Genetic testing should adhere to medical, not business, ethics: FDA’s regulation of 23andMe is a welcome move for consumers
The truth is that we still understand very little about how our genes interact with our environment, and our individual choices, to impact our health. Despite the many advances in genomics, we still don’t understand much about genomics at a most basic level. Even some of the most well-studied genes, such as the BRCA 1 & 2 genes discussed above, don’t tell a person if she’ll get cancer. After all, some women with these mutations never get cancer, and we don’t know why. (Huffington Post)
Hong Kong is on high alert after an Indonesian domestic helper contracted the city’s first human case of H7N9 avian flu, the city’s government says. (CNN)
Swedish scientists have identified a new strain of HIV that appears to progress much faster than most previously identified variations of the virus. The new strain, known as A3/02, is a recombinant, meaning it is a cross between two previously identified HIV strains. Writing in the Journal of Infectious Diseases, Lund University researchers said that the infection moves from HIV to full-blown AIDS in about five years, nearly two- to two-and-a-half years faster than most previously known strains. (ABC News)
Mental health doesn’t even rate a mention in most policymakers’ lists of global health priorities. But mental illness and substance abuse disorders rank among the greatest causes of disability worldwide. In poor countries, where there aren’t nearly enough therapists, these conditions cause tremendous suffering and block economic development. Vikram Patel, a psychiatrist at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, has a solution: train ordinary people to be counselors. (Wired)
A new contraceptive pill for men that won’t affect libido or virility could be developed. The pill works by stopping sperm being released, similarly to a temporary vasectomy. It has been developed by scientists at Monash University in Australia and could mean men could share responsibility for birth control for the first time. (The Telegraph)
An inquiry is being launched to check the safety of donor blood amid fears of infection from the human form of “mad cow disease”. The Commons Science and Technology Committee called for the inquiry after studies revealed one in every 2,000 Britons could be carrying variant CJD. Although these people may never develop symptoms, they could spread the disease to others via blood. (BBC)
The technician, David M. Kwiatkowski, 34, pleaded guilty in August to 16 federal charges, including tampering with a consumer product and obtaining controlled substances through fraud. Prosecutors said that while he was working as a traveling medical technician in several states, including New Hampshire, Kansas and Maryland, Mr. Kwiatkowski injected himself with syringes of fentanyl, a powerful painkiller, then filled them with saline and put them back into circulation for patients. (New York Times)
A “potentially revolutionary” device to help women during difficult births has come from an unlikely source – a car mechanic from Argentina, who based the idea on a party trick. Apart from having five children of his own, Jorge Odon had no connection with the world of obstetrics. He did however have a talent for invention. (BBC)
The Journal of the American Medical Association (Volume 310, No. 20, November 27, 2013) is now available online by subscription only.
- “The 50th Anniversary of the Declaration of Helsinki: Progress but Many Remaining Challenges” by Joseph Millum, et al.
- “The Declaration of Helsinki, 50 Years Later” by Paul Ndebele
- “EBM’s Six Dangerous Words” by R. Scott Braithwaite
- “World Medical Association Declaration of Helsinki: Ethical Principles for Medical Research Involving Human Subjects” by the World Medical Association
- “Health Care Cost Control and Views of Physicians” by Janet Weiner
- “Health Care Cost Control and Views of Physicians—Reply” by Jon C. Tilburt, et al.
That journey has led to surprising discoveries about Marfan’s causes and a soon-to-be published clinical trial of a drug that may help its sufferers. Dr. Dietz’s work also inspired research that may lead to a blood test that detects enlarged aortas, potentially saving thousands of lives, even among those who do not have Marfan syndrome. (New York Times)
The lawsuit comes in the midst of a wave of high-profile mergers between Catholic hospitals and secular systems. The partnerships have raised questions about how care will be delivered at institutions guided by religious directives, particularly in rural areas like Muskegon where patients have little choice of where to be seen. (Washington Post)
A pregnant woman has had her baby forcibly removed by caesarean section by social workers. Essex social services obtained a High Court order against the woman that allowed her to be forcibly sedated and her child to be taken from her womb. The council said it was acting in the best interests of the woman, an Italian who was in Britain on a work trip, because she had suffered a mental breakdown. The baby girl, now 15 months old, is still in the care of social services, who are refusing to give her back to the mother, even though she claims to have made a full recovery. (The Telegraph)
Only 16 per cent of Canadian doctors would be willing to take part in assisted suicide, according to a March survey by the Canadian Medical Association. A New England Journal of Medicine survey in September found only 36 per cent of doctors in 74 countries were in favour of assisted suicide. This places most doctors firmly out of step with public opinion. An Environics Institute survey in October showed that 69 per cent of Canadians support physician-assisted suicide, the highest recorded approval since 1992. (CBC News)
A tightening of already draconian international economic sanctions against Iran is causing serious shortages of certain drugs, vaccines and other key medical supplies in the country, medical researchers and public-health officials are warning. The items, along with humanitarian goods such as food, are technically exempted from sanctions imposed by the United Nations, the United States and the European Union, which have strangled Iran’s economy. But the sanctions’ effects, for example on financial transactions, are causing shortages that are having a severe impact on hospitals, medical-research centres and the Iranian people, says Ali Gorji, a neuroscientist at the University of Münster in Germany, and director of the Shefa Neuroscience Research Center in Tehran. (Nature)
Nanosponges that soak up a dangerous pore-forming toxin produced by MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) could serve as a safe and effective vaccine against this toxin. This “nanosponge vaccine” enabled the immune systems of mice to block the adverse effects of the alpha-haemolysin toxin from MRSA—both within the bloodstream and on the skin. Nanoengineers from the University of California, San Diego described the safety and efficacy of this nanosponge vaccine in the December 1 issue of Nature Nanotechnology. (Nanotechnology Now)
The Journal of Public Health (Volume 35, No. 4, December 2013) is now available online by subscription only.
- “The primacy of politics: the rise and fall of evidence-based public health policy?” by Clare Bambra
- “The appraisal of public health interventions: an overview” by A.J. Fischer, et al.
- “The Public Health Responsibility Deal: how should such a complex public health policy be evaluated?” by Mark Petticrew, et al.
- “‘It was just nice to be able to talk to somebody’: long-term incapacity benefit recipients’ experiences of a case management intervention” by J. Warren, et al.
- “Social inequalities in health expectancy and the contribution of mortality and morbidity: the case of Irish Travellers” by Safa Abdalla, et al.
- “Midwives’ influenza vaccine uptake and their views on vaccination of pregnant women” by D.A. Ishola, et al.
- “Coverage gap in maternal and child health services in India: assessing trends and regional deprivation during 1992–2006” by Chandan Kumar, et al.
- “Socioeconomic and ethnic inequalities in screen-detected breast cancer in London” by Elizabeth A. Davies, et al.
A recent study of people over 50 living with HIV by the Terence Higgins Trust, an HIV charity, found that Danny’s concerns were not unusual. The 50 Plus report showed that older people with HIV are financially disadvantaged compared with their peers and have serious worries about money, poor health, housing and social care. (BBC)
A lawsuit filed by more than 100 people in Australia and New Zealand who suffered birth defects caused by the drug Thalidomide has been settled. British company Diageo, which did not distribute the drug but now owns the firm that did, agreed to pay $81m (£49m), lawyers of claimants say. The drug, sold in the 1950s as a cure for morning sickness, was linked to birth defects and withdrawn in 1961. (BBC)
The benefits of palliative care include fewer trips to the emergency room or hospital, lower medical costs, improved ability to function and enjoy life and, several studies have shown, prolonged survival for the terminally ill. These virtues far outweigh what it would cost to make this service universally available in hospitals, nursing homes, clinics, assisted living facilities and patients’ homes. (New York Times)
Improved healthcare for physical and mental health are linked to a worldwide trend of less Alzheimer’s disease or delayed Alzheimer’s, U.S. researchers say. Dr. Kenneth Langa of the University of Michigan Medical School and Center for Clinical Management Research VA, Dr. Eric B. Larson, executive director of Group Health Research Institute, and Dr. Kristine Yaffe of the University of California, San Francisco, said people are less likely to experience dementia and Alzheimer’s disease today than 20 years ago. (UPI)