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First Hint That Body’s ‘Biological Age’ Can Be Reversed

September 6, 2019

(Nature) – A small clinical study in California has suggested for the first time that it might be possible to reverse the body’s epigenetic clock, which measures a person’s biological age. For one year, nine healthy volunteers took a cocktail of three common drugs — growth hormone and two diabetes medications — and on average shed 2.5 years of their biological ages, measured by analysing marks on a person’s genomes. The participants’ immune systems also showed signs of rejuvenation.

Indian Woman Gives Birth to Twins at Age of 73

September 6, 2019

(CNN) – A 73-year-old woman in India has given birth to twin girls. Erramatti Mangayamma, a farmer from the southern state of Andhra Pradesh, is believed to be the oldest person ever to give birth. She became pregnant through IVF and doctors delivered the babies via caesarian section Thursday. “The surgery went well … the mother and the babies are all healthy with no complications,” Dr. Sanakayyala Umashankar, the director of Ahalya IVF, who performed the C-section, told CNN.

Vaping’s Plausible Deniability Is Going Up in Smoke

September 6, 2019

(The Atlantic) – That rationale has helped nicotine-vaping rates explode since 2015, especially among teens. The same technology has become popular among cannabis users both legal and non-. But the question of vaping’s relative danger has recently taken on a much more desperate tone. While vaping is still so new that broad, long-term data on inhaling the often mysterious chemicals found in both nicotine and cannabis “vape juice” won’t be available for years, Americans are beginning to see the effects that heavy or extended use of the vaping market’s vast array of products might have.

In an Emergency, Where Ambulances Take Patients Differs by Race, Study Finds

September 6, 2019

(STAT News) – Ambulance crews are generally supposed to take seriously ill patients to the closest hospital that offers the necessary emergency services, such as stroke or trauma care. However, new research shows that patients are sometimes transported somewhere else, and that their race may have something to do with it. A national study published in JAMA Network Open on Friday found there were differences in the emergency departments where patients were taken by emergency medical services, based on their race or ethnicity.

Vitamin E Chemical Is ‘Key Focus’ in Vaping Illness Investigation, Health Officials Say

September 5, 2019

(CNN) – An investigation into the link between vaping and severe lung illnesses has yielded the discovery of extremely high levels of the chemical vitamin E acetate in nearly all cannabis-containing vaping products that were analyzed, New York health officials said Thursday. At least one vape product containing this chemical has been linked to each person who fell ill and submitted a product for testing in the state.

The Brain, the Criminal and the Courts

September 5, 2019

(Knowable Magazine) – Despite this explosion in neuroscience knowledge, and notwithstanding Hinckley’s successful defense, “neurolaw” hasn’t had a tremendous impact on the courts — yet. But it is coming. Attorneys working civil cases introduce brain imaging ever more routinely to argue that a client has or has not been injured. Criminal attorneys, too, sometimes argue that a brain condition mitigates a client’s responsibility. Lawyers and judges are participating in continuing education programs to learn about brain anatomy and what MRIs and EEGs and all those other brain tests actually show.

The Problem with MRIs for Low Back Pain

September 5, 2019

(Undark) – It’s a symptom of a well-diagnosed problem: the overuse of medical services. Unnecessary imaging isn’t confined to just low back pain. Americans spend more than $100 billion on various types of diagnostic imaging each year, much of which is unnecessary and potentially even harmful. F. Todd Wetzel, past president of the North American Spine Society, identifies the problem as “the technological tail wagging the medical dog.” After MRI and computed tomography (CT) emerged in the 1970s, many physicians started routinely using scans to make a diagnosis for low back pain, rather than using them the way they’re intended to be used: to confirm or refute an uncertain diagnosis.

Czech Doctors Deliver Baby Girl 117 Days After Mother’s Brain-Death

September 5, 2019

(Reuters) – When a helicopter rushed an unconscious Czech woman who had suffered a severe stroke to hospital in April, her chances of survival were slim – and those of the foetus she had carried in her womb for 15 weeks little better. And yet, on Aug. 15, against all odds, a healthy baby girl was born by caesarean section – weighing 2.13 kg (4.7 lb) and measuring 42 cm (16.5 inches) – to her brain-dead mother, setting a new record in the process, Brno’s University Hospital said on Monday.

Coming Soon to a Battlefield: Robots That Can Kill

September 4, 2019

(The Atlantic) – Lethal, largely autonomous weaponry isn’t entirely new: A handful of such systems have been deployed for decades, though only in limited, defensive roles, such as shooting down missiles hurtling toward ships. But with the development of AI-infused systems, the military is now on the verge of fielding machines capable of going on the offensive, picking out targets and taking lethal action without direct human input. So far, U.S. military officials haven’t given machines full control, and they say there are no firm plans to do so.

The First and Last Resort

September 4, 2019

(Managed Care Magazine) – What the man in Room 15 and many other patients with behavioral health problems endured is called—with a whiff of euphemism—psychiatric boarding. When no treatment is available, ED patients with behavioral health needs are often tucked away in back hallways, or, like Weiner’s patient, put in a secure room under a constant, vigilant eye. Sedation, even physical restraints, are used. Boarding behavioral health patients is neither unusual—or new. In October 2008, the Lewin Group and the HHS published a paper that said that 80% of ED medical directors reported boarding behavioral health patients.

French Bioethics Bill Will Lead to the ‘Mutilation’ of Intersex Children–Claim

September 4, 2019

(RFI) – The proposed bioethics law deals with such issues as making Medically Assisted Reproduction available to lesbian couples, as well refining clauses on filiation and the anonymity of gamete donors. During the first day of deliberations, Laurène Chesnel, a member of the Inter-LGBT association, addressed a topic that is not even included in the legislation. She asked the government to “put an end to the mutilations performed on intersex infants”.

Four U.S. CRISPR Trials Editing Human DNA to Research New Treatments

September 4, 2019

(Smithsonian) – Last fall, the birth of genetically edited twin girls in China—the world’s first “designer babies”—prompted an immediate outcry in the medical science community. The change to the twins’ genomes, performed using the gene editing technology CRISPR, was intended to make the girls more resistant to H.I.V. But the edited genes may result in adverse side effects, and the International Commission on the Clinical Use of Human Germline Genome Editing is currently working on stricter and less ambiguous guidelines for editing the DNA of human embryos as a response to the rogue experiment. Human genetic engineering has also witnessed more regulated advances. In the past 12 months, four clinical trials launched in the United States to use CRISPR to treat and potentially cure patients of serious medical conditions.

When Apps Get Your Medical Data, Your Privacy May Go With It

September 3, 2019

(New York Times) – Americans may soon be able to get their medical records through smartphone apps as easily as they order takeout food from Seamless or catch a ride from Lyft. But prominent medical organizations are warning that patient data-sharing with apps could facilitate invasions of privacy — and they are fighting the change.

A Tiny, 25-Year-Old Study Still Drives Opinion on Pregnancy and Pot

September 3, 2019

(The Atlantic) – Tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the main psychoactive molecule in cannabis, is small and fat-soluble, easily crossing the placenta into the fetal bloodstream. The blood circulates THC throughout the body, including the brain, where the molecule can interact with endocannabinoid receptors active in neurodevelopment. How that might affect a developing fetus isn’t easy to sort out, and medical groups acknowledge that the science has limitations and inconsistencies. Still, they say, there are enough studies—many more recent than Dreher’s—linking cannabis use to outcomes such as low birthweight among regular users and changes in brain development to recommend against using it during pregnancy.

The Science of Senolytics: How a New Pill Could Spell the End of Ageing

September 3, 2019

(The Guardian) – It could happen, with the science of senolytics: an emerging – and highly anticipated – area of anti-ageing medicine. Many of the world’s top gerontologists have already demonstrated the possibilities in animals and are now beginning human clinical trials, with promising results. If the studies continue to be as successful as hoped, those who are currently middle-aged could become the first generation of oldies who are youthful for longer – with a little medical help.

IVF Changes Babies’ Genes But These Differences Disappear by Adulthood

September 3, 2019

(The Conversation) – Around one in 25 Australian children are now conceived through use of assisted reproductive treatments such as IVF. These reproductive technologies appear to leave a biological “signature” on several genes that can be measured at birth. This may explain why assisted conception increases the chance of early delivery, low birth weight and congenital abnormalities – and the question has remained about why this might be so. But the good news, according to our research published today in the journal Nature Communications, is these “epigenetic” changes largely disappear by adulthood. In fact, people born via IVF are as healthy as their naturally conceived peers.

Woman Is First to Receive Cornea Made from ‘Reprogrammed’ Stem Cells

September 3, 2019

(Nature) – A Japanese woman in her forties has become the first person in the world to have her cornea repaired using reprogrammed stem cells. At a press conference on 29 August, ophthalmologist Kohji Nishida from Osaka University, Japan, said the woman has a disease in which the stem cells that repair the cornea, a transparent layer that covers and protects the eye, are lost. The condition makes vision blurry and can lead to blindness. To treat the woman, Nishida says his team created sheets of corneal cells from induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells. These are made by reprogramming adult skin cells from a donor into an embryonic-like state from which they can transform into other cell types, such as corneal cells.

Firing Doctor, Christian Hospital Sets Off National Challenge to Aid-in-Dying Laws

September 2, 2019

(Kaiser Health News) – Centura Health Corp. this week abruptly terminated Dr. Barbara Morris, 65, a geriatrician with 40 years of experience, who had planned to help her patient, Cornelius “Neil” Mahoney, 64, end his life at his home. Mahoney, who has terminal cancer, is eligible to use the state’s law, overwhelmingly approved by Colorado voters in 2016. The growing number of state aid-in-dying provisions are increasingly coming into conflict with the precepts of faith-based hospitals, which oppose the practice on religious grounds.

The $6 Million Drug Claim

September 2, 2019

(New York Times) – While it’s hardly a household name, Strensiq is one of the costliest drugs in the world. It is part of an unsettling trend in which ultraexpensive drugs are becoming more common, spurring a national debate over whether any drug should cost millions of dollars, and whether Americans will be priced out of lifesaving treatments as drug companies maximize their profits.

People Are Vaping TCH. Lung Injuries Being Reported Nationwide. Why Is the CDC Staying Quiet?

September 2, 2019

(USA Today) – Federal health officials are under fire for their unclear public warnings after one death and nearly 200 cases of vaping-related lung illnesses, which some say are related to the far riskier practice of vaping marijuana oil rather than nicotine. Some state health department and news reports suggest many of the cases of lung problems involve tetrahydrocannabinol, known as THC, the chemical in marijuana that causes psychological effects.

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