(Washington Post) – It’s a situation that’s becoming all too common — and one in which the law is still grappling with modern technology. A couple, facing fertility problems or other health issues, decides to create frozen embryos for future use. Then, the couple splits, leaving the fate of the embryos in dispute.
Kidney Cells Made from Reprogrammed Stem Cells Lead Scientists to an Accurate Way to Screen for Toxic Compounds
(Medical Xpress) – A platform that could help pharmaceutical, chemical and food companies screen for safe compounds for kidneys has been set up by A*STAR scientists, who have created the fastest and most efficient protocol for coaxing stem cells to become kidney proximal tubular cells (PTCs).
(The Wall Street Journal) – The Ministry of Health has said the government won’t interfere with pregnancies already in progress. Still, the policy shift has left pregnant surrogates like Ms. Jai Laxmi anxious about the future of the babies they are carrying and worried about whether they will get paid.
(Eurekalert) – A new CRISPR/Cas9 technology developed by scientists at the University of Massachusetts Medical School is precise enough to surgically edit DNA at nearly any genomic location, while avoiding potentially harmful off-target changes typically seen in standard CRISPR gene editing techniques. By pairing the CRISPR/Cas9 system with a programmable DNA-binding domain (CRISPR/Cas9-pDBD), researchers have created an additional proofreading step that improves the accuracy of the gene editing system and opens the door to potential clinical and gene therapy applications.
(Wired) – This creative practice, which falls under the umbrella term synthetic biology, views DNA as something to be manipulated and rearranged. Proponents see a day when biologists can build organisms capable of anything imaginable with a degree of reproducibility typically reserved for engineering. In this new world where biotech companies like Ginkgo and Amyris and Craig Venter’s Synthetic Genomics play, biologists become designers working with one of the most powerful substrates imaginable: life.
(Stanford Medicine) – The 191 participants who reported barriers to getting quality end-of-life care were asked to describe the biggest barriers, which were, in order of how often they were cited: finances and health insurance; physician behavior; communication problems with doctors; family beliefs; health system barriers; and cultural/religious barriers. A comparison of the various ethnic groups interviewed showed no significant differences in how they ranked these barriers. But education level was found to have a significant influence.
(Med Page Today) – A nasal spray formulation of naloxone hydrochloride, to be sold as Narcan and indicated for emergency treatment of opioid overdose, won approval from the FDA late Wednesday. It’s the first non-injectable form of naloxone to be cleared for U.S. sale. “Combating the opioid abuse epidemic is a top priority for the FDA,” acting FDA Commissioner Stephen Ostroff, MD, said in a statement.
(Vox) – The American Medical Association just called for a ban on prescription drug ads aimed at consumers. “The United States and New Zealand are the only two countries in the world that allow direct-to-consumer advertising of prescription drugs,” the AMA’s announcement read. “Advertising dollars spent by drug makers have increased by 30 percent in the last two years to $4.5 billion, according to the market research firm Kantar Media.”
(The Atlantic) – It’s not clear whether the self-induced abortions reported in this survey occurred as a direct result of the state’s abortion restrictions. Overall, abortions in the state declined by 13 percent since the law was enacted. The authors speculate that these women either traveled out of state, continued their pregnancies, or took their abortions into their own hands. In a series of interviews with women who had attempted to induce their own abortions, also released by the Texas Policy Evaluation Project this week, the cost or hassle of traveling to a clinic emerged as just one of the reasons women gave for self-induction. Often, the logistical factors intermingled with poverty or feelings of shame.
(Associated Press) – Swaziland could eliminate malaria by the end of 2016 or in early 2017, likely making it the first mainland country in sub-Saharan Africa to get rid of the deadly disease, according to an international health expert. Namibia, Botswana and South Africa are also making “excellent progress” toward eliminating malaria, said Richard Feachem, director of the Global Health Group at the University of California in San Francisco.
(Reuters) -Many U.S. nurses are satisfied with their pay but a lot of them would choose a different job or career path if they could, a new survey suggests. Overall, nurses typically earn more – $95,000 to $170,000 – with advanced degrees that let them specialize in areas such as anesthesia, midwifery and primary care, according to the Medscape Nurse Salary Report 2015. These nurses are generally more satisfied with their pay than others in the profession.
(Medical Xpress) – A clinical trial of a new Ebola vaccine (ChAd3-EBO-Z) that resulted from an unprecedented global consortium assembled at the behest of the World Health Organization has found that it is well tolerated and stimulates strong immune responses in adults in Mali, West Africa and in the US, according to a study published in the latest issue of the journal Lancet Infectious Disease.
(Eurekalert) – No child or young athlete should be subjected to genetic testing to spot sporting talent or boost performance, concludes an international panel of experts in a consensus statement published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine. The scientific evidence on the effectiveness of these commercial tests is simply far too weak to back their use, says the panel of 22 experts in the fields of genomics, exercise, sports performance, disease, injury, and anti-doping.
(Forbes) – One key reason all these new forms of transplantation are revolutionary is that they involve non-life-saving organs. Unlike heart, liver, kidney and lung transplants, they are being done to enhance the quality of life or to palliate suffering. Some are being done not to save lives but to allow individuals to create new ones. These are manifestly ethical goals. But the shift away from saving lives to making them better involves a shift in the ethical thinking that has long formed the foundation of organ transplantation.
(The Conversation) – Medical science continues to push at the boundaries of life and death with new drugs and technologies that can extend life or improve health. But these advances come at a cost. And that inevitably raises difficult questions about whether public health systems should pay for such treatments – and, if so, how much. For example, should the NHS fund the new breast cancer drug Kadycla which comes with a £90,000 price tag per patient?
(Eurekalert) – A simple, ultrasensitive microRNA sensor developed and tested by researchers from the schools of science and medicine at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis and the Indiana University Melvin and Bren Simon Cancer Center holds promise for the design of new diagnostic strategies and, potentially, for the prognosis and treatment of pancreatic and other cancers.
(News-Medical) – Changes in cellular metabolites have been shown to regulate embryonic stem cell development at the earliest stages of life. Metabolites are simple compounds generated during life-sustaining chemical activities in cells. The recent findings should improve scientists’ ability to use embryonic stem cells to grow new tissues and organs to replace those damaged by disease or injury. The findings also could lead to new treatments for common disorders ranging from infertility to cancer.
(New York Times) – It seemed to end a decades-long form of human exploitation in which hundreds, perhaps thousands, of organs of executed prisoners were harvested each year. But organs from prisoners, including those on death row, can still be used for transplants in China, with the full backing of policy makers, according to Chinese news reports, as well as doctors and medical researchers in China and abroad. “They just reclassified prisoners as citizens,” said Huige Li, a Chinese-born doctor at the University of Mainz in Germany.
(Medical Xpress) – The last known Ebola case in Guinea, a three-week old girl, has recovered from the virus, the medical charity Doctors Without Borders (MSF) said Tuesday, starting the countdown to the end of the epidemic. An official announcement of the end of Ebola, which has claimed 2,500 lives throughout the country, is still some way off as a period of 42 Ebola-free days—twice the incubation period of the virus—is required.
(Nature) – Data released this week paint a long-term picture of the racial disparity in grants funded by the US National Institutes of Health (NIH), and show that for nearly 30 years, applicants from minorities have been less successful than white and mixed-raceapplicants in receiving funding. The data, obtained by researchers through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to the agency, extend previous findings that showed racial disparities in NIH grants between 2000 and 2006. Those results had already led the agency to dedicate hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of grants and programmes to try to rectify funding disparities.