(Medscape) – Sadly, despite advances in care and improved survival of premature infants, some babies die in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU)—some quickly, and some after weeks or months of illness. A few NICUs have established formal palliative care programs to improve end-of-life care for infants and families, but such programs are not available everywhere, and in many NICUs, the medical and nursing staff must largely shoulder the burden of providing palliative and end-of-life care along with their usual responsibilities.
(Cambridge News) – Researchers from Cambridge University have shown for the first time that it is possible to make human egg and sperm cells using skin from two adults of the same sex. The scientific breakthrough may lead to a baby being made in a dish from the skin cells of two adults of the same sex, bringing hope to gay people.
(New York Times) – Dr. John Willke, an obstetrician who helped shape the modern anti-abortion movement with ideas including a belief that a woman can resist conception from a sexual assault, has died, his daughter said Saturday. He was 89. Willke, who founded the International Right to Life Federation, died Friday at his home in Cincinnati, daughter Marie Meyers said.
(Managed Care Magazine) – In December, CMS actuaries reported that total spending on health care increased by just 3.6% in 2013, the smallest annual increase in national health care spending on record, which goes back to 1960. The growth in aggregate private health insurance premiums was 2.8% in 2013, down from 4.0% in 2012. Medicare spending was also part of the notable downshifting. It increased by 3.4% in 2013, down from 4.0% the year before.
(National Post) – The powerful doctors’ lobby said it is not clear whether the high court has opened the door not just to assisted suicide — where a doctor writes a prescription for a lethal overdose of drugs the patient takes herself — but also to something many physicians find profoundly more uneasy: pushing the syringe themselves.
(Medical Xpress) – Stanford University School of Medicine investigators administered a customized genetic construct consisting of tiny rings of DNA, called DNA minicircles, to mice. The scientists then showed that mice with tumors produced a substance that tumor-free mice didn’t make. The substance was easily detected 48 hours later by a simple blood test. A paper describing the findings of this proof-of-principle study will be published online Feb. 23 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
(Nature) – Genetic testing has entered a new realm, with the ability to read a person’s genetic code and predict how it will affect his or her health. But US regulators are struggling to work out how the tests should be governed, with a particular sticking point being who decides what the genetic read-outs mean in terms of health and disease. So far, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved genetic tests only for specific conditions.
(Medscape) – On February 19, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized 23andMe to market a direct-to-consumer (DTC) carrier test for Bloom syndrome. The agency’s decision to classify such carrier screening tests as class II medical devices, and exempting them from premarket review, may pave the way for a return of DTC genetic testing. The decision and the open door, however, have garnered mixed reviews from genetic counsellors and clinicians.
(The Telegraph) – Britain has breached EU law and ‘violated human dignity’ by allowing the creation of three-parent babies, MEPs have claimed. The European Commission has been asked to step in to prevent mitochondrial DNA transfer which will allow the genetic material of a ‘second mother’ to be used to repair faults.
(News-Medical) – The New York Stem Cell Foundation (NYSCF) and the Stanley Center at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard are partnering to create a foundational stem cell resource to study psychiatric disorders through the production of induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cell lines from individuals with schizophrenia and other psychiatric disorders.
(The Atlantic) – A growing body of research suggests another answer: that genetic makeup may play an important role in injury risk. A review article recently published in the Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine emphasizes that research on the genetics of sports injuries “holds great potential for injury prevention for athletes at every level.” The authors, from Stanford University’s department of developmental biology and genetics, believe that genetic testing also gives athletes valuable information that might increase their competitive edge.
(ABC News) – A national group’s push to outlaw an abortion procedure and redefine it as “dismemberment” advanced Friday in Kansas, with the state Senate’s approval of what could become the nation’s first ban of the practice. The bill approved on a 31-9 vote is model legislation drafted by the National Right to Life Committee as part of its long-running efforts to restrict abortion incrementally. The group first unveiled the proposal in Kansas last month, but similar legislation is pending in other states, including Missouri and Oklahoma.
(The Japan Times) – A Japanese team of researchers has developed a method of creating three-dimensional retinal tissue from human embryonic stem cells, according to a study published on Thursday in an electronic edition of British science journal Nature Communications.
(Reuters) – Europe has approved the Western world’s first medicine containing stem cells to treat a rare condition caused by burns to the eye, marking a milestone in the use of the technology. Holoclar, from privately held Italian company Chiesi, was given a marketing green light on Friday by the European Commission for treating so-called limbal stem cell deficiency due to physical or chemical burns.
(Forbes) – According to a new study, an estimated 28 million to 39 million prescriptions are filled each year for hormone-replacement therapies made by compounding pharmacies. But two large Internet surveys reveal that a staggering 86% of women don’t understand that products sold by compounding pharmacies are not approved by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration.
(USA Today) – A growing number of states are considering legislation to allow terminally ill patients to gain access to experimental drugs, before the U.S. Food and Drug Administration deems them market-ready. “Right-to-try” laws were passed in five states last year — Arizona, Colorado, Louisiana, Michigan and Missouri, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Twenty-five more have proposed similar legislation.
(Forbes) – A rising tolerance level is a prescription opioid abuser’s worst enemy. Regular usage of opioids increases a patient’s tolerance level to a point where dosage amounts ride alongside it. The need for new ways to suppress tolerance levels is evident. A new report believes a particular compound could be to blame for the development of opioid tolerance. The study, published in Anesthesiology, the official medical journal of the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA), found that CXCL1, a protein produced by spinal cord tissue, plays a significant role in the process.
(Medical Xpress) – Health authorities were working to ensure remote hospitals in northern and western India had adequate medical supplies for a flu outbreak that has claimed more than 700 lives in 10 weeks. More than 11,000 cases have been reported since mid-December with most of the cases being reported from Rajasthan, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Telangana and Madhya Pradesh states.
(Scientific American) – U.S. health regulators have known since at least 2009 that the medical devices at the center of the “superbug” outbreak at UCLA can transmit lethal infections but have not recommended any new safety requirements, a lapse that threatens patient safety, experts in hospital-acquired infections said. The latest outbreak involving the reusable devices called duodenoscopes, which are inserted down the throat, may have exposed 179 patients at UCLA’s Ronald Reagan Medical Center in Los Angeles and contributed to two deaths.
(Medical Xpress) – 23andMe today announced that it has been granted authority by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to market the first direct-to-consumer genetic test under a regulatory classification for novel devices. 23andMe’s Personal Genome Service 510(k) submission for Bloom Syndrome Carrier Status test report was evaluated through the de novo regulatory pathway. 23andMe submitted an application for review under the standard 510(k) requirements.