(The Baltimore Sun) – McGlothlin was part of a group study on the effects of psilocybin, the active hallucinogenic ingredient in “magic mushrooms,” on smoking cessation. The study represents a resurgence in research at Johns Hopkins, New York University and other academic institutions looking at whether mind-altering psychedelics, such as LSD, mushrooms and ecstasy can be effective in treating a variety of emotional and addictive disorders. Scientists have discovered that psychedelic drugs have the potential to relieve clinical depression, anxiety in cancer patients, depression in hospice patients, post-traumatic stress disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder.
(The Guardian) – The rate of Texas women who died from complications related to pregnancy doubled from 2010 to 2014, a new study has found, for an estimated maternal mortality rate that is unmatched in any other state and the rest of the developed world. The finding comes from a report, appearing in the September issue of the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology, that the maternal mortality rate in the United States increased between 2000 and 2014, even while the rest of the world succeeded in reducing its rate.
(The Australian) – An increasing number of “euthanasia tourists” are travelling to the accident and emergency rooms of Brussels hospitals to obtain a lethal injection. Doctors at clinics and hospitals in Belgium’s capital say that French patients often arrive with suitcases, thinking that their request to be helped to die will be carried out within a week. Last year 2023 people were medically killed in Belgium, more than double the figure of five years earlier. Elective medical killings are outlawed in France.
(Reuters) – A federal judge on Thursday permanently blocked parts of a Florida law that aimed to cut off state funding for preventive health services at clinics that also provide abortions. U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle had issued a preliminary order in June after state Planned Parenthood affiliates challenged provisions as unconstitutional. The June order had come just before the restrictions were to take effect.
(The Guardian) – With surrogacy bans now in place in Thailand, India and Nepal, the business is being pushed across borders. “Many would-be parents whose budget limits them to Asia have no other options than to try their luck in Cambodia, especially gay couples,” says Sam Everingham, director of the Australian non-profit organisation Families Through Surrogacy, which informs aspiring parents on overseas surrogacy options. Everingham has observed how agencies and clinics forced to close in Thailand simply moved their lucrative business into Cambodia, where infertility treatment was non-existent until two years ago.
(New York Times) – Chinese state news media and pro-Beijing newspapers in Hong Kong said on Friday that an international organ transplant conference in Hong Kong demonstrated that China’s transplant system, which for decades used organs from executed prisoners, had global backing. That assertion was disputed on Friday afternoon by the president of the Transplantation Society, a nongovernmental organization based in Montreal that had organized the meeting.
(USA Today) – Harvard geneticist George Church is convinced everyone should have his or her genomes sequenced. Such tests would reveal the rare diseases and handful of cancers that we’re all at some risk for, even if our family members don’t have them. But many others in the field say we still don’t know enough about genetics to justify getting the test done. “I think the evidence is not there yet for that balance to be tilted more toward population screening,” says Muin Khoury, director of the office of public health genomics at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
(Kaiser Health News) -Full-blown puberty is irreversible, but for transgender children, it’s no longer inevitable. By taking a gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) agonist, secretion of the sex hormones can be stopped and the onset of puberty suppressed, so that the body does not develop secondary sex characteristics. This has been done safely for decades to suppress sex hormones in children who develop too early, a condition known as precocious puberty. Suppressors have also been used to treat endometriosis, uterine fibroids and prostate cancer.
(The New Yorker) – I have been an internist at Ben Taub for the past six years. In that time, I have rarely seen patients who lack health insurance, like Oregón, make it to the transplant list. The hospital is part of Harris Health, a county-funded network that provides care for the indigent, but as with most safety nets it does not cover organ transplantation, which can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. This may be why, when I took over Oregón’s care, I fixated on the tube in his nose. Rather than prolonging his life with invasive equipment, shouldn’t my colleagues and I gear our treatment toward helping him die comfortably?
(New York Times) – The fact is, most of us will move in and out of disability in our lifetimes, whether we do so through illness, an injury or merely the process of aging. The World Health Organization defines disability as an umbrella term that encompasses impairments, activity limitations and participation restrictions that reflect the complex interaction between “features of a person’s body and features of the society in which he or she lives.” The Americans With Disabilities Act tells us that disability is “a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities.”
(Reuters) – A U.S. federal appeals court has upheld the United Nations’ immunity from a damage claim filed by human rights lawyers on behalf of thousands of Haitians killed or sickened by a cholera epidemic they blame on U.N. peacekeepers. In a decision late on Thursday, the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals in New York upheld a lower court’s January 2015 dismissal of a lawsuit brought by lawyers seeking compensation and a public apology for 5,000 Haitian cholera victims.
(STAT News) – Don’t let Vera Sharav fool you. A former librarian, she’s diminutive and refined, partial to pearls, classical music, and ballet. But she’s also a streetfighter: one of the most effective and passionate — some would say extreme — advocates for the rights of medical research subjects in the US. Sharav has exposed experiments testing HIV drugs on toddlers in New York’s foster care system and helped scuttle government research that would have paid low-income Florida families $970 to test their children’s exposure to household pesticides.
(STAT News) – At first glance the advance seems abstruse, promising anodyne applications such as making genetically modified bacteria that resist viral infection. (Those infections are problematic for industries that use bacteria to synthesize chemicals and drugs, costing them billions of dollars a year.) But the experiment, published Thursday in Science, is also a significant step toward a much grander project: recoding life.
(The Guardian) – Historic blood samples collected from Indigenous Australians could connect members of the stolen generations to their families and improve healthcare for chronic diseases, but not without confronting a troubled legacy of scientific exploitation and racial classification. About 7,000 samples were collected from 43 remote communities in northern Australia in the 1960s and 1970s as part of a range of studies. The samples were used by researchers until ethical concerns about the use of Indigenous DNA prompted a moratorium in the 1990s, and have spent the intervening years preserved in Canberra.
(NPR) – Scientists have discovered that a common cause of sudden heart death has been misunderstood because researchers didn’t appropriately account for racial differences in their studies. The findings, published online Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine, have implications far beyond this particular inherited disease, called hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, or HCM. Researchers say the results also sound a cautionary note for many other illnesses that have been identified through genetic markers.
(Science) – Some call it the “biological Chernobyl.” On 2 April 1979, a plume of anthrax spores was accidentally released from a secret bioweapons facility in the Soviet city of Sverdlovsk. Propelled by a slow wind, the cloud drifted southeast, producing a 50-kilometer trail of disease and death among humans and animals alike. At least 66 people lost their lives, making it the deadliest human outbreak of inhalation anthrax ever. Now, 37 years later, scientists have managed to isolate the pathogen’s DNA from the bodies of two human victims and piece together its entire genome.
After 15 Years of War, Afghans Struggling with Mental Health Issues Have Few Psychologists to Turn to
(Associated Press) – After almost 40 years of conflict and crisis, experts say the vast majority of the Afghan population suffers from some form of post-traumatic stress disorder, yet arcane societal attitudes on mental health are holding back many from seeking help. Hundreds of psychologists have been trained over the past decade to work at clinics across the country, many funded by foreign donors – but the stigma associated with “being crazy” remains a barrier.
(The Atlantic) – Now, scientists are beginning to understand what happens, on a cellular level, once Zika crosses the placental barrier. A new study, published Thursday in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, identifies key cells that enable the virus to replicate by examining how Zika behaved in the tissue of placentas from three women not infected by the virus.
The United Nations Says It Needs to Do “Much More” to Address Its Own Involvement in the Introduction of Cholera to Haiti
(Associated Press) – The United Nations says it needs to do “much more” to address its own involvement in the introduction of cholera to Haiti and the suffering of those affected, estimated at more than 770,000 people. Researchers say there is ample evidence that cholera was introduced to Haiti’s biggest river in October 2010 by inadequately treated sewage from a U.N. peacekeeping base. The United Nations has never accepted responsibility, and has answered lawsuits on behalf of victims in U.S. courts by claiming diplomatic immunity.
(The Telegraph) – The Zika virus may cause long-term damage to the memory which mirrors the effects of Alzheimer’s disease a new study suggests. Scientists had thought that the virus only impacted the brains of developing foetuses and did not believe an infection posed serious problems for adults. But a new study suggests that Zika can also infect the brain cells of adults, causing long term damage to memory.