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Couple Awarded $14M Birth Control Suit

April 21, 2014

(Chicago Tribune) – Mariola Zapalski enjoyed taking walks with her husband and decorating their Elmwood Park home before a debilitating stroke left her with brain damage and in need of a wheelchair to get around, likely for the rest of her life, her husband said Saturday. A Cook County jury agreed Friday with Zapalski and her attorneys that she was inappropriately prescribed Yasmin birth control pills by a Chicago doctor, leading to her 2007 stroke. She and her husband, Rafal, were awarded almost $14 million in damages after a two-week trial, said their attorney, Bradley Cosgrove, a partner with Clifford Law Offices.

Who Provides End-of-Life Care in Care Homes?

April 21, 2014

(Nursing Times) – A study looked at the responsibility for end-of-life care in care homes without nursing staff. It highlighted that formal carers need support to care for frail older people. Most care homes in England do not have nurses on site and instead rely on visits from GPs and district nurses for primary care and referral to specialist services. It is often unclear whether responsibility for the provision of end-of-life care rests with the care home staff or external health professionals. In addition, identifying which care home residents are likely to die imminently and, as such, should be approached about end-of-life care can be difficult.

Cloning Advance Using Stem Cells from Human Adult Reopens Ethical Questions

April 21, 2014

(Washington Post) – Scientists have grown stem cells from adults using cloning techniques for the first time — bringing them closer to developing patient-specific lines of cells that can be used to treat a whole host of ailments, from heart disease to blindness. The research, described in Thursday’s online edition of the journal Cell Stem Cell, is a controversial advance likely to reopen the debate over the ethics of human cloning.

Harvard Researchers Present New View of Myelin

April 21, 2014

(Harvard Stem Cell Institute) – Harvard neuroscientists have made a discovery that turns 160 years of neuroanatomy on its head. Myelin, the electrical insulating material long known to be essential for the fast transmission of impulses along the axons of nerve cells, is not as ubiquitous as thought, according to a new work lead by Professor Paola Arlotta, PhD, of the Harvard Stem Cell Institute (HSCI) and the University’s Department of Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology, in collaboration with Professor Jeff Lichtman, MD, PhD, of Harvard’s Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology.

Researchers Discover New Marker Derived from Human Umbilical Cord Blood

April 21, 2014

(News-Medical) – The development of stem cell therapies to cure a variety of diseases depends on the  ability to characterize stem cell populations based on cell surface markers. Researchers from the Finnish Red Cross have discovered a new marker that is highly expressed in a type of stem cells derived from human umbilical cord blood, which they describe in an article in BioResearch Open Access, a peer-reviewed journal from Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers.

There Really Are So Many More Twins

April 21, 2014

(The Atlantic) – From about 1915, when the statistical record begins, until 1980, about one in every 50 babies born was a twin, a rate of 2 percent.  Then, the rate began to increase: by 1995, it was 2.5 percent. The rate surpassed 3 percent in 2001 and hit 3.3 percent in 2010. Now, one out of every 30 babies born is a twin. That’s a lot of “extra” twins above the 1980 baseline, but how many?

First Genetic Link Discovered to Difficult-to-Diagnose Breast Cancer Sub-Type

April 21, 2014

(Medical Xpress) – Scientists have identified the first genetic variant specifically associated with the risk of a difficult-to-diagnose cancer sub-type accounting for around 10-15 per cent of all breast cancer cases. The largest ever study of the breast cancer sub-type, called invasive lobular carcinoma, gives researchers important clues to the genetic causes of this particular kind of breast cancer, which can be missed through screening.

Iran Considers Ban on Vasectomies in Drive to Boost Birthrate

April 21, 2014

(The Guardian) – Iran’s parliament is seeking a ban on vasectomies and a tightening of abortion rules as the country moves away from its progressive laws on family planning in an attempt to increase the birthrate. Two decades after Iran initiated an effective birth control programme, including subsidised male sterilisation surgeries and free condom distribution, the country is to make a U-turn. Last year the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, criticised existing policy on contraception, describing it as an imitation of western lifestyle.

Building ‘Smart’ Cell-Based Therapies

April 21, 2014

(Nanowerk News) – A Northwestern synthetic biology team has created a new technology for modifying human cells to create programmable therapeutics that could travel the body and selectively target cancer and other sites of disease. Engineering cell-based, biological devices that monitor and modify human physiology is a promising frontier in clinical synthetic biology. However, no existing technology enabled bioengineers to build such devices that sense a patient’s physiological state and respond in a customized fashion.

MRI, on a Molecular Scale: Team Develops System that Could Peer into Atomic Structure of Individual Molecules

April 21, 2014

(Phys.org) – A team of scientists, led by Professor of Physics and of Applied Physics Amir Yacoby, has developed a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) system that can produce nanoscale images, and may one day allow researchers to peer into the atomic structure of individual molecules. Their work is described in a March 23 paper in Nature Nanotechnology. “What we’ve demonstrated in this new paper is the ability to get very high spatial resolution, and a fully operational MRI technology,” Yacoby said.

Magnetic Nanovoyages in Human Blood

April 21, 2014

(Nanowerk) – While nanotechnology researchers have made great progress over the past few years in developing self-propelled nano objects, these tiny devices still fall far short of what their natural counterparts’ performance. Today, artificial nanomotors lack the sophisticated functionality of biomotors and are limited to a very narrow range of environments and fuels.  In another step towards realizing Richard Feynman’s vision of tiny vessels roaming around in human blood vessels working as surgical nanorobots, researchers at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) in Bangalore have now demonstrated, for the first time, externally driven nanomotors that move in undiluted human blood.

Cost of Treating Patients May Influence Doctors

April 18, 2014

(New York Times) – Saying they can no longer ignore the rising prices of health care, some of the most influential medical groups in the nation are recommending that doctors weigh the costs, not just the effectiveness of treatments, as they make decisions about patient care. The shift, little noticed outside the medical establishment but already controversial inside it, suggests that doctors are starting to redefine their roles, from being concerned exclusively about individual patients to exerting influence on how health care dollars are spent.

Cyborg Glasses Save Users the Need to Control Emotions

April 18, 2014

(BBC) – As Google continues to stoke excitement for its Glass smart-eyewear, a Japanese researcher has developed a radical alternative. Rather than focus on what the owner sees, Prof Hirotaka Osawa’s kit shows computer-generated eye animations in place of the wearer’s real ones. Special lenses let the user see out or take a secret nap if they prefer.

Broad Institute Gets Patent on Revolutionary Gene-Editing Method

April 18, 2014

(MIT Technology Review) – One of the most important genetic technologies developed in recent years is now patented, and researchers are wondering what they will and won’t be allowed to do with the powerful method for editing the genome. On Tuesday, the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard announced that it had been granted a patent covering the components and methodology for CRISPR—a new way of making precise, targeted changes to the genome of a cell or an organism. CRISPR could revolutionize biomedical research by giving scientists a more efficient way of re-creating disease-related mutations in lab animals and cultured cells; it may also yield an unprecedented way of treating disease.

Preterm Births, Multiples, and Fertility Treatment

April 18, 2014

(Science Codex) – While it is well known that fertility treatments are the leading cause of increases in multiple gestations and that multiples are at elevated risk of premature birth, these results are not inevitable, concludes an article in Fertility and Sterility. The article identifies six changes in policy and practice that can reduce the odds of multiple births and prematurity, including expanding insurance coverage for in vitro fertilization (IVF) and improving doctor-patient communications about the risks associated with twins.

Research Brings Significant Improvement in Genetic Analysis of Tumors

April 18, 2014

(Medical Xpress) – Every tumour is unique and requires specific treatment. A thorough and complete analysis of the genetic activity in the tumour cells is necessary to determine the appropriate treatment. Researchers at TU Delft, in collaboration with researchers from Columbia University and the Antoni van Leeuwenhoek Hospital have achieved significant improvements in this type of analysis. The results were published on 4 and 10 April in the scientific journals PNAS and PLOS Genetics.

Cancer Drugs Targeted to Patient’s Own Genetics to Be Offered in New NHS Trial

April 18, 2014

(The Telegraph) – Cancer patients will be offered new drugs targeted to the specific genetic profile of their disease within ten years following research that promises to revolutionise the way tumours are treated. In a groundbreaking new venture, the NHS, Cancer Research UK and pharmaceutical companies are joining together to offer all cancer patients experimental new drugs that are honed to the specific genetics of their tumours.

Identical Twins, One Case of Down Syndrome: A Genetic Mystery

April 18, 2014

(Los Angeles Times) – A rare occurrence in the earliest days of a pregnancy produces an unusual and mystifying outcome: Identical twin fetuses are conceived of the same meeting of egg and sperm. And despite their shared DNA, one of the twins has Down syndrome (the most common genetic cause of intellectual impairment), but the other does not.

The Rapture of the Nerds

April 18, 2014

(Time) – Sure, it’s easy to dismiss people who think they can somehow cheat death with a laptop. But Terasem is a potent symbol of a modern way of life where the digital world and the emotional one have become increasingly entwined. It is also a sign, if one from the fringe, of the always evolving relationship between technology and faith. Survey after survey has shown the number of Americans calling themselves “religious” has declined despite the fact that many still identify as “spiritual.” People are searching, and no longer do they look to technology to provide mere order for their lives. They also want meaning. Maybe, it’s time to hack our souls.

Scientists Make First Embryo Clone from Adults

April 18, 2014

(The Wall Street Journal) – Scientists for the first time have cloned cells from two adults to create early-stage embryos, and then derived tissue from those embryos that perfectly matched the DNA of the donors. The experiment represents another advance in the quest to make tissue in the laboratory that could treat a range of maladies, from heart attacks to Alzheimer’s. The study, involving a 35-year-old man and one age 75, was published Thursday in the journal Cell Stem Cell.