(The Wall Street Journal) – Ms. Zou is among a growing number of women in China who have gone public with their choice to freeze their eggs in the U.S. and elsewhere. That has ignited debate in a country that restricts fertility treatments as part of its family-planning controls. China has fewer than 20 sperm banks. And as for egg freezing, health officials say the procedure is available only to those who have cervical cancer or other diseases. And they have to be married.
(Medical Xpress) – Over 100,000 people in the US are waiting for a kidney transplant. Most of the kidneys that were transplanted in 2014 (about 17,000 transplants) are from deceased donors. Kidneys donated from living donors last longer, but the number of living donors has dropped over the past decade. Ethnic and racial disparities in getting a kidney transplant are common, and African Americans are the hardest hit.
(Eurekalert) – Researchers on the Wellcome Genome Campus reveal new genes involved in stem cell pluripotency, new subpopulations of cells and new methods to find meaning in the data. Published in Cell Stem Cell, the findings have implications for the study of early development. Stem cells exist in a ‘ground’ state before something triggers them to become develop into functional cells such as liver, heart or blood cells. What sparks that change has a lot to do with how, when and in what order the genes inside that cell are expressed, or turned on and off.
(News-Medical) – Missing a gene may be less problematic than you’d think. This is one of the conclusions that emerge from the most extensive catalogue of structural variations – changes in large sections of a person’s DNA sequence – to date. Created by researchers at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL), the University of Washington, and collaborators, this reference catalogue shows how these large-scale genetic alterations vary in populations across the globe, and will help guide future studies of genetics, evolution and disease. The work, carried out with the 1000 Genomes Project, is published today in Nature, alongside a paper on the project’s final outcomes.
(Health Day) – Only about one-third of women receive genetic counseling before they undergo testing to see if they have a gene mutation that increases their risk of breast or ovarian cancer, a new study reports. Such counseling is important prior to undergoing genetic testing for mutations of BRCA, a gene strongly linked to the risk of both cancers, the study authors said.
(Eurekalert) – Despite rapid expansion in hospital palliative care programs in the U.S., access to these programs nationwide varies across geographic regions and depends on factors such as hospital size and tax status, according to a new study published in Journal of Palliative Medicine, a peer-reviewed journal from Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers. The article is available free on the Journal of Palliative Medicine website until November 1, 2015.
(Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News) – Scientists at the University of Washington School of Medicine in St. Louis have devised a new metagenomics shotgun sequencing approach that they believe has the capacity to detect virtually any virus that infects people or animals. Thousands of different viruses are known to cause illness, but making a diagnosis can be an arduous task requiring a battery of different tests—mainly due to the insensitivity of current methods to detect low levels of viral genetic material.
(ProPublica) – ProPublica and AL.com began examining hospital drug-testing policies as part of an investigation into Alabama’s chemical endangerment law, the country’s toughest law targeting drug use in pregnancy. Since 2006, the law has been used to charge nearly 500 women with endangering their unborn children. In many cases, law enforcement officials cited hospital-administered drug tests as probable cause for arrest.
(BBC) – Thousands of critical medical systems, such as MRI machines, are available for hackers to access online, according to researchers. Some 68,000 medical systems from a large unnamed US health group have been exposed, they said. Security researchers Scott Erven and Mark Collao presented their findings at hacker conference Derbycon.
(Asian Scientist) – Researchers have uncovered the epigenetic mechanisms stem cells use to inhibit virus expression. This work, published in Cell, provides new molecular targets which could advance stem cell therapeutics and diagnostics. Several stem cell types including embryonic and hematopoietic stem cells are known to be capable of suppressing the activities of infected viruses and viral DNA residing in the host genome. This characteristic property, known as proviral silencing has not been fully understood.
(NPR) – Sooam’s dog-cloning service is controversial. It was started by Hwang Woo Suk, who became a scientific pariah in 2006, when his claim that he had created the first cloned human embryos in 2004 to produce human embryonic stem cells was discovered to be fraudulent. But no one doubts that Hwang is cloning dogs. The big question is: Why? For the money? To fund other research? To reclaim the spotlight? Hwang refused several requests by NPR for an interview, but he agreed to let me tour the facility with Kim, to see how the process is done.
(Healthline) – We still fear tinkering with the human genome in heritable ways, even as using genetic engineering to treat people who are sick begins to make real progress. It’s illegal to edit heritable DNA in many countries, though not in the United States. But we’ve left discussion of the ethical implications and the nuts and bolts of regulation to be worked out as the technology moves into reach. But in 2012, what once seemed only a future possibility became an immediate dilemma.
(Medscape) – In an era of reduced federal research grants and declining reimbursement for clinical care, philanthropy has become an increasingly important part of hospital funding. Although medical centers have long solicited donations to help fund research from the public and from patients who received care at the facility, a question remains: What role, if any, should physicians have in this process? There are ethical concerns when physicians solicit their own patients for donations, including concerns about patient confidentiality and physician–patient relations, according to a report published online in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.
(Time) – The video that Carly Fiorina graphically described at the last Republican presidential debate, depicting a moving fetus on a table following an apparent abortion, was released online in its entirety Tuesday morning, according to Gregg Cunningham, the founder of the Center for Bio-Ethical Reform, who collected the footage.
(Reuters) – Berg, a private company that uses artificial intelligence to discover new drugs and diagnostics, will help England’s national genomics project mine DNA and health data from thousands of British citizens for potential drug targets. Berg, based in Boston, was co-founded in 2006 by Silicon Valley real estate billionaire Carl Berg. Since then, it has been working to change the way drugs are discovered, working in partnership with key players such as the U.S. Department of Defense and the Parkinson’s Institute Clinical Center.
(The Conversation) – The program’s key targets were sophisticated and expensive medical tests – such as computed tomography (CT) scans and magnetic resonance imaging (MRIs) – being ordered in ever greater numbers, often unnecessarily. In the past ten years for example, GPs have increased their test ordering by more than 50%. This equates to around four million extra tests a year. While it might seem like common sense to want to take a test to see what’s wrong, the problem is that test results can often be misleading and unhelpful – and can start a cascade of further unnecessary tests and treatments.
(New Scientist) – Uterus transplants have been given the go-ahead in the UK. From next year, 10 women will receive a donated uterus as part of a clinical trial, following the success of a similar trial in Sweden. Ethical approval for the trial was granted by the NHS Health Research Authority, and although team leader Richard Smith is based at the Imperial College Healthcare Trust in London, it isn’t yet known where the transplant surgeries will take place.
(New York Times) – The guidelines increase by nine million the number of people who should get treatment and by untold millions the number who should get protective doses. Previous guidelines recommended them for gay men, prostitutes, people with infected partners and others; the new guidelines effectively bring in millions of women and girls in Africa. How much that will cost and how it will be paid for are not yet determined.
(MD Magazine) – Japanese researchers from the Institute for Integrated Cell-Material Sciences (iCeMS) at Kyoto University have developed a novel technique that could lead to therapies for pain relief in patients with intractable pain, possibly including cancer-related pain. The technique uses gold nanorods—tiny rods that are 1-100 nanometers wide and long—to target pain receptors.
(NPR) – Brown is the author of The Shift, which follows four patients during the course of a 12-hour shift in a hospital cancer ward. A former oncology nurse, Brown now provides patients with in-home, end-of-life care. Talking — and listening — are both important parts of her job as a palliative care nurse. This is especially true on the night shift. “Night and waking up in the night can bring a clarity,” she says. “It can be a clarity of being able to face your fears, it can be a clarity of being overwhelmed by your fears, and either way, I feel like it’s really a privilege to be there for people.”