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Google CEO Quietly Met with Military Leaders at the Pentagon, Seeking to Smooth Tensions over AI

October 8, 2018

(The Washington Post) – Google chief executive Sundar Pichai quietly paid the Pentagon a visit during his trip to Washington last week, seeking to smooth over tensions roughly four months after employee outrage prompted the tech giant to sever a defense contract to analyze drone video, according to two people familiar with the meeting. Pichai met with a group of civilian and military leaders mostly from the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence, the Defense Department directorate that oversees the artificial-intelligence drone system known as Project Maven, according to the people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the meeting freely.

Tourette’s Syndrome: 400 Genetic Mutations Found

October 8, 2018

(Medical News Today) – In the United States, about 200,000 individuals now live with Tourette’s syndrome in its most severe form. The neuropsychiatric condition is characterized by involuntary and repetitive movements or sounds called tics. We do not yet know the precise cause of Tourette’s syndrome. However, researchers have linked it with abnormal development of certain brain areas, including the basal ganglia, the frontal lobes, and the cortex.

Nonclinical Factors Are Associated with Long-Term Benzodiazepine Use in Older Adults

October 8, 2018

(Mad in America) – A new study, led by Lauren Gerlach, assistant professor in psychiatry at the University of Michigan, examines factors related to long-term benzodiazepine use in older adults. The results of the study, published in JAMA Internal Medicine, indicate that poor sleep quality, white race, a larger initial prescription are all associated with transitioning from short-term to long-term benzodiazepine use.

Naloxone Retail Dispensing Is Up 70 Percent

October 5, 2018

(The Atlantic) – The digital postcard is the most recent step in Adams’s project to expand access to naloxone, the overdose-reversing drug, to as many Americans as possible. In April, Adams released the first surgeon general’s advisory—a formal announcement that draws attention to major public-health issues—in over a decade, with a focus on opioid overdoses and naloxone. Since the advisory was published, Adams said Thursday, retail dispensing for naloxone has increased 70 percent. In addition, he said, “the call for naloxone prescribing is up 350 percent.”

Liver Transplant from HIV+ Living Donor to Negative Recipient: Key Ethical Issues

October 5, 2018

(The Conversation) – About a year ago we made a tough call of our own: we could save a child’s life by giving the child a liver transplant – but risked infecting the child with HIV in the process. The donor was the child’s mother, who is HIV positive and the child was HIV negative. The procedure came with a risk of transmitting HIV to the child. South Africa’s law does not forbid the transplantation of an organ from a living HIV positive donor to an HIV negative recipient, provided that a robust informed consent process is in place. But this isn’t universally accepted as best clinical practice because of the risk of HIV transmission to the recipient.

How Advanced Prosthetics Turned This Man into an ‘Emerging Cyborg’

October 5, 2018

(PC Magazine) – In Dr. Lenzi’s lab, McMorris is participating in bio-medical clinical trials of technology intended to revolutionize life for people who require artificial limbs. Usually, McMorris wears a passive prosthetic below his right knee, but in the lab, he swaps his for an advanced prosthetic with built-in AI and state-of-the-art engineering. “Our research here focuses at the intersection of robotics, design, control, and biomechanics,” said Dr. Lenzi.

Ethics of Genetic Testing for Aesthetics

October 5, 2018

(Genome Web) – Some prospective parents are looking beyond genetic testing to determine whether their children might inherit disease-causing mutations to explore their chances of inheriting aesthetic traits like eye color, leading to ethical questions, the Wall Street Journal reports. It writes that companies like Genomic Prediction now offer tests that gauge an embryo’s risk of developing complex health conditions, such as diabetes or cardiovascular disease, and that researchers at that company have been researching whether they can predict height, too.

In a Study of Human Remains, Lessons in Science (and Cultural Sensitivity)

October 5, 2018

(Undark Magazine) – The subject matter was obscure, but the findings were provocative: A genomic analysis of a mysterious skeleton found in Chile’s Atacama Desert revealed that the remains weren’t those of an extraterrestrial, as was wildly speculated, but a human fetus with an unusual bone disorder. The study, published in the journal Genome Research in March by Garry Nolan of the Baxter Laboratory for Stem Cell Biology at Stanford University and his colleagues, was intended to put to rest speculation that the mummified remains might prove the existence of alien life — but the controversy over the remains did not end there.

The Legal and Ethical Issues Around Fathering a Child with a Dead Man’s Sperm

October 5, 2018

(Australia Broadcasting Co) – In the age of artificial reproductive technology, extracting sperm from dead men is possible — and it happens more often than you might think. In Australia there have been a series of court cases centred on whether sperm can be removed from a corpse and given to a grieving partner, so they can one day use it to fall pregnant. While each case is different, they all raise a string of complex legal and ethical considerations.

British Surgeons Warned Not to Perform Brazilian Butt Lift Surgery

October 4, 2018

(CNN) – UK surgeons were strongly warned this week by the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons to stop performing Brazilian butt lifts. The organization warns that “risky” Brazilian butt lifts, sometimes called BBLs, have the highest death rate of all cosmetic surgery procedures — estimated to be as high as 1 in 3,000 operations — and often result in costly emergency complications. This year, two women in the UK have died from the procedure, according to the BBC.

A Controversial Virus Study Reveals a Critical Flaw in How Science Is Done

October 4, 2018

(The Atlantic) – This controversy is the latest chapter in an ongoing debate around “dual-use research of concern”—research that could clearly be applied for both good and ill. More than that, it reflects a vulnerability at the heart of modern science, where small groups of researchers and reviewers can make virtually unilateral decisions about experiments that have potentially global consequences, and that everyone else only learns about after the fact. Cue an endlessly looping GIF of Jurassic Park’s Ian Malcolm saying, “Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should.”

U.S. FDA Expands Approval of Roche Hemophilia Drug

October 4, 2018

(Reuters) – Roche on Thursday said U.S. regulators approved expanded use of its hemophilia A drug Hemlibra to include nearly all patients, as the Swiss drugmaker increases its focus on diseases beyond cancer to help replace revenue from older products that have lost patent protection. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration cleared Hemlibra to treat adults, children and newborns with the genetic disorder in which blood does not clot properly, putting them at risk of dangerous bleeding.

New Way to Write DNA Could Turbocharge Synthetic Biology and Data Storage

October 4, 2018

(Science Magazine) – Scientists can read the DNA sequence faster than ever before. But their ability to write DNA hasn’t kept pace. Those wanting made-to-order DNA for purposes such as synthetic biology make do with short strands, synthesized in a slow and expensive chemical process. That appears ready to change. Today, researchers from a French biotechnology startup announced at a synthetic biology meeting in San Francisco, California, that by using close relatives of the DNA-writing enzymes in living things, they can build DNA strands as long as 150 “letters,” or nucleotide bases. That’s up from a record of 50 nucleotides just a few months ago, and nearly on par with the standard chemical approach.

The Nobel Prize Is a Reminder of the Outrageous Cost of Curing Cancer

October 4, 2018

(Vox) – For the first time ever, we’re living in a moment when many of our most promising medical advances are far out of reach for the vast majority of people who could benefit from them. And nowhere is that truer than for cancer immunotherapy, the fast-moving field of cancer treatment research that was honored on Monday with the Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine.

A New Edition of Bioethics Is Now Available

October 4, 2018

Bioethics (vol. 32, no. 6, 2018) is available online by subscription only.

Articles include:

  • “Health Worker Migration and Migrant Healthcare: Seeking Cosmopolitanism in the NHS” by Arianne Shahvisi
  • “From Self-Interest to Solidarity: One Path Towards Delivering Refugee Health” by Peter G. N. West-Oram
  • “Discussing Rights and Wrongs: Three Suggestions for Moving Forward with the Migrant Health Rights Debate” by Nora Gottlieb and Yitzchak Ben Mocha
  • “Language Barriers and Epistemic Injustice in Healthcare Settings” by Yael Peled
  • “A Rights-Based Proposal for Managing Faith-Based Values and Expectations of Migrants at End-of-Life Illustrated by an Empirical Study Involving South Asians in the UK” by Jo Samanta, Ash Samanta, and Omar Madhloom
  • “Companions or Patients? The Impact of Family Presence in Genetic Consultations for Inherited Breast Cancer: Relational Autonomy in Practice” by Roy Gilbar and Sivia Barnoy
  • “Hit But Not Down. The Substance View in Light of Che criticism of Lovering and Simkulet” by Henrik Friberg-Fernros

 

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