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The Looming Public Health Crisis Threatening to Take Down China’s Health Care System

August 15, 2016

(Quartz) – In the 1980s diabetes was a rarity affecting just one percent of China’s population. Now, due to rapid economic development, and the subsequent growth in availability of high-calorie diets, cars and sedentary lifestyles, China has the highest number of diabetics in the world, totaling 109 million people in 2015—roughly 11 percent of the population. That makes China home to a third of the world’s diabetic population. The scale of this public health problem is huge, particularly because it comes at a time when the country’s health system as a whole is under reform, moving from a rudimentary socialist system to one that is open to private investment and ownership.

Heartwarming Story: Developing a Better Way to Preserve Organs

August 15, 2016

(Newsweek) – Storing an organ on ice causes injury to it over time. “The longer an organ spends in that environment, the worse it becomes,” Hassanein says. The OCS—used thus far for heart, lungs and liver—flips cold, static storage on its head. Instead of chilling an organ and racing against the clock as it begins to decay, the system keeps it warm (roughly at body temperature), perfused with oxygenated blood and functioning as it would inside the body. In other words, a heart beats, lungs expand and contract with air, and a liver creates bile en route to transplant. Theoretically, there is no limit to how long an organ could spend in the OCS.

Study: Addiction Risk Low in Seniors Taking Postoperative Opioids

August 15, 2016

(Managed Care Magazine) – With the abuse of opioid painkillers a major public health threat in the United States, many worry that postsurgical use might trigger addiction. But a new study suggests that painkiller abuse is a problem in only a small fraction—less than one-half of one percent—of patients 66 years of age or older, according to a research letter published in JAMA Surgery.

CRISPR-Generated Neuronal Cells May Serve as Brain Disease Models

August 15, 2016

(Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News) – Now the Duke team has developed a strategy that avoids the need for the extra gene copies. Instead, a modification of the CRISPR genetic engineering technique is used to directly turn on the natural copies already present in the genome. These early results indicate that the newly converted neuronal cells show a more complete and persistent conversion than the method where new genes are permanently added to the genome. These cells could be used for modeling neurological disorders, discovering new therapeutics, developing personalized medicines, and, perhaps in the future, implementing cell therapy.

Hospitals Are Throwing Out Organs and Denying Transplants to Meet Federal Standards

August 15, 2016

(STAT News) – Hospitals across the United States are throwing away less-than-perfect organs and denying the sickest people lifesaving transplants out of fear that poor surgical outcomes will result in a federal crackdown. As a result, thousands of patients are losing the chance at surgeries that could significantly prolong their lives, and the altruism of organ donation is being wasted.

Athletes Are Keeping Their Distance from a Genetic Test for Concussion Risks

August 15, 2016

(STAT News) – Not many athletes are interested in getting tested. Insurers won’t pay. And now, even some proponents of the tests are backing away. They’re expressing qualms about giving athletes, and their parents, unsettling news about the risks lurking in their genes — including the possibility that the children most at risk of problems after a concussion may also have an increased risk for Alzheimer’s disease later in life.

Will Embryonic Stem Cells Ever Cure Anything?

August 12, 2016

(MIT Technology Review) – In fact, no field of biotechnology has promised more and delivered less in the way of treatments than embryonic stem cells. Only a handful of human studies has ever been carried out, without significant results. The cells, culled from IVF embryos, are capable of developing into any other tissue type in the body, and therefore promise an unlimited supply of replacement tissue.

Blade Runners: Do High-Tech Prostheses Give Runners an Unfair Advantage?

August 12, 2016

(Scientific American) – Paralympic long jump champ Markus Rehm’s bid to compete in the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics fell short in July when he could not prove that his carbon-fiber “blade” prosthesis didn’t give him an advantage. His baffling case serves as a reminder that four years after South African sprinter Oscar Pistorius propelled himself into history as the first amputee Olympic athlete to compete using blade prostheses, the technology’s impact on performance remains unclear despite ongoing research.

Should a Woman’s Testosterone Level Matter in Sport?

August 12, 2016

(CNN) – Until recently, women with naturally high levels of testosterone — known as hyperandrogenism — were not allowed to race without undergoing medical interventions to lower their levels of the hormone if they were measured to be within the range typically associated with men. This was a prerequisite as part of the International Association of Athletics Federation’s (IAAF) Hyperandrogenism Regulation, which required athletes to prove that they derive no advantage from their relatively high testosterone levels, or else not compete.

Why Patient HM’s Mysteries Are Still Locked in His Brain

August 12, 2016

(Wired) – Why HM’s brain was worth fighting over should be obvious; he was probably the most studied individual in neuroscience while alive. But in the seven years since scientists sectioned HM’s brain into 2,401 slices, it has yielded surprisingly little research. Only two papers examining his brain have come out, and so far, physical examinations have led to no major insights. HM’s scientific potential remains unfulfilled—thanks to delays from the custody fight and the limitations of current neuroscience itself.

Government of Nigeria Reports 2 Wild Polio Cases, First Since July 2014

August 12, 2016

(WHO News) – After more than two years without wild poliovirus in Nigeria, the Government reported today that 2 children have been paralyzed by the disease in the northern Borno state. As an immediate priority, the Government of Nigeria is collaborating with WHO and other partners of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative to respond urgently and prevent more children from being paralyzed. These steps include conducting large-scale immunization campaigns and strengthening surveillance systems that help catch the virus early. These activities are also being strengthened in neighboring countries.

Elderly Hospital Patients Arrive Sick, Often Leave Disabled

August 12, 2016

(Kaiser Health News) – Many elderly patients like Prochazka deteriorate mentally or physically in the hospital, even if they recover from the original illness or injury that brought them there. About one-third of patients over 70 years old and more than half of patients over 85 leave the hospital more disabled than when they arrived, research shows. As a result, many seniors are unable to care for themselves after discharge and need assistance with daily activities such as bathing, dressing or even walking.

In IVF, Frozen Embryos May Lead to More Live Births Than Fresh Embryos

August 12, 2016

(Los Angeles Times) – Most women who do IVF are impregnated with a fresh embryo. However, a new study suggests that using a previously frozen and then thawed embryo may have a better success rate. In a randomized trial of 1,508 women undergoing IVF for the first time, the researchers found that 49.3% of those who used frozen embryos gave birth to a baby, compared with 42% of those who used fresh embryos.

When the Olympics Happen in the Land of Nip and Tuck

August 12, 2016

(Yahoo! News) – Brazil currently follows the United States as the second most-popular hot spot for cosmetic surgery and is a top booked destination for “plastic surgery medical tourism” this year — a term used to describe travel outside of a home country to undergo medical procedures. Why schlep for surgery? People are primarily drawn to the lower price tag. The Brazilian Butt Lift, a popular procedure that liposuctions fat from one area of your body to then augment your bum, costs about $14,000 at a private clinic in the U.S., as compared with $4,000 in Brazil, according to Medigo, a Berlin-based medical tourism agency.

Unproven Stem Cell Therapies for Lung Disease on the Rise Despite Promise of New Treatments

August 12, 2016

(Medical Xpress) – Stem cell medical tourism and unproven stem cell interventions are growing and concerning issues for patients afflicted with lung disease. According to Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) researchers, there are an increasing number of clinics worldwide offering expensive stem cell-based therapies that are ineffective or have no proven benefit.

Don’t Re-Write History: ‘Sunshine’ Law Was Meant to Protect Doctors from Undue Influence

August 11, 2016

(STAT News) – As the person who wrote the first draft of the Sunshine Act, and then worked for years to get it passed, I’d like to notify American doctors: “Your professional societies are misleading you.” In fact, our concern about corporate bias and poor quality in medical education and scientific publishing was one thing that led us to promote the bill in the first place. Even before writing the Sunshine Act, my colleagues on the Senate Finance Committee released a report about industry’s undue influence on continuing medical education.

The Audacious Plan to Save This Man’s Life by Transplanting His Head

August 11, 2016

(The Atlantic) – The first shows two mice: a black mouse with a white head and a white mouse with a black head. The second shows a monkey with thick zigzag stitches circling its neck, like a choker necklace. The third shows a tiny Russian man in a wheelchair. The common connection is their heads. The half-black/half-white mice look Photoshopped, but in fact Ren’s team surgically switched their heads, decapitating each mouse and grafting its head onto the body of the other. The monkey poster is the “after” shot of a primate head transplant performed in Ren’s lab in January. And now Ren is preparing to perform a head transplant on another primate, a human being—and the Russian in the wheelchair has volunteered to go first.

Brain-Robot Training Triggers Improvement in Paralysis

August 11, 2016

(BBC) – In a surprise result, eight paraplegic people have regained some sensation and movement after a one-year training programme that was supposed to teach them to walk inside a robotic exoskeleton. The regime included controlling the legs of a virtual avatar via a skull cap, and learning to manipulate the exoskeleton in the same way. Researchers believe the treatment is reawakening the brain’s control over surviving nerves in the spine.

Infertility Patients’ Mental Health Problems Often Unaddressed

August 11, 2016

(Medical Xpress) – People undergoing fertility treatment often suffer symptoms of depression or anxiety, but few get any formal help, a new study suggests. The study, which followed patients at five fertility clinics in California, found that more than half of women and one-third of men had clinical-level depression symptoms at some point. Even more—76 percent of women and 61 percent of men—had symptoms of clinical anxiety.

Health Effects of Hiroshima, Nagasaki Bombs Not as Dire as Thought

August 11, 2016

(UPI) – There is no question that nuclear weapons are the most powerful of the explosive tools of war, but a new review of data suggests the long-term fallout from their use is not nearly as horrific as assumed. Researchers at Aix-Marseille University in France suggest that for all the death and destruction caused by the detonation of nuclear weapons in Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, health effects were not felt for many who were there or for their children, as has long been suspected.

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