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23andMe Want You to Share Even More Health Data

April 20, 2018

(Wired) – Lots of people, though, get migraines. And allergies. And depression. 23andMe says it wants to help them, too—not by extracting insights from their DNA, but by harvesting the wisdom of the crowd. For the last few weeks, the company has been quietly rolling out a new health hub, where customers can share information about how they manage 18 common health conditions. They get to see which treatments work best, according to other users’ personal reports. And 23andMe gets a bunch of data it didn’t have before. It’s not hard to see who’s getting the better side of the deal.

In the Throes of an Opioid Crisis, Prescriptions Fell Dramatically Last Year

April 20, 2018

(STAT News) – The U.S. may be gripped by an opioid crisis, but a new report suggests the various measures undertaken to fight the scourge is having an effect — fewer prescriptions were written for the addictive painkillers. To wit, opioid prescriptions declined by 10.2 percent in 2017 and prescriptions for the highest doses fell by 16.1 percent last year, and 33.1 percent since January 2016. Moreover, on average, prescription opioid volume has decreased every year over the past five years in all 50 states, according to data from the IQVIA Institute for Human Data Science, which is part of the IQVIA market research firm.

The Next Generation of Doctors May Be Learning Bad Habits at Teaching Hospitals with Many Safety Violations

April 20, 2018

(STAT News) – But at some of these hospitals, residents may be learning bad habits. A STAT analysis of federal inspection data finds that there’s a wide gap in the quality of training at teaching hospitals, as shown by how frequently these hospitals are cited for deficiencies by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. While the majority of the roughly 1,200 teaching hospitals received no citations each year from 2014 to 2017, others racked up dozens of safety violations in that time period — putting patients at risk, and compromising the training that students receive.

WHO: Limit Dengue Vaccine to People Already Infected

April 20, 2018

(UPI) – The World Health Organization is recommending that a vaccine against dengue should only be used on people who have previously been infected with the mosquito-spread disease. On Thursday, WHO’s Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization made the changes after two days of meetings in Geneva, Switzerland. In July 2016, the group recommended Dengvaxia only be given to individuals 9 years or older in endemic regions.

Dutch Probe ‘Appalling’ Euthanasia of Dementia Patient

April 20, 2018

(Medical Xpress) – In a rare series of moves, Dutch authorities are investigating whether doctors may have committed crimes in five euthanasia cases, including the deaths of two women with advanced Alzheimer’s disease. In one of the Alzheimer’s cases, which prosecutors began probing in September, a physician drugged the patient’s coffee without her knowledge and then had the woman physically restrained while delivering the fatal injection. The ongoing criminal investigation is the first since the Netherlands made it legal for doctors to kill patients at their request in 2002.

Gene Therapy for Inherited Blood Disorder Reduced Transfusions

April 20, 2018

(NPR) – Gene therapy is showing promise for treating one of the most common genetic disorders. Results of a study published Wednesday show that 15 of 22 patients with beta-thalassemia who got gene therapy were able to stop or sharply reduce the regular blood transfusions they had needed to alleviate their life-threatening anemia. There were no serious side effects.

Study Highlights Need for Further Evidence to Improve Symptom Management in End of Life Care

April 20, 2018

(News-Medical) – A study looking at the personal perceptions and experiences of patients, families and healthcare professionals, has highlighted the need for improvement in symptom management in end of life care. The analysis by the Marie Curie Palliative Care Research Centre at Cardiff University has identified several areas of treatment which were often perceived as sub-optimally managed by healthcare professionals, including; pain, breathing difficulties, nutrition, and hydration. Nutrition and hydration were specifically recognized as being “of significant concern”, particularly for carers.

Pain of Acid Attack Led to Man’s Euthanasia, Bristol Murder Trial Told

April 20, 2018

(The Guardian) – An engineer who suffered horrific injuries in an acid attack allegedly carried out by his jealous ex-girlfriend died in a euthanasia clinic having decided he could not face a life of pain, her murder trial has been told. The attack in Bristol left Mark van Dongen, 29, paralysed from the neck down, unrecognisable and all but blind. Berlinah Wallace, 48, allegedly threw acid over his face and body after telling him: “If I can’t have you, no one else can.”

Pioneering Psychologist Hans Asperger Was a Nazi Sympathizer Who Sent Children to Be Killed, New Evidence Suggests

April 20, 2018

(Gizmodo) – The term “Asperger’s syndrome” will never be heard the same way again, owing to new research showing that Hans Asperger—the Austrian pediatrician for whom the disorder was named—was an active participant in the Nazi eugenics program, recommending that patients deemed “not fit for life” be sent to a notorious children’s “euthanasia” clinic. New research published today in the science journal Molecular Autism shows that Asperger wasn’t the man he led the public to believe he was.

Swiss Researchers ‘Grow’ Cartilage from Bone Marrow Stem Cells

April 20, 2018

(Swiss Info) – Scientists at the University Hospital of Basel have produced joint cartilage from bone marrow stem cells by preventing them from becoming bone tissue. Under normal conditions the mesenchymal stem/stromal cells from the bone marrow of adults develop into cartilage tissue which then remodels into bone tissue. This is similar to what happens after a fracture, for example.

Vaginal Mesh Surgery Exposed Women to ‘Unacceptable Risks’

April 19, 2018

(The Guardian) – Women have been exposed to unacceptable risks through the use of vaginal mesh surgery, the government has acknowledged for the first time, as fresh evidence has revealed that thousands of women have suffered traumatic complications. In a parliamentary debate on the use of the implants, Jackie Doyle-Price, junior minister at the Department of Health, said it was a “tragedy” that women who had put their trust in the medical establishment had “come out with the most debilitating injuries”.

China Will Always Be Bad at Bioethics

April 19, 2018

(Foreign Policy) – As China’s advances in biotechnology come closer to the secrets of life, they pose tantalizing prospects for the future. But when standards for research on the latest technological frontiers are being set by a government that has always prioritized power over ethics, there’s also plenty of cause for concern.

Biases in Forensic Experts

April 19, 2018

(Science) – Forensic evidence plays a critical role in court proceedings and the administration of justice. It is a powerful tool that can help convict the guilty and avoid wrongful conviction of the innocent. Unfortunately, flaws in forensic evidence are increasingly becoming apparent. Assessments of forensic science have too often focused only on the data and the underlying science, as if they exist in isolation, without sufficiently addressing the process by which forensic experts evaluate and interpret the evidence.

Substance X Furor Rekindles Dutch Debate on Loosening Euthanasia Rules

April 19, 2018

(Reuters) – Cooperative Last Will scrapped its plan for Substance X after prosecutors launched an investigation into the group following the suicide of a 19-year-old woman. Her parents blamed Last Will on the grounds that its announcement made her aware of the existence of the chemicals she used to kill herself.  Last Will denied any responsibility in the teenager’s death. Prosecutors determined there was no direct link and said no charges would be brought.

Future Has Parents Choosing Their Baby from Dozens of Embryos

April 19, 2018

(CBS) – Confused? You’re just getting started. There are dozens more choices for which of your embryos should be placed in the womb to become your child. That’s the future a biomedical ethics expert envisions for 20 to 40 years from now — soon enough that today’s children may face it when they start their own families. “The majority of babies of people who have good health coverage will be conceived this way,” predicts Henry Greely, a Stanford University law professor who works in bioethics.

Shrink the P Value for Significance, Raise the Bar for Research: A Renewed Call

April 19, 2018

(Medscape) – Indeed, scientists and journals should replace the P value threshold for significance, typically P < .05, with one tenth the magnitude, Ioannidis argues in a viewpoint published March 22 in JAMA. The new P = .005 standard would be a temporary fix until the field more consistently adopts and ingrains a more clinically relevant statistical test, or several depending on the type of analysis, he proposes. That P values are currently “misinterpreted, overtrusted, and misused” means that a research finding within the .05 standard “is wrongly equated with a finding or an outcome (eg, an association or a treatment effect) being true, valid, and worth acting on,” Ioannidis writes.

Outsourcing Is In

April 19, 2018

(Nature) – Alokta Chakrabarti manages drug-candidate identification and discovery for client pharmaceutical companies. As a project team leader at the contract research organization (CRO) ProQinase in Freiburg, Germany, she spends her days meeting clients, working at the bench, flying through data analysis — and chasing a lot of deadlines. A few decades ago, drug makers did their own discovery work, along with every other element of getting a drug or medical device to the marketplace. But today, nearly anything that a pharmaceutical, biotechnology or medical-device business needs to do — from designing assays to planning and running clinical trials — can and may be outsourced to CROs.

The Surgeon Who Experimented on Slaves

April 18, 2018

(The Atlantic) – The man whose name appears in medical textbooks, whose likeness is memorialized in statues, is J. Marion Sims. Celebrated as the “father of modern gynecology,” Sims practiced the surgical techniques that made him famous on enslaved women: Lucy, Anarcha, Betsey, and the unknown others. He performed 30 surgeries on Anarcha alone, all without anesthesia, as it was not yet widespread. He also invented the modern speculum, and the Sims’s position for vaginal exams, both of which he first used on these women.

Digital Remains Should Be Treated with the Same Care and Respect as Physical Remains

April 18, 2018

(Eurekalert) – Our internet activity, commonly referred to as digital remains, lives on long after we die. In recent years, as firms such as Facebook and experimental start-ups have sought to monetize this content by allowing people to socialise with the dead online, the boundaries around acceptable afterlife activity and grief exploitation, have become increasingly blurry. To date, there has been little effort to build frameworks that ensure ethical usage of digital remains for commercial purposes.

Liver Transplants Are Better All Around When You Hold the Ice

April 18, 2018

(Los Angeles Times) – To preserve more livers for transplant patients who desperately need them, surgeons should take newly harvested organs out of their ice baths and immerse them instead in a warm, nutrient-rich soup, new research suggests. In a head-to-head comparison of the two methods, preserving donor livers in conditions that mimic a living body resulted in 20% more organs being transplanted into patients, according to a study published Wednesday in the journal Nature.

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