Bioethics.com

Subscribe to Bioethics.com feed
Your global information source on bioethics news, issues, & events
Updated: 2 hours 58 min ago

Another Diplomat Was Diagnosed with ‘Havana Syndrome.’ Here’s What We Know.

December 3, 2018

(The Washington Post) – Last week, another Canadian diplomat was diagnosed with a mysterious disease so weird it’s been referred to in some circles as “the thing.” The illness afflicts only government employees from the United States and Canada. Sufferers report feeling pulsing or hearing a ringing in their ears. Then headaches, dizziness, trouble concentrating and struggles to remember basic words and facts. Diplomats have been complaining about “Havana syndrome,” named for the city where nearly all the victims were based, for two years.

In China, Gene-Edited Babies Are the Latest in a String of Ethical Dilemmas

December 3, 2018

(New York Times) – Many scientists in China say the drive to succeed is so strong that they adopt a “do first, debate later” approach. Wang Yue, a professor at the institute of medical humanities of Peking University, said many scientists lacked awareness of medical ethics and of laws and regulations relevant to their fields. “It is true that many scientists are very bold and think of science as their independent kingdom,” Dr. Wang said. “So they are not willing to listen to the outside world, including ethics committees and administrative agencies that want to supervise and review them.”

Despite CRISPR Baby Controversy, Harvard University Will Begin Gene-Editing Sperm

December 3, 2018

(MIT Technology Review) – In the wild uproar around an experiment in China that claimed to have created twin girls whose genes were altered to protect them from HIV, there’s something worth knowing—research to improve the next generation of humans is happening in the US, too. In fact, it’s about to happen at Harvard University. At the school’s Stem Cell Institute, IVF doctor and scientist Werner Neuhausser says he plans to begin using CRISPR, the gene-editing tool, to change the DNA code inside sperm cells. The objective: to show whether it is possible to create IVF babies with a greatly reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease later in life.

Reservoir of Blood-Forming Stem Cells Discovered in the Human Gut

December 3, 2018

(GEN) – Scientists at Columbia University’s Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons report a surprising new finding: the human intestine may provide up to 10% of blood cells in circulation from its own reservoir of blood-forming stem cells. Previously, blood cells were thought to be created exclusively in the bone marrow from a special population of hematopoietic stem cells, according to the researchers who say their discovery may eventually improve the success rates of human intestinal transplants.

‘They Will Be Studied for the Rest of Their Lives.’ How China’s Gene-Edited Twins Could Be Forever Changed by Controversial CRISPR Work

December 3, 2018

(TIME) – “The implications go beyond just these twins,” says Dr. Kiran Musunuru, professor of cardiovascular medicine and genetics at University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine. “If we talk about the sanctity of human life, and the inherent dignity of human life, not much has been gained here. These babies were treated as subjects in a grand medical experiment, and we have to believe that they will be studied for the rest of their lives; it’s sad actually.”

Sales Reps May Be Wearing Out Their Welcome in the Operating Room

November 30, 2018

(Kaiser Health News) – Who are these salespeople, and why are they there? The answer to the first question is pretty easy. These sales reps typically work for medical device companies, such as Stryker, Medtronic or DePuy Synthes. Many surgeries, especially orthopedic trauma and cardiac procedures, require insertion of artificial joints or other hardware manufactured by these companies. But as to why they’re present in the operating room, the answer depends on whom you ask.

Ebola Outbreak in DR Congo Now Second Worst in History

November 30, 2018

(BBC) – The UN’s global health body says the Ebola outbreak in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo is now the second-biggest ever recorded. A total of 426 cases of the virus have now been reported in and around the town of Beni, taking the outbreak past that recorded in Uganda in 2000. Beni is in the middle of a conflict zone and operations have been affected by rebel attacks.

Rapid DNA Analysis Steps in to Identify Remains of Wildfire Victims

November 30, 2018

(The Scientist) – If fingerprints and dental records fail or if the remains are too damaged, DNA testing is the next step. Typically, it would take weeks to ship samples to a laboratory and conduct the analysis, but a Colorado-based company called ANDE has stepped in to help with the effort in California. The company, which usually works with the US military and the FBI, specializes in rapid DNA analysis. Since November 12, a team of 20 employees has set up camp at the coroner’s office in Sacramento to run DNA tests on samples wildfire investigators bring in. It takes less than two hours to get a read out.

FDA Signs Off on Editas CRISPR Study on Patients with a Rare Genetic Disorder

November 30, 2018

(STAT News) – Days after a Chinese researcher incensed the world of science with claims of editing the genomes of twin girls, an American company is plotting a CRISPR trial of its own. But in place of the secrecy and stagecraft that marked the Chinese experiment, Editas Medicine went the old-fashioned way: waiting for approval from the Food and Drug Administration. The company, headquartered in Cambridge, Mass., got the FDA’s blessing to test a CRISPR-based therapy on patients with a rare genetic disorder that leads to blindness. Editas, which is partnered with Botox maker Allergan, said it plans to enroll between 10 and 20 patients in a study to test the treatment’s safety and efficacy.

WHO Says Spread of Polio Remains International Health Emergency

November 30, 2018

(Reuters) – The spread of polio must still be classified as a public health emergency because, while progress has been made towards wiping out the disease, that progress is fragile, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Friday. “We are so close to the elimination of polio, but we have to use all of our international tools to achieve this end,” Helen Rees, chair of the WHO’s international emergency committee, told reporters on a telephone briefing.

Mother’s Drinking May Have Harmed 1 in 5 Britons

November 30, 2018

(BBC) – A new study has found that more children in the UK may have been affected by their mothers drinking alcohol while pregnant than previously thought. Research published Friday found that up to 17% of children could have symptoms found in fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, a group of lifelong conditions caused by exposure to alcohol in the womb.

Who Missed the Chance to Stop the CRISPR Babies Scientist? Look in the Mirror

November 30, 2018

(STAT News) – We can convene as many international summits to discuss the ethics of using genome altering technologies on humans as we like, but we are fooling ourselves to think that they are anything more than window dressing when we tolerate an educational and training culture in biomedical research that turn out individuals such as He who thinks that an “ethical” defense like “I was just trying to help” absolves him of his clear, basic, and uncontested professional responsibilities to conduct research in an ethically responsible manner.

At FDA, a New Goal, Then a Push for Speedy Device Reviews

November 30, 2018

(Associated Press) – And yet the next year, Shuren and his team adopted an approach that surprised even some of his closest colleagues: The FDA would strive to be “first in the world” to approve devices it considered important to public health. The agency’s shift mirrored the talking points of the $400 billion medical device industry — a lobbying behemoth on Capitol Hill — and ushered in a series of changes that critics say have allowed manufacturers to seek regulatory approval for high-risk devices using smaller, shorter, less rigorous studies that provide less certainty of safety and effectiveness.

California Court Reverses Ruling Against Assisted Suicide

November 30, 2018

(ABC News) – A California appeals court overturned a lower court order that had imperiled the state’s assisted suicide law, but a longer legal fight may loom because the ruling skirted the larger issue of whether the legislation was unconstitutional. A three-judge panel of the 4th District Court of Appeals in the city of Riverside on Tuesday did not rule on the merits of the case because it found doctors opposed to the law had no right to sue to block the law. The court said the doctors failed to show they were harmed because they could choose not to help terminally ill patients die.

An App to Cause Privacy Concerns

November 30, 2018

(Managed Care Magazine) – Technology mines patients’ electronic medical records and directs them to Amazon to shop for medical devices. HIPPA, enacted in 1996, wasn’t constructed to deal with this. The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) today reports on a new development in health care in which doctors, using an app within electronic medical records, can direct patients to Amazon to buy such things as slings and blood pressure cuffs.

Study Shows Mitochondrial DNA Can Be Passed Through Fathers–What Does This Mean for Genetics?

November 30, 2018

(The Conversation) – Some things you learn in school turn out not to be true, for example that there are just five senses or three states of matter. Now cutting-edge research has added to the list by proving the mitochondria (the power sources in our cells) comes from both our parents and not – as biology students are taught – just from our mothers. The research, published in PNAS, showed conclusively that, in three unrelated families, mitochondria from the father’s sperm had been passed to the children over several generations.

ADHD: First Genetic Risk Locations Uncovered

November 30, 2018

(Medical News Today) – For the first time, researchers have conducted a large genetic analysis of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), which is a condition that reportedly affects around 6 million children in the United States. Benjamin M. Neale from the Harvard Medical School in Boston, MA, Anders D. Børglum from Aarhus University in Denmark, and Stephen V. Faraone from the State University of New York led the international team working on this research.

FDA Approves New Drug Reflecting Cutting-Edge, ‘Tissue-Agnostic’ Effort to Beat Cancer

November 30, 2018

(USA Today) – A cutting-edge cancer treatment focusing on genetic biomarkers rather than any specific type of cancer won accelerated approval from the Food and Drug Administration. The approval this week for Vitrakvi, the brand name for larotrectinib, marks an emerging method for developing cancer drugs that are “tissue-agnostic” – drugs that are not specific to one organ such as the colon or breast.

Pages