(The Telegraph) – Public health officials have been accused of causing mass confusion for travellers after giving conflicting advice about whether pregnant women should travel to countries affected by the zika outbreak. Currently Public Health England and the National Travel Health Network are advising pregnant women to stay away from infected areas over fears that their babies could be born with microcephaly, where the brain fails to grow properly.
Study: Surgery Patients Fared Just as Well When Junior Doctors Worked Longer Hours than Mandated Hours
(Associated Press) – Surgery patients fared just as well when junior doctors worked longer than mandated hours in the first major rigorous test of regulations many physicians say hurt medical education. Nationwide limits on work hours were established more than a decade ago because of concerns that sleep-deprived medical residents were a threat to themselves and their patients. To test that, researchers randomly assigned more than 4,000 surgery residents to regulation hours or a more flexible schedule that allowed them to continue with a case after their shifts ended. That sometimes meant working for more than 28 hours at a time.
(Washington Post) – It torments the young and terrorizes the old. It carved “caverns” in Emily Dickinson’s soul and left William Blake “bereaved of light.” Loneliness, long a bane of humanity, is increasingly seen today as a serious public health hazard. Scientists who have identified significant links between loneliness and illness are pursuing the precise biological mechanisms that make it such a menace, digging down to the molecular level and finding that social isolation changes the human genome in profound, long-lasting ways.
(Medical Xpress) – Successful reprogramming of muscle cells derived from biopsies of patients with Andersen’s syndrome (AS) led to the formation of induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells that can serve as a valuable model for understanding the cause of this rare disorder and discovering novel therapies. Details of the methods used to generate the AS-iPS cells and evidence of their capacity for self-renewal and pluripotency are presented in the study published in Stem Cells and Development.
(Kaiser Health News) – In response to recent infections and deaths from tainted medical scopes, U.S. lawmakers are wrestling with how to keep other dangerous devices from harming patients. Members of Congress, federal officials and health-policy experts agree that the Food and Drug Administration’s surveillance system for devices is inadequate and relies too heavily on manufacturers to report problems with their own products.
(The Washington Post) – Hungary’s post-communist elite, led by a flamboyant, well-connected oral surgeon, has developed a sector of skilled dentists. By charging bargain prices, they have created an internationally marketable product. The national government even includes a Medical Tourism Office. As one consultant put it: “In Switzerland, you get watches and chocolate. In Hungary you get dentistry.” The story of how Hungary became “Europe’s dental chair” is a big part of a small, sharp new book — “Outpatients: The Astonishing New World of Medical Tourism” by Sasha Issenberg, a journalist and author of books on politics, economics and globalization.
Journal of Law and the Biosciences (vol. 2, no. 3, 2016) is available online by subscription only.
- “Neuroscience and Behavioral Genetics in US Criminal Law: An Empirical Analysis” by Nita A. Farahany
- “Dolly and Alice” by Dan L. Burk
- “Marginally Scientific? Genetic Testing of Children and Adolescents for Lifestyle and Health Promotion” by Timothy Caulfield, et al.
- “Just Compensation: A No-Fault Proposal for Research-Related Injuries” by Leslie Meltzer Henry, Megan E. Larkin, and Elizabeth R. Pike
- “A Pragmatic Analysis of the Regulation of Consumer Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (TDCS) Devices in the United States” by Anna Wexler
Genetics in Medicine (vol. 18, no. 2, 2016) is available online by subscription only.
- “With Great (Participant) Rights Comes Great (Researcher) Responsibility” by Gail E. Henderson
- “State-Offered Ethnically Targeted Reproductive Genetic Testing” by Ellen Wright Clayton and Kyle B. Brothers
- “Does Rapid Genetic Counseling and Testing in Newly Diagnosed Breast Cancer Patients Cause Additional Psychosocial Distress? Results from a Randomized Clinical Trial” by Marijke R. Wevers, et al.
- “Efficacy of a Medical Genetics Rotation During Pediatric Training” by Joanne Nguyen, et al.
AI & Society (vol. 31, no. 1, 2016) is available online by subscription only.
- “Brain-Computer Interfaces and Dualism: A Problem of Brain, Mind, and Body” by Joseph Lee
- “Revisiting the Self: A sine qua non for Understanding Embodiment” by V. Hari Narayanan
- “Considerations about the Relationship between Animal and Machine Ethics” by Oliver Bendel
(Medscape) – The World Health Organization (WHO) today declared outbreaks of microcephaly and other neurologic abnormalities that may be linked to the Zika virus a “public health emergency of international concern,” the same designation given to the Ebola outbreak 2 years ago. The virus, spread by the Aedes aegypti mosquito, is strongly suspected of causing microcephaly in thousands of newborns in Brazil. Public health authorities also are investigating whether the virus has triggered cases of Guillain-Barré syndrome.
(Nature) – Scientists in London have been granted permission to edit the genomes of human embryos for research, UK fertility regulators announced. The 1 February approval by the UK Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) represents the world’s first endorsement of such research by a national regulatory authority.
(Star Tribune) – The University of Minnesota is organizing an aggressive defense of fetal tissue research following missteps last year, when it angered legislators and incited protests by mistakenly denying that the controversial work took place on campus. The campaign includes tighter rules on the way researchers acquire, use and dispose of the tissue. The U also will add security at home or work for as many as 10 researchers working with fetal tissue, which is controversial because it comes from elective abortions.
(Medical Daily) – It is commercially challenging to develop drugs for a very small number of patients. Nevertheless, scores of companies, ranging from the giants in the pharmaceutical industry to tiny venture capital-backed biotech startups, are targeting disorders that affect only a few hundred patients in the United States. When we have so many other pressing health care problems to confront, why has the orphan drug initiative grown so fast? And why does it make sense, both clinically and socially, for our society to pay for the rising number of expensive therapies?
(Science Alert) – Scientists in the US have used gene editing to repair a genetic mutation in cells that causes retinitis pigmentosa, one of the leading causes of blindness in young people around the world. Researchers employed the CRISPR technique to repair the affected cells, with the procedure representing the first time that scientists have replaced a defective gene associated with a sensory disease in stem cells that were derived from a patient’s own tissue.
(The Guardian) – As historian Ilana Löwy has recently written, a crucial factor unites those Rubella experiences with the experiences of women in contemporary Brazil faced with Zika – access to abortion. Through the 1950s and most of the ’60s, abortion was illegal in Britain, as it is in much of Latin America today. An expectant mother who had contracted Rubella was confronted with the emotional toil of imagining a future for, and the potential suffering of, a seriously disabled child, and what this might mean for her family.
(New York Post) – The child is the product of Steven’s sperm and Angelina’s egg. The embryo was implanted in the womb of Angelina’s cousin, yet in the eyes of the government the baby belongs to the relative and her husband — even though the surrogate cousin signed away rights to the child.
(Eurekalert) – A research team led by scientists from UCL have found a way to assess the viability of ‘manufactured’ stem cells known as induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs). Published today in Nature Communications, the team’s discovery offers a new way to fast-track screening methods used in stem cell research.
(Managed Care Magazine) – Only 1% of U.S. doctors are responsible for 32% of the malpractice claims that result in payments to patients, according to an analysis of 15 years’ worth of cases. And when a doctor has to pay out on one claim, the chances are good that the same physician will soon be paying out on another, researchers report in the New England Journal of Medicine.
(Fox News) – The U.S. military is working to develop a new chip technology that, when implanted, will connect human brains to computers – making cyborgs. Should the chip succeed, it could have nearly limitless possibilities. The U.S. military’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) often plays a big role in the development of technologies that civilians eventually benefit from, such as GPS or the Internet.
(Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues) – Privacy and Progress in Whole Genome Sequencing concludes that to realize the enormous promise that whole genome sequencing holds for advancing clinical care and the greater public good, individual interests in privacy must be respected and secured. As the scientific community works to bring the cost of whole genome sequencing down from millions per test to less than the cost of many standard diagnostic tests today, the Commission recognizes that whole genome sequencing and its increased use in research and the clinic could yield major advances in health care. However it could also raise ethical dilemmas. The Commission offers a dozen timely proactive recommendations that will help craft policies that are flexible enough to ensure progress and responsive enough to protect privacy.