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Couple Who Accused Doctors of Turning Off Their Baby’s Life Support Without Their Consent Get Five-Figure Payout

November 19, 2018

(Daily Mail) – A couple who say they were not consulted before their newborn baby’s life support was switched off have been given a five-figure compensation payout by the NHS. Sian Hill, 26, and her partner James Towers, 29, were left heartbroken after their baby girl, Ivy, died shortly after she was born at Darlington Memorial Hospital in 2012. After reading pathologist reports some months later, they alleged that their daughter died because her life support machine had been switched off without their knowledge and brought legal action.

The FDA’s New Tobacco Rules Are a Victory for Public Health

November 19, 2018

(The Washington Post) – THE FOOD and Drug Administration’s sweeping new tobacco rules did not quite satisfy public-health activists seeking more stringent rules, nor industry-sympathetic conservatives who see them as a “heavy-handed regulatory plan.” In fact, the rules represent an extraordinary step in the fight against nicotine addiction, one that, if successful, would become one of the nation’s greatest public-health victories.

Genetics Start-Up Wants to Sequence People’s Genomes for Free

November 19, 2018

(Scientific American) – The quality of gene sequencing has improved so much and its price has fallen so far that a start-up now says it can offer the service for free. Nebula Genomics aims to sequence a customer’s entire genome, according to the company’s chief scientific officer Dennis Grishin. In contrast, current commercial services offer genotyping, which focuses on the differences between the person’s genome and a reference one. The new service, which was officially made available Thursday, will provide 2,000 times more data than existing services, but will still not be accurate enough to serve as a basis for medical advice, he says.

FDA Says StemGenex Marketing of Unproven Stem Cell Treatment Is Illegal

November 19, 2018

(Los Angeles Times) – The Food and Drug Administration has come down hard on StemGenex, a La Jolla clinic pitching stem cell treatments for multiple sclerosis, diabetes, Parkinson’s and other conditions. In a warning letter made public Tuesday, the FDA says that StemGenex’s marketing is illegal, and that its manufacturing procedures are “putting patients at risk.” The agency also said that there’s no evidence that StemGenex followed up or investigated “multiple complaints involving possible adverse effects” of its treatments experienced by patients.

‘The Right Time to Die’: Canada’s Law Allowing Physician-Assisted Suicide Faces Criticism over Restrictions

November 19, 2018

(The Washington Post) – But criticism of the country’s medically assisted dying legislation, which was passed by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government in 2016, has bubbled to the surface following Parker’s death. Critics say it forces patients to make a cruel choice: forgoing the death they want and prolonging their suffering; or ending their lives before they want to. Neither scenario provides them the autonomy to end their lives on their own terms.

Experts Urge Caution Over Study Linking IVF Technique to Increased Risk of Intellectual Disability

November 19, 2018

(New Atlas) – The study tracked over 200,000 live births between 1994 and 2002. A little over one percent of those births were conceived using an ART technique. Overall, the results showed only a small increase in intellectual disability relating to ART (1 in 48 for ART versus 1 in 59 for non-ART). However, a specific technique called intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI), showed a more significant increase in risk for intellectual disability (1 in 32).

Progress in Genetic Testing of Embryos Stokes Fears of Designer Babies

November 19, 2018

(Medical Xpress) – Recent announcements by two biotechnology companies have stoked fears that designer babies could soon be an option for those who can afford to pick and choose which features they want for their offspring. The companies, MyOme and Genomic Prediction, have been working on technology that they hope to sell to fertility clinics, which could someday lead to the option of terminating pregnancies if fetuses have undesirable characteristics, such as low IQ levels.

This STD Is More Common Than Gonorrhea, But Few People Know About It. Researchers Are Hoping to Change That

November 16, 2018

(Medical Xpress) – Johns Hopkins researchers are spearheading efforts to raise awareness and learn more about a sexually transmitted disease few people know about but scientists believe makes people infertile.  Many people infected with mycoplasma genitalium, or Mgen for short, don’t show symptoms and might not know they are carrying the disease. There’s no approved test for it, which makes it difficult to track, but doctors believe it’s more common than gonorrhea, infecting about 1 to 3 percent of the population.

Ethical Leaders: Use Science to Advance Gender Equity in Medicine

November 16, 2018

(STAT News) – Medicine adheres to a strict code of ethics. Yet a large body of research demonstrates the industry’s ambivalence toward addressing rampant workforce gender bias. Compared to their male colleagues, female physicians face disparities in nearly every marker of achievement including, but not limited to, pay, promotion, recognition awards, grants, publications, and speaking invitations. Subtle slights, or micro-inequities, such as calling women by their first names and men by their professional titles in work settings, often support environments in which larger disparities exist.

A New Test Can Predict IVF Embryos’ Risk of Having a Low IQ

November 16, 2018

(New Scientist) – THE prospect of creating intelligent designer babies has been the subject of ethical debate for decades, but we have lacked the ability to actually do it. That may now change, thanks to a new method of testing an embryo’s genes that could soon be available in some IVF clinics in the US, New Scientist can reveal. The firm Genomic Prediction says it has developed genetic screening tests that can assess complex traits, such as the risk of some diseases and low intelligence, in IVF embryos. The tests haven’t been used yet, but the firm began talks last month with several IVF clinics to provide them to customers.

China’s Crackdown on Genetics Breaches Could Deter Data Sharing

November 16, 2018

(Nature) – China’s enormous population is a genetics goldmine. But the government, wary that this data could be exploited for profit, has been cracking down on researchers and companies that violate rules on sharing its citizens’ genetic material and information. Some scientists fear that this closer attention is creating hurdles for international collaborations.

AMA Wrestles with Physician-Assisted Suicide Stance

November 16, 2018

(MedPage Today) – Physicians tussled here over whether the American Medical Association should continue its opposition to physician-assisted suicide (PAS) — also known as “aid-in-dying.” At the AMA’s House of Delegates’ Interim Meeting on Sunday, dozens of physicians made impassioned speeches, clashing over whether to ultimately endorse an AMA policy report that, while it reflected more nuanced views, ultimately left the association’s code intact, declaring PAS “fundamentally incompatible with the physician’s role as healer.”

A Search for New Ways to Pay for Drugs That Cost a Mint

November 16, 2018

(NPR) – Researchers expect that three dozen new drugs will come on the market over the next few years with astronomical prices — some likely topping a million dollars per patient. The drugmaker Novartis has told investors it might be able to charge $4 million to $5 million for one of its potential products, a treatment for a rare disease called spinal muscular atrophy. Hundreds more ultra-expensive therapies are under development.

Reprogrammed Stem Cells Implanted into Patient with Parkinson’s Disease

November 15, 2018

(Scientific American) – Japanese neurosurgeons have implanted ‘reprogrammed’ stem cells into the brain of a patient with Parkinson’s disease for the first time. The condition is only the second for which a therapy has been trialled using induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells, which are developed by reprogramming the cells of body tissues such as skin so that they revert to an embryonic-like state, from which they can morph into other cell types.

Tens of Thousands Die in Africa Each Year Due to Fake Drugs

November 15, 2018

(Reuters) – Tens of thousands of people in Africa die each year because of fake and counterfeit medication, an E.U.-funded report released on Tuesday said. The drugs are mainly made in China but also in India, Paraguay, Pakistan and the United Kingdom.  Almost half the fake and low-quality medicines reported to the World Health Organization (WHO) between 2013 and 2017 were found to be in sub-Saharan Africa, said the report, also backed by Interpol and the Institute for Security Studies.

Digital Reminders of a Lost Pregnancy

November 15, 2018

(The Atlantic) – Although grieving mothers have always struggled with these tangible souvenirs, now they often must also contend with an array of digital reminders of what might have been: Apps like BabyCenter, Glow, Ovia, and Sprout that chart their pregnancy and compare the developing baby to the size of different fruits keep sending reminders long after it’s all over, while online advertising can flood these would-be moms with ads for baby products they no longer want or need. For women like Jenkins, these reminders can be upsetting, and stopping the onslaught of notifications and ads isn’t always an easy endeavor.

How Pesticide Bans Can Prevent Tens of Thousands of Suicides a Year

November 15, 2018

(Vox) – About 800,000 people die by suicide every year, according to the World Health Organization, and at least 110,000 of them die by suicide using a means that American readers might find surprising: pesticide ingestion. This is a fairly uncommon suicide method in the US. There were only 12 pesticide suicides in the US in 2016, out of nearly 45,000 suicides total. But in poorer and more agricultural societies, pesticides make up a huge share of all suicide deaths. In China, for instance, 49 percent of suicides are suicides by pesticide; in India, the share is about 38.8 percent.

Lab-Grown ‘Mini-Brains’ Produce Electrical Patterns That Resemble Those of Premature Babies

November 15, 2018

(Nature) – ‘Mini brains’ grown in a dish have spontaneously produced human-like brain waves for the first time — and the electrical patterns look similar to those seen in premature babies. The advancement could help scientists to study early brain development. Research in this area has been slow, partly because it is difficult to obtain fetal-tissue samples for analysis and nearly impossible to examine a fetus in utero. Many researchers are excited about the promise of these ‘organoids’, which, when grown as 3D cultures, can develop some of the complex structures seen in brains. But the technology also raises questions about the ethics of creating miniature organs that could develop consciousness.

Camp Fire, Woolsey Fire Prompt Public Health Emergency Declaration in California

November 15, 2018

(San Francisco Chronicle) – The Camp and Woolsey fires raging in Northern and Southern California have prompted federal officials to declare a public health emergency in the state. Alex Azar, the secretary of the United States Department of Health and Human Services, announced the declaration Tuesday night, allowing Medicare and Medi-Cal health care service providers “greater flexibility” in assisting survivors of the wildfires.

‘Emotionally, Physically and Financially Distressing’: What Women Are Not Told Before IVF Treatment

November 15, 2018

(Scroll) – The Delhi resident and her husband, Hemant Gambhir, had taken a chance on in vitro fertilisation or IVF treatment after trying unsuccessfully for five years to have a baby. The couple underwent a battery of tests and investigations. On March 5, they went to Gunjan IVF World in Ghaziabad, where the doctors would surgically retrieve Ruchika Gambhir’s eggs and Hemant Gambhir’s sperm, which would then be fertilised in a laboratory to make embryos that would later be transferred into her uterus. But Ruchika Gambhir developed medical complications during the procedure and was shifted to a bigger hospital, where she died in the intensive care unit.

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