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Criminals Can’t Easily Edit Their DNA of Forensic Databases

May 14, 2018

(The Conversation) – There have been a number of news articles over the last week or so reporting that to avoid being matched to criminal forensic databases, criminals could edit their genomes using cheap, online kits. What seems to be at the centre of these articles, and giving them a sense of credibility, are some quotes from George Church – a highly respected geneticist from Harvard.

Death Drugs Will Be Imported, Legal or Not–Euthanasia Group

May 14, 2018

(MSN News) – Importing sedatives illegally to help people die is more common than most realise, a pro-euthanasia group has claimed. Susan Austen, 67, was fined $7500 for obtaining pentobarbitone earlier this week, but acquitted on a charge of assisting a suicide. EXIT International legal expert Tasha Russell says more than 50 people have also been caught importing it so far.

Getting Contraceptives for Men to the Market Will Take Pharma’s Help

May 14, 2018

(STAT News) – That the responsibility for preventing unintended pregnancy still lies almost exclusively with women remains one of the world’s great health inequities. Beyond condom use, vasectomy, and withdrawal, there are no other male-controlled methods of contraception, even though it’s an entirely feasible option. One of the biggest obstacles to the development of male contraceptives has been the lack of interest and involvement from pharmaceutical companies.

‘Human Frailty’ Is a Byproduct of Mass Incarceration

May 14, 2018

(The Atlantic) – Harvard University researcher Bruce Western’s new book, Homeward: Life in the Year After Prison, could add significantly to that understanding, illuminating the role prisons play for the poor and highlighting the contours of infirmity that mark the lives of incarcerated people, often from birth to death. While Homeward is a gripping study of the totality of the lives of people reentering society, it also uncovers the role of the carceral system in breaking bodies and minds.

FDA Continues to Crack Down on Unapproved Stem Cell Clinics

May 14, 2018

(Medscape) – The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is seeking permanent injunctions to stop two US stem cell clinics from marketing stem cell products without the agency’s approval and for “significant deviations” from current good manufacturing requirements. The actions against the clinics, which are based in Florida and California, are part of a comprehensive approach to the oversight of regenerative medicinal products, the FDA said.

How Artificial Intelligence Is Shaping Religion in the 21st Century

May 14, 2018

(CNBC) – Technology and artificial intelligence (AI) are fashioning how people interact with everything from food to healthcare — and so, too, for religion. From electronic scriptures to robot priests, different faiths have absorbed new ideas from the world of technology to enhance mainstream religious practices.

23andMe Sues Ancestry for Patent Infringement, Misleading Marketing

May 14, 2018

(Genome Web) – 23andMe sued rival Ancestry.com on Friday in a California federal district court, alleging infringement of its patented method of identifying relatives in a database and of false advertising. The company also asked the court to nullify the trademarked “ancestry” logotype.

The Burnout Crisis in American Medicine

May 11, 2018

(The Atlantic) – I felt deflated. For hours, my attention had been consumed by challenges of coordination rather than actual patient care. And still the patient was at risk of experiencing delays for both of the things she needed—not for any medical reason, but simply because of an inflexible computer system and a poor workflow. Situations like this are not rare, and they are vexing in part because they expose the widening gap between the ideal and reality of medicine. Doctors become doctors because they want to take care of patients. Their decade-long training focuses almost entirely on the substance of medicine—on diagnosing and treating illness. In practice, though, many of their challenges relate to the operations of medicine—managing a growing number of patients, coordinating care across multiple providers, documenting it all.

DR Congo’s Kasai Crisis: 400,000 Children Face Starvation

May 11, 2018

(BBC) – Some 400,000 children are at risk of starving to death in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the United Nations says. Thousands of families in the Kasai region fled to the bush, where they stayed for months, short of food and water, many have already died. The Kasai region, once one of the most prosperous and peaceful in DR Congo, descended into violence in 2016. Long-simmering resentment exploded into rebellion against the government. In December 2017, the UN declared the crisis in DR Congo as the highest level of emergency – the same as Yemen, Syria and Iraq.

WHO Hopes to Use Ebola Vaccine to Stem Outbreak in Remote Area of Congo

May 11, 2018

(Reuters) – The World Health Organization said on Friday it hopes to deploy an experimental Ebola vaccine to tackle an outbreak in a remote area of Congo to prevent it spreading, particularly to the provincial capital of 1 million people.  Congo reported the outbreak on Tuesday, with 32 suspected, probable or confirmed cases of the disease since April 4, including 18 deaths. A new suspected case was reported on Friday.

Testing for Zika Virus in Blood Donors Finds Few Infections–at a Cost of About $5.3 Million Each

May 11, 2018

(STAT News) – An expensive screening program designed to keep the Zika virus out of the Red Cross’ blood supply has caught fewer than a dozen infected donations, a new study published Wednesday revealed. The program, which costs roughly $137 million a year to operate, detected only eight units that tested positive for the virus between June 2016 and September 2017. And half of those units contained Zika antibodies as well as virus, which suggests they probably would not have been able to infect a recipient, if anyone had been transfused with them.

Google Wants to Turn You Into a Cyborg

May 11, 2018

(Slate) – Google is no longer, at its core, a search engine. It’s now foremost an artificial intelligence engine. And its goal is not to help you find information, but to become an extension of your very self.  That might sound alarmist or far-fetched—unless you watched Google I/O 2018, the company’s annual developer conference, this week. The big takeaway from the conference is that the Google Assistant—think Alexa, but smarter—has displaced Google Search as the company’s central product, the one that binds all the others. Its scary and ambitious goal: to blur the line between human and machine to the point where they become literally indistinguishable.

Alfie’s Law Could Undo Decades of Progress on Children’s Rights

May 11, 2018

(The Guardian) – There can be few parents unable to imagine going to the ends of the earth to save the life of a deeply loved child. But can this love know no bounds? Last month, former Ukip leadership challenger Steven Woolfe MEP and Parliament Street thinktank launched a national campaign for Alfie’s law to “re-empower parents”. Many decades of progress in establishing the rights of children – as human beings with individual worth and integrity – could be undone were such a call to be taken seriously.

California, Florida Stem Cell Clinics Target of US Lawsuit

May 11, 2018

(ABC News) – Federal prosecutors in California and Florida sued on Wednesday to stop two companies from providing stem cell treatments, alleging the clinics marketed their procedures as remedies for ailments including cancer and heart disease without proof of safety and efficacy. The firms put consumers at risk by promising benefits from treatments and products never approved by the Food and Drug Administration, the Justice Department alleged in court filings in both states.

Listless and Lonely in Puerto Rico, Some Older Storm Survivors Consider Suicide

May 10, 2018

(Kaiser Health News) – Indeed, the overall suicide rate in Puerto Rico increased 29 percent in 2017, with a significant jump after Hurricane Maria, the Puerto Rico Department of Public Health reports, and that anguish is continuing. Gregorio’s descent from heartbroken but determined storm victim to this moment of despair is a path traveled by many older people here in Puerto Rico. Psychologists and social workers, like Vargas, say elderly people are especially vulnerable when their daily routines are disrupted for long periods. Those who were once active, she said, now stay home alone.

What No One Tells New Moms About What Childbirth Can Do to Their Bodies

May 10, 2018

(Vox) – Strikingly, they’ve found that new moms very often aren’t aware of possible complications, are too embarrassed to discuss their symptoms, and have no clue there are treatments that could help them. They get just one medical visit six weeks after birth, and that’s often woefully insufficient for the issues they’re dealing with. It’s worth diving in to understand why women deserve much better than what they’re getting.

Too Often Poverty Is Treated with Pills

May 10, 2018

(The Economist) – IN A recently released documentary,“Take Your Pills”, Leigh, a freckled college senior, sits on her bed and reflects on her relationship with Adderall, a stimulant widely used to treat Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), a condition that makes it hard to focus or control impulses. “Adderall for me has always been, like, when you’re desperate…You’re like, I need this right now because I need to be my best, smartest, fastest self,” she says, after calculating what score she will need on an imminent exam to boost her final grade. Later on, Nathanael, a software engineer with piercing blue-green eyes who codes with a cat nestled in his lap, recounts how Adderall allowed him to work intensely until midnight—a coder’s dream.

How Do You Define “Safe Driving” in Terms a Machine Can Understand?

May 10, 2018

(The Economist) – WHEN people learn to drive, they subconsciously absorb what are colloquially known as the “rules of the road”. When is it safe to go around a double-parked vehicle? When pulling out of a side street into traffic, what is the smallest gap you should try to fit into, and how much should oncoming traffic be expected to brake? The rules, of course, are no such thing: they are ambiguous, open to interpretation and rely heavily on common sense. The rules can be broken in an emergency, or to avoid an accident. As a result, when accidents happen, it is not always clear who is at fault.

Multigene Test Increasingly Used to Assess Breast Cancer Risk

May 10, 2018

(UPI) – New research suggests women are increasingly foregoing BRCA tests, which only test for mutations in either of the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes, opting instead for more comprehensive tests that detect mutations in a larger number of genes. Because multigene tests can identify a variety of mutations, the risks of which aren’t well established, health researchers hypothesized the increase in such tests would lead to an uptick in prophylactic mastectomies — the removal of both breasts to prevent the development of cancers. However, the latest survey of breast cancer testing showed changes in test preferences haven’t resulted in more mastectomy surgeries.

Nigeria’s President Draws Criticism for Seeking Medical Care Abroad

May 10, 2018

(New York Times) – President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria, who has urged politicians not to go abroad to seek medical care, has traveled to Britain on his fifth official trip to see a doctor there. Mr. Buhari, 75, left for London on Monday for a four-day visit, setting off renewed concerns about his health. His trip also comes after three weeks of strikes by health care professionals who are calling for better working conditions and more funding. For nearly two years, Mr. Buhari has been receiving treatment for an unspecified illness, which he has repeatedly refused to discuss.

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