(The Guardian) – The parents of a “profoundly neurologically disabled” two-year-old boy say they are devastated by a high courtdecision to allow medics to provide only palliative care, saying they believe nurses mistook his smiles for grimaces. “profoundly neurologically disabled” two-year-old boy say they are devastated by a high courtdecision to allow medics to provide only palliative care, saying they believe nurses mistook his smiles for grimaces.
(Nature) – A 64-year-old class of antibiotics that has been a cornerstone of medical treatment has just refreshed dramatically. More than 300 members have been added to the macrolide class, synthesized from scratch by dogged chemists searching for ways to overcome antibiotic-resistant bacteria. In work described today in Nature, a team of chemists built the drug erythromycin, a key member of the macrolides, from scratch. In doing so, they were able to generate hundreds of variations of the molecule that would not have been feasible by merely modifying erythromycin.
(Medscape) – Hello. This is Jeffrey Berns, editor-in-chief of Medscape Nephrology. I’m here with one of my colleagues, Dr Peter Reese, assistant professor of medicine and a transplant nephrologist. He is also chair of the Ethics Committee at the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS), which is the organization that oversees organ transplantation in the United States. There has been a proposal by UNOS to change the rules for transplantation of kidneys in patients who are being given a liver transplant—or in other words, a simultaneous liver-kidney transplant. Peter, maybe you can first tell our viewers what the problem is. Why does UNOS think there is a need to change the rules for simultaneous liver-kidney transplants?
(The Guardian) – The number of abortions carried out in England and Wales last year was the highest in five years, driven by growing numbers of women in their 30s and 40s who are terminating a pregnancy, official figures show. More women are having multiple abortions, according to the annual statistics released by the Department of Health. Almost four in 10 terminations are now carried out on women who have undergone the procedure before. Fifty women had each had eight terminations, the figures revealed.
(Reuters) – Self-injectable contraceptives, which are being trailed in Uganda and Senegal, could revolutionize women’s lives in rural Africa and dramatically cut maternal and newborn deaths, health experts said on Tuesday. The disposable $1 device consists of a small needle connected to a plastic bubble containing the contraceptive Depo-Provera which can be squeezed to inject a dose that lasts three months.
Hospitals in the Most Miserable Country in the World Have Turned into Battlefield Clinics — But There Is No War
(Business Insider) – Venezuela’s hospitals are failing. In a bombshell New York Times report, Nicholas Casey outlined how the country’s economic crisis has led to a huge public-health emergency. “Hospital wards have become crucibles where the forces tearing Venezuela apart have converged,” Casey wrote. “Gloves and soap have vanished from some hospitals. Often, cancer medicines are found only on the black market. There is so little electricity that the government works only two days a week to save what energy is left.”
(The Korea Times) – The Korean government will lift its seven-year ban on human stem cell research. The National Bioethics Committee conditionally approved CHA Medical Group’s research plan, allowing the company to use up to 600 human eggs by 2020. Under the approval, the company has to abide strictly by related laws and develop a research monitoring system.
(Eurekalert) – A new study from researchers at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus appears to disprove the increasingly popular notion that doctors die differently than everyone else, using fewer interventions that often have little value. In fact, the researchers said, their national study found that physicians use more hospice care, spend more time in Intensive Care Units (ICUs) and just as much time in hospitals when compared to the rest of the population.
(New York Times) – While the diseases that now kill most people in developed nations — heart disease, stroke, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, cancer — have different immediate causes, age is the major risk factor for all of them. That means that even treatment breakthroughs in these areas, no matter how vital to individuals, would yield on average four or five more years of life, epidemiologists say, and some of them likely shadowed by illness. A drug that slows aging, the logic goes, might instead serve to delay the onset of several major diseases at once.
Hastings Center Report (vol. 46, no. 3, 2016) is available online by subscription only.
- “Why Bioethics Needs a Disability Moral Psychology” by Joseph A. Stramondo
- “Implicit Cognition and Gifts: How Does Social Psychology Help Us Think Differently about Medical Practice?” by Nicolae Morar and Natalia Washington
- “Just What Is the Disability Perspective on Disability?” by Tom Shakespeare
Journal of Applied Philosophy (vol. 33, no. 2, 2016) is available online by subscription only.
- “Exploitation in International Paid Surrogacy Arrangements” by Stephen Wilkinson
- “Is There a Right to Surrogacy?” by Christine Straehle
- “Lessons from Law about Incomplete Commodification in the Egg Market” by Kimberly D. Krawiec
- “Licensing Parents in International Contract Pregnancies” by Andrew Botterell and Caroly McLeod
Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics (vol. 37, no. 2, 2016) is available online by subscription only.
- “What Is So Important about Completing Lives? A Critique of the Modified Youngest First Principle of Scarce Resource Allocation” by Espen Gamlund
- “The Challenges of Choosing and Explaining a Phenomenon in Epidemiological Research on the ‘Hispanic Paradox'” by Sean A. Valles
- “Surrogate Consent to Non-Beneficial Research: Erring on the Right Side when Substituted Judgments May Be Inaccurate” by Mats Johansson and Linus Brostrom
(The Washington Post) – Today, an average of 79 people receive organ transplants — heart, lungs, livers, you name it — every day in the United States. Most of these patients are seriously ill, facing death, or at least suffering dire health consequences because of their malfunctioning organ. But increasingly, a new kind of transplant patient is emerging. They’re undergoing some of the newest, riskiest transplant procedures in the world — and their lives don’t even depend on them. Charla Nash got a new face. Thomas Manning got a new penis. Zion Harvey got new hands. None of these patients were dying, but they’d suffered profound loses that were affecting their quality of life. And surgeons decided to do something about it.
(UPI) – Although telemedicine has been shown in some studies to be effective, as well as preferable for some patients, a recent experiment suggests there are limitations on the ability of doctors to diagnose or treat some conditions without an office visit. Researchers at the University of California San Francisco reviewed telemedicine services and report many doctors either misdiagnosed or entirely missed conditions that could be contagious or life-threatening, suggesting a combination of technological challenges and poor doctor qualification potentially being the cause.
(CNN) – Scientists have for the first time cloned the Zika virus, a development that could bring a desperately needed vaccine within closer reach. The mosquito-borne virus — which can also be sexually transmitted — has torn through Latin America in recent months, bringing an increase in microcephaly, a condition in which babies are born with abnormally small heads and underdeveloped brains.
(Nature) – A hallucinogenic drug derived from magic mushrooms could be useful in treating depression, the first safety study of this approach has concluded. Researchers from Imperial College London gave 12 people psilocybin, the active component in magic mushrooms. All had been clinically depressed for a significant amount of time — on average 17.8 years. None of the patients had responded to standard medications, such as selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRIs), or had electroconvulsive therapy. One week after receiving an oral dose of psilocybin, all patients experienced a marked improvement in their symptoms. Three months on, five patients were in complete remission.
(NIH) – Four new grants from the National Institutes of Health will support research on the ethical, legal and social questions raised by advances in genomics research and the increasing availability of genomic information. The awards will fund researchers at interdisciplinary centers through the National Human Genome Research Institute’s (NHGRI) Centers of Excellence in Ethical, Legal and Social Implications Research (CEER) program. The projects will examine the use of genomic information in the prevention and treatment of infectious diseases; genomic information privacy; communication about prenatal and newborn genomic testing results; and the impact of genomics in American Indian and Alaskan Native communities.
(The Telegraph) – Half of all women prescribed fertility treatments do not need help getting pregnant and are at risk of exploitation by private clinics, a leading expert has warned. Dr John Parsons, founder and former director of King’s College Hospital’s assisted conception unit, said clinics were having a “free-for-all” at the expense of desperate couples. The criticism came as the UK’s fertility watchdog, the Human Fertilisation & Embryology Authority, said it was becoming “increasingly concerned” that private clinics were offering “add-on” treatments which have not been properly tested.
(New York Times) – The Supreme Court, in an unsigned unanimous opinion, announced on Monday that it would not rule in a major case on access to contraception, and instructed lower courts to consider whether a compromise was possible. The opinion is the latest indication that the Supreme Court, which currently has eight members, is exploring every avenue to avoid 4-to-4 deadlocks, even if it does not decide the question the justices have agreed to address. The case concerned an accommodation offered to religious groups that did not want to offer insurance coverage for contraception to their female employees as ordinarily required by regulations under the Affordable Care Act.
(The Atlantic) – But whether they intended to or not, these lawmakers exposed a set of difficult moral questions that pro-choice progressives tend to ignore in their quest to defend legal abortion. Should couples be able to abort their female fetuses—and it’s almost always female fetuses—in the hopes of having the boy they really wanted? Should a mom, ashamed at having a mixed-race baby, be able to abort because of race? Should parents give up on a baby with Down syndrome? What about Tay-Sachs, which almost always kills children by the time they turn four?