(Medical Xpress) – Man-made blood vessels developed by researchers at Duke University, Yale University and the tissue engineering company Humacyte appear to be both safe and more durable than commonly used synthetic versions in patients undergoing kidney dialysis, the researchers report. The findings, published May 12 in The Lancet, resulted from a phase 2 study among 60 patients with kidney failure who required dialysis, which often requires a synthetic graft when the patient’s own blood vessel degrades from frequent needle sticks. Such grafts, however, are prone to infection, clotting, and other complications. And alternative bioengineered grafts derived from the patient, a donor, or animal tissue have been shown to perform no better than synthetics.
(Reuters) – One in six childhood injuries in Iraq were caused by violence, compared with only one in 50 childhood injuries worldwide, according to a recent study. Iraqi children injured by violence, including by gunshots, shrapnel and explosives, were also more than 10 times more likely than those hurt by other means to be killed or disabled, the authors found. Very little research has looked at injuries among children in conflict zones, including in the aftermath of the 2003 coalition invasion of Iraq, the researchers write in the journal Surgery.
(UPI) – The illegal trade in human organs has become widespread in Syria and neighboring countries, medical officials and victims say, with cross-border networks exploiting thousands of desperate Syrians. These networks purchase transplantable organs such as kidneys and corneas from Syrians and ship them to neighboring countries, where they disappear into the murky world of the international organ trade, they say. There are also allegations that organs have been stolen from prisoners.
(New Scientist) – Antidepressants are meant to make things better. But the increasing reliance on them in the UK could be a public health disaster in the making, campaigners are warning. Evidence is growing that people struggle to stop taking antidepressants once they have started, and that the drugs could even prolong symptoms of low mood and trigger other mental health problems. The latest UK figures, released in April, show that the number of prescriptions written for antidepressants in 2015 was up 7 per cent on 2014, and has doubled since 2005. The majority of people taking them are given drugs like Prozac (fluoxetine).
(Eurekalert) – In a new report, the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues sets forth a series of recommendations for how to tackle the most pressing ethical questions that confront our society, and ensure every one of us is better equipped to address the ethical dilemmas that arise in everyday life. As our nation weighs the risks and rewards of breakthrough technologies and scientific advances, from neuroscience research to whole genome sequencing and synthetic biology, the report, Bioethics for Every Generation: Deliberation and Education in Health, Science, and Technology, provides practical guidance for implementing deliberation as a method to help overcome gridlock and advance solutions to complex and contentious bioethical issues.
(TIME) – If that doesn’t make me, a trauma psychologist, want to scream or cry, I don’t know what would. Treatment is hopeless? Who says that to their patients? And why should people stand for such cynicism from their health-care providers? Recovery from such severe trauma is not easy, but telling someone it’s not possible? Well, at minimum, that’s just untrue. The evidence from dozens and dozens of randomized clinical trials strongly suggests that there are several psychotherapies that can significantly reduce PTSD symptoms, if not eradicate the disorder altogether.
(NPR) – Chinese women Rui Cai and Cleo Wu gave birth to twins last month, following a successful in vitro fertilization. It wasn’t simple. Cai took two eggs from Wu, added sperm from a U.S. sperm bank, had them put in her womb at a clinic in Portland, Ore., then returned to China to give birth. The lesbian couple is one of the first in China known to have used this form of surrogacy.
Sex Abuse Victim in Her 20s Allowed to Choose Euthanasia in Holland after Doctors Decided Her Post-Traumatic Stress and Other Conditions Were Incurable
(Daily Mail) – A former victim of child sex abuse has ended her life under Dutch euthanasia laws because she could not live with her mental suffering. The woman, in her twenties, was given a lethal injection after doctors and psychiatrists decided that her post-traumatic stress disorder and other conditions were incurable. It went ahead despite improvements in the woman’s psychological condition after ‘intensive therapy’ two years ago, and even though doctors in the Netherlands accept that a demand for death from a psychiatric patient may be no more than a cry for help.
The Journal of the American Medical Association (vol. 315, no. 16, 2016) is available online by subscription only.
- “Digital Health and Patient Safety” by Stephen O. Agboola, David W. Bates, and Joseph C. Kvedar
- “Trustees of Nonprofit Health Care Organizations: Whom Do They Serve?” by Michael Jellinek
- “The Good Life: Working Together to Promote Opportunity and Improve Population Health and Well-Being” by Steven H. Woolf and Jason Q. Purnell
- “Income, Life Expectancy, and Community Health: Underscoring the Opportunity” by J. Michael McGinnis
- “Moving from Clinical Trials to Precision Medicine: The Role for Predictive Modeling” by Michale J. Pencina and Eric D. Peterson
Neuroethics (vol. 9, no. 1, 2016) is available online by subscription only.
- “Is Deontology a Moral Confabulation?” by Emilian Mihailov
- “Head Transplants, Personal Identity and Neuroethics” by Assya Pascalev, Mario Pascalev, and James Giordano
- “Biocertification and Neurodiversity: The Role and Implications of Self-Diagnosis in Autistic Communities” by Jennifer C. Sarrett
- “Valuing Life as Necessary for Moral Status” by Joshua Stein
- “Upgrading Discussions of Cognitive Enhancement” by Susan B. Levin
- “Happiness, Cerebroscopes and Incorrigibility: Prospects for Neuroeudaimonia” by Stephanie M. Hare and Nicole A. Vincent
NanoEthics (vol. 10, no. 1, 2016) is available online by subscription only.
- “Broadening Discourse on Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI)” by Christopher Coenen
- “Laboratory Safety and Nanotechnology Workers: An Analysis of Current Guidelines in the USA” by Jeong Joo Ahn, et al.
- “A Definition Framework for the Terms Nanomaterial and Nanoparticle” by Max Boholm and Rickard Arvidsson
- “Responsibility and Visioneering—Opening Pandora’s Box” by Martin Sand
- “What Ethics for Bioart?” by Nora S. Vaage
- “Synthetic Biology: From Having Fun to Jumping the Gun” by Manuel Porcar
(Nature) – The revised guidelines recommend that all research involving the manipulation of human embryos now undergo a similar review as experiments that use embryos to create stem-cell lines, which has been one of the most divisive research procedures of recent decades. They suggest that such research be added to the remit of existing embryonic stem cell research oversight (ESCRO) committees. Scientists previously balked at the introduction of ESCRO committees, and there is likely to be resistance to the idea of adding bureaucratic review to other research areas. “No scientist or physician jumps for joy when new regulations are put in place,” says Murry. But he says that the updates are necessary to avoid “a wild-west environment where sensitive research is done without proper regard for community standards”.
(Science) – New animal models are now pointing to answers. Pregnant monkeys are showing hints of fetal damage. But the most dramatic results come from mice. Mouse studies published this week in Cell and its sister journal Cell Stem Cell and in Nature show precisely how the virus slows fetal growth, damages the brain, and leads to miscarriage. Two of them also prove for the first time in an animal model that Zika virus can cause microcephaly in fetuses. Together, the findings indicate that the virus by itself can wreak havoc, says Michael Diamond, a viral immunologist at Washington University in St. Louis in Missouri who led the Cell study.
(UPI) – Researchers in Britain are preparing to launch a clinical trial for treatment of the rare Sanfilippo disease, a genetic disorder that manifests in early childhood and often results in death before adulthood. Manchester University researchers are working with the company Orchard Therapeutics to develop a gene therapy treatment involving a patients’ own stem cells to correct the single gene mutation, with plans to start a trial with humans soon.
(Medscape) – A pregnancy has a significant impact on the mother. Perinatal outcome cannot be considered optimal when a healthy newborn is delivered but the mother has an adverse outcome. Pregnancy-related maternal death has been increasing since the 1980s. Therefore, it is important to study the association between certain maternal characteristics, pre- and periconceptional events, and prenatal interventions and pregnancy outcome. This retrospective study evaluated the impact of assisted reproductive technology (ART) on severe maternal morbidity.
(The Telegraph) – The Netherlands has seen a sharp increase in the number of people choosing to end their own lives due to mental health problems such as trauma caused by sexual abuse. Whereas just two people had themselves euthanised in the country in 2010 due to an “insufferable” mental illness, 56 people did so last year, a trend which sparked concern among ethicists. In one controversial case, a sexual abuse victim in her 20s was allowed to go ahead with the procedure as she was suffering from “incurable” PTSD, according to the Dutch Euthanasia Commission.
(Nature) – In 2011, Siddhartha Mukherjee won a Pulitzer prize for The Emperor of All Maladies (Scribner, 2010), which intertwined science and his own experience as an oncologist. In The Gene, Mukherjee uses a personal approach to describe our understanding of heredity. Despite its subtitle (‘An Intimate History’), the historical sections of The Gene, ranging from 1860 to the present, are not intended to show the convoluted route to current knowledge. They are primarily a tool for explaining the basics of medical genetics.
(New York Post) – With the opening ceremony in Rio de Janeiro less than three months away, a Canadian professor has called for the Olympics to be postponed or moved because of the Zika outbreak, warning the influx of visitors to Brazil will result in the avoidable birth of malformed babies. “But for the games, would anyone recommend sending an extra half a million visitors into Brazil right now?” University of Ottawa professor Amir Attaran, who specializes in public health, said in an article published this week in the Harvard Public Health Review.
(Science) – She was also, I realized, at the nexus of two distinct quandaries in clinical research. What health information do researchers owe the volunteers in their studies, especially when it’s not clear what it means and whether or how to act on it? And should researchers notify volunteers of publications in which their individual story is chronicled, even if it’s impossible for others to identify them from what’s written? Woidislawsky’s experience shows that “the risks of publishing information about people are not just privacy,” says Christine Grady, chief of the bioethics department at the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center in Bethesda, Maryland. “They might learn something about themselves that they didn’t know.”
(USA Today) – The CDC’s own labs also have been referred for additional secret federal enforcement actions six times because of serious or repeated violations in how they’ve handled certain viruses, bacteria and toxins that are heavily regulated because of their potential use as bioweapons, the CDC admitted for the first time on Tuesday. Before USA TODAY won access to records of the lab suspension, the CDC had repeatedly refused to answer questions about its own labs’ enforcement histories.