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New Partnership Aims to Create Stem Cell Resource to Study Psychiatric Disorders

February 23, 2015

(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 Genetics of Being Injury-Prone

February 23, 2015

(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.

Kansas Senate Approves Proposed Ban on Abortion Procedure

February 23, 2015

(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.

Researchers Create Stem Cell-Derived Retina Tissue

February 23, 2015

(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.

Europe Approves Western World’s First Stem-Cell Therapy for Rare Eye Condition

February 23, 2015

(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.

Women Fooled by Untested Hormones from Compounding Pharmacies

February 23, 2015

(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.

States Move to Give Terminally Ill ‘Right-to-Try’ Drugs

February 23, 2015

(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.

Study Proposes New Therapy to Suppress Opioid Tolerance

February 20, 2015

(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.

Indian Health Authorities Say 700 Have Died in Flu Outbreak

February 20, 2015

(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.

FDA Knew Devices Spread Fatal “Superbug”

February 20, 2015

(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.

23andMe Authorized by FDA to Market First Direct-to-Consumer Genetic Test

February 20, 2015

(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.

World Health Organization OKs US-Made Quick Test for Ebola That Gives Results in 15 Minutes

February 20, 2015

(Associated Press) – The World Health Organization has approved a quick test for Ebola that will dramatically cut the time it takes to determine with reasonable accuracy whether someone is infected with the deadly virus. The Geneva-based U.N. agency says the ReEBOV Antigen Rapid Test Kit, made by the U.S. company Corgenix, meets sufficient quality, safety and performance requirements. WHO said Friday the new test can provide results within 15 minutes by detecting an Ebola protein.

Stem Cell Breakthrough Boosts Australian Biotech Firm

February 20, 2015

(ABC.net) – Painful bone marrow or fat tissue donations may soon be a thing of the past after an Australian biotech company made a breakthrough in the manufacturing of stem cells. ASX-listed Cynata Therapeutics will mass manufacture mesenchymal stem cells (adult stem cells typically found in bone marrow) from just one blood donation.

Personalized T Cell Therapy Shows Promise in Stopping Brain Tumor Growth

February 20, 2015

(UPI) – Scientists have proven successful in engineering immune cells to track down and attack cancer cells. The heat-seeking T cells have proven effective in controlling brain tumor growth in mice, and have also shown promise as a potential treatment for two types of leukemia.

Paying for Gene Therapy: Are Annuities the Next Big Thing?

February 20, 2015

(Reuters) – As U.S. drugmakers face growing resistance to the high price of cutting-edge treatments, a handful of companies are working on a new payment model that rewards them for the long-term performance of their medicines. The effort, industry executives told Reuters, is being led by firms developing so-called gene therapies, which aim to cure inherited diseases like hemophilia by “fixing” the single faulty gene responsible for the disorder.

Are Doctors Neglecting Their Older Patients?

February 20, 2015

(Medscape) – Physicians are often accused of providing too much care to elderly patients at the end of life, but there’s evidence that these patients also get far too little care before reaching that point. Years of skimpy treatment for elderly patients in their 70s and beyond impedes their health and may well hasten their death. Providing care to older patients seems to be a hot-button issue for the medical profession. Medscape’s recent 2014 Ethics Survey showed that physicians were divided on whether older patients deserve as much care as younger ones.

A New Edition of Bioethics is Available

February 20, 2015

Bioethics (Vol. 29, No. 3, March 2015) is now available online by subscription only.

Articles include:

  • “Selfies, Personalization and Bioethics” by Ruth Chadwick
  • “Autonomy, natality, and freedom: A liberal re-examination of Habermas in the enhancement debate” by Jonathan Pugh
  • “Human rights reasoning and medical law: A sceptical essay” by Jesse Wall
  • “Understanding the fluid nature of personhood – The ring theory of personhood” by Lalit Kumar Radha Krishna and Rayan Alsuwaigh
  • “The harm of bioethics: A critique of Singer and Callahan on obesity” by Christopher Mayes

New Clues to Cause of Birth Defects in Children from Older Mothers

February 19, 2015

(Science Daily) – Researchers at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University have found a possible clue to why older mothers face a higher risk for having babies born with conditions such as Down syndrome that are characterized by abnormal chromosome numbers. Using data from more than 4,000 families obtained in collaboration with the direct-to-consumer genetic testing company 23andMe, Inc., the study showed that the normal process by which parental chromosomes are shuffled before being passed to children appears to be less regulated in older mothers.

Contaminated Medical Tool Suspected in ‘Superbug’ Outbreak

February 19, 2015

(Associated Press) – A “superbug” outbreak suspected in the deaths of two patients at a Los Angeles hospital has raised questions about the adequacy of the procedures for disinfecting a medical instrument used on more than a half-million people in the U.S. every year.

Human DNA Enlarges Mouse Brains

February 19, 2015

(Science) – Researchers have increased the size of mouse brains by giving the rodents a piece of human DNA that controls gene activity. The work provides some of the strongest genetic evidence yet for how the human intellect surpassed those of all other apes.

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