Bioethics.com

Subscribe to Bioethics.com feed
Your global information source on bioethics news, issues, & events
Updated: 5 hours 6 min ago

Health Officials Push for Vaccine against Neglected Tropical Virus

February 6, 2018

(Nature) – When the chikungunya virus hit the French Caribbean territories of Martinique and Guadeloupe in a 2013–15 epidemic, around half of the population fell ill. Few people died from the disease, which causes high fever and severe joint pain. But years after the infection, many of those affected still struggle to dress themselves, to grip objects and to close their fists, says Fabrice Simon, a chikungunya researcher at Laveran military teaching hospital in Marseille, France.

Up to One in 10 U.S. Kids May Have Fetal Alcohol Disorders

February 6, 2018

(Reuters) – As many as one in 10 U.S. children may have fetal alcohol spectrum disorders, far more than previously thought, a new study of first graders suggests.  Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder is an umbrella term for a range of physical, psychological, behavioral and cognitive problems that can develop in children whose mothers drink during pregnancy. The most severe form, fetal alcohol syndrome, can cause stunted growth, learning disabilities, bone and joint deformities, heart defects, and hyperactivity.

The Surprising Geography of Opioid Use around the World

February 6, 2018

(Quartz) – The pattern of opioids use varies widely around the world. In the United States, one daily dose of opioids was prescribed for every 20 people from 2013-15. In similarly wealthy Japan, one daily dose was prescribed for every 800 people over the same period. As part of international drug-control conventions, countries report the use of narcotics—like opioids, cocaine, and cannabis—for legal medicinal and scientific use to the United Nations each year.

Gonorrhea in China Shows Waning Susceptibility to WHO-Recommended Antibiotics

February 6, 2018

(Medical Xpress) – Neisseria gonorrhoeae (N. gonorrhoeae) strains resistant to azithromycin and/or with decreased susceptibility to ceftriaxone are common in China, according to a prevalence study published this week in PLOS Medicine. The study, conducted by Yueping Yin of the National Center for STD Control & Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences & Peking Union Medical College Institute of Dermatology, Nanjing, China, and colleagues, also showed that the prevalence of dual resistance to these agents in N. gonorrhoeae isolates increased from 2013 to 2016. The results suggest that dual therapy with azithromycin and ceftriaxone, which has been recommended by WHO and many countries to treat gonorrhea, may not prove effective in China.

A Brain Implant Improved Memory, Scientists Report

February 6, 2018

(New York Times) – Scientists have developed a brain implant that noticeably boosted memory in its first serious test run, perhaps offering a promising new strategy to treat dementia, traumatic brain injuries and other conditions that damage memory. The device works like a pacemaker, sending electrical pulses to aid the brain when it is struggling to store new information, but remaining quiet when it senses that the brain is functioning well.

Cracks in the Code: Why Mapping Your DNA May Be Less Reliable Than You Think

February 6, 2018

(The Globe and Mail) – Launched publicly in Canada in 2012, the PGP aims to build an open, online database of Canadian genomes for use by researchers anywhere and more than 1,100 Canadians have signed up so far. But by unravelling the entire codes of just the inaugural participants, what the project leaders have found is both promising and perplexing: medically relevant information in each volunteer, but also a vast trove of mysterious quirks and dramatic glitches that none of them expected to see in a cohort of healthy people.

Why More Teen Girls Are Getting Genital Plastic Surgery

February 6, 2018

(TIME) – Between 2014 and 2015, there was an 80% increase in the number of girls 18 and younger receiving genital plastic surgery, according to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery. The numbers shot up so quickly that the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) issued new guidelines this month for doctors who perform labial and breast surgery. Among the recommendations: physicians are now encouraged to screen girls for body dysmorphic disorder, an obsession with an imagined or slight defect in appearance.

How Cancer Immunotherapy is Getting Better

February 6, 2018

(TIME) – Last year, the Food and Drug Administration approved two new immunotherapies to treat certain leukemias and lymphomas. Now, in a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers detail who is most likely to benefit from the treatments, called CAR T cell therapy. CAR T cell therapy trains the body’s immune system to target and destroy cancer cells in the blood; scientists take people’s own immune cells (T cells) and genetically engineer them to seek out and destroy cancer cells.

A Biohacker Injected Himself with a DIY Herpes Treatment in Front of a Live Audience

February 5, 2018

(The Verge) – A biohacker known for live experiments injected himself with a DIY herpes treatment in front of an audience at Body Hacking Con in Austin last night. Aaron Traywick, 28, who leads biotech firm Ascendance Biomedical, used an experimental herpes treatment that did not go through the typical route of clinical trials to test its safety. Instead of being developed by research scientists in laboratories, it was created by a biohacker named Andreas Stuermer, who “holds a masters degree and is a bioentrepreneur and science lover,” according to a conference bio.

‘Right to Die’ Program Goes into Effect

February 5, 2018

(The Korea Herald) – South Korea’s end-of-life program that enables individuals to abandon life-prolonging medical treatment when there is no chance of recovery went into effect Sunday, following the government’s three-month pilot program that began in October, during which 107 terminally ill patients signed the agreement.

A Search for Insomnia Gene Involving 1.3 Million People Is the Largest Genetic Study Ever

February 5, 2018

(MIT Technology Review) – In a genetic study of unprecedented size, scientists have searched for inherited causes of insomnia in the DNA 1,310,010 people. They found 956 different genes linked to the sleep disorder, drawing closer to an explanation of what causes it and, perhaps, to new ways to treat it. The study appears to be the first gene search to involve DNA collected from more than one million people.

Almost 1 Million Dengue Vaccinations and Three Children’s Deaths Later, Doctors Admit They May Have Got It Wrong

February 5, 2018

(Newsweek) – The Philippines said on Friday that the anti-dengue vaccine Dengvaxia may be connected to three deaths in the country, according to a government-ordered inquiry, and that the drug is not ready for mass immunization. Sanofi revealed in November that Dengvaxia – the world’s first dengue vaccine – might increase the risk of severe disease in people who had never been exposed to the virus. The news prompted an uproar in the Philippines, where more than 800,000 school-age children had been vaccinated in 2016.

Fully Funding IVF Would Improve Safety for Mothers, Experts Say

February 5, 2018

(BBC) – Full government funding for IVF treatment would reduce the risk of harm to mothers and babies and save the NHS money, health experts have said. It would help lower cases of women who have more than one embryo transferred into the uterus, which can cause risky multiple pregnancies, their study says. Multiple pregnancies are the “greatest avoidable risk of IVF”, it says. The Department of Health said the NHS should be offering IVF for all patients who meet existing criteria.

Olympics Could Require Athletes’ Genetic Code to Test for Doping

February 5, 2018

(Wired) – For years, the World Anti-Doping Agency has considered requiring all Olympic athletes to submit copies of their genetic code. It would work as a check on so-called “gene doping,” the idea of changing the body’s biological machinery to make it stronger, run faster, or recover more quickly. A clean slate would reveal any nefarious performance-boosting tweaks—like, theoretically, altering the expression of fast-twitch muscle genes to engineer a perfect sprinter.

A New Edition of Perspectives in Biology and Medicine Is Now Available

February 5, 2018

Perspectives in Biology and Medicine (vol. 60, no. 3, special issue, 2017) is available online by subscription only.

Articles include:

  • “The Abuse of Futility” by Lawrence J. Schneiderman, Nancy S. Jecker, and Albert R. Jonsen

 

Brain Genes Hint at Why Zika Doesn’t Always Cause Microcephaly

February 2, 2018

(New Scientist) – Just one in 10 babies exposed to the Zika virus during pregnancy get the brain damage that causes microcephaly – abnormally small heads. Now there’s a first clue about what stops this from happening in the rest – their gene activity.Blood samples were taken from three pairs of non-identical twins in Brazil. In each of these pairs, one baby had brain damage and the other didn’t. Stem cells were then made from their blood cells, and matured into brain cells, allowing researchers to see how the brain cells naturally differ between the twins.

Purdue’s Oxycontin Targeted at Judge’s Opioid Summit

February 2, 2018

(Bloomberg) – Local governments pressing lawsuits to hold pharmaceutical companies responsible for the opioid epidemic told a judge that taking the strongest version of Purdue Pharma Inc.’s Oxycontin painkiller off the market would have immediate results in addressing the crisis, according to people at the meeting. Purdue’s 80-milligram version of Oxycontin is snorted by thousands of abusers, so removing it would be a good first step, experts for cities and counties and state attorneys general told U.S. District Judge Dan Polster, according to three people in attendance at the Wednesday meeting.

On Super Bowl Sunday, Babies in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit Will Be Lonely

February 2, 2018

(Scientific American) – As a neonatologist at a large children’s hospital, I frequently walk by a baby’s room and see no one by the bedside—day or night. The tiny premature babies spend entire days inside incubators without being held. Bigger babies who are beginning to develop social skills cry anxiously, wanting attention from someone—anyone—even from the cleaning crew in passing. Aside from the heartbreak of seeing a baby alone, lack of family visits can have negative consequences to an infant’s developmental outcome.

Early Access to Palliative Care Associated with Better Quality of Life

February 2, 2018

(Medical Xpress) – Patients with advanced cancer have a significantly better quality of life in the weeks before they die if they receive early access to palliative care, according to research published today. Researchers at the University of Leeds’ Academic Unit of Palliative Care, funded by the charity Yorkshire Cancer Research, found that a longer duration of palliative care is associated with fewer emergency hospital admissions and fewer hospital deaths. Although hospital is the most appropriate place of death for some patients, care is generally rated significantly lower compared to home, a hospice or care home.

Dutch Doctors Euthanize 29-Year-Old Woman with Depression

February 2, 2018

(Catholic Herald) – Doctors in Holland have performed the euthanasia of a young woman who was suffering from mental health problems. Aurelia Brouwers, 29, who was physically fit, was given a lethal injection less than a month after winning an eight-year battle to end her life. Her bouts of depression, she argued, made her life intolerable and led her to attempt suicide, and commit self-harm and arson.

Pages