(Medical Xpress) – On March 9, 1981, just minutes past midnight, Mary Gohlke, a 45-year-old Arizona woman dying of primary pulmonary hypertension, was wheeled into a Stanford Hospital operating room for a heart-lung transplant surgery that would become a medical milestone. For many months, as her health failed, Gohlke had waited, stuck: Lung transplants were technically feasible, but no human lung transplant patient had survived more than 23 days.
(Sydney Morning Herald) – Australian children with cerebral palsy will be infused with umbilical cord blood, in a world first medical trial at the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne. The study hopes to find that stem cells from cord blood can repair brain injury that leads to cerebral palsy, the most common physical disability of Australian children.
(The Guardian) – A dozen infants who were born with cataracts have regained their sight after scientists used a radical new stem cell therapy to regenerate healthy lenses in their eyes. The children, all aged under two, are the first to receive the treatment for a condition that remains the most common cause of blindness in the world.
(Medical Xpress) – Suspected of causing brain damage in babies and a rare neurological ailment in adults, the Zika virus was linked by researchers Tuesday to a third disorder: paralysis-causing myelitis. French experts reported that a 15-year-old girl diagnosed on the French Caribbean island of Guadeloupe with acute myelitis in January had high levels of Zika in her cerebrospinal fluid, blood and urine.
Men Should Have the Right to ‘Abort’ Responsibility for an Unborn Child, Swedish Political Group Says
(Washington Post) – Sweden may well have among the most accepting views of abortion in the world — one recent poll found that 84 percent of the country supports a woman’s right to have an abortion whenever she wants one. Yet a proposal from a Swedish group to offer men the right to a “legal abortion” of an unborn child has not been met with enthusiasm.
(The Guardian) – Despite the circumstances, both women were able to access safe services. According to a Guttmacher Institute review, about 9% of maternal deaths in India are from complications of unsafe abortions. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), D&C is an outdated surgical technique that should be replaced. Side effects include heavy bleeding, pain, infection and perforation of the uterine wall or bowel.
(Nature) – Research, and especially basic research, is fundamentally disconnected from the realities of vulnerable populations. Is it unreasonable to expect investigators and their institutions to assume some responsibility for ensuring adequate care for volunteers and their quality of life? Perhaps studies in vulnerable populations should not be conducted at all, unless a comprehensive, long-term plan is drafted in cooperation with the research institutions involved and local and national governments.
(STAT News) – Yet the wholly understandable desire to bear a child does not justify the significant risks to mother and fetus posed by uterine transplants, not to mention the enormous financial cost. Safer, less costly, and more certain ways to have children already exist. When it comes to uterine factor infertility, we must ask ourselves: What is more important, the experience of pregnancy or the health of a woman and her future child?
(Science) – Adversaries in the legal battle over the rights to the CRISPR gene-editing technology are preparing to fire their initial shots. In two documents filed with the U.S. Patent Trial and Appeal Board last week, lawyers for the Regents of the University of California (UC) and the Broad Institute (BI) in Cambridge, Massachusetts, offered hints at how they will lay claim to the breakthrough technology and its financial spoils. And UC lawyers have made accusations of error and deception that, if true, could invalidate BI’s patents early in the proceedings.
(Washington Post) – The woman who received the first uterus transplant performed in the United States suffered a sudden complication that forced surgeons to remove the organ, the Cleveland Clinic announced Wednesday. Just two days after she was introduced to much fanfare at a news conference, the 26-year-old woman, named Lindsey, is “doing well and recovering,” the Cleveland Clinic said in a news release.
(Nature) – Misuse of the P value — a common test for judging the strength of scientific evidence — is contributing to the number of research findings that cannot be reproduced, the American Statistical Association (ASA) warns in a statement released today. The group has taken the unusual step of issuing principles to guide use of the P value, which it says cannot determine whether a hypothesis is true or whether results are important. This is the first time that the 177-year-old ASA has made explicit recommendations on such a foundational matter in statistics, says executive director Ron Wasserstein.
(The Verge) – A huge milestone has just been reached in the field of artificial intelligence: AlphaGo, a program developed by Google’s DeepMind unit, has defeated legendary Go player Lee Se-dol in the first of five historic matches being held in Seoul, South Korea. Lee resigned after about three and a half hours, with 28 minutes and 28 seconds remaining on his clock. The series is the first time a professional 9-dan Go player has taken on a computer, and Lee is competing for a $1 million prize.
(BBC) – A lack of stem cells in the womb lining causes thousands of women to suffer repeat miscarriages, according to researchers. University of Warwick scientists said the womb lining in recurrent miscarriage patients they studied was “already defective” before pregnancy. The team studied tissue samples donated by 183 patients at the Implantation Research Clinic in Coventry. Researchers believe the “major breakthrough” could help many women.
(The Guardian) – The number of women using contraceptives in developing countries has soared to record levels in recent years, such that projections for global population growth could be cut by as much as 1 billion over the next 15 years. The latest figures by the UN show more women than ever now use family planning, with some poorer regions recording the fastest pace of growth since 2000.
(STAT News) – Babies born by in vitro fertilization — when a woman’s egg is fertilized outside of her body and then implanted back into her uterus — skew more heavily male than babies conceived naturally. A study published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences sheds light on why that happens.
(NPR) – As people get older, their health care goals may shift from living as long as possible to maintaining a good quality of life: quality over quantity. In many cases, the medical treatment older people receive often doesn’t reflect this change in priorities. A wide-ranging report from the Dartmouth Atlas Project uses Medicare claims data to examine aging Americans’ health care. Among other things, the researchers found five key areas where too many older people continue to receive treatments that don’t meet established guidelines or, often, their own goals and preferences.
(Slate) – Our interactions with the not-quite-dead is where our institutional and cultural limitations are revealed most clearly: for instance, the mixed blessing of medical advancements that can keep the virtually dead breathing, and our systemic bias toward doing something, however futile and debilitating. In her new book, The Good Death, Ann Neumann writes of visiting a hospice patient hooked to a ventilator while his wife, still hoping for a recovery, frets that he can’t eat. Denial is a fog, obscuring what’s right in front of us. Neumann’s is the latest in a series of books on the American way of dying—how it should go and how it does go, which are not usually the same thing.
Medical Law International (vol. 15, no. 2–3, 2016) is available online by subscription only.
- “Elberte v. Latvia: Whose Tissue Is It Anyway—Relational Autonomy or the Autonomy of Relations?” by Edward S. Dove, et al.
- “Current Developments in the Regulation of Direct-to-Consumer Genetic Testing in Europe” by Louiza Kalokairinou, Heidi C. Howard, and Pascal Borry
- “Judicial Reasoning and the Concept of Damage: Rethinking Medical Negligence Cases” by Craig Purshouse
- “Maternal Brain Death and the Legal Protection of the Foetus in Ireland” by Andrea Mulligan
Developing World Bioethics (vol. 16, no. 1, 2016) is available online by subscription only.
- “Reviewing HIV-Related Research in Emerging Economies: The Role of Government Reviewing Agencies” by Patrina Sexton, et al.
- “Managing Ethical Challenges to Mental Health Research in Post-Conflict Settings” by Anna Chiumento, et al.
- “Managing Human Tissue Transfer across National Boundaries—An Approach from an Institution in South Africa” by Safia Mahomed, et al.
- “Against Permitted Exploitation in Developing World Research Agreements” by Danielle M. Wenner
- “Anything to Stay Alive: The Challenges of a Campaign for an Experimental Drug” by Nathan Geffen
- “Maintaining Research Integrity While Balancing Cultural Sensitivity: A Case Study and Lessons from the Field” by Rebekah Sibbald, et al.
(ABC News) – Just months after finding out he had metastatic cancer, former President Jimmy Carter announced this weekend that his doctors have said he no longer needs cancer treatment thanks in part to a groundbreaking new kind of medication that trains the immune system to fight cancer tumors.