(New Zealand Herald) – Turkey’s top religious affairs council has spoken out against surrogate motherhood, saying the practice should be banned as it is contains elements of adultery. Hurriyet Daily News reports that the Directorate of Religious Affairs (Diyanet) said that while it is acceptable for a married couple to conceive a child through IVF, the fertilised ovum must be carried by the wife and “not inside a stranger’s womb” as it “offends humane feelings”.
(Entrepreneur) – We should all be getting a litttttle nervous: The robot apocalypse is brewing. Or at least, that’s what a growing number of tech visionaries are predicting. In an interview with the The Australian Financial Review, Apple co-founder and programming whiz Steve Wozniak added his own grave predictions about artificial intelligence’s detrimental impact on the future of humanity to warnings from the likes of Elon Musk, Bill Gates and Stephen Hawking.
(Washington Post) – A Christian author and blogger with terminal cancer who tried to persuade Brittany Maynard to reconsider her November decision to die through doctor-assisted suicide, has died. Maynard, 29, made headlines because she chose to die on Nov. 1 by taking a legal lethal prescription as she faced an aggressive cancerous brain tumor. Kara Tippetts, 38, a Colorado Springs wife of a pastor and a mother of four who received a stage-four breast cancer diagnosis two years ago, has become the poster face of an opposite view.
(The Atlantic) – But what about religiously affiliated women? Where were their voices in all of this? And what did they think about the mandate? This was the question that intrigued Elizabeth Patton, an OB/GYN and health-services researcher at the University of Michigan. “There was a lot of media framing around religious opposition to the mandate and we tend to hear from certain religious and political leaders, but the voices of religious women aren’t really well-represented,” she said.
(Yahoo!) – An ailing Chilean girl who made a public plea for permission to end her life has had a change of heart, according to her father. Fredy Maureira told The Associated Press on Sunday that his 14-year-old, daughter, Valentina, has changed her mind after meeting people who responded to her plea to be euthanized in order to end her suffering from cystic fibrosis.
(News-Medical) – Scientists at the University of Cambridge have successfully created ‘mini-lungs’ using stem cells derived from skin cells of patients with cystic fibrosis, and have shown that these can be used to test potential new drugs for this debilitating lung disease. The research is one of a number of studies that have used stem cells – the body’s master cells – to grow ‘organoids’, 3D clusters of cells that mimic the behaviour and function of specific organs within the body.
(BBC) – A woman who conned her former husband into believing he was the father of her IVF baby has been ordered to pay £39,000 in damages at the High Court. The London businesswoman carried out “six years of deception” on her ex-partner, a judge was told. Neither can be identified for legal reasons. The man said the boy, now nine, was five when she told him the truth.
(New York Times) – A federal judge on Friday struck down a Wisconsin law requiring doctors performing abortions to get hospital admitting privileges, ruling that any benefits to women’s health from the requirement are “substantially outweighed” by restricting women’s access to abortion. U.S. District Judge William Conley, who earlier had put the law on hold, ruled that the 2013 law is unconstitutional. He issued a permanent injunction blocking its enforcement.
(Medscape) – Giving physicians incentives — and compensating them appropriately — will be key to helping the nation improve end-of-life planning and care, said experts gathered at an Institute of Medicine (IOM) forum today. The National Action Conference on Policies and Payment Systems to Improve End-of-Life Care was held to discuss how to implement the recommendations in IOM’s September report, Dying in America: Improving Quality and Honoring Individual Preferences Near the End of Life.
(News.com.au) – IS Australia more likely to breed criminals as a result of its historically penal gene pool? Two variations of a gene have been found to play an important role in criminal behaviour. Labelled a ‘warrior gene’ a study published in Molecular Psychiatry has found a link between two gene variations and a person’s inclination toward violent crime. The study found a variation in genes that, when activated, produced a different brain chemical reaction to other people.
(ABC News) – A Colorado woman accused of luring an expectant mother to a basement and cutting the baby from her belly might not face homicide charges in the child’s death because of the way criminal law in the U.S. has become entangled in abortion politics.
(NBC News) – In a perspective piece published online by Science, Church and more than a dozen other prominent geneticists say that researchers should be banned or strongly discouraged from genetically modifying the human germline with CRISPR tools, pending an Asilomar-style forum to define the appropriate and safe applications for the technology.
(Science) – In the study, published online this week, Gantz and Bier report that the introduced mutation disabled both normal copies of a pigmentation gene on the fruit fly chromosomes, transmitting itself to the next generation with 97% efficiency—a near-complete invasion of the genome. The secret of its success: an increasingly popular gene-editing toolkit called CRISPR, which Gantz and Bier adapted to give the mutation an overwhelming advantage.
Hastings Center Report (Vol. 45, No. 2, March/April 2015) is now available online by subscription only.
- “The structure of clinical translation: Efficiency, information, and ethics” by Jonathan Kimmelman and Alex John London
- “Embodied storytellers: Disability studies and medical humanities” by Martha Stoddard Holmes
- “Teaching nonauthoritarian clinical ethics: Using an inventory of bioethical positions” by Autumn Fiester
Journal of Law and the Biosciences (Volume 2, No. 1, February 2015) is now available online by subscription only.
- “The ethics of promulgating principles of research ethics: The problem of diversion effects” by Alan Wertheimer
- “The growth and gap of genetic data sharing policies in the United States” by Jalayne J. Arias, Genevieve Pham-Kanter, and Eric G. Campbell
- “The case for pain neuroimaging in the courtroom: Lessons from deception detection” by Natalie Salmanowitz
(Medical Xpress) – In a delay that some say may have cost lives, the World Health Organization resisted calling the Ebola outbreak in West Africa a public health emergency until last summer, two months after staff raised the possibility and long after a senior manager called for a drastic change in strategy, The Associated Press has learned. Among the reasons the United Nations agency cited in internal deliberations: worries that declaring such an emergency—akin to an international SOS —could anger the African countries involved, hurt their economies or interfere with the Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca.
(New York Times) – Surely patients want to be seen and treated in a timely manner, but when we sacrifice empathy for efficiency we fuel what lays at the core of patient — and physician — discontent with modern medicine. We hide behind buzzwords like “patient-centeredness” and “shared decision-making” without being able to offer the time that gives these terms true weight.
(CNN) – A report on lab safety at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention put together by a committee of external experts calls the agency’s commitment to safety “inconsistent and insufficient.” The report, which was completed in January but posted on the agency’s website this week, also says “laboratory safety training is inadequate.” The report was put together by an external group of 11 experts in biosafety, laboratory science and research. In the report, they say they are “very concerned that the CDC is on the way to losing credibility.”
(The Wall Street Journal) – Brian Hainline, appointed two years ago as the NCAA’s first chief medical officer, is using that perch to try to bring greater oversight and consistency to how the NCAA and its schools police performance-enhancing and recreational drugs in college athletics. A change he’s seeking: putting the big five conferences—as opposed to individual schools—in charge of setting policy and carrying out testing for performance-enhancing drugs.
(Medical Xpress) – A research team at UC San Francisco has discovered an RNA molecule called Pnky that can be manipulated to increase the production of neurons from neural stem cells. The research, led by neurosurgeon Daniel A. Lim, MD, PhD, and published on March 19, 2015 in Cell Stem Cell, has possible applications in regenerative medicine, including treatments of such disorders as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and traumatic brain injury, and in cancer treatment.