(Australian Broadcasting Company) – Australia’s ambassador to Thailand has defended his embassy’s decision to continue granting citizenship and passports to babies born via surrogacy. Thailand passed legislation earlier this year to ban commercial surrogacy, although it still needs royal approval. Nationals whip George Christensen has criticised the embassy for granting passports when Thailand is trying to ban the practice.
(Nanotechnology Now) – Magnetic nanoparticles can open the blood-brain barrier and deliver molecules directly to the brain, say researchers from the University of Montreal, Polytechnique Montréal, and CHU Sainte-Justine. This barrier runs inside almost all vessels in the brain and protects it from elements circulating in the blood that may be toxic to the brain. The research is important as currently 98% of therapeutic molecules are also unable to cross the blood-brain barrier.
(Medical Xpress) – Indiana’s governor authorized a short-term needle-exchange program and other steps Thursday to help contain the spread of HIV in a county tied to 79 new infections since January, all of them linked to intravenous drug use. Gov. Mike Pence issued an executive order declaring a public health emergency in the Midwestern state’s Scott County. He ordered the state health department to set up a command center to coordinate HIV and substance-abuse treatment and establish a mobile unit to enroll people in a state-run health program.
(Nature) – The Ebola virus is evolving more slowly than was previously thought, contends a controversial new study of viral genomes from the current West African epidemic. The findings, published in Science on 26 March, allay concerns that the pathogen could become more difficult to control and thwart therapies and vaccines in development. But other experts say the paper’s focus on the pace at which Ebola virus is changing is misplaced; the more important issue is whether the virus has gained mutations that make it more transmissible or dangerous to humans.
(New York Times) – President Obama’s initiative to advance personalized medicine depends on the sort of breakthroughs in cell biology that have produced cancer drugs like the one extending my life. Yet very few adults with cancer enroll in clinical trials. Why do many trials fail to enroll sufficient patients, when scientists now test less debilitating therapies than those commonly used?
(Science Daily) – An Ebola whole virus vaccine, constructed using a novel experimental platform, has been shown to effectively protect monkeys exposed to the often fatal virus. It differs from other Ebola vaccines because as an inactivated whole virus vaccine, it primes the host immune system with the full complement of Ebola viral proteins and genes, potentially conferring greater protection.
(BBC) – Surgeons in Cambridgeshire have performed the first heart transplant in Europe using a non-beating heart. Donor hearts are usually from people who are brain-stem dead, but whose hearts are still beating. In this case, the organ came from a donor after their heart and lungs had stopped functioning, so-called circulatory death. Papworth hospital says the technique could increase the number of hearts available by at least 25%.
(Medical Xpress) – Fourteen European nations signed Wednesday in Spain the first ever international treaty to fight human organ trafficking, a business that generates over one billion dollars in illegal profits worldwide every year. The agreement would make it illegal to take organs from people living or dead without their free and full consent, according to the text drafted by members of Europe’s top rights body, the Council of Europe.
(Asian Scientist) – Women who have difficulty getting pregnant often turn to in-vitro fertilization (IVF), but it doesn’t always work. Now scientists are taking a new approach to improve the technique by studying the proteins that could help ready a uterus for an embryo to implant in its wall. Their report, published in the Journal of Proteome Research, could help researchers develop a new treatment that could potentially increase the success rate of IVF.
(The Japan Times) – Is it acceptable for doctors to withhold information from their patients? Some claim that it is not only acceptable; it is desirable. Hope, they argue, is critical to aid recovery, and a bleak diagnosis should not be allowed to kill it. In his influential 1803 text Medical Ethics, the English physician Thomas Percival described the doctor’s role as “the minister of hope and comfort to the sick,” noting that at times they should conceal alarming information from their patients.
(Business Insider) – Even the best private hospitals are prone to medical negligence so the percentage of error in government run hospitals is much higher. Often cases are not reported, for either the patient is unaware of the medical malpractice and or does not have resources to fight the system. Studies have shown that compared to USA, India has almost double the number of cases of medical malpractice.
(London Evening Standard) – Deep Mind, the London-based artificial intelligence start-up bought for £400 million by Google last year, is working on technology to fight cancer, according to one of the search giant’s top executives. Speaking at Advertising Week Europe in London, Google’s UK head Eileen Naughton said: “In concept, they are trying to figure out how to use nanotechnology to turn off cancer cells. They’re working on high level, life changing stuff.”
(Nature) – Open Humans, an online portal that encourages people in the United States to share their DNA and other medical data with researchers, launched on 24 March. The announcement generated discussion on social media that reflected both excitement and concerns over privacy. The website, created by researchers at New York University, the University of California in San Diego and Harvard Medical School in Boston, Massachusetts, is recruiting volunteers to provide personal health information for three separate research studies, with others potentially on the way.
(Medical Xpress) – An outbreak of typhoid fever has infected hundreds of people in the Ugandan capital, Kampala, and looks likely to spread as the rainy season gets under way, a senior health official said on Wednesday. At least 4,000 suspected cases of typhoid fever have been reported, 400 of which have been confirmed, said Dr. Anthony Mbonye, the director of health services at Uganda’s Ministry of Health.
(Science) – Today researchers unveiled the largest ever set of full genomes from a single population: Iceland. The massive project, carried out by a private company in the country, deCODE genetics, has yielded new disease risk genes, insights into human evolution, and a list of more than 1000 genes that people can apparently live without.
(Washington Post) – Tommy John surgery has saved the playing careers of thousands of amateur and professional baseball players since surgeon Frank Jobe developed it in 1974. Jobe tried out the orthopedic procedure, technically known as ulnar collateral ligament reconstruction, on pitcher Tommy John, who went on to pitch for 13 more years and retired from baseball at age 46.
(Fox News) – Taking people off cholesterol-lowering medications near the end of life is safe and may actually be beneficial, according to a new study. Among people without active heart disease who were expected to live no more than a year, stopping the drugs, known as statins, didn’t increase the number of deaths within 60 days, but did improve quality of life. Stopping the drugs also reduced costs.
(U.S.A. Today) – The conventional wisdom is that young people are strongly pro-choice. While it is not surprising that Baby Boomers and Gen Xers eventually grew more skeptical over time, when they were teenagers and young-adults, they too were all-in for abortion rights. But the demographic future of the United States is defying that conventional wisdom.
(News.com.au) – ONE of the country’s top judges has sounded alarm that Australians are playing “highly questionable” roles as middlemen in Asian commercial surrogacy markets. The warnings came as authorities confirmed Australian parents who travel overseas to commission underprivileged women as surrogates are still not required to undergo criminal background checks before they obtain passports for their babies.
(The Herald Sun) – IT’S never too late for parents who used assisted reproductive treatment to have a baby to tell their children how they were conceived, a study suggests. The Victorian research challenges the assumption that it’s a case of “the earlier, the better” when it came to children learning about the way they came into the world. The study, by the Jean Hailes Research Unit at Monash University, shows the age of disclosure makes no difference in terms of the child’s general wellbeing and how they relate to their parents.