(Nanotechnology Now) – In greater than 90 percent of cases in which treatment for metastatic cancer fails, the reason is that the cancer is resistant to the drugs being used. To treat drug-resistant tumors, doctors typically use multiple drugs simultaneously, a practice called combination therapy. And one of their greatest challenges is determining which ratio and combination — from the large number of medications available — is best for each individual patient.
Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics (Vol. 36, No. 1, February 2015) is now available online by subscription only.
- “Placebo orthodoxy and the double standard of care in multinational clinical research” by Maya J. Goldenberg
- “Revolution and progress in medicine” by William Goodwin
- “Biological pathology from an organizational perspective” by Cristian Saborido and Alvaro Moreno
(Nature) – An ambitious study that will follow 80,000 children from cradle to grave has launched in the United Kingdom, two months after a similar project in the United States ended in expensive failure. The project aims to track a generation of twenty-first-century babies and work out which factors in their early lives are important in shaping their health and wealth as they grow into adults. There are reasons to hope that the Life Study will have a happier ending than its US counterpart, the National Children’s Study.
(Nature) – The approach is based on burgeoning research that uses fMRI to understand the nature of pain — a very subjective experience. Scientists hope that the scans can provide an objective measure of that experience, and they see potential applications, such as in testing painkillers. But many neuroscientists say that the techniques are still far from being accurate enough for the courtroom. Critics say that the companies using them have not validated their tests or proved that they are impervious to deception or bias. And whereas some think the technologies will have a place in legal settings, others worry that the practice will lead to misuse of the scans.
(Merced Sun Star) – The California Legislature is considering Senate Bill 128 to legalize physician-assisted suicide. Perhaps some lawmakers see this as progressive, a way to promote humans rights and liberty. Oregon and Washington permit physician-assisted suicide, and Belgium, the Netherlands and Switzerland allow physicians to help people end their lives. Recently the Canadian Supreme Court struck down Canada’s law banning physician-assisted suicide.
(Medscape) – New guidelines from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) are designed to help clinicians transition young women aged 18 to 26 years from pediatric to adult care and to addresses these patients’ preventive care needs. The recommendations were published in the March issue of Obstetrics & Gynecology.
(BBC) – MPs have defeated a cross-party bid to clarify in law that abortion on the grounds of gender alone is illegal in the UK. Conservative MP Fiona Bruce, who spearheaded the move, said the law was being “interpreted in different ways”. But her proposal was defeated by 292 to 201. A review of the extent of sex selective abortion was agreed to. The government said it had been consistently clear that sex selective abortion was “already illegal”.
(Union Times San Diego) – While the number of families who seek surrogates to carry their babies is hard to gauge, the percentage of couples turning to this option may be on the rise. A 2010 report from the nonprofit Council for Responsible Genetics, citing data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology, shows the number of babies born via surrogates practically doubled between 2004 to 2008 from 738 to 1,400.
(Quartz) – The very first place we’ve gone is to non-technology innovations. Such as, what are the 19 critical things that have to happen when the patient comes in an operating room and goes under anesthesia? When the incision is made? Before the incision is made? Before the patient leaves the room? It’s like that early phase of the aviation world, when it was just a basic set of checklists.
(Nanowerk) – When diagnosing a case of Ebola, time is of the essence. However, existing diagnostic tests take at least a day or two to yield results, preventing health care workers from quickly determining whether a patient needs immediate treatment and isolation. A new test from MIT researchers could change that: The device, a simple paper strip similar to a pregnancy test, can rapidly diagnose Ebola, as well as other viral hemorrhagic fevers such as yellow fever and dengue fever.
(Medical Xpress) – Now a new Tel Aviv University study may offer hope to the tens of thousands diagnosed with gliomas every year. A pioneer of cancer-busting nanoscale therapeutics, Prof. Dan Peer of TAU’s Department of Department of Cell Research and Immunology and Scientific Director of TAU’s Center for NanoMedicine has adapted an earlier treatment modality—one engineered to tackle ovarian cancer tumors—to target gliomas, with promising results.
(The Guardian) – Britain has become the first country in the world to permit the use of “three-person IVF” to prevent incurable genetic diseases. The House of Lords voted by 280 votes to 48 on Tuesday evening to approve changes to the law allowing fertility clinics to carry out mitochondrial donation. Babies conceived through this IVF technique would have biological material from three different people – a mother, father and a female donor.
(Discover Magazine) – On its surface, it looks like just another science puzzle game. In reality, the game is part of a broader goal to enable non-scientists to contribute to synthetic biology research. ‘It’ is Nanocrafter, a project created by researchers and game developers at the Center for Game Science at the University of Washington. They are the same team behind the citizen science project FoldIt.
(Genome Web) – Using only DNA left at a crime scene as a reference, some law enforcement agencies are developing and releasing sketches of what the perpetrator might have looked like, the New York Times reports. In South Carolina, police released such an image from a stalled murder investigation. It, the Times notes, generated a couple of leads, though they didn’t work out.
Medical Law Review (Volume 23, No. 1, Winter 2015) is now available online by subscription only.
- “Regulating the placebo effect in clinical practice” by Tracey E. Chan
- “Liability for pyschological and psychiatric harm: The road to recovery” by Jyoti Ahuja
- “Is Europe ‘Giving in to baby markets?’ Reproductive tourism in Europe and the gradual erosion of existing legal limits to reproductive markets” by Britta C. Van Beers
HEC Forum (Vol. 27, no. 1, March 2015) is now available by subscription only.
- “‘Systematizing’ Ethics Consultation Services” by Courtenay R. Bruce, et al.
- “Learning by Doing: Training Healthcare Professionals to Become Facilitator of Moral Case Deliberation” by Margreet Stolper, Bert Molewijk, and Guy Widdershoven
- “The Devil is in the Details: Confidentiality Challenges in the Age of Genetics” by Barbara J. Daly, et al.
(The Telegraph) – Newcastle University is offering women £500 to become ‘second mothers’ to three-parent babies. On Tuesday the House of Lords is expected to give the final approval to the scheme which would see the first babies being born from the controversial IVF technique next year. Scientists at Newcastle University are likely to be the first to conduct clinical trials and have begun advertising for women to donate eggs.
(Nature) – The ease in case numbers means that public-health countermeasures and resources can be shifted in many places, from curbing runaway outbreaks to aggressively targeting the remaining, often smaller outbreaks. The region is also now vastly better prepared to tackle Ebola than it was five months ago, with greater levels of outbreak-response funding, infrastructure, staffing and experience. At the same time, there is a danger of complacency. Reducing the number of cases to zero demands identifying and breaking all new chains of transmission, a task that still faces major obstacles — not least the fast approaching rainy season.
A Study of Medication for Knee Osteoarthritis Points the Way to New Methods for Ranking Drugs’ Effectiveness
(Medical Xpress) – Bannuru and his colleagues compared the effectiveness of various treatments for pain caused by knee osteoarthritis, one of the most common complaints among older people. Using data from 137 studies, the researchers compared the relative efficacy of five oral pain pills, including acetaminophen and ibuprofen (the generic versions of Tylenol and Advil), and two injectable drugs, and oral and injectable placebos.
(Science Daily) – Introduction of peanut products into the diets of infants at high risk of developing peanut allergy was safe and led to an 81 percent reduction in the subsequent development of the allergy, a clinical trial has found. The study was supported by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health, and was conducted by the NIAID-funded Immune Tolerance Network (ITN). The results appear in the current online issue of the New England Journal of Medicine and were presented today at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.