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Elderly Who Don’t Want Dialysis Often Pressured to Get It

January 22, 2019

(Reuters) – Doctors tend to steer elderly people with failing kidneys toward dialysis even when patients say they’d rather avoid such treatments, a new study finds. And when patients decline dialysis, which wouldn’t buy much more time for a frail, elderly patient, doctors often try to convince them to change their minds, the study shows.

Opioids Don’t Work for Most People with Chronic Pain. So Why Do We Still Prescribe Them?

January 22, 2019

(The Guardian) – One of the key principles you learn in medical school is that doctors should “do no harm”. But what should doctors do when our patients insist that we do things that we know are harmful? This is the dilemma that thousands of doctors face on a daily basis when tasked with helping patients with chronic pain. Pain is a universal human experience that alerts us to bodily harm. Most pain is transient and requires no specific intervention other than the passage of time.

China Confirms He Jiankui Gene-Edited Babies, Says Scientists Involved Will Be ‘Dealt with Seriously’

January 22, 2019

(Newsweek) – An investigation by authorities in China has concluded that a scientist in the country did create the world’s first gene-edited babies. According to a report in China’s Xinhua news agency, He Jiankui performed human embryo gene-editing activities despite them being “officially banned in the country.” The report said He, along with the other researchers involved, would be punished in accordance with the law. The case has now been handed over to the Ministry of Public Security.

The Myth of Genetic Superbabies

January 22, 2019

(Scientific American) – I believe that most modern nations have adequate controls to regulate gene-modified babies, but it is important to explain why there will always be an ambiguous health benefit in creating GMO humans. Consider that disabling the CCR5 gene is not a new idea since U.S. biotech companies are already pursuing a strategy of using a form of gene modification to disrupt this gene to protect T cells from HIV infection. One important difference to this form of prophylactic gene therapy is that when applying it to living human patients a doctor can trade off the risk of the disease versus the tiny risks that gene modification tools could unintentionally alter other genes or damage functional DNA in a patient.

China Says Doctor Who Claimed Using CRISPR to Make Gene-Edited Babies Acted on His Own

January 22, 2019

(STAT News) – Chinese investigators have determined that the doctor behind the reported birth of two babies whose genes had been edited in hopes of making them resistant to the AIDS virus acted on his own and will be punished for any violations of the law, a state media report said Monday. Investigators in the southern province of Guangdong determined Dr. He Jiankui organized and handled funding for the experiment without outside assistance in violation of national guidelines, the Xinhua News Agency said.

The Doctors Who Invented a New Way to Help People Die

January 22, 2019

(The Atlantic) – In 2016, a small group of doctors gathered in a Seattle conference room to find a better way to help people die. They included physicians at the forefront of medical aid in dying—the practice of providing terminal patients with a way to end their own lives. And they were there because the aid-in-dying movement had recently run into a problem. The two lethal medications used by most patients for decades had suddenly become either unavailable or prohibitively expensive. When doctors briefly tried a substitute, some patients had rare but troubling experiences.

The Tricky Ethics of Transplants for Addicts

January 21, 2019

(The Atlantic) – In the early days of liver transplantation, saving patients with alcoholic liver disease was generally considered an inappropriate use of such a limited resource. Yet now that the practice has been supported by data showing that outcomes for these transplants are as good as or better than outcomes for other diagnoses, the policy has changed. Many programs require candidates to have been abstinent for at least six months. The rule, which has been widely adopted at transplant centers around the country, came from a retrospective study of 43 patients who underwent transplant for alcoholic liver disease. In this analysis, abstinence for less than six months prior to transplant was considered a risk factor for recurrence.

Genetics Extends the Long Arm of the Law

January 21, 2019

(Knowable Magazine) – Forensic genetic genealogy compares the genetic profile of a crime suspect or victim to genetic profiles of people in public databases — primarily, the volunteer-run GEDmatch, where customers of any genetic-testing company can upload their information. Genealogists search for a target’s relatives in GEDmatch, then pursue these leads to pinpoint their John or Jane Doe’s identity.

‘Better Babies’ Contests Pushed for Much-Needed Infant Health but Also Played into the Eugenics Movement

January 21, 2019

(Smithsonian) – These human contests started out by focusing on babies and young children, but soon entire families would also be judged at fairs for their lineage and cumulative flawlessness. The contests initially sought to amuse and promote wellness, but from their inception, they also lent popular exposure to the study of eugenics, which, in the early part of the 20th century, became increasingly acceptable as an enlightened science.

The UK’s Restrictive Surrogacy Laws Are Hurting Couples and Pushing Many Abroad

January 21, 2019

(CNN) – For Prior, the lack of legal security was her chief consideration in deciding to go abroad: the fact that there was a chance “that somebody would change their mind and keep the child that was destined for us.” According to law in the United States, where they sought their surrogate, “he was our child … and that’s just very, very reassuring,” she said. Gamble’s study echoes this sentiment. Parents who traveled to the United States to use a surrogate were the least likely to have encountered difficulties returning to the UK, it says.

The Ethical Quandary of Leftover Embryos

January 21, 2019

(Newsroom) – Tens of thousands of embryos are stuck in limbo in fertility clinics in the US, leftovers from pregnancy attempts and broken dreams of parenthood. Some are outright abandoned by people who quit paying storage fees and can’t be found. In other cases, couples are struggling with tough decisions. Jenny Sammis can’t bring herself to donate nearly a dozen of her extras to research. She and her husband agreed to do that when they made their embryos 15 years ago, but her feelings changed after using some of them to have children.

A New Edition of Journal of Bioethical Inquiry Is Now Available

January 21, 2019

Journal of Bioethical Inquiry (vol. 15, no. 3, 2018) is available online by subscription only.

Articles include:

  • “Strategies to Guide the Return of Genomic Research Findings: An Australian Perspective” by Lisa Eckstein and Margaret Otlowski
  • “Medicolegal Complications of Apnoea Testing for Determination of Brain Death” by Ariane Lewis and David Greer
  • “Commodification and Human Interests” by Julian J. Koplin
  • “Attitudes Towards the Donation of Human Embryos for Stem Cell Research Among Chinese IVF Patients and Students” by Achim Rosemann and Huiyu Luo
  • “Responsibility as an Obstacle to Good Policy: The Case of Lifestyle Related Disease” by Neil Levy
  • “Why Do Medical Professional Regulators Dismiss Most Complaints From Members of the Public? Regulatory Illiteracy, Epistemic Injustice, and Symbolic Power” by Orla O’Donovan and Deirdre Madden

 

A New Edition of Christian Bioethics Is Now Available

January 21, 2019

Christian Bioethics (vol. 24, no. 3, 2018) is available online by subscription only.

Articles include:

  • “Christian Bioethics Loses Its Founding Editor” by Ana S Iltis and Mark J Cherry
  • “Taking Our Meds Faithfully? Christian Engagements with Psychiatric Medication” by Warren A Kinghorn
  • ” Of Minds and Brains and Cocreation: Psychopharmaceuticals and Modern Technological Imaginaries” by Jeffrey P Bishop
  • “That Jagged Little Pill and the Counter-Politics of the Community of the Expelled: Sacramentality and Psychiatric Medications” by M Therese Lysaught
  • ““As One Infirm, I Approach the Balm of Life”: Psychiatric Medication, Agency, and Freedom in the Psychology of St. Thomas Aquinas” by Warren Kinghorn
  • “Bodies, Agency, and the Relational Self: A Pauline Approach to the Goals and Use of Psychiatric Drugs” by Susan G Eastman
  • “Medicating the Soul: Why Medication Needs Stories” by John Swinton

 

A New Edition of Journal of Medical Ethics Is Now Available

January 21, 2019

Journal of Medical Ethics (vol. 44, no. 11, 2018) is available online by subscription only.

Articles include:

  • “Psychological Perspective on Compassion in Modern Healthcare Settings” by Michelle Rydon-Grange
  • “Recent Insights into Decision-Making and Their Implications for Informed Consent” by Irene M L Vos, Maartje H N Schermer, and Ineke L L E Bolt
  • “What ‘Just Culture’ Doesn’t Understand about Just Punishment” by Samuel Reis-Dennis
  • “Within the Limits of the Defensible: A Response to Simkulet’s Argument against the Pro-Life View on the Basis of Spontaneous Abortion” by Henrik Friberg-Fernros
  • “How Do Policymakers Interpret and Implement the Principle of Equivalence with Regard to Prison Health? A Qualitative Study among Key Policymakers in England” by Nasrul Ismail and Nick de Viggiani
  • “Artificial Womb Technology and the Frontiers of Human Reproduction: Conceptual Differences and Potential Implications” by Elizabeth Chloe Romanis
  • “Should We Talk about the ‘Benefits’ of Breastfeeding? The Significance of the Default in Representations of Infant Feeding” by Fiona Woollard
  • “Fair, Just and Compassionate: A Pilot for Making Allocation Decisions for Patients Requesting Experimental Drugs Outside of Clinical Trials” by Arthur L Caplan et al.

 

A New Edition of Science and Public Policy Is Now Available

January 21, 2019

Science and Public Policy (vol. 45, no. 5, 2018) is available online by subscription only.

Articles include:

  • “The Role of Emerging Technologies in Inclusive Innovation: The Case of Nanotechnology in South Africa” by Matthew Harsh et al.
  • “A Recent Crisis in Regenerative Medicine: Analyzing Governance in Order to Identify Public Policy Issues” by Maureen McKelvey, Rögnvaldur J Saemundsson, and Olof Zaring

 

Bioethicists Call for Oversight of Consumer ‘Neurotechnologies’ with Unproven Benefits

January 18, 2019

(Medical Xpress) – The marketing of direct-to-consumer “neurotechnologies” can be enticing: apps that diagnose a mental state, and brain devices that improve cognition or “read” one’s emotional state. However, many of these increasingly popular products aren’t fully supported by science and have little to no regulatory oversight, which poses potential health risks to the public. In a new piece published in the journal Science this week, two bioethicists from Penn Medicine and the University of British Columbia suggest the creation of a working group that would further study, monitor, and provide guidance for this growing industry—which is expected to top $3 billion by 2020.

Study Links Opioid Epidemic to Painkiller Marketing

January 18, 2019

(Reuters) – Researchers are reporting a link between doctor-targeted marketing of opioid products and the increase in U.S. deaths from overdoses. In a county-by-county analysis, they found that when drug companies increased their opioid marketing budgets by just $5.29 per 1,000 population, the number of opioid prescriptions written by doctors went up by 82 percent and the opioid death rate was 9 percent higher a year later.

A ‘Digital Pill’ for Cancer Patients Is Rolled Out for the First Time, in Hopes of Improving Outcomes

January 18, 2019

(STAT News) – A Silicon Valley company on Thursday announced what it described as the first “digital pill” program of its kind, one in which the chemotherapy pills taken by cancer patients are packaged with a sensor that can alert a physician, pharmacist, or caregiver after it has been swallowed. Seven patients — all of whom have colorectal cancer in stage 3 or stage 4 and are being treated in Minnesota — have been provided with the treatment since September, according to Proteus Digital Health.

Macular Degeneration Trial Will Be First Human Test of Nobel-Winning Stem Cell Technique

January 18, 2019

(STAT News) – The cause of AMD is well-known, the recipe for turning stem cells into retinal cells works like a charm, and the eye is “immunoprivileged,” meaning immune cells don’t attack foreigners such as, say, lab-made retinal cells. Yet more than a decade after animal studies showed promise, and nearly eight years since retinal cells created from embryonic stem cells were safely transplanted into nine patients in a clinical trial, no one outside of a research setting (or a rogue clinic) is getting stem cell therapy for macular degeneration.

Largest US Twin Study Probes Whether Nature or Nurture Makes Us Sick

January 18, 2019

(The Verge) – Data from a private insurance company has given scientists a new way to study whether nature or nurture matters more when it comes to staying healthy in the face of disease. Though the answer isn’t definitive or exact — it varies according to each of the 560 diseases that were studied — the technique holds promise for bringing more insights in the future. The traditional way of studying nature versus nurture relies on twins. Because identical twins share the same genetic code, comparing the health of twins can help determine whether genetic or environmental factors play more of a role in their health. Problem is, it can be hard to find many pairs of twins, so most twin studies use small datasets and look at one disease at a time. The new study, published this week in Nature Genetics, uses a database of 45 million people, including over 56,000 pairs of twins.

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