(UPI) – More than 20 percent of sexually active teen girls have turned to the morning-after pill after the emergency contraceptive became readily available without a prescription. The findings, released Wednesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, show about 8 percent of teens turned to the morning-after pill in 2002. That number increased to nearly 14 percent from 2006 to 2010 and spiked again to 22 percent from 2011 to 2013.
(Nature) – After years of disappointment, clinical-trial results released on 22 July suggest that antibody treatments may produce small improvements in people with Alzheimer’s disease. The drugs — Eli Lilly’s solanezumab and Biogen’s aducanumab — target the amyloid-? protein that accumulates in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s. Many researchers question whether the findings will hold up, given that antibody drugs against amyloid have failed in every previous test against the disease. Details of the results were presented at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in Washington DC.
(Medical Xpress) – Canadian researchers have published promising results of the first clinical trial in the world of a genetically-enhanced stem cell therapy for pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH). This rare and deadly disease mainly affects young women, and is characterized by very high pressure in the arteries supplying blood to the lungs. In some cases, PAH is caused by a defective gene, but in many cases the cause is unknown. Currently available drugs can modestly improve symptoms and exercise capacity (at best), but cannot repair the blood vessel damage to the lungs or cure the disease.
(Medical Xpress) – Scientists have successfully used stem cells to grow fully functional bile ducts in the lab, which could one day help prevent liver tissue damage. Bile ducts are vital to enabling the liver to dispose of waste; malfunctioning bile ducts are behind a significant proportion of all liver transplants (30 % for adults and 70 % for children). The treatment will next need to be extensively tested in clinical trials before it can be used on patients.
(The Washington Post) – Gene therapy for hereditary deafness is moving closer to reality, with new research showing that the technique for fixing faulty DNA can improve responses in mice with genetic hearing loss. Separately, a clinical trial backed by Novartis is underway to help a different group: people who have lost their hearing through damage or disease.
(Digital Journal) – A serious documentary investigation into the recent mass murder of prisoners of conscience through organ transplantation in China will be released in the U.S. late 2015, less than one year before the World Transplant Congress is to be held in Hong Kong, China next August.
(Daily Mail) – The Karnataka Police have busted a major kidney racket and 13 people have been arrested so far from different parts of the state. The arrests took place after five victims came forward complaining that they have been duped by middlemen, who promised them huge sums of money for donating their kidneys. As part of the racket, the accused created fake documents to show that the donors and recipients of the kidneys were related and had given consent for the organ transplantation.
(Medical Xpress) – Scientists seeking to develop the next generation of antibiotics may have found a crucial clue within the human body: a protein that distinguishes between our cells and those of invading microbes, according to a study led by researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The discovery is important because antibiotics, credited with saving millions of lives since their discovery in 1928, have been under increasing attack from bacteria that have developed resistance to them. Infections caused by these resistant bacteria are now responsible for about 23,000 deaths a year in the U.S.
(Wired) – Today, personal genetics company AncestryDNA announced a partnership with the Google-owned biotech Calico, which is working to research the biological drivers of longevity. With its massive database of genetic information on its paying customers, the genetic branch of the longstanding geneaological service Ancestry.com will help the proto-pharmaceutical company to search for genes that affect humans’ lifespan—and potentially develop drugs to lengthen it.
(BBC) – A study into the safety of surgical robots has linked the machines’ use to at least 144 deaths and more than 1,000 injuries over a 14-year period in the US. The events included broken instruments falling into patients’ bodies, electrical sparks causing tissue burns and system errors making surgery take longer than planned. The report notes that the figures represent a small proportion of the total number of robotic procedures. But it calls for fresh safety measures.
(Reuters) – Novavax Inc said its experimental Ebola vaccine induced a substantial immune response to the deadly infection in an early-stage trial involving 230 healthy adults. The Ebola GP Vaccine was well tolerated and elicited very high Ebola antibody responses at all dose levels, the company said.
(CNN) – An anti-abortion group says a second under cover video proves that Planned Parenthood is selling the body parts of aborted fetuses, a practice that is illegal and that the group denies doing. The Center for Medical Progress, an anti-abortion group, released both edited and unedited videos last week of a Planned Parenthood executive discussing money related to aborted fetus organs and tissues.
(The Telegraph) – Women may be at greater risk from dementia than men after a new study suggested that they decline mentally at a far faster rate. Women suffering from mild cognitive impairment, which is a forerunner to dementia, appear to go downhill at twice the rate as men, US scientists have found. Researchers also discovered that women are far more susceptible to developing dementia in the first place.
(BBC) – Surgeons in Manchester have performed the first bionic eye implant in a patient with the most common cause of sight loss in the developed world. Ray Flynn, 80, has dry age-related macular degeneration which has led to the total loss of his central vision. He is using a retinal implant which converts video images from a miniature video camera worn on his glasses.
(UPI) – Researchers restored function to livers in mice by using stem cell transplants to regenerate them, the first time such a procedure has been done in a living animal. If human liver stem cells behave the same way as mice cells did in the study, published in Cell Biology, the procedure could one day be used in place of liver transplants.
(Medical Xpress) – One promising area for accomplishing this is in cell therapy. A collaborative study by Wanqiu Chen, David J. Baylink, Justin Brier-Jones, Amanda Neises, Jason B. Kiroyan, Charles H. Rundle, Kin-Hing William Lau, and Xiao-Bing Zhang of Loma Linda University and Jerry L. Pettis Memorial VA Medical Center has built on their prior work with genetically modified hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) to identify and optimize a growth factor that caused a 45% increase in bone strength in mouse models. Their work is reported in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
(Nature) – The clock is ticking for experts charged with designing a US government programme to collect genetic, physiological and other health data from one million volunteers over the next two decades. The plan for the US$215-million Precision Medicine Initiative (PMI), announced in January, is due in the next few weeks — a daunting deadline, in part because the effort’s priorities include filling racial and socio-economic gaps left by other long-term studies.
(ABC.net) – The cross-party committee will investigate whether state legislation adequately allows people to make informed choices about how they manage the end of their lives. Inquiry chair, Liberal MP Edward O’Donohoe, said the committee would examine everything from palliative care to voluntary euthanasia.
(CNN) – Fetal tissue has been used since the 1930s for vaccine development, and more recently to help advance stem cell research and treatments for degenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s disease. Researchers typically take tissue samples from a fetus that has been aborted (under conditions permitted by law) and grow cells from the tissue in Petri dishes. Many of the uses of fetal tissue — and much of the debate — are not new. “It’s just that the public is finding out about it,” said Insoo Hyun, associate professor of bioethics at Case Western Reserve University.
(News Observer) – Peg Sandeen, executive director of the Death with Dignity National Center, said that those in favor of death with dignity laws support the merits of palliative care. The center has not found evidence of a “slippery slope” argument, which claims that legalizing physician-assisted suicide will lead to more extreme types of end-of-life care, including euthanasia. Disability advocates, however, have questioned whether physician-assisted suicide is an issue that can, and should, be legislated at all.