(New York Times) – A federal appeals court Tuesday handed the Obama administration another victory in its effort to guarantee coverage of contraceptives under the Affordable Care Act, rejecting a challenge by the Little Sisters of the Poor, an order of Roman Catholic nuns. The United States Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit, in Denver, found that the nuns could opt out of a requirement to provide contraceptive coverage under an “accommodation” devised by the administration.
(Genome Web) – In addition to picking up fetal chromosomal abnormalities, non-invasive prenatal screening tests have also uncovered multiple instances of maternal cancer, according to a paper appearing in the Journal of the American Medical Association this week.
Groundbreaking Clinical Trial to Assess Use of Newborn Stem Cells in the Treatment of Pediatric Stroke
(PR Newswire) – Cord Blood Registry® announces the launch of an FDA-regulated clinical trial to investigate autologous stem cell therapy in children diagnosed as having had a prenatal or perinatal pediatric stroke. To be conducted at the Florida Hospital for Children, the Phase 1 trial is the first to examine the use of newborn autologous stem cell therapy in the treatment of pediatric stroke. Following this trial, the goal is to develop Phase 2 studies that will further assess safety and measure efficacy in the use of stem cells to improve common symptoms of this condition.
(Business Standard) – A Spanish singer-songwriter has performed live for a very special audience – 380 embryos in an IVF clinic – in a first of its kind effort to boost fertilisation rates. Singer Antonio Orozco – famous throughout Spain and Latin America – played a very intimate gig last week for 380 embryos currently gestating in the Institut Marques in Barcelona.
(Times of India) – Fair, tall and, most importantly, vegetarian. These are not specifications from a matrimonial ad, but attributes childless couples are looking for in egg donors. Gynaecologists who run in vitro fertilization centres in the city are increasingly seeing couples keen on knowing the caste and religion and, if they can help it, a hint of the donor’s IQ. True to type, Indians are turning the focus on food habits too.
(Business Insider) – A woman’s fertility declines with age, even when she tries to get pregnant through in vitro fertilization (IVF), and a recent study sheds some light on exactly why. IVF is a procedure in which eggs are taken from a woman’s ovaries and fertilized with sperm in a petri dish. Then one or more fertilized embryos are placed in the woman’s uterus, where one will hopefully implant and grow into a baby.
(Sydney Morning Herald) – More Australians are taking their own lives with a drug recommended by euthanasia groups, including people aged in their teens, 20s and 30s. New data from the national coronial information system shows 120 people died by taking Nembutal – dubbed the “peaceful pill” – between July 2000 and December 2012. The number of deaths from the drug reached a high of 24 in 2011, compared with nine in 2001.
(The Guardian) – “Designer babies” seems like a concept from a dystopian future, but they’re here now: would-be parents who utilize in-vitro fertilization to conceive often also have the option of genetically testing embryos and then picking which one to implant. Scientists can test for hundreds of things, from fatal genetic traits like Tay-Sachs and Huntington disease to non-fatal but culturally devalued embodiments like Down syndrome, deafness, blindness and intersex conditions.
(Medscape) – “I would be doing the CPR with tears coming down sometimes, and saying, ‘I’m sorry, I’m sorry, goodbye.’ Because I knew it very likely was not going to be successful. It just seemed a terrible way to end someone’s life.” Gorlitsky wants something different for herself and for her loved ones. And most other doctors do too: A Stanford University study shows almost 90 percent of doctors would forgo resuscitation and aggressive treatment if facing a terminal illness. It was about 10 years ago, after a colleague had died swiftly and peacefully, that Dr. Ken Murray first noticed doctors die differently than the rest of us.
(Huffington Post) – It seems an obvious thing to do, right? I mean why shouldn’t research be used to help alleviate the struggles of some of the world’s most vulnerable people? Well, as it turns out, researchers do not exactly have the greatest ethics track record when it relates to working with those most vulnerable. Much of our collective spirit in this regard can be embodied in how we often respond to a single phrase: “Human experiment.”
(Business Insider) – If those damaged cells could be replaced with healthy ones that are able to do their jobs, these diseases — and others like them — could perhaps be cured. At this point, that’s much easier said than done, but scientists are working on a way to take healthy cells of one type, reprogram them so they transform into the type of cell needed, and then replace damaged cells with the repurposed ones. The procedure, called direct reprogramming, would make it possible “to redirect cell fate,” doctors Eduardo Marbán and Eugenio Cingolani of Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute write in The Journal of the American Medical Association.
(Bloomberg Business) – Some U.S. companies will be able to claim religious objections to avoid covering birth control for their employees, under rules finalized Friday in the wake of a Supreme Court decision last year. The rules, which build on a case tied to the Hobby Lobby Stores Inc. chain, say the boards of closely held firms would need to adopt a resolution stating their objection to contraception in order to qualify. The rules also include a way for women employed by those firms to obtain birth control coverage, the Department of Health and Human Services said in a statement Friday.
(Quanta Magazine) – DNA stores our genetic code in an elegant double helix. But some argue that this elegance is overrated. “DNA as a molecule has many things wrong with it,” said Steven Benner, an organic chemist at the Foundation for Applied Molecular Evolution in Florida. Nearly 30 years ago, Benner sketched out better versions of both DNA and its chemical cousin RNA, adding new letters and other additions that would expand their repertoire of chemical feats.
(NPR) – Over the last few years, Oregon has quietly become something of a center for women willing to carry children for those unable to get pregnant. There are several reasons for that: lenient laws, a critical mass of successful fertility clinics and a system for amending a birth certificate pre-birth. But surrogacy arrangements are often informal agreements and they can go wrong. A surrogate may face unexpected medical bills, or the intended parents may change their mind.
(U.S. News and World Report) – End-of-life care can be fraught with difficult decisions, but a new study finds that since 2000 there has been no increase in the number of Americans with cancer who compose “living wills” to help guide the process. The study, led by Dr. Amol Narang of the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore, did find a rise in the percentage of cancer patients who had designated power of attorney to another person — from 52 percent of patients surveyed in 2000 to 74 percent in 2012.
(Associated Press) – Urged on by the medical industry and patients’ groups, the House overwhelmingly approved a bipartisan bill that would speed federal approval of drugs and medical devices and boost biomedical research. The measure’s easy 344-77 passage on Friday came despite objections from consumer organizations and others arguing the measure would erode government safeguards against dangerous and ineffective products.
(Reuters) – Tests on the Ebola virus that claimed Liberia’s first victim since it was declared Ebola-free in May showed it was closely related to an earlier Liberian strain, the World Health Organization and a health official said on Friday. The findings suggest the disease was never entirely eliminated from the West African country.
(Medical Xpress) – Canadian researchers have launched the world’s first clinical trial of a novel investigational therapy that uses a combination of two viruses to attack and kill cancer cells, and stimulate an anti-cancer immune response. Previous research by this team and others worldwide suggests that this approach could be very powerful, and could have fewer side effects than conventional chemotherapy and radiation, although it will take years to rigorously test through this trial and others.
(Associated Press) – Poland’s Senate approved a government bill that provides coherent regulations for in vitro fertilization and makes the procedure also available to unwed couples, part of a larger effort to promote more births in the aging nation.
(Washington Post) – The Food and Drug Administration on Thursday strengthened safety warnings on widely used over-the-counter and prescription painkillers, such as iburprofen and naproxen, letting consumers know that these medications can increase people’s chances of a heart attack or stroke.