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Updated: 3 hours 39 min ago

Genetics of Both Virus and Patient Work Together to Influence the Course of HIV Infection

February 10, 2017

(Eurekalert) – Viral and human genetics together account for about one third of the differences in disease progression rates seen among people infected with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), according to new research published in PLOS Computational Biology. The findings suggest that patient genetics influences disease progression by triggering mutations in the HIV viral genome. People with HIV experience different rates of disease progression. HIV progresses faster in people with a higher viral load–the amount of genetic material from the HIV virus found in an infected person’s blood.

Medical Journal to Retract Paper after Concerns Organs Came from Executed Prisoners

February 10, 2017

(The Guardian) – A prestigious medical journal will retract a scientific paper from Chinese surgeons about liver transplantation after serious concerns were raised that the organs used in the study had come from executed prisoners of conscience. The study was published last year in Liver International. It examined the outcomes of 564 liver transplantations performed consecutively at Zhejiang University’s First Affiliated hospital between April 2010 and October 2014.

Could We One Day Make Babies from Only Skin Cells?

February 10, 2017

(CNN) – In the not-so-distant future, research suggests, eggs and sperm may no longer be needed to make a baby — at least not in the traditional way. In 2016, scientists in Japan revealed the birth of mice from eggs made from a parent’s skin cells, and many researchers believe the technique could one day be applied to humans. The process, called in vitro gametogenesis, allows eggs and sperm to be created in a culture dish in the lab.

The Doctor’s Dilemma: Is It Ever Good to Do Harm?

February 10, 2017

(The Guardian) – Medical knowledge changes swiftly, and technological changes make new and expensive investigations and treatments possible that were only theoretical a few years ago. Life has been extended in length, but not in quality, and the debates about end?of?life decisions show us how much the notion of a “good life” is bound up with the absence of disease, illness and suffering.

Visiting Scholar Opportunity: Andrew Markus Visiting Scholarship at University of Oxford

February 10, 2017

Green Templeton College and the Ethox Centre, University of Oxford

The position of Visiting Scholar is to be awarded to a practising medical doctor (physician) with an interest in medical ethics. It provides an opportunity for a clinician to take part in the academic and College life of the University of Oxford. The University is one of the major centres for both medical research and philosophy in Europe.

The successful applicant will undertake research in medical ethics at the University of Oxford. Visiting Scholars will spend four weeks working at the Ethox Centre and Green Templeton College. The scholar will benefit from the supervision and feedback of Ethox research staff and will have access to the libraries and research facilities of the College and the University of Oxford. He or she will also have the opportunity to attend talks and lectures at the College and across the University.

During the visit, the scholar will be expected to give a seminar (in English) on a topic in medical ethics. This seminar will be open to interested members of Green Templeton College and the wider University. The scholar will also give a presentation on his or her research at an Ethox Centre research seminar.

The Scholar will be offered four weeks’ free accommodation at Green Templeton College, and a stipend of £1000 which is intended to assist with travel and other costs relating to the visit.


The deadline for proposals for the year 2017 – 2018 is 24 April 2017

To apply for this scholarship please submit the following:

  • 500-word statement summarising their research interests and what they hope to achieve during their visit
  • 2 page CV, including the names of two referees.

The application should be sent via email to the following address:


The Andrew Markus Visiting Scholarship Scheme is Directed by Dr Angeliki Kerasidou


For more information please visit

Academics Call Time on $100,000 Cancer Drugs

February 9, 2017

(Reuters) – A group of academic researchers has demanded an end to cancer medicines costing more than $100,000 a year and proposed a new model of low-cost drug development that would capitalize on recent advances in science. A group of academic researchers has demanded an end to cancer medicines costing more than $100,000 a year and proposed a new model of low-cost drug development that would capitalize on recent advances in science. Sky-high prices have made oncology hugely profitable, with IMS Health forecasting global cancer drug sales of at least $150 billion by 2020. Scientists, however, believe today’s prices are simply not sustainable as more and more people need treatment.

600 Miles in a Coffin-Shaped Bus, Campaigning against Death Itself

February 9, 2017

(New York Times) – In the autumn of 2015, a man of my acquaintance purchased a 38-foot recreational vehicle — a 1978 Blue Bird Wanderlodge — and, having made to this vehicle such modifications as would lend it the appearance of a gigantic coffin, set out to drive it eastward across the great potbellied girth of the continental United States. His reasons for doing so were, in certain respects, complex and conflicting, but for now it will suffice to inform you that this voyage was undertaken in order to raise awareness of two distinct but related matters. The first of these was the regrettable fact of human mortality and the need to do something about it; the second was that of his candidacy in the following year’s presidential election.

Vatican Defends China Invite to Organ Trafficking Summit

February 9, 2017

(BBC) – The Vatican has defended its decision to invite China to a conference on organ trafficking despite its record of using executed inmates as organ donors. The head of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences (PAS) admitted he did not know whether the practice was continuing but said he hoped to encourage change. Human rights groups say China is still using executed prisoners as a source of organ transplants. Beijing says forced organ harvesting ended in 2015.

Study Suggests That iPSCs Do Not Develop More Mutations than Subcloned Cells

February 9, 2017

(News-Medical) – Despite its immense promise, adoption of iPSCs in biomedical research and medicine has been slowed by concerns that these cells are prone to increased numbers of genetic mutations. A new study by scientists at the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI), part of the National Institutes of Health, suggests that iPSCs do not develop more mutations than cells that are duplicated by subcloning. Subcloning is a technique where single cells are cultured individually and then grown into a cell line. The technique is similar to the iPSC except the subcloned cells are not treated with the reprogramming factors which were thought to cause mutations.

Researchers Develop New Stem Cell Technique for Bone Repair

February 9, 2017

(UPI) – Researchers from Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology in South Korea, or UNIST, have developed a method of repairing bone using a mix of stem cells and a carbon material with photocatalytic properties. Prior studies have used human bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells, or hBMSCs, to treat fractures because of their potential to regenerate bone in patients who have lost large areas of bone from disease or trauma.

DNA Deceit? Genetic Testing and Its Legitimacy

February 9, 2017

(WLTX19) – It’s not unusual to want to learn more about yourself and after a few clicks online, you could be drowning in information. There are dozens of genetic tests offering the latest and greatest ways to answering your questions. You send them some saliva or a swab from your cheek and from that, they’ll analyze your D.N.A., but sometimes the results you get back aren’t definitive. Richard Moody works at WLTX. He’s adopted and said he doesn’t have a desire to learn about his birth parents, but is interested in learning more about himself.

Medical Research: The Vaccine Chronicles

February 8, 2017

(Nature) – A rare probity permeates Meredith Wadman’s The Vaccine Race, the riveting story of a human fetal cell line, the scientists who established it and the front lines of vaccine research where it was deployed. In the epilogue, Wadman tracks down ‘Mrs X’, the Swedish woman whose aborted fetus gave rise to the cell line without her knowledge. Wadman promised never to make her name public or to contact her again. The book — the first from Wadman, a former Nature journalist — invites comparison with Rebecca Skloot’s 2007 The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks (Crown).

Oliver Smithies (1925-2017)

February 8, 2017

(Nature) – Oliver Smithies had a habit of inventing ways to do the experiments he wanted to do, and crafted tools that are now used widely in biology. He won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2007 for developing methods to genetically modify individual mammalian genes. His work provided the means to modify any gene in mouse embryonic stem cells. This approach, known as gene targeting, has been used to create thousands of lines of mice carrying desired genetic mutations.

Women Using IVF to Choose the Sex of Their Children Break Silence on ‘Gender Disappointment’

February 8, 2017

(Australian Broadcasting Co) – Kate suffers from what is known as gender disappointment. How seriously you take that concept probably goes a long way to determining how you feel about whether Australia should legalise gender selection — the use of IVF to get the baby of your desired sex. Gender disappointment is not a medically recognised condition. Critics call it a social construct, but venture into some closed online chat forums and you will find hundreds of Australian women who are sharing their disappointment over the sex of their children.

Clinic Falsely Told Dozens They Had Alzheimer’s, Suits Say

February 8, 2017

(STAT News) – He is one of more than 50 people suing the now-closed clinic’s former director and its owner, saying they, too, were told they had Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia. Most now know it’s not true, while a few are awaiting confirmation. Some say they spent months undergoing treatment while planning out their final years. Some quit their jobs, sold possessions or took one last special trip. One killed himself.

Obese Patients Receive Suboptimal End-of-Life Care

February 8, 2017

(Medscape) – Obesity is associated with diminished use of hospice services, leaving patients vulnerable to suboptimal end-of-life care, shows the first such study to explore the association. In an article published online February 7 in Annals of Internal Medicine, John Harris, MD, from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pennsylvania, and colleagues conclude that “the disparities in hospice use and Medicare expenditures by patient BMI [body mass index] provide an excellent opportunity for improvement.”

Critically Ill Children Can Still Undergo Liver Transplantation and Survive

February 8, 2017

(Eurekalert) – Advancements in critical care make it possible for even the sickest children to successfully undergo liver transplantation. According to a new study published online as an “article in press” in the Journal of the American College of Surgeons (JACS), children who are sick enough to require mechanical ventilation or dialysis before transplantation achieve the same survival benefit as children who are stable prior to the surgical procedure. The study will appear in a print edition of the Journal this spring.

Synthetic Cells Pass Turing Test and Chat to Natural Counterparts

February 8, 2017

(Chemistry World) – Artificial cells have been created that can ‘talk’ to bacteria – the first time two-way chemical communication between synthetic cells and natural cells has been achieved. The work could provide a much sought after yardstick to determine how lifelike artificial cells are by their ability to fool natural cells, akin to the Turing test for machine intelligence. Further applications could involve artificial cells controlling complex networks of natural cells.

Biologists Help Deaf Mice Hear again by Inserting Healthy Genes into Their Ears

February 8, 2017

(Wired UK) – Hearing loss affects millions of people around the world, and in around half of those cases the root cause is genetic. Now, medical researchers have been able to restore the hearing and balance in mice by inserting mutated genes into their bodies. Two papers published in the Nature Biotechnology journal describe the results.

Our Bots, Ourselves

February 8, 2017

(The Atlantic) – In the coming decades, artificial intelligence will replace a lot of human jobs, from driving trucks to analyzing X-rays. But it will also work with us, taking over mundane personal tasks and enhancing our cognitive capabilities. As AI continues to improve, digital assistants—often in the form of disembodied voices—will become our helpers and collaborators, managing our schedules, guiding us through decisions, and making us better at our jobs. We’ll have something akin to Samantha from the movie Her or Jarvis from Iron Man: AI “agents” that know our likes and dislikes, and that free us up to focus on what humans do best, or what we most enjoy. Here’s what to expect.