(Genome Web) – A new law requiring consent from parents before conducting research on blood spots collected from newborns is raising concerns among some public health experts that such a requirement could hamper both fundamental research and research to improve such screens, Science‘s Jennifer Couzin-Frankel reports. In the US, the newborn screening program tests infants for some 30 rare and serious diseases that can be treated if caught early enough. These blood spots are often also used for research.
(Minnesota Public Radio) – A University of Minnesota advisory panel has recommended dozens of reforms to better protect human subjects in university research studies. The draft plan released Monday comes after months of strong criticism over the way the university handles research patients who are mentally ill or otherwise vulnerable. It would strengthen protections for patients by adding personnel, boosting training and increasing oversight.
(The Japan Times) – A schoolteacher who gained permission to have an additional child in her hometown in one Chinese province has been ordered to have an abortion because the province where she is teaching has different rules, a family planning officer confirmed Tuesday. The case illustrates how different areas have different family planning regulations and how unyielding China’s birth limits continue to be despite a recent loosening in the 35-year-old policy to allow more couples to have two children.
(ABC News) – The U.S. says legislation on population control approved by Myanmar’s parliament is dangerous and could undermine the democratic hopes of minority groups. State Department spokesman Jeff Rathke voiced deep concern Tuesday over the bill. He said it could provide a legal basis for discrimination through coercive and uneven application of birth control policies.
(Times of India) – India does not have a comprehensive legal framework that lets patients and families take control of their last days and do the right things. As a default option, doctors tend to follow the safest option, which is to do nothing. As a society we avoid discussing an issue that affects all of us and leads to unnecessary trauma, prolonged grief and a huge wastage of scarce resources. Remember that most individuals, especially in cities now die in hospital, not at home.
(Medical Xpress) – Scientists from the University of Leeds are investigating whether a molecule usually found in moisturisers and skin creams could improve IVF success rates in the UK. Embryologists running a clinical trial at the University are investigating whether hyaluronic acid, normally found in beauty products which are designed to maintain elasticity in the skin and keep hair and joints hydrated, helps sperm stick to the human egg when it is released from the ovary.
(Forbes) – In vitro fertilization (IVF), although quite effective, is anything but precise. We stimulate the ovaries far more aggressively than nature ever intended. We attempt to fertilize every mature egg we retrieve. And we still transfer too many embryos. Unlike most areas of medicine, where we try to restore normal function and follow nature’s blueprint, reproductive medicine relies on a controlled super physiology.
Hastings Center Report (vol. 45, no. 3, 2015) is available online by subscription only. Articles include:
- “Must we be courageous?” by Ann B. Hamric, John D. Arras, and Margaret E. Mohrmann
- “Practitioner courage and ethical health care environments” by Justin Oakley
- “Ethics of development assistance for health” by Jennifer Prah Ruger
- “‘Aid in dying’ in the Courts” by Stephen R. Latham
- “The potential harms and benefits from research on medical practices” by Benjamin S. Wilfond and David C. Magnus
Genetics in Medicine (vol. 17, no. 5, 2015) is available online by subscription only.
- “Naked bodies, naked genomes: The special (but not exceptional) nature of genetic information” by Daniel P. Sulmasy
- “Return of individual genetic results in a high-risk sample: enthusiasm and positive behavioral change” by Sarah M. Hartz, et al.
(Medical Xpress) – Nonmedical use of prescription opioid pain medications during pregnancy has increased fivefold since the late 1990s, according to a recent study. Some infants born to women with opioid use disorder will develop neonatal abstinence syndrome—symptoms and complications related to withdrawal from the opioid pain medication to which they were exposed in utero.
(Medical Xpress) – The largest urban health systems, which serve as safety nets for large patient populations with lower socioeconomic status and greater likelihood to speak English as a second language, do worse on government patient satisfaction scores than smaller, non-urban hospitals likely to serve white customers with higher education levels, according to a new study by Mount Sinai researchers published this month in the Journal of Hospital Medicine.
(Sacramento Bee) – That “if” remains problematic for professional athletes and teams that pay them millions. Several years after Nitkowski’s procedure, debate on stem cell therapy for helping rehab injuries is no closer to resolution. Blame it on a lack of study and still-evolving knowledge about what stem cells can and can’t do. Blame hype that typically accompanies every new method that attempts to quicken recovery from serious injury.
(Washington Post) – The Lobleins are among thousands of couples and individuals in the United States grappling with difficult choices regarding their stored genetic material. The Department of Health and Human Services estimates that more than 600,000 frozen embryos are stored nationwide, in addition to countless more cryo-preserved eggs and sperm.
(The Guardian) – The failure by parents to register the majority of children born through surrogacy agreements has created “a ticking legal timebomb”, a high court judge has said. Addressing a conference on the rapid expansion in the number of surrogate births, Dame Lucy Theis said that without a court-sanctioned parental order and improved international legal frameworks children could end up “stateless and parentless”. It is estimated that as many as 2,000 children a year are born to surrogate mothers – mostly overseas – before being handed over to British parents.
(The Telegraph) – A Serb gangster in Spain was arrested after he attempted to buy a poor immigrant’s kidney for 6,000 euros (£4,345) and threatened to kill him if he pulled out of the deal, police said on Monday. The gangster, head of a clan based around the sunny beaches near Tarragona in northeastern Spain, wanted the organ for his grown-up son who had kidney disease.
(MIT Technology Review) – How many types of cells are there in the human body? Textbooks say a couple of hundred. But the true number is undoubtedly far larger. Piece by piece, a new, more detailed catalogue of cell types is emerging from labs like that of Aviv Regev at the Broad Institute, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, which are applying recent advances in single-cell genomics to study individual cells at a speed and scale previously unthinkable.
(ABC News) – More than 170 clinics across the country are selling experimental stem cell procedures for dozens of diseases and conditions — a mushrooming industry that has flourished despite little evidence of its safety or effectiveness. The rise of the U.S. stem cell industry illustrates how quickly fringe medicine can outpace government oversight. Over the last five years, academic stem cell researchers have watched in dismay as doctors treat patients with experimental techniques that they say could take years, if not decades, to become sound medicine.
(Medical Daily) – The leading U.S. scientific organization, responding to concerns expressed by scientists and ethicists, has launched an ambitious initiative to recommend guidelines for new genetic technology that has the potential to create “designer babies.” The technology, called CRISPR-Cas9, allows scientists to edit virtually any gene they target. The technique is akin to a biological word-processing program that finds and replaces genetic defects.
(Nature) – Lyme disease, Ebola and malaria all developed in animals before making the leap to infect humans. Predicting when such a ‘zoonotic’ disease will spark an outbreak remains difficult, but a new study suggests that artificial intelligence could give these efforts a boost. A computer model that incorporates machine learning can pinpoint, with 90% accuracy, rodent species that are known to harbour pathogens that can spread to humans, researchers report this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
(Nanotechnology Now) – Nanoengineers at the University of California, San Diego developed a gel filled with toxin-absorbing nanosponges that could lead to an effective treatment for skin and wound infections caused by MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus), an antibiotic-resistant bacteria. This “nanosponge-hydrogel” minimized the growth of skin lesions on mice infected with MRSA – without the use of antibiotics. The researchers recently published their findings online in Advanced Materials.