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Shrink the P Value for Significance, Raise the Bar for Research: A Renewed Call

April 19, 2018

(Medscape) – Indeed, scientists and journals should replace the P value threshold for significance, typically P < .05, with one tenth the magnitude, Ioannidis argues in a viewpoint published March 22 in JAMA. The new P = .005 standard would be a temporary fix until the field more consistently adopts and ingrains a more clinically relevant statistical test, or several depending on the type of analysis, he proposes. That P values are currently “misinterpreted, overtrusted, and misused” means that a research finding within the .05 standard “is wrongly equated with a finding or an outcome (eg, an association or a treatment effect) being true, valid, and worth acting on,” Ioannidis writes.

Outsourcing Is In

April 19, 2018

(Nature) – Alokta Chakrabarti manages drug-candidate identification and discovery for client pharmaceutical companies. As a project team leader at the contract research organization (CRO) ProQinase in Freiburg, Germany, she spends her days meeting clients, working at the bench, flying through data analysis — and chasing a lot of deadlines. A few decades ago, drug makers did their own discovery work, along with every other element of getting a drug or medical device to the marketplace. But today, nearly anything that a pharmaceutical, biotechnology or medical-device business needs to do — from designing assays to planning and running clinical trials — can and may be outsourced to CROs.

The Surgeon Who Experimented on Slaves

April 18, 2018

(The Atlantic) – The man whose name appears in medical textbooks, whose likeness is memorialized in statues, is J. Marion Sims. Celebrated as the “father of modern gynecology,” Sims practiced the surgical techniques that made him famous on enslaved women: Lucy, Anarcha, Betsey, and the unknown others. He performed 30 surgeries on Anarcha alone, all without anesthesia, as it was not yet widespread. He also invented the modern speculum, and the Sims’s position for vaginal exams, both of which he first used on these women.

Digital Remains Should Be Treated with the Same Care and Respect as Physical Remains

April 18, 2018

(Eurekalert) – Our internet activity, commonly referred to as digital remains, lives on long after we die. In recent years, as firms such as Facebook and experimental start-ups have sought to monetize this content by allowing people to socialise with the dead online, the boundaries around acceptable afterlife activity and grief exploitation, have become increasingly blurry. To date, there has been little effort to build frameworks that ensure ethical usage of digital remains for commercial purposes.

Liver Transplants Are Better All Around When You Hold the Ice

April 18, 2018

(Los Angeles Times) – To preserve more livers for transplant patients who desperately need them, surgeons should take newly harvested organs out of their ice baths and immerse them instead in a warm, nutrient-rich soup, new research suggests. In a head-to-head comparison of the two methods, preserving donor livers in conditions that mimic a living body resulted in 20% more organs being transplanted into patients, according to a study published Wednesday in the journal Nature.

Young People More Likely to Shift Toward Supporting Abortion Rights, Poll Finds

April 18, 2018

(NPR) – A new national poll finds a growing divide between younger and older Americans on abortion and reproductive health care — a shift that may be driven in large part by changing attitudes toward religion. In the survey from the Public Religion Research Institute, or PRRI, respondents between the ages of 18 and 29 were more likely to report that their views on abortion had changed in recent years — and when they moved, they tended to move in favor of abortion rights. Of those young people whose opinions had changed, 25 percent said they became more supportive of legalized abortion compared to 9 percent who became less supportive.

Researchers Develop New Process to Differentiate Stem Cells

April 18, 2018

(Medical Xpress) – As scientists try to find early therapy options to fight degenerative disc disease, there has been considerable interest in harnessing stem cells to restore nucleus pulposus, or NP. Previous research shows human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs)—generated directly from adult cells—can express markers for a wide variety of cells, including those that secrete NP. Now, a collaborative team of scientists at Washington University in St. Louis has developed a new process to generate NP-like cells from hiPSCs, one that truly goes back to the beginning and mimics the process of embryonic development.

How ‘Ninja Polymers’ Are Fighting Killer Superbugs

April 18, 2018

(BBC) – With advances in stem cell research and nanotechnology helping us fight illnesses from heart disease to superbugs, is the fusion of biology and technology speeding us towards a sci-fi future – part human, part synthetic? In Ridley Scott’s seminal blockbuster Blade Runner, humanity has harnessed bio-engineering to create a race of replicants that look, act and sound human – but are made entirely from synthetic material.  We may be far from realising that sci-fi future, but synthetics are beginning to have a profound effect on medicine.

There’s a 24-Fold Rise in Organ Transplants from Drug Overdose Donors

April 18, 2018

(CNN) – As the opioid epidemic has skyrocketed in the United States, a rise in the number of drug overdose deaths has contributed to a rise in organ transplants, made possible by overdose-death donors, across the country. A study published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine on Monday now reveals just how much of an increase there has been in the number of overdose-death donors, from being only 1.1% of all donors in 2000 to 13.4% in 2017.

The UK Says It Can’t Lead on AI Spending, So Will Have to Lead on AI Ethics Instead

April 18, 2018

(The Verge) – As governments around the world plan for their AI-powered futures, the UK is preparing to take on a somewhat scholarly and moral mantle. In a report published today by the House of Lords, which will be used to guide future government policy, a committee recommended that the UK “forge a distinctive role for itself as a pioneer in ethical AI.”

Are Clinical Trials Being Oversold to Cancer Patients?

April 18, 2018

(Medscape) – Cancer patients are often encouraged to enter a clinical trial, especially when their disease has become metastatic and they have few options left. But are they getting the full picture? A number of well-established medical centers frequently advertise the opportunity for patients to participate in clinical trials, implying that there may be a real benefit to doing so. Although many patients may in fact benefit from a clinical trial, a new article suggests that the advertisements may be fueling misconceptions.

Organs from Drug Overdose Victims Could Save the Lives of Patients on Transplant Waiting List

April 17, 2018

(Los Angeles Times) – The widening tragedy that is the U.S. drug-overdose epidemic could have an improbable silver lining: for the 120,000 desperate Americans on the waiting list for a donated organ, the line could get a little shorter. In 2000, only 149 organs from donors who suffered a fatal drug overdose were transplanted into patients waiting for a replacement kidney, heart, liver or lungs. In 2016, overdose victims donated 3,533 such organs for transplant.

Nursing Homes Routinely Refuse People on Addiction Treatment–Which Some Experts Say Is Illegal

April 17, 2018

(STAT News) – Nursing facilities routinely turn away patients seeking post-hospital care if they are taking medicine to treat opioid addiction, a practice that legal experts say violates the Americans with Disabilities Act. After discharge from the hospital, many patients require further nursing care, whether for a short course of intravenous antibiotics, or for a longer stay, such as to rehabilitate after a stroke. But STAT has found that many nursing facilities around the country refuse to accept such patients, often because of stigma, gaps in staff training, and the widespread misconception that abstinence is superior to medications for treating addiction.

U.S. Drug Agency to Propose Rules to Rein in Opioid Manufacturing

April 17, 2018

(Reuters) – The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration on Tuesday unveiled plans to rein in the amount of opioids that can be manufactured by drugmakers in a given year, in an effort to combat the deadly opioid epidemic that has plagued the United States. The DEA’s proposed changes to its regulations over addictive drug manufacturing quotas are expected to be formally announced by Attorney General Jeff Sessions in a speech on Tuesday.

FDA Staff Backs Epilepsy Drug Made from Cannabis Plant

April 17, 2018

(UPI) – Staff members at the Food and Drug Administration have approved an experimental drug made from a marijuana plant that is used to treat seizures associated with two rare forms of epilepsy affecting children. The FDA briefing document, released Tuesday, was prepared before an advisory committee meeting scheduled for Thursday. The next step is for the FDA commissioners to approve the drug.

Barbara Bush’s End-of-Life Decision Stirs Debate Over ‘Comfort Care’

April 17, 2018

(Kaiser Health News) – As she nears death at age 92, former first lady Barbara Bush’s announcement that she is seeking “comfort care” is shining a light — and stirring debate — on what it means to stop trying to fight terminal illness. Bush, the wife of former President George H.W. Bush, has been suffering from congestive heart failure and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, according to family spokesman Jim McGrath. In a public statement Sunday, the family announced she has decided “not to seek additional medical treatment and will focus on comfort care.”

Arizona Law Says Your Ex Can Make Babies with Your Embryos Even If You Don’t Want To

April 17, 2018

(Vice News) – When Ruby Torres found out she had cancer in 2014, she knew the chemo and radiation treatments could destroy her fertility — so she didn’t take any chances. The Phoenix woman quickly married her fiancé and prepared to undergo in-vitro fertilization (IVF), freezing several embryos that the pair could later use. Torres survived her treatment. Her marriage didn’t. And her ex-husband, who filed for divorce in 2016, no longer wanted to use the still-frozen embryos.

Inconsistent Ranking of Heart Transplant Recipients Unjust

April 17, 2018

(Medscape) – Access to heart transplantation can be unfair in the United States, with patients in some regions ranking higher in priority because cardiologists “overtreat,” which makes patients look sicker and therefore more suitable for emergent intervention than others on the wait list, new research shows. Cardiologists are not doing anything wrong; the system encourages these practices, said William Parker, MD, Pulmonary and Critical Care Fellow at the University of Chicago. “I think they all have good intentions and are trying to do what’s best for their patients.”

Do I Still Need to Worry About Zika?

April 17, 2018

(TIME) – Warmer weather signals the onset of vacations, destination weddings and—unfortunately—mosquitoes. Since the Zika virus emerged three years ago in the Americas, cases have declined, but many people wonder if they still need to consider the mosquito-borne disease when making travel plans.“The bottom line is yes,” says Dr. Paul Mead, a medical officer in the CDC’s division of vector-borne diseases: Americans do still need to take precautions to protect against Zika.

A Euthanasia Expert Just Unveiled His ‘Suicide Machine’ at an Amsterdam Funeral Fair

April 16, 2018

(The Washington Post) – It is not the most cheerful offering. But euthanasia activist Philip Nitschke thinks he is about to revolutionize how we die. At a funeral fair in Amsterdam last week, he showed off his “suicide machine.” The “Sarco,” short for sarcophagus, is designed to “provide people with a death when they wish to die,” Nitschke, an Australian national, told the news agency Agence France-Presse. It comes with a detachable coffin and a hookup for a nitrogen container.

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