(Union Times San Diego) – Operating from a nondescript office building in Escondido, Dr. George Delgado is a low-key family physician. But he is getting national attention lately because of major changes to abortion laws in Arizona and Arkansas. Activists in both states relied on Delgado’s work with the hormone progesterone to push for amendments requiring health providers who prescribe abortion medications to tell patients that “it may be possible to reverse the effects of the abortion if the pregnant woman changes her mind, but that time is of the essence.”
Hype Can Prevent Ethical Advancement of Neuroscience – Ethics Can Pave the Way for Productive Discourse
(Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues) – [On March 26], the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues (Bioethics Commission) released the second volume of its two-part response to President Obama’s request related to the Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative. Gray Matters: Topics at the Intersection of Neuroscience, Ethics, and Society, seeks to clarify the scientific landscape, identify common ground, and recommend ethical paths forward. Cautioning against hyperbole and misinformation when discussing the promise of neuroscience, the report offers 14 recommendations to help clear a path to productive discourse.
(ABC News) – A Washington girl is celebrating being cancer-free after she was diagnosed with high-risk leukemia at just 9 years old. When doctors failed to find a traditional bone marrow or stem cell donor for transplant, they turned to stem cells taken from donated umbilical cords to try and save her life. Jenna Gibson, now 12, kept catching colds and feeling sick when her mother took her to her pediatrician, who was immediately concerned.
(The Wall Street Journal) – China appears to be a bit conflicted about its birth policies. While it has rolled back its strict “one-child” policy in order to address problems of an aging population, it is worried that surrogate pregnancies are undermining its remaining controls. Now, Beijing is trying to crack down on surrogacy – where a woman gives birth to another woman’s child — rekindling a debate about the legal and moral issues surrounding the practice in a country where the government continues to tightly control birth rights.
(Medical Xpress) – When the United Kingdom resoundingly approved mitochondrial replacement therapy in February, it became the first country to give people this new medical option. In parallel it gave the United States serious cause to reflect on how it handles matters of reproductive innovation, argues a trio of experts in the journal Science. “We have fundamentally different regulatory cultures,” said co-author Dr. Eli Adashi, former dean of medicine and biological sciences at Brown University.
(Physorg) – Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute scientists have developed new imaging techniques to watch dangerous brain tumor cells respond to treatment in real time. Published in Nano Letters, the study was led by Zhi Sheng and Deborah Kelly, both assistant professors at the institute, and describes how the research team used nanotechnology to watch tumor stem cells respond to therapy.
(Yahoo!) – Medical researchers call it the “Angelina Effect,” the surge in demand for genetic testing attributable to movie star Angelina Jolie’s public crusade for more aggressive detection of hereditary breast and ovarian cancer. But there’s a catch: Major insurance companies including Aetna, Anthem and Cigna are declining to pay for the latest generation of tests, known as multi-gene panel tests, Reuters has learned. The insurers say that the tests are unproven and may lead patients to seek out medical care they don’t need.
(CNN) – As crazy as this sounds, to put an entire head on a new body, a human body, Italian physician Dr. Sergio Canavero says we are approaching HEAVEN (an acronym for head anastomosis venture; anastomosis is surgically connecting two parts). The pieces are coming together but there are still many hurdles to jump.
(Science) – A splashy headline appeared on the websites of many U.K. newspapers this morning, claiming that men whose brothers or fathers have been convicted of a sex offense are “five times more likely to commit sex crimes than the average male” and that this increased risk of committing rape or molesting a child “may run in a family’s male genes.” The study, published online today in the International Journal of Epidemiology, analyzed data from 21,566 male sex offenders convicted in Sweden between 1973 and 2009 and concluded that genetics may account for at least 40% of the likelihood of committing a sex crime.
(Nanowerk) – Researchers of the Nanobiology Unit from the UAB Institute of Biotechnology and Biomedicine, led by Antonio Villaverde, managed to create artificial viruses, protein complexes with the ability of self-assembling and forming nanoparticles which are capable of surrounding DNA fragments, penetrating the cells and reaching the nucleus in a very efficient manner, where they then release the therapeutic DNA fragments. The achievement represents an alternative with no biological risk to the use of viruses in gene therapy.
(Medical Xpress) – Ex vivo gene therapy is a medical technique in which stem cells are taken from the patient, and their deficient genes are switched with healthy ones. The stem cells are grown in the lab and re-inserted into the patient. However, this method often has health risks, such as leukemia and mutations. The problem is that most stem cells cannot be grown efficiently with current technologies, and the resulting cell population in the lab can contain a mix of healthy and unhealthy cells. Scientists at EPFL have developed a selection process that can detect the cells that have taken up the healthy genes with great specificity, greatly reducing the risks of ex vivo gene therapy.
(MIT Technology Review) – Genetically engineered bacteria can prevent mice offered a high-fat diet from overeating. The beneficial effects of the bacteria last for about four to six weeks, suggesting that they temporarily take up residence in the gut. Researchers developed the anti-obesity therapy to test a new way of treating chronic diseases. Sean Davies, a pharmacologist at Vanderbilt University, is modifying bacteria that live in and on the body—known collectively as a person’s microbiome.
(The Epoch Times) – Recent promises by Chinese officials to cease the use of executed prisoners as a source for transplant organs has attracted the scrutiny of a Washington, D.C.-based organization of medical doctors and professionals. Doctors Against Forced Organ Harvesting (DAFOH), the medical ethics advocacy group, has challenged the Chinese regime’s latest claims to have stopped using organs from prisoners, and have demanded that Chinese transplant officials provide proof of their claims.
Inside the Illegal Hospitals Performing Thousands of Black Market Organ Transplants Every Year for $200,000 a Time
(Daily Mail) – Vulnerable, desperate and undergoing risky surgery in filthy hospitals, these are just some of the patients being exploited by the black market organ trade. Donors regularly put their lives on the line for just ($5,000) £3,000 from unscrupulous gangs who then sell on the body parts for up to $200,000 (£130,000) a time. In India, where these pictures were taken, around 2,000 people are thought to illegally sell their kidneys each year.
(U.S.A. Today) – When sci-fi hits that sweet spot, it can be endlessly thought-provoking. Such is the case with the stylish, tense and terrifically acted Ex Machina, a complex drama about artificial intelligence (*** ½ out of four; rated R; opens Friday in select cities). Alex Garland, the screenwriter of 28 Days Later and Sunshine, makes an auspicious directorial debut with this suspenseful mystery.
(Medical Xpress) – Mexican authorities have ordered the closure of 10 cosmetic surgery clinics and offices in the northwest border city of Tijuana for failing to comply with health regulations. The action, announced on Wednesday, follows the death last month of a young Australian woman after undergoing a liposuction procedure in Mexicali, another city on the US border. Three operating rooms and an intensive care center in Mexicali were closed March 30 after her death.
(Scientific American) – Thirty confirmed cases of Ebola were reported in West Africa in the past week, the smallest number in nearly a year of the worst ever outbreak of the deadly fever, the World Health Organization said on Wednesday. “This is the lowest weekly total since the third week of May 2014,” the WHO said in its latest update.
(Medical Xpress) – An extremely premature Polish infant weighing just 820 grammes (1.8 pounds) has become the world’s smallest and youngest patient to escape death thanks to an artificial kidney, according to the doctor who oversaw the treatment. Born 15 weeks early, Kamil nearly died from organ failure a few days later and conventional methods used to keep preterm babies alive proved ineffective.
(Vox) – In another way, though, King’s viewpoint is common: in our poll, we found that 18 percent of Americans, like King, pick “both” when you ask them to choose between pro-life and pro-choice. Another 21 percent choose neither. Taken together, about four in 10 Americans are eschewing the labels that we typically see as defining the abortion policy debate.
(NPR) – Now scientists in the United Kingdom say a newer prediction tool, called IVFpredict, is more accurate than an older, established one. They describe the comparison Wednesday in the online journal PLOS ONE. The widely used Templeton model was derived from data from two decades ago, when success rates for IVF were lower. IVFpredict is based on more recent data. And it reflects the use of intracytoplasmic sperm injection, or ICSI, a technique in which a technician uses a needle to insert sperm into the egg.