News from Bioethics.com

To Improve IVF, These Scientists Are Looking at Adding Some Womb Fluids

3 months 1 week

(STAT News) – Data have shown that infants conceived via IVF are at a slightly higher risk for some birth defects and genetic disorders, and are more likely to be born at low birth weight. One possible cause for these differences is epigenetics — that is, the markers that turn genes on and off. Scientists have noticed that IVF embryos have subtly different epigenetic patterns than naturally conceived embryos. And one of the prime differences between the process of IVF and natural conception is the early embryonic environment. So, researchers trying to improve IVF have begun looking at how to make the Petri dish environment more like that of the fallopian tubes.

Texas Has Sanctioned Unapproved Stem Cell Therapies. Will It Change Anything?

3 months 1 week

(Science) – Texas Governor Greg Abbott yesterday signed a bill allowing clinics and companies in the state to offer people unproven stem cell interventions without the testing and approval required under federal law. Like the “right to try” laws that have sprung up in more than 30 states, the measure is meant to give desperately ill patients access to experimental treatments without oversight from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Cell Therapies Getting Second Chance in Parkinson’s

3 months 1 week

(MedPage Today) – Two clinical trials using cell therapies to treat Parkinson’s disease, one using fetal tissue and one using cells derived from embryonic stem cells (ESCs), seek to learn from the mixed results of earlier work using fetal tissue to prove cells can deliver dopamine to Parkinson patients with fewer side effects and less “off” time than current therapy, researchers reported on a panel here.

The Platinum Patients

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(The Atlantic) – Each year, 1 in every 20 Americans racks up just as much in medical bills as another 19 combined. This critical five percent of the U.S. population is key to solving the nation’s health care spending crisis.

What’s Behind New Zealand’s Shocking Youth Suicide Rate?

3 months 1 week

(BBC) – Think of New Zealand and what likely comes to mind is beautiful nature – fjords, mountains and magnificent landscapes, vast, empty and endless. But for years already, the country has been struggling with another form of isolation – depression and suicide. A new report by Unicef contains a shocking statistic – New Zealand has by far the highest youth suicide rate in the developed world.  A shock but no surprise – it’s not the first time the country tops that table.

Cardiac Stem Cells from Heart Disease Patients Potentially Harmful

3 months 1 week

(UPI) – A new study by Tel Aviv University has found that cardiac stem cell therapy from cardiovascular disease patients may be harmful to patients. “We found that, contrary to popular belief, tissue stem cells derived from sick hearts do not contribute to heart healing after injury,” Jonathan Leor, professor at TAU’s Sackler Faculty of Medicine and Sheba Medical Center, said in a press release. “Furthermore, we found that these cells are affected by the inflammatory environment and develop inflammatory properties. The affected stem cells may even exacerbate damage to the already diseased heart muscle.”

Controversial Trial of Premature Infants Faces Fresh Scrutiny Following Release of Documents

3 months 1 week

(STAT News) – A controversial trial to test oxygen levels delivered to premature infants is facing fresh scrutiny following the disclosure of documents showing that researchers continued the experiment despite learning their oxygen monitors were malfunctioning. On Wednesday, a watchdog group released a letter calling for a deeper investigation of the federally funded SUPPORT trial, which began in 2005 at two dozen hospitals across the U.S. and involved more than 1,300 infants.

Eye-Opening Picture of Fetal Immune System Emerges

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(Nature) – For Jerry Chan, an obstetrician and gynaecologist at the KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital in Singapore, understanding the fetal immune system was important for his goal of developing stem-cell treatments and gene therapies for genetic disorders in developing fetuses. Chan and his colleagues wanted to know whether there was a developmental stage at which such treatments could be given without the risk of the therapies themselves being attacked by the immune system.

Brain Cell Transplants Are Being Tested Once Again for Parkinson’s

3 months 1 week

(NPR) – Researchers are working to revive a radical treatment for Parkinson’s disease. The treatment involves transplanting healthy brain cells to replace cells killed off by the disease. It’s an approach that was tried decades ago and then set aside after disappointing results. Now, groups in Europe, the U.S. and Asia are preparing to try again, using cells they believe are safer and more effective.

US Mental-Health Agency’s Push for Basic Research Has Slashed Support for Clinical Trials

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(Nature) – Roy Perlis is done with clinical research. The psychiatrist at the Broad Institute in Cambridge, Massachusetts, has led about 20 clinical trials on depression and other mood disorders over the past two decades. But he has given up seeking grants from the US National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) — the world’s biggest funder of mental-health research — since it began promoting a new way to investigate mental illness. The agency urges researchers to study the biological roots of disease, rather than specific disorders.

Yemen Cholera Outbreak Grows, with Children Bearing Brunt

3 months 1 week

(CNN) – A cholera outbreak in war-torn Yemen continues to spread at a rapid pace. Over 124,000 cases have been recorded as of Tuesday, with 923 people — a quarter of them children — dead in the current outbreak, the United Nations Children’s Fund said in a statement Tuesday. Cholera is an infection caused by ingestion of Vibrio cholerae bacteria in water or food contaminated with feces. Symptoms include sudden onset of watery diarrhea that can lead to death by severe dehydration. According to the World Health Organization, cholera is widespread in the Middle Eastern nation of Yemen, with the number of cases surging since late April.

Gene-Editing Companies Hit Back at Paper That Criticizes CRISPR

3 months 1 week

(MIT Technology Review) – Two gene-editing companies are hitting back at a scientific publication that caused their stocks to plummet last week, calling it wrong, filled with errors, and saying it shouldn’t have been published. In separate letters sent to Nature Methods, scientists from Intellia Therapeutics and Editas Medicine criticized a report in the journal that claimed the gene-editing tool CRISPR had caused unexpected mutations in the genomes of mice and which cast a shadow over efforts to initiate human studies using the technique.

Artificial Intelligence Can Now Predict Suicide with Remarkable Accuracy

3 months 2 weeks

(Quartz) – Walsh and his colleagues have created machine-learning algorithms that predict, with unnerving accuracy, the likelihood that a patient will attempt suicide. In trials, results have been 80-90% accurate when predicting whether someone will attempt suicide within the next two years, and 92% accurate in predicting whether someone will attempt suicide within the next week.

‘How Long Have I Got?’: Why Many Cancer Patients Don’t Have Answers

3 months 2 weeks

(USA Today) – Surprisingly, huge numbers of cancer patients lack basic information, such as how long they can expect to live, whether their condition is curable or why they’re being prescribed chemotherapy or radiation, said Dr. Rab Razzak, director of outpatient palliative medicine at Johns Hopkins Medicine in Baltimore. The result: People with advanced cancer don’t know enough about their disease to make informed decisions about treatment or how they want to spend their remaining time.

‘Part of New Reality’: Despite Confusion, Zika Warnings Are Here to Stay

3 months 2 weeks

(STAT News) – Zika has faded from the headlines like a mosquito’s dying buzz. Puerto Rico declared its outbreak over this week. Brazil said its emergency was over in May. In the United States, summer approaches with little discussion of the virus outside public health circles. But the risk the insidious pathogen poses to a pregnancy hasn’t gone away, and public health authorities are grappling with how to get the message out to pregnant women. Despite public confusion over whether Zika remains a public health threat, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention continues to warn women who are pregnant to avoid traveling to wide swathes of Latin America and the Caribbean.

Kids Born Through Fertility Treatments Show Normal Mental Development

3 months 2 weeks

(Reuters) – Despite concerns that children born through Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ART) may develop differently from other kids, a UK study finds they have normal mental skills until at least age 11. In fact, at ages 3 and 5 years, kids born as a result of these techniques had greater verbal cognitive ability than those born through natural conception, though this gap diminished with time. Researchers say that the older, better educated and more financially well-off parents of ART kids may play an important role in this difference at early ages.

Daylight on Diabetes Drugs: Nevada Bill Would Track Insulin Maker’s Profits

3 months 2 weeks

(Kaiser Health News) – Patients notched a rare win over the pharmaceutical industry Monday when the Nevada Legislature revived a bill requiring insulin makers to disclose the profits they make on the life-sustaining drug. In a handful of other states, bills addressing drug prices have stalled. Many of the 1.25 million Americans who live with Type 1 diabetes cheered the legislative effort in Nevada as an important first step in their fight against skyrocketing costs of a drug on which their lives depend. The cost of insulin medications has steadily risen over the past decade by nearly 300 percent.

Yemen Cholera Cases Pass 100,000 Amide ‘Unprecedented’ Epidemic

3 months 2 weeks

(BBC) – The number of suspected cases of cholera resulting from a severe outbreak in Yemen has passed 100,000, the World Health Organization says. A total of 798 deaths associated with the disease have been recorded in 19 out of 22 provinces since 27 April. The charity Oxfam said the epidemic was killing one person almost every hour. Yemen’s health, water and sanitation systems are collapsing after two years of war between government forces and the rebel Houthi movement.

ISIS’s Mass Killings of Civilians in Mosul

3 months 2 weeks

(The Atlantic) – A UN report Thursday said more than 200 Iraqi civilians attempting to flee western Mosul have been killed by the Islamic State since the end of May, which the UN Human Rights Office called a “signifiant escalation.” The report noted three specific incidents of civilian killings in ISIS-controlled parts of western Mosul, during which the militant group reportedly shot and killed individuals attempting to flee to areas controlled by Iraq’s security forces, resulting in the deaths of approximately 231 civilians. The report also cited civilian fatalities caused by airstrikes in ISIS-held areas of western Mosul on May 31, which caused between 50 and 80 civilian deaths.

WHO Ranks Antibiotics in a Bid to Counter Drug Resistance

3 months 2 weeks

(Reuters) – The World Health Organization published a new classification of antibiotics on Tuesday that aims to fight drug resistance, with penicillin-type drugs recommended as the first line of defense and others only for use when absolutely necessary. The new “essential medicines list” includes 39 antibiotics for 21 common syndromes, categorized into three groups: “Access”, “Watch” and “Reserve”.

FBI Raids Offices of Lab That Pays Doctors to Promote Genetic Tests

3 months 2 weeks

(STAT News) – Federal investigators searched a California DNA testing lab Wednesday and hauled away boxes of documents as part of a health care fraud investigation, according to former employees familiar with the matter. Proove Biosciences, an Irvine, Calif., firm that purports to determine a patient’s likelihood of becoming addicted to opioids, based on genetic tests and questionnaires, was raided by FBI agents and officers from the inspector general’s office of the Department of Health and Human Services.

Baby Brain Scans Can Predict Who Is Likely to Develop Autism

3 months 2 weeks

(New Scientist) – A machine-learning algorithm has analysed brain scans of 6-month-old children and predicted with near-certainty whether they will show signs of autism when they reach the age of 2. The finding means we may soon be able to intervene before symptoms appear, although whether that would be desirable is a controversial issue. “We have been trying to identify autism as early as possible, most importantly before the actual behavioural symptoms of autism appear,” says team member Robert Emerson of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Death Row Doctoring: The Dicey Medical Ethics of Prison Executions

3 months 2 weeks

(Medscape) – A lethal cocktail of medicines would be injected into those tubes, and Coleman would die. That was the plan. But a spate of executions in the run up to her execution had been botched. Instead of dying quick deaths, men injected with a lethal cocktail of drugs had writhed, seized, and foamed at the mouth. I was sent to witness Coleman’s death in case it was a long and drawn-out affair.

Dozens of Recent Clinical Trials May Contain Wrong or Falsified Data, Claims Study

3 months 2 weeks

(The Guardian) – Dozens of recent clinical trials contain suspicious statistical patterns that could indicate incorrect or falsified data, according to a review of thousands of papers published in leading medical journals. The study, which used statistical tools to identify anomalies hidden in the data, has prompted investigations into some of the trials identified as suspect and raises new concerns about the reliability of some papers published in medical journals.

Death Toll in Yemen Cholera Outbreak Hits Nearly 700: WHO

3 months 2 weeks

(Reuters) – A cholera epidemic in Yemen has killed at least 681 people and the outbreak has yet to peak, according to World Health Organization (WHO) figures showing an increase in the death toll of nearly 50 percent since its last update on May 27.

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