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More Evidence Emerges for ‘Transmissible Alzheimer’s’ Theory

January 27, 2016

(Nature) – For the second time in four months, researchers have reported autopsy results that suggest Alzheimer’s disease might occasionally be transmitted to people during certain medical treatments — although scientists say that neither set of findings is conclusive. The latest autopsies, described in the Swiss Medical Weekly on 26 January, were conducted on the brains of seven people who died of the rare, brain-wasting Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease (CJD). Decades before their deaths, the individuals had all received surgical grafts of dura mater — the membrane that covers the brain and spinal cord.

El Salvador Advises Women to Avoid Pregnancy for 2 Years Due to Zika Virus Outbreak

January 27, 2016

(ABC News) – As worries intensify about the Zika virus due to its association with a rare paralysis syndrome and rise of birth defect called microcephaly, health officials are taking drastic measures to stop the disease. In a stunning development in El Salvador, health officials have advised all women of reproductive age to delay pregnancy until 2018 due to concerns about possible birth defects linked to the virus. Earlier this month, the El Salvador Health Department disclosed they had found 492 Zika cases.

Panel Recommends Depression Screening for Adults

January 27, 2016

(Reuters) – U.S. adults should be screened for depression, says an influential panel of government-backed experts. Screening for depression can ultimately help reduce or stop depression symptoms from coming back, lessen other healthcare needs and improve the health of pregnant or postpartum women with depression, according to the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF).

Disclosure of Incidental Genetic Findings Can Have Positive Impact for Patients

January 27, 2016

(Medical Xpress) – A new study led by researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) has found that providing unanticipated information about risk of coronary artery disease during a genetic risk assessment for Alzheimer’s disease helped some participants cope with their results, and also motivated participants to make changes to their health behaviors. The results of the randomized controlled study are published online in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine on Jan. 26.

Scientists Synthesize Nanoparticles That Can Deliver Tumor Suppressors to Damaged Liver

January 27, 2016

(Nanotechnology Now) – UT Southwestern Medical Center chemists have successfully used synthetic nanoparticles to deliver tumor-suppressing therapies to diseased livers with cancer, an important hurdle scientists have been struggling to conquer. Late-stage liver cancer is a major challenge for therapeutic intervention. Drugs that show promise in healthy functioning livers can cause devastating toxicity in cirrhotic livers with cancer, the researchers explained.

New IVF Technique Boosts Fertility of Older Women by Rejuvenating Their Eggs

January 27, 2016

(Tech Times) – In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) has helped women conceive children amid their reproductive problems. As women get older, however, the chances of successful IVF treatments become scarce. Now, older women may have a greater chance of becoming mothers, thanks to a new IVF technique that boosts fertility by rejuvenating eggs. British doctors have asked permission to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HEFA) so they could begin a pilot study involving 20 women to test their technique. If approved, the trial may start as early as 2017.

Texas Grand Jury Indicts Antiabortion Activists Who Made Undercover Videos of Planned Parenthood

January 27, 2016

(Los Angeles Times) – A Texas grand jury investigating allegations of misconduct against Planned Parenthood after the release of covertly-shot videos about the use of fetal tissue from abortions has instead indicted two antiabortion activists who made the videos, authorities said Monday. David Daleiden, 26, director of the Irvine-based nonprofit Center for Medical Progress, was indicted by the grand jury on a felony charge of tampering with a governmental record and a misdemeanor count related to purchasing human organs, Harris County Dist. Atty. Devon Anderson said in a statement.

Discussing How We Live Out Our Golden Years Is Crucial — But Oft-Negletcted

January 27, 2016

(The Guardian) – The “death panels” have arrived. Starting this month, your physician can charge Medicare for the time she spends speaking with you and your family about end-of-life care – a very good and important step. Lawyers bill for the time they spend counseling clients about estate planning. Until now, doctors have generally provided the analogous service – advanced care planning – for free.

Marvin Minsky, Pioneer in Artificial Intelligence, Dies at 88

January 27, 2016

(New York Times) – Marvin Minsky, who combined a scientist’s thirst for knowledge with a philosopher’s quest for truth as a pioneering explorer of artificial intelligence, work that helped inspire the creation of the personal computer and the Internet, died on Sunday night in Boston. He was 88.

Genetically Modified Mosquitoes Join the Fight to Stop Zika Virus

January 27, 2016

(NPR) – The company breeds and releases into the wild male mosquitoes that don’t produce viable offspring. When females mate with the GMO males, they lay eggs that hatch but the larvae die before adulthood. Oxitec says trials conducted in Brazil and other countries over the past decade show releasing bioengineered male mosquitoes can reduce the wild Aedes aegypti population by 90 percent.

A New Edition of Scientific American Is Now Available

January 27, 2016

Scientific American (vol. 314, no. 2, 2016) is available online by subscription only.

Articles include:

  • “Beware Prenatal Gene Screens”
  • “Even Genius Needs a Benefactor” by Nathan Myhrvold
  • “Talk Therapy” by Anne Pycha
  • “For Sale: Your Medical Records” by Adam Tanner
  • “Bitter Taste Bodyguards” by Robert J. Lee and Noam A. Cohen
  • “Six Billion in Africa” by Robert Engelman
  • “The Power of the Infant Brain” by Takao K. Hensch
  • “Afterlife for Atheists” by Michael Shermer

Gene Signature of Uterus Tied to Recurrent IVF Failure

January 26, 2016

(Medical News Today) – Until now, it has not been clear if the lining of the uterus has been the reason many women experience IVF failure again and again despite having good quality embryos, Prof. Macklon explains, adding: “We have now shown that an abnormal gene expression in the lining can be identified in many of these women and that a specific gene ‘fingerprint,’ when present, is always associated with failure, which is very significant in aiding our understanding of IVF failure.”

Medical Transport Drones Could Transform Health Care in Overcrowded Cities

January 26, 2016

(Newsweek) – After the organ was transplanted into the body of a 21-year-old woman with chronic heart problems, the Indian new media celebrated the “green corridor,” a roadway cleared for organ transport, as a heroic feat. Meanwhile, four students in Spain were thinking there had to be another way. Surely organs could be moved without disrupting traffic, incurring exorbitant fees and requiring police attention. Their solution – a drone designed for moving organs – originally created as a contest entry, is now becoming a reality.

The Suicide Pact That Shook the World on Euthanasia: Daughter of Pat and Peter Shaw on Why She’s Happy They Went on Their Own Terms

January 26, 2016

(New Zealand Herald) – The daughter of an Australian couple who died in a suicide pact says she wishes her parents had been able to die in hospital, but is glad they were able to leave life on their own terms. Anny Shaw told NewsTalkZB this morning that after seeing her parents’ health decline in old age, both she and her two sisters agreed with their decision to end their lives – and would likely choose the same for themselves when the time came.

Justices Won’t Let North Dakota Enforce Tough Abortion Law

January 26, 2016

(ABC News) – The U.S. Supreme Court refused on Monday to review lower court rulings overturning North Dakota’s ban on abortion at six weeks of pregnancy — before many women know they’re pregnant. The justices turned away the state’s appeal of decisions striking down the 2013 fetal heartbeat law as unconstitutional. The law never took effect, and abortion-rights supporters said it was the strictest anti-abortion measure in the country.

New Mouse-Human Modeling System Enables Study of Disease Development In Vivo

January 26, 2016

(Medical Xpress) – Whitehead Institute researchers have created a new mouse-human modeling platform that could be used to study neural crest development as well as the modeling of a variety of diseases, including such cancers as melanoma and neurofibromatosis. “We introduced human committed stem cells at the right stage into the mouse embryo in utero and had them integrate into developing tissues,” says Whitehead Founding Member Rudolf Jaenisch. “The results are encouraging and provide a proof of principle—an important first step toward the goal of generating mice that carry disease-relevant human cells in the relevant tissue.”

Rio Fears Zika Virus Will Scare Visitors Away from 2016 Olympic Games

January 26, 2016

(National Post) – Olympic organizers are stepping up their efforts to battle the spread of Zika virus to try to contain the mosquito-borne outbreak ahead of the Rio 2016 Games. Rio’s City Hall announced Sunday night that it would mount extra inspections around venues in the month before the opening ceremony as Brazil sees a rising number of birth defects associated with the virus.

India Scales Back ‘Rent-a-Womb’ Services

January 26, 2016

(Los Angeles Times) – Chasing dreams of financial independence, thousands of poor Indian women have found work as surrogate mothers, helping to turn this country into a favored destination for foreign couples who can’t become pregnant on their own. Now India’s government is taking the first significant steps to rein in commercial surrogacy, citing fears that the women are being exploited by a mushrooming industry that pays them a fraction of what surrogates earn in the West.

Journal Editors to Researchers: Show Everyone Your Clinical Data

January 26, 2016

(NPR) – Medical editors don’t usually attract much attention. They perform their daily duties evaluating submissions and producing articles that, on good days, influence practice and policy. But last Wednesday, the editors of the leading medical journals around the world made a proposal that could change medical science forever. They said that researchers would have to publicly share the data gathered in their clinical studies as a condition of publishing the results in the journals. This idea is now out for public comment.

More Medical Researchers Engage in Self-Experimentation

January 26, 2016

(The Wall Street Journal) – An entrepreneur and a neurosurgeon with both a medical degree and a doctorate, Dr. Hariri is one of a number of scientists who have experimented on themselves with new or yet-to-be approved medical products or technologies, and who say such practice can be indispensable in the development of innovative biomedical treatments. Some scientists are pushing for self-experimentation data to be reported publicly and more systematically to aid scientific progress.

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