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No Death and an Enhanced Life: Is the Future Posthuman?

May 7, 2018

(The Guardian) – The aims of the transhumanist movement are summed up by Mark O’Connell in his book To Be a Machine, which last week won the Wellcome Book prize. “It is their belief that we can and should eradicate ageing as a cause of death; that we can and should use technology to augment our bodies and our minds; that we can and should merge with machines, remaking ourselves, finally, in the image of our own higher ideals.”

Before He Died, This Biohacker Was Planning a CRISPR Trail in Mexico

May 7, 2018

(MIT Technology Review) – The controversial biohacker Aaron Traywick, who was found dead in a sensory deprivation tank in Washington, DC, on April 29, appears to have been planning human tests of a CRISPR therapy for lung cancer, MIT Technology Review has learned. Traywick, who was 28, made headlines in February when he injected himself with a DIY herpes treatment in front of an audience at a self-experimentation conference. He was CEO of Ascendance Biomedical, a mysterious company aimed at making gene-based medical treatments available to everyone.

Researchers Shed New Light on Identity of Brain Stem Cells

May 7, 2018

(News Medical) – The human nervous system is a complex structure that sends electrical signals from the brain to the rest of the body, enabling us to move and think. Unfortunately, when brain cells are damaged by trauma or disease they don’t automatically regenerate. This can lead to permanent disability. But within the brain there are a small number of stem cells that persist into adulthood, offering a possible source of new cells to repair the damaged brain.

Tech Workers Are Paying $7,000 to Freeze Their Stem Cells in Hope of Extending Life

May 7, 2018

(CNBC) – Start-up investor Li Jiang just turned 30, and now he can’t stop thinking about his own mortality. For Jiang, who’s based in San Francisco, living longer isn’t just about eating healthy and exercising regularly. Last month, he cryogenically froze his stem cells, in the hopes of someday injecting them back into his body. Jiang is one of the earliest testers of Forever Labs, which extracts and stores young adults’ stem cells to potentially combat age-related illnesses like arthritis and heart disease.

Swiss Clinic Slams Australia Over Scientist, 104, Who Wants to Die (Update)

May 7, 2018

(Medical Xpress) – A member of a Swiss clinic set to help Australia’s oldest scientist end his life has said it is an “atrocity” that Australia had not allowed the 104-year-old to die at home. David Goodall, who caused a stir two years ago when his university tried unsuccessfully to have him declared unfit to be on campus, does not have a terminal illness but says his quality of life has deteriorated and that he wants to die.

In a Big Data World, Scholars Need New Guidelines for Research

May 7, 2018

(Scientific American) – To understand political or social behavior today, scholars need access to private data. But in the case leading up to Zuckerberg’s hearing, a scholar collected data via a “third party application” that he developed, then sold those data to Cambridge Analytica, with unfortunate results. Given the importance of research review processes for institutions and the strict oversight by Institutional Review Boards (IRB) in the United States in particular, the Facebook case brings challenges of doing big data internet research into the spotlight.

Surrogacy Review to Tackle Laws Declared Unfit for Purpose

May 7, 2018

(The Guardian) – The complex laws governing surrogacy are to be reviewed to speed up the granting of parental orders and deter the exploitation of birth mothers abroad. The Department of Health has given the Law Commission £150,000 for the three-year project, which is expected to lead to a rewriting of the Surrogacy Arrangements Act 1985 and the 2008 Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act. Courts in the UK make about 300 parental orders each year which allow a child to be handed over from its birth mother to the other parents. The number of surrogacy agreements may, though, be far larger – some estimates suggest up to 500 a year.

A New Edition of JAMA Is Now Available

May 7, 2018

JAMA (vol. 319, no. 14, 2018) is available online by subscription only.

Articles include:

  • “The Proposal to Lower P Value Thresholds to .005″ by John P. A. Ioannidis
  • “Driving Under the Influence of Cannabis: An Increasing Public Health Concern” by Johannes G. Ramaekers
  • “Enforcing Federal Drug Laws in States Where Medical Marijuana Is Lawful” by Lawrence O. Gostin, James G. Hodge Jr, and Sarah A. Wetter
  • “A Third Option” by Sumit D. Agarwal
  • “Toward a United States of Health: Implications of Understanding the US Burden of Disease” by Howard K. Koh and Anand K. Parekh
  • “The State of US Health, 1990-2016: Burden of Diseases, Injuries, and Risk Factors Among US States” by The US Burden of Disease Collaborators

 

A New Edition of Genetics in Medicine Is Now Available

May 7, 2018

Genetics in Medicine (vol. 20, no. 4, 2018) is available online by subscription only.

Articles include:

  • “A Proposed Approach to Accelerate Evidence Generation for Genomic-Based Technologies in the Context of a Learning Health System” by Christine Y Lu et al.
  • “Precision Medicine, Health Disparities, and Ethics: The Case for Disability Inclusion” by Maya Sabatello

 

A New Edition of JAMA Is Now Available

May 7, 2018

JAMA (vol. 319, no. 13, 2018) is available online by subscription only.

Articles include:

  • “Institutional Research Misconduct Reports Need More Credibility” by C. K. Gunsalus, Adam R. Marcus, and Ivan Oransky
  • “Big Data and Machine Learning in Health Care” by Andrew L. Beam and Isaac S. Kohane
  • “Can Small Physician Practices Survive?: Sharing Services as a Path to Viability” by Dhruv Khullar, Gregory C. Burke, and Lawrence P. Casalino
  • “Sharing Connections” by Leonie Heyworth

 

A New Edition of Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine Is Now Available

May 7, 2018

Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine (vol. 111, no. 4, 2018) is available online by subscription only.

Articles include:

  • “Consumerism: A Threat to Health?” by Carlo V Bellieni
  • “Time to Regenerate: The Doctor in the Age of Artificial Intelligence” by Xiaoxuan Liu, Pearse A Keane, and Alastair K Denniston
  • “Redactions in Protocols for Drug Trials: What Industry Sponsors Concealed” by Mikkel Marquardsen, Michelle Ogden, and Peter C. Gøtzsche

 

Iowa Governor Signs Strictest Abortion Law in US

May 4, 2018

(Associated Press) – Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds signed a six-week abortion ban into law on Friday, marking the strictest abortion regulation in the nation but setting the state up for a lengthy court fight.

Announcement: Stem-Cell Policy

May 4, 2018

(Nature) – Research using human embryos and embryonic stem cells draws intense ethical scrutiny and places demands on scientists, funders and journals to follow the relevant regulations. As a publisher of such work, Nature and the Nature journals take this responsibility very seriously. For many years, Nature journal editors handling manuscripts on human embryo and stem-cell research have assessed the ethical oversight of the work when deciding whether to publish it. We are now formalizing and amending aspects of this publication policy.

Xanax: Children as Young as 11 Taking Anxiety Drug

May 4, 2018

(BBC) – Children as young as 11 are being treated for abusing the anxiety drug Xanax, the BBC has found. Drugs charity Addaction said it was also aware of 13-year-olds “dealing” the tranquiliser on school premises.  The BBC has seen a number of letters from head teachers to parents raising concerns over increasing abuse of prescription medications. One teacher said he feared pupils had made an assumption that taking Xanax was safer than using illegal drugs.

‘Pharma Bro’ Shkreli Is in Prison, But Daraprim’s Price Is Still High

May 4, 2018

(Kaiser Health News) – Shkreli, 35, is now serving a seven-year prison term for securities fraud (unrelated to Daraprim). Turing has renamed itself Vyera Pharmaceuticals. But Daraprim, which costs pennies to make and is used to treat the parasitic infection toxoplasmosis — which is rare in the United States — still retails for more than $750 per pill, according to drug website GoodRx.com. Vyera did not respond to multiple requests for comment. The continued high price of the drug is a cautionary tale to those who hope that public shaming of a few “bad actors” can curb escalating drug prices, because the problem is rooted in the market’s underlying financial incentives.

Drug Epidemic Ensnares 25-Year-Old Pill for Nerve Pain

May 4, 2018

(ABC News) – The story line sounds familiar: a popular pain drug becomes a new way to get high as prescribing by doctors soars. But the latest drug raising red flags is not part of the opioid family at the center of the nation’s drug epidemic. It’s a 25-year-old generic pill long seen as a low risk way to treat seizures, nerve pain and other ailments. The drug, called gabapentin, is one of the most prescribed medications in the U.S., ranking ninth over the last year, according to prescription tracker GoodRx. Researchers attribute the recent surge to tighter restrictions on opioid painkillers, which have left doctors searching for alternatives for their patients.

5 Facts About IVF Parenting in Europe–What You Need to Know

May 4, 2018

(Deutsche Welle) – A German man was forced to pay child support for a son he never agreed to have after his ex-wife used his sperm samples for IVF treatment. European laws on who are parents have been slow to adapt to changing societies.

A Big Medical Tourism Boom? Actually, Not So Much

May 4, 2018

(MedPage Today) -Remember the excitement around the medical tourism industry? Visions of thousands of U.S. patients heading to India and elsewhere to have medical procedures done at a fraction of the cost in the U.S.? Well, that hasn’t worked out so well, experts said here Monday at the World Health Care Congress.

As Genetic Testing for Breast Cancer Gene Mutation Expands, Questions Arise About Treatment Decisions

May 4, 2018

(The Conversation) – The Food and Drug Administration recently announced its authorization that permits genetics testing company 23andMe to market a test for gene mutations associated with risk of breast and ovarian cancer.  In response, 23andMe CEO Anne Wojcicki asserted that the test represents a “major milestone in consumer health empowerment.” Media articles following this announcement made it clear even if the test provides an accurate result, there are significant limitations for 23andMe’s version of the test about which consumers should be aware.

When Doctors Downplay Women’s Health Concerns

May 4, 2018

(The New York Times) – As it turns out, very. “It’s a huge issue in medicine,” says Dr. Tia Powell, a bioethicist and a professor of clinical epidemiology and population health at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York. Health care providers may have implicit biases that affect the way women are heard, understood and treated, she said. “Medical schools and professional guidelines are starting to address this problem, but there’s still much to be done.”

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