(U.S. News & World Report) – Between 2013 and 2015, the National Association of Community Health Centers, which operates part of AmeriCorps’ health branch and receives federal funding, allowed members of the youth job-training program to provide these services, known as “doula care,” to women who were having abortions in three clinics with which it contracts in New York City. The report did not specify how many women obtained an abortion as a result of AmeriCorps service members getting involved.
(The New Yorker) – The Virginia Colony was one of many facilities for the disabled that were founded in the Progressive Era, partly to provide care for a vulnerable population and partly to remove it from the gene pool, by sequestering those individuals during their fertile years. (On the other side of the coin, Jill Lepore has written about how modern marriage therapy grew out of one man’s effort to promote “fit” unions.) Between 1904 and 1921, the rate of institutionalization for feeblemindedness nearly tripled. Carrie was just one of this crowd, except that she happened to arrive at the Virginia Colony right at the moment when its superintendent, Dr. Albert Priddy, was looking to transform his institution from a genetic quarantine center to a sort of eugenics factory, where the variously unfit could be committed for a short time, sterilized, and then released, like cats, back into the general population, with the happy assurance that they would never reproduce.
(New Scientist) – Gotcha. Sticky beads that capture healthy sperm could work as a new form of contraceptive, while also helping fertility doctors select the best sperm for IVF. The beads work by mimicking a human egg, a trick that persuades sperm to bind to them. With a diameter as little as 0.037 millimetres, the polymer beads are slightly smaller than an egg. They are coated in a protein called ZP2, the same one that sperm recognise and bind to on the egg’s surface so that they can fertilise it. Hijacking this system, as Jurrien Dean at the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases in Bethesda, Maryland, and his team have done, could have several uses in contraception and fertility treatments.
(MIT Technology Review) – If academic discoveries turn out to be wrong, one drug company wants its money back. That’s the tough-minded proposal floated today by the chief medical officer of Merck & Co., one of the world’s 10 largest drug companies, as a way to fix the “reproducibility crisis,” or how many, if not most, published scientific reports turn out to be incorrect. Michael Rosenblatt, Merck’s executive vice president and chief medical officer, said bad results from academic labs caused pharmaceutical companies to waste millions and “threatens the entire biomedical research enterprise.”
Journal of Empirical Research on Human Research Ethics (vol. 11, no. 1, 2016) is available online by subscription only.
- “Self-Consent for HIV Prevention Research Involving Sexual and Gender Minority Youth: Reducing Barriers through Evidence-Based Ethics” by Celia B. Fisher, et al.
- “Ethics of Online Assent: Comparing Strategies to Ensure Informed Assent among Youth” by Mark S. Friedman, et al.
- “Participants and Study Decliners’ Perspectives about the Risks of Participating in a Clinical Trial of Whole Genome Sequencing” by Jill Oliver Robinson, et al.
- “Phase 3 Oncology Clinical Trials in South Africa: Experimentation or Therapeutic Misconception?” by Tina Malan and Keymanthri Moodley
The New England Journal of Medicine (vol. 374, no. 16, 2016) is available online by subscription only.
- “Reducing the Risks of Relief—The CDC Opioid-Prescribing Guideline” by T.R. Frieden and D. Houry
- “Partnerships, Not Parachutists, for Zika Research” by D.L. Heymann, J. Liu, and L. Lillywhite
- “Zika Virus as a Cause of Neurologic Disorders” by N. Broutet, et al.
- “Readmissions, Observation, and the Hospital Readmissions Reduction Program” by R.B. Zuckerman, et al.
Stem Cells (vol. 34, no. 4, 2016) is available online by subscription only.
- “Concise Review: Heteroplasmic Mitochondrial DNA Mutations and Mitochondrial Diseases: Toward iPSC-Based Disease Modeling, Drug Discovery, and Regenerative Therapeutics” by Hideyuki Hatakeyama and Yu-ichi Goto
(The New Yorker) – In the days after Rainey’s death, Krzykowski learned from several inmates in the T.C.U. that Rainey was not the first person who had been locked in that shower; he was only the first to die there. Before this, she would have rolled her eyes had someone told her that the guards tortured inmates. She now asked herself how she could have been so blind. Nevertheless, Krzykowski did not file a report calling for the guards who killed Rainey to be held accountable—and no one else on the mental-health staff did, either. She told me, “I thought, Somebody has to report it, and it has got to come from the inside, but it’s not going to be me.” She was convinced that any employee who spoke out would be fired.
(Nature) – One of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies has launched a massive effort to compile genome sequences and health records from two million people over the next decade. In doing so, AstraZeneca and its collaborators hope to unearth rare genetic sequences that are associated with disease and with responses to treatment. It’s an unprecedented number of participants for this type of study, says Ruth March, vice-president and head of personalized health care and biomarkers at AstraZeneca, which is headquartered in London. “That’s necessary because we’re going to be looking for very rare differences among individuals.”
The Quiet Revolutionary: How the Co-Discovery of CRISPR Explosively Changed Emmanuelle Charpentier’s Life
(Nature) – The itinerant lifestyle doesn’t seem to have hampered the microbiologist as she has carefully dissected the systems by which bacteria control their genomes. Charpentier is now acknowledged as one of the key inventors of the gene-editing technology known as CRISPR–Cas9, which is revolutionizing biomedical researchers’ ability to manipulate and understand genes. This year, she has already won ten prestigious science prizes, and has officially taken up a cherished appointment as a director of the Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology in Berlin. The gene-therapy company that she co-founded in 2013, CRISPR Therapeutics, has become one of the world’s most richly financed preclinical biotech companies, and she is in the middle of a high-profile patent dispute over the technology.
(Sydney Morning Herald) – An emergency contraceptive that works up to five days after unprotected sex has been launched by Australia’s sole supplier of medical abortion drug RU486. The EllaOne pill, from non-profit pharmaceutical group MS Health, is available from Wednesday. While the group recommends that women using the drug take it “as soon as possible” after unprotected sex, it said it was effective for up to five days, the maximum time sperm can survive in a body after intercourse. This is in contrast to commonly used emergency contraceptive pills, which are recommended to be taken within three days of unprotected sex.
(Reuters) – Burkina Faso’s marriage laws are failing girls who are forced into early marriage by their families and threatened, abused and beaten by their partners for seeking contraception, Amnesty International said on Tuesday. Forced marriage is illegal in the West African nation, but the law applies only to state-registered marriages, rather than the religious and traditional ceremonies which account for most of Burkina Faso’s forced and early marriages, Amnesty said.
(Reuters) – A gay couple from the United States won an appeal on Tuesday for parental rights over a baby born through a Thai surrogate mother in a high-profile case that came to light before Thailand banned commercial surrogacy last year. The law came into effect in July in a bid to end “rent-a-womb” tourism in Thailand following a series of high-profile surrogacy cases involving foreigners, including accusations in 2014 that an Australian couple had abandoned their Down syndrome baby with his Thai birth mother.
The Journal of the American Medical Association (vol. 315, no. 15, 2016) is available online by subscription only.
- “Updating the Toxic Substances Control Act to Protect Human Health” by Leonardo Trasande
- “Pharmacist-Prescribed Birth Control in Oregon and Other States” by Y. Tony Yang, Katy B. Kozhimannil, and Jonathan M. Snowden
- “Zero Pain Is Not the Goal” by Thomas H. Lee
- “The CDC Guideline on Opioid Prescribing: Rising to the Challenge” by Yngvild Olsen
Palliative Medicine (vol. 30, no. 5, 2016) is available online by subscription only.
- “Advance Care Planning: Not a Panacea” by Judith Rietjens, Ida Korfage, and Agnes van der Heide
- “Does Facilitated Advance Care Planning Reduce the Costs of Care near the End of Life? Systematic Review and Ethical Considerations” by Corinna Klingler, Jurgen in der Scmitten, and Georg Marckmann
- “Does the Use of Specialist Palliative Care Services Modify the Effect of Socioeconomic Status on Place of Death? A Systematic Review” by Hong Chen, et al.
- “Defining Consensus Norms for Palliative Care of People with Intellectual Disabilities in Europe, Using Delphi Methods: A White Paper from the European Association of Palliative Care” by Irene Tuffrey-Wijne, et al.
The New Bioethics (vol. 20, no. 1, 2016) is available online by subscription only.
- “Navigating Impasses in Bioethics: Rethinking Ill/Health” by Philip McCosker
- “Defining the Relationship between Health and Well-Being in Bioethics” by David Elliot
- “Health as Vulnerability; Interdependence and Relationality” by Jonathan Herring
- “Conscientious Objection: Understanding the Right of Conscience in Health and Healthcare Practice” by Christina Lamb
- “The Medicalization of Health and Shared Responsibility” by Gianmarco Contino
- “Disability, Diversity, and Autism: Philosophical Perspectives on Health” by Lidia Ripamonti
- “The Well-Being Conception of Health and the Conflation Problem” by Thana C. de Campos
(Wired) – Typical cold chains—made up of refrigerated trucks and shipping containers—bring us perfectly preserved bananas from Central America, seafood from Asia, and vaccines from Europe. But it takes a specialized cold chain to transport finicky eggs, sperm, and embryos across the world for surrogacy via in vitro fertilization. To expectant parents, that material is more precious any other possible cargo. And they’re willing to pay. A lot.
(Medical News Today) – It is well established that the acne medication isotretinoin – brand name Accutane – can cause severe harm to a developing fetus, which is why pregnancy prevention guidelines are in place for its use. A new study, however, suggests many women are not adhering to such guidelines. Published in the CMAJ, the study suggests up to 50 percent of women in Canada taking isotretinoin do not comply with the country’s current guidelines for use of the drug, resulting in birth defects, miscarriages and pregnancy terminations.
(Canadian Broadcasting Co.) – A Dene leader says doctor-assisted suicide is not part of Aboriginal culture and he’s calling on the federal government to consult with Indigenous people before passing new legislation. Francois Paulette, who’s also chair of Yellowknife’s Stanton Territorial Health Authority Elders’ Advisory Council, says Indigenous people are bound by spiritual law, not man-made law. “We don’t play God,” he said. “God is responsible for bringing us into this world, and taking our life. It is pretty straightforward.”
(Canadian Broadcasting Co) – With physician-assisted death soon to forever alter the face of medicine, Canada’s medical schools are under pressure to decide at what point in the curriculum future doctors should be introduced to this paradigm shift — and what that teaching needs to entail. Starting June 7, patients with a “grievous and irremediable” condition will be able to request a doctor’s help to end their lives, following the Supreme Court of Canada decision last year that struck down the law banning assisted suicide and euthanasia.