(Science Daily) – Scientists have used pluripotent stem cells to generate human stomach tissues in a Petri dish that produce acid and digestive enzymes. They grew tissues from the stomach’s corpus/fundus region. The study comes two years after the same team generated the stomach’s hormone-producing region (the antrum). The discovery means investigators now can grow both parts of the human stomach to study disease.
(New York Times) – Now Miller also seemed to be on the cusp of modest celebrity. He’d started speaking about death and dying at medical schools and conferences around the country and will soon surface in Oprah’s living room, chatting about palliative care on her “Super Soul Sunday” TV show. Several of Miller’s colleagues described him to me as exactly the kind of public ambassador their field needed. “What B.J. accomplishes is to talk about death without making it sound scary and horrible,” Rita Charon, a professor of medicine at Columbia University Medical School, says. “We know from seeing him standing in front of us that he has suffered. We know that he has been at the brink of the abyss that he’s talking about. That gives him an authority that others may not have.”
(New Scientist) – A FAST test for genetic disorders means women could learn about the future health of their baby as early as 6 weeks into pregnancy. The test for single-gene disorders, which are collectively more common than Down’s syndrome, could become available within five years. This would enable prospective parents to choose whether to proceed with a pregnancy if conditions like muscular dystrophy or Huntington’s disease are detected.
(STAT News) – Researchers infected lab mosquitoes with genetically weakened malaria parasites, and then recruited volunteers willing to be bitten — a lot — to test a possible new strategy for a vaccine. The idea: Vaccinate using living malaria parasites that are too weak to make people sick. It’s a huge challenge, and while Wednesday’s study is a small step, it illustrates the urgent quest for a powerful malaria vaccine.
(STAT News) – The only FDA-approved drug for morning sickness, taken by some 33 million women worldwide since the 1950s, has had a history of ups and downs. A new study adds further uncertainty about the drug. Diclegis, approved by the FDA in 2013, is the rebranded version of an earlier medication called Bendectin. That pill was widely prescribed for more than 50 years, but in the late 1970s, lawsuits began calling into doubt its safety, alleging that the drug caused birth defects.
(Kaiser Health News) – At 44 years old, Dave Adox was facing the end of his two year battle with ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. He needed a ventilator to breathe and couldn’t move any part of his body, except his eyes. Once he started to struggle with his eyes — his only way to communicate — Adox decided it was time to die. He wanted to donate his organs, to give other people a chance for a longer life. To do this, he’d need to be in a hospital when he went off the ventilator.
(New York Times) – THERE’S quite a paradox when it comes to our health data. Most of us still cannot readily look at it, but there’s been an epidemic of cybercriminals and thieves hacking and stealing this most personal information. Last year hundreds of breaches involving millions of health records were reported to the Department of Health and Human Services — with the hackings of the health insurers Anthem and Premera Blue Cross alone affecting some 90 million Americans.
(Slate) – n the U.S., about 41,000 children and young adults die each year from a variety of illnesses, ranging from congenital defects to accidents. Many of them qualified for palliative care, which includes planning and pain management, and for hospice care, which is provided in the last six months of life. But the number of dying children is dwarfed by the more than 2.5 million adults who die each year, many of whom also qualified for these end-of-life services. And that’s precisely the problem: The low demand has made it very tricky to set up effective palliative care programs for children. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t a need. It’s just been hard to fill.
(JAMA) – Three years ago, a group of more than 100 researchers presented a spectacularly lackluster finding in Molecular Psychiatry: a study of more than 76?000 major depressive disorder (MDD) cases and controls from combined data sets—the largest ever genetic study of the condition—turned up zero genetic associations. “In most genetic studies in medicine, by the time people collected cohorts of up to about 10?000 cases and controls, there had been at least 1 genome-wide association,” said Roy H. Perlis, MD, director of the Center for Quantitative Health in the division of clinical research at Massachusetts General Hospital and a coauthor of the study. “Depression stood out really as one of the only exceptions to that, not just within psychiatry, but in medicine as a whole.”
(Nature) – To provide a more comprehensive picture of the biomedical workforce in the United States, we pooled and analysed public data from the US Census Bureau. We focus on respondents to census and household surveys who have PhDs and are categorized as biological or medical scientists. Most strikingly we define a new, large cohort that we call the doubling boomers. These postdocs and PhD students entered the labour pool when the research budget of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) doubled from 1998 to 2004. Here we present data showing that the numbers of minority and foreign-born researchers in the US biomedical workforce have reached a new high, as has the fraction of workers employed by industry.
British Medical Bulletin (vol. 120, no. 1, 2016) is available online by subscription only.
- “Globalizing and Crowdsourcing Biomedical Research” by Ebrahim Afshinnekoo, Sofia Ahsanuddin, and Christopher E. Mason
JAMA (vol. 316, no. 22, 2016) is available online by subscription only.
- “Adapting to Artificial Intelligence: Radiologists and Pathologists as Information Specialists” by Saurabh Jha
- “Translating Artificial Intelligence Into Clinical Care” by Andrew L. Beam and Isaac S. Kohane
Medical Law International (vol. 16, no. 3–4, 2016) is available online by subscription only.
- “International Academic Conferences: Significance and Legacy of the 13th World Congress of the International Association of Bioethics” by Nayha Sethi, Graeme T. Laurie, and Shawn H.E. Harmon
- “Negligence, Genetics and Families: A Duty to Disclose Actionable Risks” by Michael Fay
- “Abortion and Conscientious Objection: Doogan – A Missed Opportunity for an Instructive Rights-Based Analysis” by Shawn H.E. Harmon
- “Negotiating the Domain of Mental Capacity: Clinical Judgement or Judicial Diagnosis?” by Paula Case
- “Bioethical and Legal Perspectives on Cell Reprogramming Technologies” by Juli Aninka Mansnérus
- “‘Abandonment’ and the Acquisition of Property Rights in Separated Human Biomaterials” by Neil Maddox
Journal of Value Inquiry (vol. 50, no. 4, 2016) is available online by subscription only.
- “My Role and Its Virtues” by Richard Paul Hamilton
- “A Virtue Ethical Theory of Role Ethics” by Christine Swanton
- “Robust Role-Obligation: How Do Roles Make a Moral Difference?” by Tim Dare
- “The Ethical Importance of Roles” by Anne Baril
- “Virtue Ethics and Public Policy: Upholding Medical Virtue in Therapeutic Relationships as a Case Study” by Justin Oakley
(Quartz) – One Japanese insurance company, Fukoku Mutual Life Insurance, is reportedly replacing 34 human insurance claim workers with “IBM Watson Explorer,” starting by January 2017. The AI will scan hospital records and other documents to determine insurance payouts, according to a company press release, factoring injuries, patient medical histories, and procedures administered. Automation of these research and data gathering tasks will help the remaining human workers process the final payout faster, the release says.
(The Guardian) – Rising mortality rates, an increase in life-threatening infections and a shortage of staff and medical equipment are crippling Greece’s health system as the country’s dogged pursuit of austerity hammers the weakest in society. Data and anecdote, backed up by doctors and trade unions, suggest the EU’s most chaotic state is in the midst of a public health meltdown. “In the name of tough fiscal targets, people who might otherwise survive are dying,” said Michalis Giannakos who heads the Panhellenic Federation of Public Hospital Employees. “Our hospitals have become danger zones.”
(Vox) – Over-the-counter birth control is very likely to become a reality in the United States, Vox has learned. It will be several years, at least, before the Food and Drug Administration actually approves an oral contraceptive pill for use without a prescription — but the first steps of the process are underway. The best way to prevent unwanted pregnancy is to make it as easy as possible for women to access birth control. But in most states, women can only get hormonal contraception with a prescription from a doctor — which requires time and money for doctors’ visits that some women just don’t have.
(Quartz) – The preventable death of children in poor countries remains one of the world’s greatest scourges. Close to 3 million children under the age of five die each year, mainly in the developing world, from diseases that are easily treated. A tried and true method of minimizing these deaths is through community health worker programs. The health workers, usually women, provide households in rural villages with public health services and basic health products like malaria bed nets and diarrhea medicine.
(Smithsonian) – Now, a team of researchers from the U.S. and U.K. are aiming to change that. Inspired by the earmouse, doctors at the University of California at Los Angeles and the University of Edinburgh’s Centre for Regenerative Medicine have perfected a new technique to grow a fully formed human ear, using patients’ own stem cells. They begin with a 3D-printed polymer mold of an ear, which is then implanted with stem cells drawn from fat. As these stem cells differentiate into cartilage, the polymer scaffold degrades, leaving a full “ear” made of mature cartilage cells.
(Medscape) -Fifty-seven percent of physicians believe physician-assisted death should be available to terminally ill patients, up from 54% in 2014 and 46% in 2010, according to the Medscape Ethics Report 2016 on end-of-life and other hot-button issues. The growing majority in medicine that support the practice — also called assisted dying, physician-assisted suicide — mirror public opinion. A Gallup Poll last year found that 68% of Americans favor legalizing physician-assisted death.