Ayurvedic herbs and practices, dietary regulation, and other prescriptions to “purify” the sperm and eggs of interested potential parents and create uttam santati—perfect progeny—with light skin and a high IQ, according to a report in The Indian Express newspaper.

Up to 7,000 Bodies Buried on Grounds of Mississippi Medical Center

2 months 2 weeks

(CNN) – Officials at the University of Mississippi Medical Center have known for some time that there were bodies buried on its campus. They just didn’t know how many — until now. Cultural surveys and sonar on the medical center’s campus in Jackson, Mississippi, reveal that up to 7,000 bodies may be interred there. For decades the land where the medical center — the state’s only teaching hospital — now sits was once the state’s mental institution, known as the Mississippi Asylum for the Insane. It operated from 1855 to 1935 and the dead buried there are thought to be deceased patients from the asylum.

Fighting Despair Offers a Key Way to Stop Opioid Abuse

2 months 2 weeks

(STAT News) – Addiction thrives when people and communities don’t. That’s the essential lesson of a recently released Brookings Institution study that has deep implications for how our nation will address its opioid crisis. We assume that life expectancy will continue to improve in the United States. Yet this study found that the death rate of non-Hispanic whites between the ages of 45 and 54 who don’t have a college degree has increased by half a percent every year from 1999 to 2013.

Money Still Missing as the Plan to Synthesize a Human Genome Takes Another Step Forward

2 months 2 weeks

(Science) – Tuesday morning, more than 200 biologists, businesspeople, and ethicists will converge on the New York Genome Center in New York City to jump-start what they hope will be biology’s next blockbuster: Genome Project-write (GP-write), a still-unfunded sequel to the Human Genome Project where instead of reading a human genome, scientists create one from scratch and incorporate it into cells for various research and medical purposes. For example, proponents suggest that they could design a synthetic genome to make human cells resistant to viral infections, radiation, and cancer. Those cells could be used immediately for industrial drug production. With additional genome tinkering to avoid rejection by the immune system, they could be used clinically as a universal stem cell therapy.

Underlying Molecular Mechanism of Bipolar Disorder Revealed

2 months 2 weeks

(Medical Xpress) – The study, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), utilized human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPS cells) to map lithium’s response pathway, enabling the larger pathogenesis of bipolar disorder to be identified. These results are the first to explain the molecular basis of the disease, and may support the development of a diagnostic test for the disorder as well as predict the likelihood of patient response to lithium treatment. It may also provide the basis to discover new drugs that are safer and more effective than lithium.

Japanese Tradition Denies Surrogacy

2 months 2 weeks

(The Japan Times) – The purpose of the news conference was more than just to announce a first in the annals of Japanese medicine. As Kishimoto pointed out, there are no laws governing infertility treatments using donated eggs from third parties, and while the Japan Society of Obstetrics and Gynecology deems the practice ethically unacceptable, some doctors nevertheless carry out these treatments. Kishimoto called on the government to legalize and regulate such therapy, as well as address the kind of parent-child relationships that will result from them. Without legal guidelines, women who desire this kind of treatment may be discouraged from seeking it.

Pages

Creative Commons License