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China Announces Stem-Cell Rules

August 26, 2015

(Nature) – Chinese stem-cell scientists have welcomed long-awaited measures that, state media claim, will rein in rogue use of stem cells in clinics while allowing research. The measures — announced on 21 August by China’s National Health and Family Planning Commission through state media — offer a straightforward path towards clinical studies, researchers told Nature. But some also warn that the measures do not have the teeth needed to stop clinics offering unproven and unapproved treatments.

Researchers Reveal How a Common Mutation Causes Neurodegenerative Disease

August 26, 2015

(Medical Xpress) – Researchers have determined how the most common gene mutation in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and frontotemporal dementia (FTD) disrupts normal cell function, providing insight likely to advance efforts to develop targeted therapies for these brain diseases. Scientists from St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and the University of Massachusetts Medical School (UMMS) led the research, which appears today in the science journal Nature.

Alzheimer’s Disease: Gene Therapy May Promote Neuronal Growth

August 26, 2015

(Med Page Today) – A gene therapy that boosts nerve growth factor (NGF) production in cholinergic neurons was safe and appeared to promote neuronal growth in a small study of patients with early Alzheimer’s disease, researchers reported. All 10 patients in the trial — which started in 2001 — showed a trophic response to the growth factor delivered via gene therapy, Mark Tuszynski, MD, PhD, of the University of California San Diego and the San Diego Veterans Affairs clinic, and colleagues reported online in JAMA Neurology.

Canadian Medical Association Still Polarized by Doctor-Assisted Deaths

August 26, 2015

(CBC) – At the Canadian Medical Association’s annual meeting, a number of doctors said they aren’t comfortable offering assisted death and they don’t want to refer a patient to another physician. But the CMA struck a balance on the issue, agreeing not to support assisted death, but saying doctors have a duty to provide complete information on all options and advise patients on access. The association gathered input from hundreds of members leading up to this week’s conference.

Study Looks at Health Care Spending’s Rise in the Twilight Years

August 26, 2015

(Dallas Morning News) – A person’s health care spending tends to be high in the last year of life — but not as high as conventional health economics suggests. The biggest spending comes from years of custodial, disability care endured in nursing homes and hospitals — mostly by women who don’t have long-term care insurance. A paper released this summer by a team writing for the National Bureau of Economic Research found spending concentrated among a small cohort of elderly Americans, who tend to stay at the high end for three years or more.

Too Big to Care: How Massive Medical Groups Are Harming and Killing Patients

August 26, 2015

(Vice News) – The era of the independent doc is over, Caplan says. In order to navigate increasing regulations and the burgeoning cost of practice, the majority of physicians in this country are now under contract with multispecialty medical groups with at least 50 doctors, which in turn are getting snapped up by hedge funds, hospitals, and corporations, he says. Buyers expect a healthy bottom line from their investments, Caplan says. Evidence suggests their expectations are being met.

California Mom, Chinese Dads: The Story of an American Surrogate

August 26, 2015

(CNN) – Audra is one of a growing number of American women being hired to give birth to children for foreign families. Industry insiders say much of the increased demand is from China, where surrogacy is illegal.

Judge Fines Final Exit Group Convicted of Assisting Minnesota Suicide

August 26, 2015

(Reuters) – A Minnesota judge on Monday fined the national right-to-die group Final Exit Network $30,000 on its criminal conviction for assisting a woman’s suicide in 2007. A Minnesota judge on Monday fined the national right-to-die group Final Exit Network $30,000 on its criminal conviction for assisting a woman’s suicide in 2007.

The Justice Factor Must Be Improved When Carrying Out Health Research

August 26, 2015

(The Conversation) – Research in the health sector is particularly notorious for its exploitation of the developing world. Despite the increased developments in the scientific arena, the concept of benefit sharing still remains relatively unexplored. Benefit sharing ensures that everyone who participates in research gains from it. This does not imply a monetary transaction only. It can be any form of advantage, assistance or upliftment to the participant, community or institution.

Cancer Cells Can Be Programmed to Become Normal Again

August 25, 2015

(Quartz) – Cancer cells are like normal cells—they just grow abnormally. That is why treatments that selectively try to get rid of cancer cells while protecting normal cells don’t work that well. What if we could fix the abnormal growth without having to kill the cells? That is what a team of researchers at the Mayo Clinic have just done. Their lab tests on human cells from breast and bladder cancers show that, with a relatively simple intervention, they can program cancer cells to grow normally again.

A Third of Very Elderly Americans ‘On Statins without Evidence’

August 25, 2015

(Medical News Today) – Statins are being used “without any evidence from testing” among very elderly people in the US, with levels of prescribing rising from 8.8% in 1999-2000 to 34.1% in 2011-2012 for people who have no vascular disease. The oldest age group, over 79 years, have the highest rate of statin use in the US, according to the study published in JAMA Internal Medicine, but this had not been investigated previously.

In Hospitals, a Little Bit of Rudeness Can Be a Very Big Deal

August 25, 2015

(The Conversation) – If you are writing up a report or making a hamburger for dinner, the costs of mistakes are inconvenient. Imagine if you are a doctor working on an infant in a NICU? Suddenly, the costs of simple mistakes caused by rudeness become much bigger. Shockingly, this is exactly what we found in a new study – rudeness causes medical teams to perform worse, and ultimately this could have huge costs for patients.

Women, Minorities Still Underrepresented in Medical Specialties

August 25, 2015

(Reuters) – Too few women and minorities are entering certain medical specialties in the U.S., researchers say. Diversifying the physician workforce may be key to addressing health disparities and inequities, Dr. Curtiland Deville of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, who worked on the study, said in an email. “Minority physicians continue to provide the majority of care for underserved and non-English speaking populations,” Dr. Deville added.

Open Bionics Robotic Hand for Amputees Wins Dyson Award

August 25, 2015

(BBC) – A prototype 3D-printed robotic hand that can be made faster and more cheaply than current alternatives is this year’s UK winner of the James Dyson Award. The Bristol-raised creator of the Open Bionics project says he can 3D-scan an amputee and build them a custom-fitted socket and hand in less than two days. It typically takes weeks or months to obtain existing products.

Study Reviews Effects of Antidepressants on Fertility

August 25, 2015

(Fox News) – In a new review focused on the effects of mental illness on fertility, researchers at The Ohio State University found there was not sufficient evidence to prove the use of antidepressants had detrimental effects on pregnancy. The study, published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, reviewed 37 studies.

Planned Parenthood Controversy Felt in Research Labs

August 25, 2015

(The Boston Globe) – The Harvard neuroscientist has conducted the painstaking work of examining fetal brain tissue since 2008, a field considered one of the most important avenues of medical research. If scientists can better understand how a human brain develops in its earliest stages, researchers say, they may eventually pinpoint the origins of neurological disorders such as autism, epilepsy, even schizophrenia. But recent controversy over undercover videos accusing Planned Parenthood of harvesting fetal tissue and selling the specimen for a profit has placed this research at the center of the country’s political fight over abortion.

Medicare Reconsiders Rule That Leaves Dying Patients Facing a Stark Choice

August 25, 2015

(Washington Post) – For more than 30 years, Medicare presented dying patients with a stark choice: They could continue treatments that might extend their lives or they could accept the medical and counseling services of hospice care meant to ease their way to death. They could not do both. Now, the federal government is experimenting with a change that would remove that either/or proposition. Beginning next year, people choosing to participate in a demonstration project will be able to receive Medicare hospice benefits while continuing treatment for the diseases that are killing them.

Consider Advance Care Planning Needs for LGBT Patients

August 25, 2015

(Med Page Today) – Such conversations must incorporate formal aspects of care planning and also invite consideration of each patient’s identity, including their values, relationships, fears, and relevant life experiences to this point. A person’s sense of self upon nearing the end of life can be shaped by factors well beyond the traditional categories of family, work history, cultural background, or religious affiliation, to include sexual orientation, gender identity, or past trauma, to name a few factors that could significantly inform end-of-life preferences.

We’re Tantalizingly Close to a New Era in Childbirth

August 25, 2015

(Tech Insider) – Doctors and scientists are working on a number of promising experimental technologies to try to make getting pregnant easier for older women. Most of these procedures build upon IVF, the most common form of assisted reproductive technology. It is a procedure in which a fertility doctor takes eggs from a woman’s ovaries and combines them with sperm for fertilization in the lab. The doctor then transfers one or more fertilized embryos to the woman’s uterus in hopes that one will implant and grow into a baby.

Assisted Dying Is Slowly Turing into a Fashionable, Liberal Cause

August 25, 2015

(The Telegraph) – It’s a terrible idea to base law upon individual cases of extreme circumstances. And while liberal reformers plea that they simply want to make the law reflect the realities of human experience, they overlook those human experiences that contradict their argument. Nearly 80 doctors across the country have written to the Telegraph to warn that the proposal could “devalue the most vulnerable in society.”

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