(UPI) – Doctors in Philadelphia completed the first pediatric double hand transplant on an 8-year-old boy who’d had his hands and feet amputated, in addition to a kidney transplant, after a serious infection when he was 2. A 40-member medical team spent 10 hours on the intricate surgery, which will keep Zion Harvey recovering at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia for several weeks before his rehabilitation continues when he and his mother return to their home in Baltimore.
(Medical Xpress) – Charging people to participate in research studies is likely to undermine the fundamental ethical basis of clinical research, according to a new paper written by bioethicists, including lead author Ezekiel Emanuel, MD, PhD, chair of the department of Medical Ethics and Health Policy at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, and published in Science Translational Medicine. The paper outlines the arguments for and against the concept of “pay-to-play” research, ultimately concluding that this type of approach compromises the overall integrity of clinical research.
(Nature) – In 2008, researchers in Japan reported1 that they had prompted embryonic stem cells from mice and humans to form layered balls reminiscent of a cerebral cortex. Since then, efforts to grow stem cells into rudimentary organs have taken off. Using carefully timed chemical cues, researchers around the world have produced three-dimensional structures that resemble tissue from the eye, gut, liver, kidney, pancreas, prostate, lung, stomach and breast. These bits of tissue, called organoids because they mimic some of the structure and function of real organs, are furthering knowledge of human development, serving as disease models and drug-screening platforms, and might eventually be used to rescue damaged organs.
(Medical Xpress) – A first-of-its kind prostate ‘organoid’ grown from human embryonic stem cells has enabled researchers to show that exposure to bisphenol A, a chemical in many plastics, can cause overproduction of prostate stem cells in the developing organ—and thus may increase men’s risk of prostate cancer.
(Reuters) – The world’s first malaria vaccine, which won a green light last week from European drugs regulators, will be rolled out gradually in Africa, its maker said on Wednesday. “We believe that there should be a thoughtful, staged roll-out of this vaccine, particularly because it is important that we acquire more knowledge about where it really works the best,” GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) Chief Executive Andrew Witty told reporters. Experts also need to build up a bigger database on safety, he added, since it is the first time a vaccine will have been launched in Africa without any history of use in developed countries.
(Reuters) – Talk therapy delivered by two-way video call helped older veterans with depression as much as in-person therapy sessions, a U.S. study found. Many seniors face obstacles to getting help for depression, including mobility issues and fear of social stigma, researchers say, so telemedicine might expand their access to treatment.
(USA Today) – The U.S. health care system has scored a medical hat trick, reducing deaths, hospitalizations and costs, a new study shows. Mortality rates among Medicare patients fell 16% from 1999 to 2013. That’s equal to more than 300,000 fewer deaths a year in 2013 than in 1999, said cardiologist Harlan Krumholz, lead author of a new study in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) and a professor at the Yale School of Medicine.
(Medical News Today) – A study of 100 psychiatric patients in Belgium reveals that those with depression and personality disorders were most likely to request help to die due to “unbearable suffering.” Study co-author Dr. Lieve Thienpont, of University Hospital Brussels in Belgium, and colleagues publish their findings in the journal BMJ Open. In Belgium, euthanasia – defined as a physician’s “act of deliberately ending a patient’s life at the latter’s request” by giving them life-terminating drugs – has been legal since 2002.
(The Conversation) – What if I told you that half of the studies published in scientific journals today – the ones upon which news coverage of medical advances is often based – won’t hold up under scrutiny? You might say I had gone mad. No one would ever tolerate that kind of waste in a field as important – and expensive, to the tune of roughly US$30 billion in federal spending per year – as biomedical research, right? After all, this is the crucial work that hunts for explanations for diseases so they can better be treated or even cured.
(The San Diego Union-Tribune) – Personalized medicine is the future of health care, but it is not yet clear exactly what that means for Medicare. As it reaches its 50th anniversary Thursday, the nation’s largest health program is at a critical moment. The program, which is projected to spend more than $600 billion this year, must find ways to slow its spending as personalized medicine creates an ever-greater demand for expensive new medicines and tests with price tags closer to Ferrari than Ford.
(The Conversation) – Last month a team of doctors and scientists made the case to regulators at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to consider approving anti-aging drugs as a new pharmaceutical class. Such a designation would treat aging as disease rather than a natural process, potentially opening the door to government funding for anti-aging drug trials.
(Nature) – A cadre of researchers is working to make sense of the discrepancies. They are finding a variety of factors that can influence a checklist’s success or failure, ranging from the attitudes of staff to the ways that administrators introduce the tool. The research is part of the growing field of implementation science, which examines why some innovations that work wonderfully in experimental trials tend to fall flat in the real world. The results could help to improve the introduction of other evidence-based programmes, in medicine and beyond.
(Reuters) – The U.S. Navy is investigating a complaint that seeks the evacuation of civilian and military lawyers from parts of the U.S. base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, following reports of cancer cases among personnel working on the trials of detainees there. At least seven civilians and military members who worked on detainee trials at Guantanamo Bay have been diagnosed with cancer, according to the complaint, which was filed with the U.S. Defense Department’s Office of the Inspector General.
(Medical Xpress) – In the current issue of Biological Psychiatry, Dr. Darin Dougherty and his colleagues report the results of the first large-scale, randomized, sham-controlled trial of deep brain stimulation treatment for treatment-resistant symptoms of depression. Thirty patients received active DBS or sham ‘placebo’ stimulation for 16 weeks, targeted at the ventral capsule and ventral striatum, brain regions implicated in reward and motivation. A two-year open-label continuation phase followed. This study, conducted at five medical centers across the U.S. that collaborated on the project, failed to find that DBS reduced depression symptoms better than sham stimulation.
(Medical Xpress) – Use of gene therapy to deliver a protein that suppresses the development of female reproductive organs may improve the survival of patients with ovarian cancer that has recurred after chemotherapy, which happens 70 percent of the time and is invariably fatal. In their report receiving online publication in PNAS Early Edition, a Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) research team describes how a single injection of a modified version of Mullerian Inhibiting Substance, a protein critical to sexual development, carried on a commonly used viral vector suppressed the growth of chemotherapy-resistant ovarian tumors in a mouse model.
(Business Insider) – The United States on Monday accused Russia, Thailand, Iran and Libya of insufficient action against human trafficking, in a damning report on a global scourge which the State Department decried as “modern slavery.” Those nations — as well as Venezuela, Algeria, Syria, Yemen, North Korea, South Sudan and Zimbabwe — were at the bottom of a ranking compiled annually by the State Department and announced by Secretary of State John Kerry.
(Managed Care Magazine) – How much is a cancer medication really worth? The answer can depend upon whom you ask. But now, there is a new pair of tools to help sort out this vexing and contentious issue. One is a website that serves as an online calculator that can compare the cost of 54 cancer drugs with hypothetical prices based on certain considerations that are supposed to reflect value.
(Bangkok Post) – A foreign same-sex couple Monday vowed not to leave Thailand without their daughter after a local surrogate mother rescinded permission for them to take the baby she gave birth to. Gordon Lake, an American, and his Spanish husband, Manuel Valero, say the woman decided not to let them leave the kingdom with their daughter Carmen after she discovered the couple were gay. The dispute has revived tensions in Thailand over its controversial reputation for once being a thriving international surrogacy hub.
(The Guardian) – Over 1,000 high-profile artificial intelligence experts and leading researchers have signed an open letter warning of a “military artificial intelligence arms race” and calling for a ban on “offensive autonomous weapons”.
(Washington Post) – The Supreme Court is likely to revisit the contentious subject of abortion next term, as lower courts have split over whether various restrictions on abortion and regulations of abortion providers constitute impermissible “undue burdens” on the constitutionally protected abortion right. Under existing precedent, states may regulate and even seek to discourage abortion provided that the “purpose or effect” of the regulations is not to “place a substantial obstacle in the path of a woman seeking an abortion” before the fetus has attained viability.