News from Bioethics.com

For Future Offspring, Docs Save Eggs from Teen Transitioning Female-to-Male

3 months 2 weeks

(Medical Xpress) – You’re a 14-year-old transgender boy who has opted to block normal female puberty before it can begin. What happens if you and your parents decide to preserve some of your eggs, in case you want to have children later in life? In this real-life case, doctors were able to retrieve and freeze four viable eggs from the patient, who was born a girl, but identified as male. The findings were published in a report in the Feb. 28 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

China Unveils New Rules on Biotech After Gene-Editing Scandal

3 months 2 weeks

(STAT News) – China has unveiled draft regulations on gene editing and other potentially risky biomedical technologies after a Chinese scientist’s claim of helping to create gene-edited babies roiled the global science community. Under the proposed measures, technology involving gene editing, gene transfer, and gene regulation would be categorized as “high-risk” and managed by the health department of the State Council, China’s Cabinet.

Bill Jenkins, Who Helped End the Infamous Tuskegee Syphilis Study, Has Died at Age 73

3 months 2 weeks

(CNN) – Bill Jenkins had already started a promising career in public health in the mid-1960s when he learned about one of the darkest chapters in American medical history: the Tuskegee syphilis experiment. Jenkins, an epidemiologist, played a significant role in exposing the experiment to the public and he funneled his outrage over the racism at the root of the Tuskegee study into a lifelong effort to reduce racial disparities and discrimination in health care. He died on February 17 in Charleston, South Carolina, at age 73. His death was confirmed by the Morehouse School of Medicine, where he worked for many years.

New Treatment May Slow, Stop, Reverse Parkinson’s Disease

3 months 2 weeks

(UPI) – Researchers have developed a new drug that could correct damage to the brain caused by Parkinson’s disease and lead to improvement of symptoms, researchers report. Patients who had implants to replace damaged brain cells showed 100 percent improvement in reawakening portions of their brains harmed by Parkinson’s, according to research published Tuesday in the Journal of Parkinson’s Disease.

Congo Ebola Center in Flames after Another Armed Attack

3 months 2 weeks

(Reuters) – Armed assailants attacked an Ebola center in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo on Wednesday, setting off a fire and becoming embroiled in an extended gunbattle with security forces that has yet to end, the local mayer said. The identity and motive of the assailants were unclear. Aid workers have faced mistrust fueled by widespread rumors in some areas as they work to contain the Ebola outbreak.

Facebook to Tackle Anti-Vaccine Content

3 months 2 weeks

(U.S. News & World Report) – Facebook is expected to take action in the near future against anti-vaccine content amid public scrutiny over the role of social media in promoting misinformation. Deceptive and misleading posts about vaccines on social media are believed to have fueled vaccine hesitancy that health experts say have likely contributed to outbreaks of contagious illnesses like measles. Measles was declared eliminated in the U.S. nearly two decades ago but has surged in some recent years, and an outbreak largely among unvaccinated children in the Pacific Northwest has topped 60 cases this year.

A New Study Shows America’s Drug Overdose Crisis Is by Far the Worst Among Wealthy Countries

3 months 2 weeks

(Vox) – America’s opioid epidemic has driven total drug overdose deaths to record numbers — with overdose deaths hitting 70,000 in 2017, killing more people annually than guns, car crashes, or HIV/AIDS ever have in a single year in US history. But a new study confirms the level of overdose deaths isn’t just outside historical norms for the US; it’s also far beyond the norm among wealthy nations around the world.

In Muted Hearing, Pharma Execs Dodge Attempts to Pin Blame for High Prices

3 months 2 weeks

(STAT News) – The hearing had all the makings of a high-profile Washington event, complete with lines snaking out the door, full of people paid by lobbyists to hold their place, and cameras flashing in executives’ faces. But the executives from seven pharmaceutical manufacturers — Merck, Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson, AbbVie, Sanofi, and Bristol-Myers Squibb — largely dodged the tougher lines of questioning from the panel’s mostly staid members. They pivoted, again and again, to well-worn lines of defense about the promise of innovation and new cures.

Why the Life-Insurance Industry Wants to Creep on Your Instagram

3 months 2 weeks

(New Yorker) – Recent news that life insurers are now subject to a mild setback in the process for determining premiums might have been cheering if it didn’t come with a revelation that the actuaries of the world might be studying your Instagram feed. Last month, in a circular letter, the New York State Department of Financial Services, a major regulator, allowed that life-insurance companies can, in principle, use information gleaned from customers’ social-media posts and other “lifestyle indicators” when setting premiums.

The CRISPR-Baby Scandal: What’s Next for Human Gene-Editing

3 months 2 weeks

(Nature) – In the three months since He Jiankui announced the birth of twin girls with edited genomes, the questions facing the scientific community have grown knottier. By engineering mutations into human embryos, which were then used to produce babies, He leapt capriciously into an era in which science could rewrite the gene pool of future generations by altering the human germ line. He also flouted established norms for safety and human protections along the way.

Why Were Scientists Silent Over Gene-Edited Babies?

3 months 2 weeks

(Nature) – I am convinced that this silence is a symptom of a broader scientific cultural crisis: a growing divide between the values upheld by the scientific community and the mission of science itself.  A fundamental goal of the scientific endeavour is to advance society through knowledge and innovation. As scientists, we strive to cure disease, improve environmental health and understand our place in the Universe. And yet the dominant values ingrained in scientists centre on the virtues of independence, ambition and objectivity. That is a grossly inadequate set of skills with which to support a mission of advancing society.

U.S. Senators Tell Drug Company Executives Pricing Is ‘Morally Repugnant’

3 months 2 weeks

(Reuters) – U.S. senators called drug pricing practices “morally repugnant” and told drug company executives they do not want to hear them blame others for the high prices, taking an aggressive stance at a Senate hearing on the rising costs of prescription medicines.  Senators took aim in particular at Abbvie Inc Chief Executive Richard Gonzalez and his company’s rheumatoid arthritis drug Humira – the world’s top-selling prescription medicine.

Becoming Dad After Death

3 months 3 weeks

(Undark) – Over the past two decades, posthumous reproduction has occurred throughout the world in modest but growing numbers. In this version of assisted reproduction, men donate their genetic material in life, or have it extracted after death, so that they may continue their genetic lineage. Experts predict that the number of these procedures is likely to increase as reproductive technology gains prevalence and as “alternative families,” composed of combinations beyond the traditional heterosexual, two-parent set-up, gradually gain acceptance. Israel, an exceptionally pro-natalist country with the highest usage of IVF per capita, is a thriving laboratory for this novel way of family-making.

Japan Battles Worst Measles Outbreak in a Decade

3 months 3 weeks

(The Guardian) – Japan is battling its worst measles outbreak in a decade, amid World Health Organisation (WHO) warnings that global efforts to halt the spread of the disease were failing, in part due to vaccine-skepticism. More than 170 new cases have been recorded in Japan since the start of the year, according to public broadcaster NHK, affecting people in 20 of the county’s 47 prefectures.

Chinese Government Funding May Have Been Used for ‘CRISPR Babies’ Project, Document Suggests

3 months 3 weeks

(STAT News) – Three government institutions in China, including the nation’s science ministry, may have funded the “CRISPR babies” study that led to the birth last November of two genetically modified twin girls, according to documents reviewed by STAT. These findings appear to support what many researchers inside and outside China have suspected since scientist He Jiankui revealed the births in late November, sparking international condemnation for violating scientific guidelines against the use of gene-edited human embryos to start pregnancies. “I don’t think He Jiankui could have done it without the government encouragement to press ahead” with research they thought would merit a Nobel Prize, said Jing-Bao Nie, a bioethicist at the University of Otago in New Zealand.

Do Jails Kill People?

3 months 3 weeks

(New Yorker) – Every year, several thousand people across the country die while imprisoned. Local officials report the number of deaths to the Department of Justice, but very little attention is paid to the question of how many of these deaths could have been prevented. Several years ago, Homer Venters, a physician and the former chief medical officer for New York City’s Correctional Health Services, sought to answer this question. Between 2010 and 2016, there were a hundred and twelve deaths in New York City jails. Venters and his team found that ten to twenty per cent of those deaths each year were “caused by actions taken inside the walls” of a jail. He calls these “jail-attributable deaths,” and writes that some years the percentage of such deaths “rose to half or more.”

United States Extends Fetal Tissue Contract and Revives One Experiment

3 months 3 weeks

(Science) – Early this month, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, Maryland, told researchers it intends to extend a key agency contract that funds work using human fetal tissue to develop mice used to test drugs against HIV. Without NIH action, the $2 million annual contract between its National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and scientists at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), will expire on 5 March.

He Jiankui’s Germline Editing Ethics Article Retracted by the CRISPR Journal

3 months 3 weeks

(Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News) – Twelve weeks after publishing a perspective on the ethics of gene editing by He Jiankui, PhD, the scientist reportedly responsible for the first gene-edited humans, the editors of The CRISPR Journal have decided to retract the article, GEN can exclusively report. In late November, the shocking news of the genetically edited twin girls broke out on the eve of the second international Human Genome Editing Summit in Hong Kong. The creation of germline-edited humans was unprecedented and not something that the scientific community had prepared for.

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