News from Bioethics.com

‘Everything Is Pointing to Russia’: U.S., EU Officials On Edge Over Pipeline Explosions

11 hours 14 min

(Politico) – U.S. and European officials are increasingly pointing toward sabotage as the cause of two explosions that caused massive leaks from natural gas pipelines out of Russia — and gauging whether the incidents are a new warning from Moscow about the continent’s energy supplies heading into winter. U.S. officials downplayed the potential for immediate impacts from the explosions in the Baltic Sea, even as gas prices rose in Europe and leaders there asked whether attacks on other critical fuel infrastructure could be coming. (Read More)

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A Bionic Pancreas Aims to Take the Math Out of Managing Type 1 Diabetes

11 hours 30 min

(STAT News) – For people living with type 1 diabetes, it pays to be good at math. Keeping blood glucose in a healthy range requires a constant stream of calculations: counting the carbs in each meal, and then finding the right dose of insulin to balance them out. But new clinical trial results from an automated insulin delivery system from Beta Bionics suggest that computation can be reliably outsourced to a machine — potentially putting better blood glucose control in the hands of more patients. (Read More)

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She Tried to Block Eating-Disorder Content on TikTok. It Still Pops Up Daily.

11 hours 47 min

(Wall Street Journal) – Nine months after a Wall Street Journal investigation showed that TikTok’s algorithms were flooding teens’ For You pages with videos encouraging weight loss and disordered eating, there are still plenty of them on the platform. ByteDance Ltd.-owned TikTok said last December it would adjust its automated recommendations in general to avoid overly focusing on one type of content. Two months later, the company expanded its ban on eating-disorder videos, including those about overexercise and short-term fasting. (Read More)

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DEA: Fake Pills Containing Fentanyl Helping Drive OD Deaths

11 hours 51 min

(Associated Press) – An increasing number of fake prescription pills that contain potentially deadly fentanyl are helping drive overdose death rates to record levels in the U.S., including some now manufactured in rainbow colors designed to look like candy, federal officials said Tuesday.  Drug Enforcement Administration agents are working to crack down on violent drug cartels in Mexico believed to be trafficking the drugs into the U.S., Attorney General Merrick Garland said. Between May and September, the DEA and local police around the country seized more than 10 million fentanyl pills and hundreds of pounds of powder, he said. (Read More)

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Vaccines Appears to Protect Against Monkeypox, CDC Says

11 hours 53 min

(Associated Press) – At-risk people who received a single dose of the monkeypox vaccine in U.S. efforts against the virus appeared to be significantly less likely to get sick, public health officials announced Wednesday, even as they urged a second dose for full protection. It was the first look public health officials have offered into how the Jynneos vaccine is affecting monkeypox, a virus that is primarily spread among men who have sex with infected men. (Read More)

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The Morning-After Pill Gets a Gen-Z Rebrand

12 hours 4 min

(Wall Street Journal) – With TikTok videos, bright colors and sleek packaging, the morning-after pill is getting a rebrand—one aimed at Gen Z consumers. Amid widespread efforts to step up digital marketing for morning-after pills, more female-focused healthcare companies are turning to TikTok campaigns that encompass a mix of education and humor. Though the methods of companies like Get Stix Inc. and Hey Favor Inc. are unusual within the drug market—including memes, viral audio clips and upbeat explainers—they are becoming more common as brands across industries aim to reach Gen Z shoppers now coming of age. (Read More)

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Experimental Alzheimer’s Drug Shows Benefits in Phase 3 Trial, Company Says

12 hours 6 min

(NBC News) – The Japanese drugmaker Eisai said Tuesday its experimental drug for Alzheimer’s disease helped slow cognitive decline in patients in the early stages of the illness. The company said that in a phase 3 clinical trial, the drug, called lecanemab, slowed cognitive decline by 27% after 18 months. The results were announced in a news release and have not yet been peer-reviewed.  (Read More)

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For a Deaf Family in Ukraine, the Bombs Came Without Warning

1 day 11 hours

(New York Times) – Like others with disabilities, for the estimated 40,000 deaf and hearing-impaired Ukrainians, the war is particularly dangerous and difficult to navigate. While several thousand deaf Ukrainians have been evacuated to safer areas or neighboring countries, Ms. Andriyenko was among the many more who remained. She and her daughter were among only a handful of residents left in her 72-unit building in a heavily damaged apartment complex in Saltivka, a suburb on the northern edge of Kharkiv. She said that the remaining neighbors watched out for them. (Read More)

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‘It Is Sinking Us Even Further’: STI Clinics, Already Stretched Thin, Strain Under Weight of Monkeypox Response

1 day 11 hours

(STAT News) – The recent surge of monkeypox cases has largely been concentrated among men who have sex with men, with the virus spreading through sexual contact. In some cases, symptoms have included lesions on the penis or anus. Many people with monkeypox also have HIV or another recent STI. That means a large brunt of the response has fallen to clinics and organizations that specialize in STI and HIV/AIDS care, a network that for years has complained about a lack of resources even as they faced spiking STI rates. (Read More)

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In New Guidance, FDA Says AI Tools to Warn of Sepsis Should Be Regulated as Devices

1 day 11 hours

(STAT News) – The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday published a list of artificial intelligence tools that should be regulated as medical devices, in some cases appearing to expand its oversight of previously unregulated software products. In a new final guidance for industry, the agency specified that tools designed to warn caregivers of sepsis, a life-threatening complication of infection, should come under regulatory review. Health software vendors have been selling tools designed to flag the condition for years without obtaining clearance from the FDA. (Read More)

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Sudan Officials Warn of Disease from Unidentified Bodies

1 day 11 hours

(Associated Press) – Sudanese medical officials warned Monday that more than 1,500 unidentified bodies piled up in several of the country’s morgues could lead to an outbreak of disease, amid accusations the government is covering up their causes of death. Among the deceased are believed to be pro-democracy protesters, who activists say were killed by government forces in their crackdown on demonstrations. They believe the failure to conduct proper autopsies is an attempt to conceal evidence of those killings. (Read More)

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Walmart to Cover Fertility Treatments Under Insurance Plan

1 day 11 hours

(Associated Press) – Walmart is teaming up with a fertility startup to offer benefits under its insurance plan that will help its workers expand their families. The nation’s largest retailer and private employer said Tuesday it’s partnering with New York-based Kindbody to offer benefits such as in vitro fertilization as well as fertility testing regardless of sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or marital status. (Read More)

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Mental Health Crisis Leads Hospitals to Create a New Type of ER

1 day 12 hours

(Bloomberg) – With mental health treatment in short supply, Americans experiencing a psychiatric crisis frequently land in a hospital emergency room—brought in by the police or loved ones—and usually stay there until they can be safely discharged or transferred. That means patients can spend hours or even days stuck on a gurney until a spot opens in a psych ward, the only other setting deemed appropriate. The approach rarely offers any real treatment for mental health conditions, and it ties up scarce ER beds. That’s spurred some hospitals to try a new idea: mental health crisis units designed to treat people quickly in a more serene setting, so they can stabilize patients and send them home. (Read More)

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Study Tries to See If Child Vaccines and Asthma Are Linked

1 day 12 hours

(Associated Press) – A number of scientists have wondered if aluminum, a vaccine additive that has been used for decades, had a role in allergies and asthma in children. A new federally funded study has found a possible link, but experts say the research has important shortcomings and is not a reason to change current vaccine recommendations. The study doesn’t claim aluminum causes the breathing condition, and officials say more work is needed to try to confirm any connection, which hadn’t been seen in earlier research. (Read More)

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More Trans Teens Are Choosing ‘Top Surgery’

2 days 12 hours

(New York Times) – Genital surgeries in adolescents are exceedingly rare, surgeons said, but top surgeries are becoming more common. And while major medical groups have condemned the bans on gender-related care for adolescents, the surgeries have presented challenges for them. Much research has shown that as adults, transgender men generally benefit from top surgery: It relieves body-related distress, increases sexual satisfaction and improves overall quality of life. A few small studies of transgender adolescents suggest similar benefits in the short term. But some clinicians have pointed to the rising demand and the turmoil of adolescent development as reasons for doctors to slow down before offering irreversible procedures. Although medical experts believe the likelihood to be small, some patients come to regret their surgeries. (Read More)

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Monkeypox Appears to Recede, but Risks and Uncertainties Linger

2 days 12 hours

(New York Times) – Supplies of the vaccine have improved, and federal health officials have begun clinical trials to gain a better understanding of who benefits, and how much, from both the vaccine and the drug used to treat those who become infected. That’s the good news. But unhappily, case numbers are accelerating in a few states and jurisdictions, including Indiana, Virginia and Massachusetts. Black and Hispanic men make up nearly two-thirds of the infected, but only about one-fourth of those vaccinated so far. (Read More)

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‘Sobering’ Study Shows Challenges of Egg Freezing

2 days 12 hours

(New York Times) – The procedure of egg-freezing is an increasingly popular, but expensive, option for women who want to delay childbirth. But new research documents some caveats: how old a woman is when she freezes her eggs and how many eggs she freezes make a significant difference in whether she will have a baby. Most women who tried to become pregnant, the study found, did not succeed, often because they had waited until they were too old to freeze eggs and had not frozen enough of them. That note of caution comes from data published this summer in a paper in the journal Fertility and Sterility from the clinic where Ms. Evans froze her eggs — New York University Langone Fertility Center. (Read More)

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Viruses to Fight Superbugs? Scientists Are Working on It

2 days 12 hours

(Wired) – Not only do you need to find the right phages for a particular bacterial infection, then—they must also be lytic ones. But many phages in Hatfull and his team’s collection are temperate, including two of the three they wanted to combine into a cocktail to treat this patient. Their solution? Genome editing. They engineered the genomes of the phages such that they would always be lytic, by removing the genes needed for lysogeny. By doing this, Hatfull explains, “We’ve essentially converted a naturally occurring temperate phage into one that’s now lytic, and essentially moved it from the ‘can’t use’ category into the ‘potential use’ category.” (Read More)

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Long COVID Has Forced a Reckoning for One of Medicine’s Most Neglected Diseases

2 days 12 hours

(The Atlantic) – A wide variety of infections can cause ME/CFS, and SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, is no different: Many cases of long COVID are effectively ME/CFS by another name. The exact number is hard to define, but past studies have shown that 5 to 27 percent of people infected by various pathogens, including Epstein-Barr virus and the original SARS, develop ME/CFS. Even if that proportion is 10 times lower for SARS-CoV-2, the number of Americans with ME/CFS would still have doubled in the past three years. “We’re adding an immense volume of patients to an already dysfunctional and overburdened system,” Beth Pollack, a scientist at MIT who studies complex chronic illnesses, told me. (Read More)

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Covid-19 Has Changed the Funeral Business Forever

2 days 12 hours

(Wall Street Journal) – Covid-19 has killed more than one million people in the U.S. As new Covid-19 cases drop, hundreds of people continue to die of the disease each day. The toll has generated a surge in business for funeral homes, along with challenges that morticians said prompted the industry to become more nimble and responsive. Many funeral directors added services including virtual events and outdoor gatherings. Others struggled to retain burned-out or traumatized staff.  (Read More)

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Women Were More Likely to Overdose During COVID Pandemic

2 days 12 hours

(Axios) – While men were far likelier to be diagnosed with a substance use disorder during the pandemic, women were more likely to overdose, according to a new FAIR Health analysis provided to Axios. Why it matters: The study of private insurance claims shows the rising burden of substance use across the U.S. (Read More)

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Frozen Embryo Transfers Linked with High Blood Pressure Risks in Pregnancy

2 days 13 hours

(Medical Xpress) – In vitro fertilization (IVF) using frozen embryos may be associated with a 74% higher risk of hypertensive disorders in pregnancy, according to new research published today in Hypertension. In comparison, the study found that pregnancies from fresh embryo transfers—transferring the fertilized egg immediately after in vitro fertilization (IVF) instead of a frozen, fertilized egg—and pregnancy from natural conception shared a similar risk of developing a hypertensive disorder.  (Read More)

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Ebola Infections Grow in Uganda as Death Toll Rises to 23

2 days 13 hours

(CNN) – Ebola infections have risen across districts in Uganda, bringing the cumulative number of confirmed and suspected deaths to 23, health authorities in the east African country said Monday. Uganda declared an Ebola outbreak last Tuesday after a case of the relatively rare Sudan strain was detected in the country’s Mubende district.  The virus has now spread to neighboring Kyegegwa and Kassanda districts, with the Ugandan Health Ministry reporting that cumulative cases had risen to 36, including confirmed and probable cases. No cases have been detected in the capital city Kampala. (Read More)

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Pfizer Seeks to Expand Omicron Booster to 5- to-11-Year-Olds

2 days 13 hours

(Associated Press) – Pfizer asked U.S. regulators Monday to expand use of its updated COVID-19 booster shot to children ages 5 to 11. Elementary school-aged children already received kid-sized doses of Pfizer’s original vaccine, a third of the dose given to everyone 12 and older — two primary shots plus a booster.  (Read More)

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Hemp-Derived Delta-8 Skirts Marijuana Laws and Raises Health Concerns

5 days 17 hours

(Kaiser Health News) – The FDA has issued warnings about the “serious health risks” of delta-8, citing concerns about the conversion process, and has received more than 100 reports of people hallucinating, vomiting, and losing consciousness, among other issues, after consuming it. From January 2021 through this February, national poison control centers received more than 2,300 delta-8 cases, 70% of which required the users to be evaluated at health care facilities, according to the FDA. (Read More)

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