Subscribe to feed
Your global information source on bioethics news and issues
Updated: 3 hours 22 sec ago

IBM’s Watson Diagnosed Patient in Ten Minutes

August 18, 2016

(Medical Tourism Magazine) – After months of physician-failed diagnosis, a super computer steps in and saves the life of a female patient from Japan, suffering from leukemia. IBM Watson Health has committed to developing a partnership between humanity and technology with the goal of transforming global health. With the ability to read 40 million documents in 15 seconds, IBM’s Watson –super computer powered with artificial intelligence- studied the patient’s medical records for ten minutes and was able to compare her type of cancer against 20 million oncological records, according to International Business Times.

In Plastic Surgery, Brazil Gets The Silver Medal

August 17, 2016

(Forbes) Beginning with the opening ceremonies, you’ll probably see some of Brazil’s most “beautiful people” through the course of the Summer Olympic Games in Rio. You may be thinking that you’d like to have that butt, that nose or those breasts. Well, maybe in some cases you can, because not everything in Rio may be “real.” After all, Brazil is second to only one country in the plastic surgery Olympics.

Many U.S. Medical Schools Are Seeing a Surge in the Number of People Leaving Their Bodies to Science

August 17, 2016

(Associated Press) – Many U.S. medical schools are seeing a surge in the number of people leaving their bodies to science, a trend attributed to rising funeral costs and growing acceptance of a practice long seen by some as ghoulish. The increase has been a boon to medical students and researchers, who dissect cadavers in anatomy class or use them to practice surgical techniques or test new devices and procedures.

Scientists Design a Drug That Relieves Pain Like an Opioid without Some Dangerous Side Effects

August 17, 2016

(Los Angeles Times) – What if you could design a drug that has all the pain-relieving power of morphine but none of its dangerous or addictive side effects? Scientists have spent years trying to do just that, and on Wednesday, they unveiled one of their most promising compounds yet — a chemical concoction they dubbed “PZM21.” When tested in mice that were placed on a hot surface, PZM21 offered nearly as much pain relief as morphine and lasted for up to three hours.

Ethics: Taming Our Technologies

August 17, 2016

(Nature) – Technological innovation in fields from genetic engineering to cyberwarfare is accelerating at a breakneck pace, but ethical deliberation over its implications has lagged behind. Thus argues Sheila Jasanoff — who works at the nexus of science, law and policy — in The Ethics of Invention, her fresh investigation. Not only are our deliberative institutions inadequate to the task of oversight, she contends, but we fail to recognize the full ethical dimensions of technology policy. She prescribes a fundamental reboot.

Costa Rica: World’s Last In Vitro Fertilization Ban Falls

August 17, 2016

(Nature) – After a lengthy struggle, in vitro fertilization (IVF) procedures began last month in Costa Rica. This effectively ends the last full IVF ban in the world. (In countries under Islamic law, for example, IVF is permitted, albeit only within marriage.) IVF was banned in 2000 in Costa Rica, one of the few remaining countries where Catholicism is the state religion.

Bone Marrow-Derived Stem Cells Offer Blood Transplant Patients Better Quality of Life

August 17, 2016

(Medical Xpress) – A large, nationwide study published in the journal JAMA Oncology found that people who received transplants of cells collected from a donor’s bone marrow the original source for blood stem cell transplants, developed decades ago had better self-reported psychological well-being, experienced fewer symptoms of a common post-transplant side effect called graft-vs.-host disease and were more likely to be back at work five years after transplantation than those whose transplanted cells were taken from the donor’s bloodstream.

Colorado to Vote on Assisted Suicide in November

August 17, 2016

(Reuters) – Colorado voters will decide in November whether to legalize physician-assisted suicide for terminally ill patients under a ballot question approved on Monday, a proposal opposed by some religious and disability-rights organizations. Proponents of the so-called medical aid in dying initiative turned in enough valid signatures of registered voters to put the proposal on the November ballot, Secretary of State Wayne Williams said in a statement.

Spiking Genomic Databases with Misinformation Could Protect Patient Privacy

August 17, 2016

(Nature) – Large genomic databases are indispensable for scientists looking for genetic variations associated with diseases. But they come with privacy risks for people who contribute their DNA. A 2013 study showed that hackers could use publicly available information on the Internet to identify people from their anonymized genomic data. To address those concerns, a system developed by Bonnie Berger and Sean Simmons, computer scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge, uses an approach called differential privacy. It masks the donor’s identity by adding a small amount of noise, or random variation, to the results it returns on a user’s query. The researchers published their results in the latest issue of Cell Systems.

Saving Eliza: Gene Therapy Offers New Hope for Girl with ‘Childhood Alzheimer’s’

August 17, 2016

(Today) – Eliza O’Neill’s parents call it their miracle story. After years of fundraising, 726 days of self-imposed isolation and non-stop determination to save their 6-year-old daughter’s life, she has finally become the first patient in the world to receive an experimental gene therapy for her deadly disease.

MIT Wants Humans’ Input on Who Self-Driving Cars Should Kill

August 16, 2016

(Quartz) – A new test being conducted by MIT’s Media Lab, called the Moral Machine, is essentially a thought experiment that seeks answers from humans on how a driverless car with malfunctioning brakes should act in emergency situations. The situations all involve the same scenario, where a self-driving car is traveling toward a crosswalk, and it needs to choose whether to swerve and crash into a barrier or plow through whoever’s at the crosswalk. The test is basically to determine what humans would do in these rare, life-or-death situations.

How Artificial Intelligence Can Help Burn Victims

August 16, 2016

(The Atlantic) – Medical specialities that rely heavily on imaging technologies are on the cusp of undergoing a major transformation in the era of machine learning, a type of AI in which computers exposed to massive datasets can automatically draw inferences from what they see. Using enormous troves of medical imagery could revolutionize health care because, Kanevsky says, “things that have a visual component can be translated to an image, which can then be translated to a data point, which can be used for machine learning.”

Yemen Conflict: Air Strike Hits MSF Hospital in Hajjah

August 16, 2016

(BBC) – An air strike has hit a hospital run by Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) in northern Yemen, killing at least 11 people, the medical charity says. Another 19 people were injured in the attack in Abs, in Hajjah province, believed to have been carried out by the Saudi-led coalition which is backing Yemen’s government in its fight against Houthi rebels.

Fewer Dementia Patients in Nursing Homes Get Feeding Tubes

August 16, 2016

(Reuters) – Fewer U.S. nursing home patients with dementia are getting feeding tubes as mounting evidence suggests it may not help them live longer or make them more comfortable, new research suggests.  Researchers focused on the sickest dementia patients who tend to have difficulty chewing and swallowing as they near the end of life, a point when they may also struggle to speak, recognize loved ones, get out of bed or go to the bathroom independently.

14 Million Africans to Be Vaccinated Against Yellow Fever

August 16, 2016

(CNN) – Angola and the Democratic Republic of Congo began an emergency vaccination campaign this week to curtail a yellow fever outbreak that has sickened thousands of people and killed more than 400, the World Health Organization said. The two countries, which together reported more than 6,136 suspected cases and 953 confirmed cases since the outbreak began in December, plan to vaccinate more than 14 million people in more than 8,000 locations.

A Healthcare Consumer Gender Gap

August 16, 2016

(Managed Care Magazine) – It’s long been recognized that women interact with the health care system more than men—as patients, as caregivers, as coordinators of care for their loved ones, as the managers of medical bills. Given their regular exposure to a dysfunctional, disjointed system that dumps much of the burden of its inefficiency on patients, women take on more of the burden. And they’re angry about it.

Who Has a Right to Build a Family?

August 16, 2016

(U.S. News & World Report) – A recent lawsuit involving lesbians in New Jersey who are trying to conceive is highlighting how unaffordable infertility treatments can be – and raising deeper questions about who has the right to assistance in conceiving a child. For many Americans, health insurance does not cover fertility treatment; the few for whom it does are usually in heterosexual marriages. But today’s modern family is different: same-sex marriage is legal, the government has lifted its ban on taxpayer dollars going toward gender reassignment surgery and single people choose to become parents on their own.

Every Olympian Is Kind of a Cyborg

August 16, 2016

(Wired) – That’s not to say everyone competing at the Games is embroiled in a doping scandal. But most conversations about what athletes put inside their bodies to enhance athletic performance wholly ignore what athletes put on their bodies to enhance athletic performance. Today’s Olympic equipment—from algorithmically generated racing spikes to utrasonically bonded swimsuits to asymmetrical track bikes—are designed in labs, by researchers and engineers, to maximize human potential. Today’s elite athletes depend on these technologies, and can’t expect to score a metal without them.

India Surrogate Mothers Talk of Pain of Giving Up Baby

August 16, 2016

(BBC) – India is known as the “surrogacy hub” of the world where infertile couples, many from across the globe, head to rent a womb. In recent years, the southern city of Chennai has emerged as a major centre with more than a dozen hospitals carrying out the procedure and more than 150 surrogates.  Most surrogate mothers are women from poor families who take up the assignment for money. It’s generally believed that the transaction is purely commercial, but three surrogate mothers tell the BBC about the emotional bonds they developed with the babies they carried in their wombs for nine months and the pain they felt once the umbilical cord was snapped.

Whistleblower Case Contends Surgical Device Maker Misled FDA — And Patients Paid the Price

August 15, 2016

(STAT News) – Medical devices are lightly regulated by the FDA, and once they have been cleared by the agency, physicians may use them however they see fit. But patient advocates and others say the story of the Medtronic implant is a cautionary tale when it comes to medical device safety. The case, they say, is only the latest in which a manufacturer is alleged to have promoted its devices for unapproved or “off-label” uses, despite regulations prohibiting them from doing so.