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‘Sex and the Constitution’: Margaret Sanger and the Birth of the Birth Control Movement

March 27, 2017

(The Washington Post) – In this, the fifth and final piece in a series of excerpts from my new book, “Sex and the Constitution,” I will briefly address Margaret Sanger and the birth of the birth control movement. As we saw in my fourth piece in this series, with the enactment of the federal and state Comstock laws, the sale of contraceptives and the dissemination of information about contraception were for the first time in history deemed unlawful throughout the United States.

Scottish Government to Fund Three Cycles of IVF

March 27, 2017

(The Guardian) – The Scottish government is to fund three cycles of NHS IVF treatment for eligible couples trying to start a family – more than the number available in some parts of England and Wales. Announcing the move, the public health minister, Aileen Campbell, defended the spending at a time of pressure on accident and emergency departments and waiting times.

Palliative Care Linked to Fewer Repeat Hospitalizations

March 27, 2017

(Reuters) – Comfort care for advanced cancer patients is associated with fewer repeat hospitalizations and more hospice referrals, according to a study highlighting how this approach may offer chronically sick or terminally ill people a better quality of life. Researchers focused on terminal cancer patients who often end up receiving a lot of care during their final months of life; all were already hospitalized for serious medical issues. The study team tested what happened to these patients before and after the start of a new palliative care consultation program in the hospital.

As Mexican State Limits Surrogacy, Global System Is Further Strained

March 27, 2017

(New York Times) – Mr. Theologos and his son are among a dozen foreign families who have been tangled up in a legal battle over how to apply new surrogacy restrictions in Tabasco, which for years was the only state in Mexico that allowed foreigners to hire surrogates. Dozens of other families whose babies are yet unborn will face the same quandary, officials and lawyers said. The imbroglio highlights the legal complexities of commercial surrogacy and the hazards of outsourcing it to freewheeling frontier markets, experts said.

Space Wombs for Stem Cells: Satellites Could Help Accelerate the Discovery of Disease Cures

March 27, 2017

(Salon) – This week a very special delivery was made from space that will help further research that could eventually lead to a mind-blowing, futuristic way to cure diseases: shooting unmanned satellite wombs into orbit and then retrieving from them batches of stem cells that can be used to treat patients. Regardless of the outcome, the scientific experiment will still advance our knowledge of these unique cells. On Thursday Dr. Abba Zubair at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida, received frozen stem cells grown at the International Space Station. The package was part of the 5,400 pounds of scientific samples and equipment that splashed down on Sunday off the coast of California inside a SpaceX Dragon-10 capsule completing a historic round-trip mission.

Silicon Valley Would Rather Cure Death Than Make Life Worth Living

March 27, 2017

(Wired) – As surgeon and author Atul Gawande explains in Being Mortal, funding improvements in palliative care—making people in extreme pain or at the end of their life more comfortable—would much more meaningfully address the problem of death. You make death less terrible and inevitable by making life less painful. Silicon Valley’s simplistic life extension arithmetic—you improve life by adding more years—glosses over the complicated social forces eroding or hampering the quality of life for so many people.

New Tools to Study the Origin of Embryonic Stem Cells

March 27, 2017

(PhysOrg) – Researchers at Karolinska Institutet have identified cell surface markers specific for the very earliest stem cells in the human embryo. These cells are thought to possess great potential for replacing damaged tissue but until now have been difficult to distinguish from classical embryonic stem cells. The study is published in the prestigious journal Cell Stem Cell. During the first week of fertilisation, the embryo grows from a single cell into a blastocyst, a hollow cluster of a few hundred cells.

Should a Human-Pig Chimera Be Treated as a Person?

March 24, 2017

(Quartz) – How should we respond to chimeras when we are uncertain of their moral status? At present, chimeras created in laboratories are destroyed as embryos. But in order to harvest organs, full gestation would be needed. When that happens, do the human-animal chimeras have a moral right to continued existence? If there is any doubt about the cognitive abilities of this new life form, we should check the chimera for its functionality. We should not assume it has the cognitive function of a normal pig. We should rear it humanely with social contact, and assess its function and abilities as it develops.

Researchers Just Uncovered a Simple Way to Help Combat the Opioid Epidemic

March 24, 2017

(Vox) – There’s another type of prescription drugs, besides opioid painkillers, that’s involved in thousands of drug overdose deaths in the US every year. The drugs are benzodiazepines, which are widely known by their brand names Xanax and Valium and commonly prescribed to help treat anxiety. These drugs were involved in nearly 9,000 overdose deaths in 2015, according to federal data. But there’s a catch: Such overdoses seem to be very closely tied to the opioid epidemic, with the majority of benzodiazepine overdose deaths involving both benzodiazepines and opioids.

South Africa to Try Japanese Drug Against Resistant Form of TB

March 24, 2017

(Reuters) – South Africa launched a new drug program to treat multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (TB) on Friday in a bid to combat the leading cause of natural deaths in Africa’s most industrialized economy. The Health Department said it will run a clinical research program for the drug Delamanid, made by Japan’s Otsuka Holdings Co Ltd, involving 400 patients over the next two years.“Resistance is very minimal to it. The added advantage of this drug is it is more tolerable,” Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi told a briefing for World TB Day in Johannesburg.

Doctor Turns Up Possible Treatment for Deadly Sepsis

March 24, 2017

(NPR) – It’s hard not to get excited about news of a potentially effective treatment for sepsis, a condition that leads to multiple organ failure and kills more people in the hospital than any other disease. But there have been so many false promises about this condition over the years, it’s also wise to treat announcements — like one published online by the journal, Chest — with caution. The study, from Eastern Virginia Medical School in Norfolk, Va., reported some remarkable success in treating patients who were at high risk of sudden death.

Debate Reignites Over the Contributions of ‘Bad Luck’ Mutations to Cancer

March 24, 2017

(Science) – How much of cancer is due to random “bad luck”? More than 2 years ago, a pair of researchers brought that question to prominence when they tried to sort out environmental versus inherited causes of cancer. They examined the extent to which stem cell divisions in healthy cells—and the random mutations, or “bad luck” that accumulate—drive cancer in different tissues. Their effort, which implied that cancer was harder to prevent than hoped and that early detection was underappreciated, sparked controversy and confusion. Now, the researchers are back with a sequel: a new paper that aims to parse “bad luck” risks by cancer type, and that brings in cancer data from other countries.

Aging Is a Disease. Gene Therapy Could Be the ‘Cure’

March 24, 2017

(Wired) – Parrish tried two therapies. One was a myostatin inhibitor, a drug designed to increase muscle mass, and the second was telomerase therapy, which lengthens the telomeres, a part of the chromosomes that protect genetic material from damage and allows the replication of DNA. Lengthening the telomeres can, at least in theory, extend cellular lifespan and make cells more resilient to damage.

Tests Show 3D Bioprinted Human Cartilage Cells Can Be Safely Implanted

March 24, 2017

(UPI) – Scientists in Sweden successfully implanted 3D bioprinted human cartilage cells in an animal model. Researchers hope the breakthrough paves the way for the technology’s use in human patients. “This is the first time anyone has printed human-derived cartilage cells, implanted them in an animal model and induced them to grow,” Paul Gatenholm, professor of biopolymer technology at Chalmers University of Technology in Gothenburg, said in a news release.

Meaningful Ways to Cope with Patient Death

March 24, 2017

(Medscape) – A recent Medscape article examined rituals used by hospice staff and others who care for patients at the end of life. “Rituals are symbolic activities that can provide comfort, meaning, and support and relieve anxiety associated with uncertainties, such as those faced at the end of life,” author Betty R. Ferrell, PhD, RN, wrote in the article. Such rituals can be a significant part of the healing process for patients and staff alike. Dr Ferrell explained that although certain rituals, such as memorial services, have been around for years, these rituals may occur sporadically and be of limited value to staff members. A recent online survey took a deeper look at personally meaningful rituals used by hospice nurses and other staff who work with patients at the end of life.

First Mutations in Human Life Discovered

March 24, 2017

(Science Daily) – The earliest mutations of human life have been observed by researchers at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute and their collaborators. Analysing genomes from adult cells, the scientists could look back in time to reveal how each embryo developed. Published in Nature, the study shows that from the two-cell stage of the human embryo, one of these cells becomes more dominant than the other and leads to a higher proportion of the adult body.

Palliative Care Linked to Fewer Repeat Hospitalizations

March 23, 2017

(Reuters) – Comfort care for advanced cancer patients is associated with fewer repeat hospitalizations and more hospice referrals, according to a study highlighting how this approach may offer chronically sick or terminally ill people a better quality of life. Researchers focused on terminal cancer patients who often end up receiving a lot of care during their final months of life; all were already hospitalized for serious medical issues. The study team tested what happened to these patients before and after the start of a new palliative care consultation program in the hospital.

From Coast to Coast: Africa Unites to Tackle Threat of Polio

March 23, 2017

(World Health Organization) -More than 190 000 polio vaccinators in 13 countries across west and central Africa will immunize more than 116 million children over the next week, to tackle the last remaining stronghold of polio on the continent. The synchronized vaccination campaign, one of the largest of its kind ever implemented in Africa, is part of urgent measures to permanently stop polio on the continent.

New Stem Cell Method Produces Millions of Human Brain and Muscle Cells in Days

March 23, 2017

(Medical Xpress) – Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute scientists and their collaborators at the University of Cambridge have created a new technique that simplifies the production of human brain and muscle cells – allowing millions of functional cells to be generated in just a few days. The results published today (23 March) in Stem Cell Reports open the door to producing a diversity of new cell types that could not be made before in order to study disease.

With Patients Demanding Experimental Drugs, ‘Right to Try’ Is Becoming the Law of the Land

March 23, 2017

(STAT News) – Some physicians, ethicists, and regulatory officials say the laws could harm more patients than they help — but many are reluctant to publicly oppose the laws for fear of being seen as opposing any one patient’s quest to save his or her life. Lawmakers, critics say, can stand on high moral ground as champions of the dying, while opponents struggle to demonstrate potential harms to faceless patients.

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