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Pakistan Heat Wave Eases After More than 1,150 Die

June 26, 2015

(Scientific American) – Sea breezes brought lower temperatures on Friday to ease a heat wave that killed more than 1,150 people around Pakistan’s teeming port city of Karachi during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan. Mass funerals were held for 50 unidentified victims on Friday before their bodies were hastily buried.

3-D Heart Printed Using Multiple Imaging Techniques

June 26, 2015

(Science Daily) – Congenital heart experts from Spectrum Health Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital have successfully integrated two common imaging techniques to produce a three-dimensional anatomic model of a patient’s heart. The 3D model printing of patients’ hearts has become more common in recent years as part of an emerging, experimental field devoted to enhanced visualization of individual cardiac structures and characteristics.

US Congress Moves to Block Human-Embryo Editing

June 26, 2015

(Nature) – The US House of Representatives is wading into the debate over whether human embryos should be modified to introduce heritable changes. Its fiscal year 2016 spending bill for the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) would prohibit the agency from spending money to evaluate research or clinical applications for such products. In an unusual twist, the bill — introduced on 17 June — would also direct the FDA to create a committee that includes religious experts to review a forthcoming report from the US Institute of Medicine (IOM).

More Challenges to Obama Healthcare Law Percolating

June 26, 2015

(Reuters) – The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday upheld tax subsidies crucial to President Barack Obama’s healthcare law, but several other challenges to the 2010 statute are making their way up through the courts. Here is a look at some of the major cases and the grounds on which they have been brought.

Discovery Targets Dormant Bowel Cancer Cells Before They Form Secondary Tumours

June 26, 2015

(Medical Xpress) – An international research team, led by the University of Melbourne, have discovered a way to control the stem cell behaviour responsible for the spread of bowel cancer. The discovery will lead to treatments that target dormant cells, a major shift from conventional therapies that hit the growing cancer cells only.

What Hospice Care Means for Bobbi Kristina Brown

June 26, 2015

(ET Online) – Nearly five months after Bobbi Kristina Brown was found unconscious and unresponsive in a bathtub, her family announced on Wednesday the decision to move her from an Atlanta rehab hospital into hospice care.  “Despite the great medical care at numerous facilities, Bobbi Kristina Brown’s condition has continued to deteriorate,” Pat Houston told ET in a statement Wednesday. “As of today, she has been moved into hospice care. We thank everyone for their support and prayers. She is in God’s hands now.”

Researchers Develop a New Means of Killing Harmful Bacteria

June 26, 2015

(MIT News) – The global rise in antibiotic resistance is a growing threat to public health, damaging our ability to fight deadly infections such as tuberculosis. What’s more, efforts to develop new antibiotics are not keeping pace with this growth in microbial resistance, resulting in a pressing need for new approaches to tackle bacterial infection. In a paper published online in the journal Nano Letters, researchers at MIT, the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, and Harvard University reveal that they have developed a new means of killing harmful bacteria.

Synthetic Blood Transfusions Could Begin within Two Years

June 26, 2015

(Yahoo!) – Synthetic red blood cells are to be transfused into human testing subjects by 2017, the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) Blood and Transplant announced this week. “Scientists across the globe have been investigating for a number of years how to manufacture red blood cells to offer an alternative to donated blood to treat patients,” says Dr. Nick Watkins, NHS Blood and Transplant Assistant Director of Research and Development.

New Oxytocin Neuroscience Counters “Cuddle Hormone” Claims

June 25, 2015

(Scientific American) – That view has led some clinicians to try oxytocin as a treatment for psychiatric conditions such as autism spectrum disorder. But the early trials have had mixed results, and scientists are now seeking a deeper understanding of oxytocin and how it works in the brain. Researchers such as Froemke are showing that the hormone boosts neuronal signals in a way that could accentuate socially relevant input such as distress calls or possibly facial expressions. And clinical researchers are starting a wave of more ambitious trials to test whether oxytocin can help some types of autism.

Ebola-Hit Sierra Leone Quarantines 31 Health Workers

June 25, 2015

(Medical Xpress) – Authorities in Sierra Leone quarantined three doctors and 28 nurses in the capital Freetown when a mother tested positive for Ebola after giving birth, the health ministry said on Thursday. Doctors were unable to stem the woman’s bleeding and she was transferred to an emergency ward at the Princess Christian Maternity Hospital, where it was confirmed she was infected by the deadly virus on Saturday.

Sharing My Story with Patients

June 25, 2015

(New York Times) – For many physicians, facts, figures and data are king. For me, feeling truly vulnerable for the first time has transformed my life and practice. I understand better than ever that patients and families do not want to be treated like a number or a diagnosis, to have their feelings dismissed or their fears treated casually. They need a physician, but they also need an advocate, an ally and a partner. And that is why I tell my story.

New Class of Compounds Shrinks Pancreatic Cancer Tumors, Prevents Regrowth

June 25, 2015

(Science Daily) – Scientists from UCL (University College London) have designed a chemical compound that has reduced the growth of pancreatic cancer tumors by 80 percent in treated mice. The compound, called MM41, was designed to block faulty genes. It appears to do this by targeting little knots in their DNA, called quadruplexes, which are very different from normal DNA and which are especially found in faulty genes.

Final Step in Sugar-to-Morphine Conversion Deciphered

June 25, 2015

(Science) – The last piece of the poppy puzzle is now in hand: Plant geneticists have isolated the gene in the plant that carries out the last unknown step in converting glucose and other simple compounds into codeine, morphine, and a wide variety of other medicines. The discovery sets the stage for splicing the full suite of genes needed to produce these drugs into yeast, which could then produce safer and cheaper versions.

California Aid-in-Dying Bill Hits Roadblock

June 25, 2015

(San Francisco Gate) – California legislation that would allow dying patients to end their lives with doctor-prescribed drugs hit its biggest hurdle Tuesday after several Democrats on a key committee expressed reservations prior to a vote. Bill supporters postponed the vote to July 7 after it became clear they did not have the 10 votes needed to pass the legislation out of the 19-member Assembly Health Committee. They’re now attempting to gain more support.

Genetics: No More Addictive Personality

June 25, 2015

(Nature) – Scientists have searched for decades for an ‘addictive personality’ that leaves someone vulnerable to drug problems, but without success. Researchers have tried to identify the genes responsible for addiction, and they have examined the role of early exposure to trauma. Yet they have failed to isolate a single genetic factor that reliably distinguishes between the 10–20% of people who try alcohol or illegal drugs and get hooked and the majority who do not. Now, however, research into genetics and epigenetics is finally starting to shed some light on the causes of addiction — and it turns out that the idea of an addictive personality is a myth.

Your New Liver Is Only a Learjet Away: First of Three Parts

June 25, 2015

(Forbes) – It was wonderful for Jobs and his loved ones that he was able to receive a transplant that day. But was it fair that Jobs could afford to charter a jet from California to Tennessee to undergo a transplant, while thousands of equally sick Californians waited at home for livers that didn’t always come in time? Currently, less than 6% of transplant candidates are listed at multiple transplant centers. And less than 2% get listed at transplant centers a long-distance from where they live, like Jobs did.

Fact Check: Is Australia Legally Obligated to Look after Children Abandoned after Commercial Surrogacy?

June 25, 2015

(The Conversation) – Shortly after the birth the couple told Australian High Commission staff in New Delhi they would be adopting out the boy, and returning to Australia with the girl. Citizenship and a passport were subsequently granted for the girl. However, controversy remains regarding who adopted the boy, and whether money changed hands. Should the police be involved and does Australia have obligations to track down the boy and ensure his welfare?

Factors Released Following Stem Cell Transplantation Therapeutically Impact Serious Burns

June 25, 2015

(Eurekalert) – Cell transplantation researchers have successfully used bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs) to treat a variety of diseases and conditions. Now, using injections of MSCs, a research team in Brazil has successfully treated laboratory rats modeled with severe burns. They found that the MSCs accelerated healing, enhanced local blood supply, affected the immune system in a positive way, secreted beneficial growth factors with anti-inflammatory properties, and ultimately provided higher survival rates than in control animals not treated with MSCs.

Researchers Mass-Producing Stem Cells to Satisfy the Demands of Regenerative Medicine

June 25, 2015

(Physorg) – Steve Oh had been growing stem cells by conventional means at the A*STAR Bioprocessing Technology Institute (BTI) for seven years, when in 2008 his colleague Shaul Reuveny proposed an idea for speeding up the process. Instead of culturing the cells on round, flat Petri dishes, he could try growing them on tiny polystyrene beads known as microcarriers floating in a nutritional brew, suggested Reuveny, a visiting scientist at the BTI. This technique had been used for decades to mass-produce virus-infected cells for the vaccine industry, which Reuveny was very familiar with.

A New Edition of Clinical Ethics is Available

June 25, 2015

Clinical Ethics (vol. 10, no. 2, 2015) is available online by subscription only. Articles include:

  • “Responsible research and innovation: A manifesto for empirical ethics?” by John Gardner and Clare Williams
  • “The medical innovation bill: Still more harm than good” by Bernadette Richards, etc.
  • “Through the looking glass — Understanding informed consent” by Padmashri Rastogi

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