News from Bioethics.com

The Movie ‘Gosnell’ Has a Double Truth: We Ignore Poor Women and Abortion

1 month 4 weeks

(The Washington Post) – A new film out this past weekend highlights the horrifying 2009 death of Karnamaya Mongar, a 41-year-old refugee from Nepal who died shortly after leaving a Philadelphia abortion clinic called the Women’s Medical Society.

Study to Explore Bioethics of Brain Organoids

1 month 4 weeks

(News Medical) – Research scientists around the world are now able to investigate the structural, cellular, and developmental intricacies of the human brain using bioengineered stem cell-based models called organoids. But the ethics to help guide researchers and regulators lag behind the technological capability to “grow” brains in a petri dish. That is about to change as a group of bioethicists and scientists chart the unexplored territory of neuroethics, which is quickly emerging from the ability to bioengineer models of the brain.

Hurricane Michael: Death Toll Continues to Rise Amid Searches

2 months 20 hours

(BBC) – Areas of the US devastated by Hurricane Michael last week are continuing to count the storm’s cost as the number of confirmed dead rises. At least 27 deaths have been blamed on the hurricane across four US states – a number expected to increase further. A volunteer organisation has said it is trying to find more than 1,100 people believed to be unaccounted for. The storm destroyed buildings and flattened communities as it tore through the Florida panhandle region.

States Act to Safeguard Young Cancer Patients’ Chances to Have Children

2 months 20 hours

(Kaiser Health News) – The question of fertility is often overlooked when young cancer patients are battling a life-threatening illness. And since health insurance doesn’t typically cover fertility preservation care, patients and their families may be deterred by the cost. But a growing number of states now require plans to cover such services when medically necessary treatment jeopardizes fertility.

Fewer Cases of Euthanasia Last Year; Doctors’ Concerns May Be to Blame

2 months 22 hours

(Dutch News) – The number of reported cases of euthanasia has fallen for the first time since the practice was formalised in 2002, Trouw reported on Tuesday. There were 4,600 cases of euthanasia in the Netherlands in the first nine months of this year, a drop of 9% on the same period in 2017, Trouw said. Jacob Kohnstamm, chairman of the regional euthanasia monitoring committee, told the paper he is surprised at the reducation. ‘Given the greying of the population, an increase was to have been expected,’ he said.

‘Disease’ vs. ‘Difference’: A Question of Eugenics

2 months 22 hours

(The Atlantic) – A new video from Jill Rosenbaum at Retro Report, in association with American Experience, premiering on The Atlantic today, depicts some major bioethics quandaries that have resulted from advances in genetic screening technology. With prenatal and carrier testing now available for hundreds of conditions, it’s more common than ever for prospective parents to undergo screening for a fetus or embryo. But the conditions tested for vary significantly in terms of severity and risk of heredity.

CDC Expresses Concern Over Mysterious Surge in Polio-Like Paralysis Cases

2 months 1 day

(STAT News) – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention expressed frustration and concern Tuesday about a puzzling surge in cases of polio-like paralysis, mostly in children, being reported across the country this year. The agency said 127 cases of acute flaccid myelitis have been reported so far in 2018. To date, 62 of those cases, from 22 states, have been confirmed; investigations of the others are ongoing. The mysterious increase in cases of AFM, as it’s called, was first spotted in the late summer and autumn of 2014. There have been cases each year since, but the numbers have been higher on alternate years. This year is one of them.

Reproduction Revolution: How Our Skin Cells Might Be Turned into Sperm and Eggs

2 months 1 day

(The Guardian) – If eggs and thus IVF embryos could be produced easily and in large numbers, says Greely, that could change the landscape of assisted conception when combined with the option of genetic screening. This can be done ever more cheaply and quickly for embryos and is currently permitted in the UK for identifying those carrying certain genetic disease mutations. With such technologies in place, says Greely, “the stage is set for very, very widespread use of embryo selection”.

If Your Medical Information Becomes a Moneymaker, Could You Get a Cut?

2 months 1 day

(NPR) – Hospitals and health plans are increasingly using the huge amount of medical data they collect for research. It’s a business worth billions of dollars, and sometimes those discoveries can be the foundation of new profit-making products and companies. When a company profits from your data, should you get a cut?

Healthy Mice from Same-Sex Parents Have Their Own Pups

2 months 2 days

(Nature) – For the first time, researchers have used the DNA from two mouse mothers to create healthy pups, some of which matured and had their own offspring. The scientists also produced baby mice using the combined genetic material from two fathers, although those pups only lived for a couple of days. The method the team used to create the pups, described in a study1 published on 11 October in Cell Stem Cell, reveals important genetic factors necessary for the development of healthy embryos. But scientists are sceptical that the technique could ever be applied to people.

Harvard and the Brigham Call for More than 30 Retractions of Cardiac Stem Cell Research

2 months 2 days

(STAT News) – Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital have recommended that 31 papers from a former lab director be retracted from medical journals. The papers from the lab of Dr. Piero Anversa, who studied cardiac stem cells, “included falsified and/or fabricated data,” according to a statement to Retraction Watch and STAT from the two institutions.

Dementia and Guns: When Should Doctors Broach the Topic?

2 months 5 days

(Kaiser Health News) – While gun violence data is scarce, a Kaiser Health News investigation with PBS NewsHour published in June uncovered over 100 cases across the U.S. since 2012  in which people with dementia used guns to kill themselves or others.  The shooters often acted during bouts of confusion, paranoia, delusion or aggression — common symptoms of dementia.  Tragically they shot spouses, children and caregivers. Yet health care providers across the country say they have not received enough guidance on whether, when and how to counsel families on gun safety.

C-Section Births Surge to ‘Alarming’ Rates Worldwide–Study

2 months 5 days

(BBC) – Doctors’ use of Caesarean section to deliver babies has nearly doubled in 15 years to reach “alarming” proportions in some countries, a study says. Rates surged from about 16 million births (12%) in 2000 to an estimated 29.7 million (21%) in 2015, the report in the medical journal The Lancet said. The nation with the highest rate for using the surgery to assist childbirth is the Dominican Republic with 58.1%. Doctors say in many cases the use of the medical procedure is unjustified.

Sperm Counts Continue to Fall

2 months 5 days

(The Atlantic) – Men’s sperm have been decreasing in number and getting worse at swimming for some time now—and at least in the U.S. and Europe, new research says it’s getting worse. A pair of new studies unveiled this week at the Scientific Congress of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine in Denver suggest that American and European men’s sperm count and sperm motility—that is, the “swimming” ability of sperm cells—have declined in the last decade, which follows a similar, broader trend observed by many scientists over the last few decades.

How to Grapple with Soaring World Population? An Answer from Botswana

2 months 5 days

(The Guardian) – The unit is the medical hub for Gasita, a village of 2,000 people in the south of Botswana. Inside one of the rooms, pharmaceutical supplies are neatly stashed on shelves while a photograph of the country’s president, Mokgweetsi Masisi, is propped up on a counter next to a window that is ajar, letting in a warm breeze. Outposts like these – offering family planning services, contraception, education – have helped bring about one of the world’s most remarkable demographic shifts. In a continent where fertility rates are the highest in the world and populations are soaring, Botswana has a different story to tell.

Artificial Intelligence Boosts Chances of Successful IVF, Study Claims

2 months 5 days

(Newsweek) – A new artificial intelligence-enhanced machine can reportedly help doctors select healthy embryos for in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatment with 85 percent accuracy. The tech—developed by experts from Imperial College in London and Cornell University in New York—uses algorithms to predict the quality of embryos in an incubator based on time-lapse photography. Medical staff can use it to help boost the chance of a successful pregnancy.

Twilight in a Box

2 months 6 days

(Aeon) – In 2005, there were an estimated 81,600 prisoners in solitary in the US; this month’s Senate Subcommittee Hearing puts the numbers at about the same. That’s 3.6 per cent of the 2.2 million presently incarcerated, many of whom, like King, were put in there for random acts of non-violent rule-breaking. Some, like him, shuttle in and out of solitary; others remain locked up for decades. Prison authorities in every state are running a massive uncontrolled experiment on all of them. And every day, the products of these trials trickle out on to the streets, with their prospects of rehabilitation professionally, socially, even physiologically diminished. The Box, as psychologists and psychiatrists have been saying for decades, damages the mind. But evidence from neuroscience increasingly suggests that it is irrevocably harming the brain, too.

Hurricane Michael, Other Disasters Can Take Lasting Toll on Children’s Mental Health: Signs and Solutions

2 months 6 days

(ABC News) – Windows boarded and emergency plans in place, with gallons of water and canned goods stocked. As people who are rushing to prepare for an impending natural disaster check items on to-do lists, it is possible to overlook a less visible need — the mental health of children. Stress reactions to calamities like hurricanes, floods and fires tend to show up in increased emergency room admissions, and such trauma can have a particularly lasting effect on children. Research shows that adverse childhood experiences today can turn into chronic illnesses in adulthood.

Thousands of Young US Children Get No Vaccines, Survey Finds

2 months 6 days

(ABC News) – A small but growing proportion of the youngest children in the U.S. have not been vaccinated against any disease, worrying health officials. An estimated 100,000 young children have not had a vaccination against any of the 14 diseases for which shots are recommended, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report released Thursday.

Medtronic Disables Pacemaker Programmer Updates Over Hack Concern

2 months 6 days

(Reuters) – Medical device maker Medtronic Plc has disabled internet updates for some 34,000 CareLink programming devices that healthcare providers around the world use to access implanted pacemakers, saying the system was vulnerable to cyber attacks.  The company said it knows of no cases where the vulnerability had been exploited by hackers in a letter sent to physicians this week, which was labeled “urgent medical device correction.”

Most People of European Ancestry Can Be Identified from a Relative’s DNA

2 months 6 days

(The Atlantic) – These cases are not exceptional, according to his analysis, now published in Science. Golden State Killer investigators found their suspect through third- and fourth-cousin matches in a database called GEDmatch, which includes information from about 1 million people. In a database of that size, Erlich and his co-authors show, nearly 60 percent of people have a relative who is a third cousin or closer. With the growing popularity of DNA tests, such databases are only getting bigger and bigger. It’s not hard to imagine being able to identify nearly every American through a relative’s DNA.

The Pentagon’s Push to Program Soldier’s Brains

2 months 1 week

(The Atlantic) – DARPA has dreamed for decades of merging human beings and machines. Some years ago, when the prospect of mind-controlled weapons became a public-relations liability for the agency, officials resorted to characteristic ingenuity. They recast the stated purpose of their neurotechnology research to focus ostensibly on the narrow goal of healing injury and curing illness. The work wasn’t about weaponry or warfare, agency officials claimed. It was about therapy and health care. Who could object? But even if this claim were true, such changes would have extensive ethical, social, and metaphysical implications. Within decades, neurotechnology could cause social disruption on a scale that would make smartphones and the internet look like gentle ripples on the pond of history.

Doctors Like to Think Big Pharma Doesn’t Sway Them. It Does.

2 months 1 week

(Bloomberg) – As MD turned ethics professor Sunita Sah of Georgetown University concluded in a review paper, even if doctors don’t recognize what’s going on, those in the pharmaceutical industry understand social psychology and know what works. Reciprocity is a part of human nature, and field studies have shown that doctors change their practices to reciprocate gifts and favors. Those who ultimately lose in this game are the patients, who are at risk of prescriptions that are not entirely in their best interest.

Half of Mental Health Disorders Arise in Adolescence

2 months 1 week

(SciDevNet) – Half of mental health disorders arise before the age of 14, but most cases are not detected or treated until much later, according to the latest data from the World Health Organization. This year’s World Mental Health day, which is today, focuses on the 40% of the global population who are between 10 and 24 years old. A special report by the WHO on adolescent health, which was published in September, said that unaddressed mental health issues will put a huge burden on what is the largest generation of young people in history.

AI for Drug Development: Experts Break Down What’s Possible–And What’s Just Hype

2 months 1 week

(STAT News) – If a group of chemists found 18 more potent versions of a drug out of a sea of 3,000 potential chemicals in the span of a few weeks, they might be hailed as superhumans. That actually happened at Relay Therapeutics, said Dr. Donald Bergstrom, the company’s head of R&D. But the driving force behind it wasn’t human at all — it was artificial intelligence. AI and machine learning have been hailed as a powerful new tool for drug discovery. But despite the hype, there is still a huge gap between the potential and the reality.

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