The New England Journal of Medicine (vol. 373, no. 12, 2015) is available online by subscription only.
- “Politics and Universal Health Coverage — The Post-2015 Global Health Agenda” by V. Gupta, et al.
- “Shifting to Sustainable Development Goals — Implications for Global Health” by C.J.L. Murray
- “New DCTA Guidance — Enough to Empower Consumers?” by C.T. Robertson
- “History of Medicine: The Vernacular of Risk — Rethinking Direct-to-Consumer Advertising of Pharmaceuticals” by J.A. Greene and E.S. Watkins
- “Caring for Our Transgender Troops — The Negligible Cost of Transition-Related Care” by A. Belkin
- “Civil Rights and Health — Beyond Same-Sex Marriage” by S. Landers
(Scientific American) – A company formed by genome pioneer Craig Venter will offer clients of a South Africa-based insurance company whole exome sequencing – sequencing all protein-making genes in the human genome – at a price that marks yet another dramatic decline in the cost of gene sequencing, the two companies said on Tuesday. Venter’s company, Human Longevity Inc, will provide the tests at a cost of $250 each through a special incentive program offered by Discovery Ltd, an insurer with clients in South Africa and the United Kingdom.
(UPI) – Most people will experience at least one incorrect medical diagnosis in their lifetime, resulting in negative health outcomes, psychological distress and financial cost, according to a new government report. Researchers at the Institute of Medicine, part of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, said in the congressionally mandated report that medical diagnosis is a complex process that requires greater transparency in order to improve.
(Reuters) – Americans are paying way over the odds for some modern cancer drugs, with pharmaceutical companies charging up to 600 times what the medicines cost to make, according to an independent academic study. The United States also pays more than double the price charged in Europe for these drugs – so-called tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs), a potent class of cancer pills with fewer side effects than chemotherapy.
(The Atlantic) – Unlike rival sequencers, which are as big as microwaves or fridges, the MinION is the size of a chocolate bar. Cowley had three, and she could clutch them all in a single fist. These devices quite literally bring the power of modern genomics to the palm of your hand. And at a cost of just $1,000, they herald a new era where sequencing moves away from well-equipped institutions and into places where it is most needed, from hospitals to epidemic-afflicted hot zones. Rather than sending samples from outbreak sites to special labs, scientists like Cowley will be able to take the labs to the outbreaks.
(Washington Post) – This summer, a panel of genetics experts did something surprising: they put out a list of genetic tests people should not get. In the age of precision medicine, the genome is our oyster. There are cancer wonder drugs that pinpoint the errant genes that drive tumors. There are longstanding medical mysteries finally being unraveled by DNA sequencing. There is tremendous excitement over the coming age of treatments tailored to you. And there is also this: a very long list of genes for which the best medical understanding of what they mean for our health is essentially a shrug.
(The Guardian) – A blood test is available to adult children and siblings of those who develop Alzheimer’s at a young age and have a family history of the disease. It identifies whether they carry one of the three faulty genes known to cause familial early onset Alzheimer’s, presenilin 1 (the mutation affecting Leggett’s family), presenilin 2 and amyloid precursor protein. All result in the overproduction of amyloid, a protein that builds up into the plaques on the brain which are the hallmark of Alzheimer’s.
(The Wall Street Journal) – Five years after the Affordable Care Act helped set off a health-care merger frenzy, the pace of consolidation is accelerating, transforming the medical marketplace into a land of giants. The trend is under a new spotlight now, as Congress zeroes in on the competitive and cost impact of proposed deals that would collapse the health-insurance industry’s top five players into just three massive companies, each with more than $100 billion in annual revenue.
(Washington Post) – The first step toward ensuring a better end-of-life experience in patients with end-stage kidney disease who decide against dialysis is to recognize that research in assessing the symptom burden and improving the quality of life of such patients is sorely needed. In the meantime, patients and their caregivers should be fully informed of the myriad symptoms that may ensue as uremia worsens and they should be counseled that a “peaceful death” may never materialize.
(Medical Xpress) – A new system developed by scientists at the Morgridge Institute for Research and the University of Wisconsin-Madison may provide a faster, cheaper and more biologically relevant way to screen drugs and chemicals that could harm the developing brain. Reporting in the Sept. 21, 2015 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), the team describes a new approach for predicting developmental neurotoxicity that uses stem cells to model features of the developing human brain that could be targeted by toxic chemicals or drugs.
The New Atlantis (no. 46, Summer 2015) is available online by subscription only.
- “Preface: Cloning Then and Now” by the Witherspoon Council
- “Part One: Scientific and Historical Background” by the Witherspoon Council
- “Part Two: The Case Against Cloning-to-Produce-Children” by the Witherspoon Council
- “Part Three: The Case Against Cloning-for-Biomedical-Research” by the Witherspoon Council
- “Part Four: Cloning Policy in the United States” by the Witherspoon Council
- “Part Five: Recommendations” by the Witherspoon Council
Palliative Medicine (vol. 29, no. 9, 2015) is available online by subscription only.
- “Palliative Care in the Hospital: Why is it So Difficult?” by Ros Taylor and Sharon Chadwick
- “Does Hospital Need More Hospice Beds? Hospital Charges and Length of Stays by Lung Cancer Inpatients at Their End of Life: A Retrospective Cohort Design of 2002–2012” by Sun Jung Kim, et al.
- “Bereaved Carers’ Accounts of the End of Life and the Role of Care Providers in a ‘Good Death’: A Qualitative Study” by Laura M. Holdsworth
Medicine, Science and the Law (vol. 55, no. 3, 2015) is available online by subscription only.
- “The European Court Legitimates Access of Italian Couples to Assisted Reproductive Techniques and to Pre-implantation Genetic Diagnosis” by Emanuela Turillazzi, et al.
(Quartz) – A whopping 87 out of 91 former NFL players who donated their brains to science have tested for positive for chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a degenerative brain disease that causes memory loss, dementia, and depression. The study, based on information from the largest brain bank in the United States, is the latest evidence of a link between football and brain damage in the ongoing debate about head injuries in the sport.
(Los Angeles Times) – In a dozen similar disputes outside California, not one state high court has permitted someone to use an embryo over an estranged partner’s objections. But trial courts in Pennsylvania and Maryland — and an intermediate appeals court in Illinois — have in recent years ruled in favor of women who had suffered cancer and could not have biological children without the embryos. There are an estimated 1 million frozen embryos in the U.S., but the law has been slow to catch up with technology.
(Nanotechnology Now) – Invisibility cloaks are a staple of science fiction and fantasy, from Star Trek to Harry Potter, but don’t exist in real life, or do they? Scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) and the University of California (UC) Berkeley have devised an ultra-thin invisibility “skin” cloak that can conform to the shape of an object and conceal it from detection with visible light. Although this cloak is only microscopic in size, the principles behind the technology should enable it to be scaled-up to conceal macroscopic items as well.
(Fox News) – Aggressive state efforts to ban the use of fetal tissue in research are alarming some scientists who say such measures will set back efforts to cure the world’s deadliest diseases, including cancer, diabetes and Alzheimer’s. But lawmakers in states like California and Wisconsin, which are deliberating whether to make their state laws even tougher than federal restrictions, say ending the practice of harvesting organs from aborted fetuses is a moral and ethical imperative.
(Medscape) – For critically ill patients in intensive care units (ICUs) around the world, end-of-life care varies considerably across nations, regions, and centers. These differences are potentially explained by differences in sociocultural norms and medical care preferences. Hart and colleagues sought to examine the proportions of patients admitted to the ICU with limitations on life-sustaining treatments and the proportions of such patients who receive aggressive care.
(New Scientist) – Breakthroughs in DNA technology are opening the door to a superhuman future. Genetic engineering pioneer George Church says we have nothing to fear. There has been a lot of excitement lately over the new gene-editing technology, CRISPR. How does it work? Gene editing is snipping out a targeted DNA sequence and replacing it with another. It used to be time-consuming and imprecise, but now you can edit any living genome, using your computer to target a stretch of DNA. Guides made of bespoke RNA lead the CRISPR molecular machinery to the target, where an enzyme makes a cut.
(BBC) – Zoltan Istvan is running for US president. He’s the leader of the Transhumanist Party, which is campaigning to develop technology that would help us to live forever. That is also why he is driving round the US in a giant coffin – to make a point. It is also why he has had a near field communication (NFC) chip inserted into his hand. It was painful, but worth it, according to Zoltan.