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Charlie Gard Parents End Legal Fight for ‘Beautiful’ Baby

July 24, 2017

(BBC) – The parents of terminally ill baby Charlie Gard have ended their legal challenge to take him to the US for experimental treatment. A lawyer representing Chris Gard and Connie Yates told the High Court “time had run out” for the baby. Mr Gard said it meant his “sweet, gorgeous, innocent little boy” will not reach his first birthday on 4 August. “To let our beautiful little Charlie go” is “the hardest thing we’ll ever have to do”, his mother said. Charlie’s parents said they made the decision because a US doctor had told them it was now too late to give Charlie nucleoside therapy.

Judge Promises Reduced Jail Time if Tennessee Inmates Get Vasectomies

July 24, 2017

(NPR) – As general sessions judge for White County, Tenn., Sam Benningfield says the vast majority of cases he hears are drug-related offenses. The opioid epidemic has hit the state especially hard — resulting in more than 1,400 drug overdose deaths there in 2015 alone, according to the CDC — and he felt that an unusual solution would be necessary to drive home the dangers of illegal drugs for would-be parents. So in May, Benningfield issued a standing order: If inmates at the White County Jail undergo a form of long-term contraception for free — a vasectomy for men or a Nexplanon implant for women — they can shave 30 days off their sentences.

Victoria Euthanasia Laws: Report Outlines Path for Terminally Ill to End Own Lives

July 24, 2017

(The Guardian) – Terminally ill Victorians with 12 months left to live will be able to legally end their own lives under a proposed assisted dying framework, described as the “most conservative in the world”.  On Friday, an independent panel chaired by the former Australian Medical Association head Brian Owler handed down its recommendations to the Victorian government on how best to implement voluntary euthanasia legislation.

The Emerging Science of Computational Psychiatry

July 24, 2017

(MIT Technology Review) – Psychiatry, the study and prevention of mental disorders, is currently undergoing a quiet revolution. For decades, even centuries, this discipline has been based largely on subjective observation. Large-scale studies have been hampered by the difficulty of objectively assessing human behavior and comparing it with a well-established norm. Just as tricky, there are few well-founded models of neural circuitry or brain biochemistry, and it is difficult to link this science with real-world behavior. That has begun to change thanks to the emerging discipline of computational psychiatry, which uses powerful data analysis, machine learning, and artificial intelligence to tease apart the underlying factors behind extreme and unusual behaviors.

I Hacked My Body for a Future that Never Came

July 24, 2017

(The Verge) – The better wearable devices get, the less sense it makes to permanently modify your body. Things like exoskeletons, smart glasses, and external brain-computer interfaces are safer and much easier to upgrade than their implanted counterparts. Plus, you can take them off in inappropriate situations: you won’t get stuck trying to swim with a metal limb, for example, or wearing a permanent version of Google Glass to a laid-back dive bar.

The Curse of a ‘None of the Above’ Disease

July 24, 2017

(Undark) – “We need to appreciate just how muddled the concept of medically unexplained symptoms is,” said James Coyne, a professor of health psychology at University Medical Center, Groningen, in the Netherlands. It’s meant to serve as a placeholder for patients who complain of vague health issues that can’t be verified through routine testing or whose cause remains uncertain. But often, Coyne said, there’s a degree of mistrust involved, as many health care professionals prefer psychosomatic explanations for these nebulous ailments.

Companies Rush to Develop ‘Utterly Transformative’ Gene Therapies

July 24, 2017

(New York Times) – The approval of gene therapy for leukemia, expected in the next few months, will open the door to a radically new class of cancer treatments. Companies and universities are racing to develop these new therapies, which re-engineer and turbocharge millions of a patient’s own immune cells, turning them into cancer killers that researchers call a “living drug.” One of the big goals now is to get them to work for many other cancers, including those of the breast, prostate, ovary, lung and pancreas.

Protecting Interns and Other Physicians from Depression and Suicide

July 24, 2017

(STAT News) – This month, more than 25,000 medical school graduates will begin working at hospitals and medical centers across the United States. By the end of September, nearly one-third of these new doctors could become depressed and 24 percent could have thoughts of suicide. First-year interns often move away from family and friends to start the next chapter of intensive training. It is an exciting time, but also a difficult time. A recent study in Academic Medicine confirms that their suicide risk is highest in the early months of training.

Indian Musician Plays Guitar as Doctors Perform Brain Surgery

July 21, 2017

(Reuters) – Musician Abhishek Prasad strummed his guitar throughout his neurosurgery to help doctors zero in on the part of the brain being operated on during the first such procedure in India.  The 37-year-old had been suffering from musician’s dystonia, a neurological movement disorder which leads to involuntary muscle contractions. Prasad had to be kept conscious during the surgery as the doctors needed continuous feedback to work out exactly which parts of the brain were to be targeted to stop the cramps affecting the three fingers on his left hand.

When Life Is a Fate Worse than Death

July 21, 2017

(The Guardian) – Karen Ann Quinlan lived two lives. Her first life was that of a regular middle-class girl in Scranton, Pennsylvania: she swam, she skied, she dated, she attended mass with her family, she went to high school, and she worked at a local ceramics company. However, this life changed after she was laid off from her job. Soon after, she found herself moving from job to job, and increasingly found comfort in sedative pills and alcohol.

Researchers Identify Critical Need for Standardized Organ Donation Metrics

July 21, 2017

(Medical Xpress) – Across the country, there are 58 Organ Procurement Organizations (OPO), which are responsible for recovering and distributing organs and tissues for life-saving and life-enhancing transplants. Each OPO is designated to serve a specific geographic area and works with the transplant centers in their area to match donors with recipients. With more than 117,000 people awaiting a lifesaving organ transplant, these OPOs work very hard to identify as many organ donors as possible to help save these lives. But according to a study published today in the American Journal of Transplantation, there seem to be significant differences in the results of these efforts.

Google’s AI Guru Says That Great Artificial Intelligence Must Build on Neuroscience

July 21, 2017

(MIT Technology Review) – Currently, most AI systems are based on layers of mathematics that are only loosely inspired by the way the human brain works. But different types of machine learning, such as speech recognition or identifying objects in an image, require different mathematical structures, and the resulting algorithms are only able to perform very specific tasks.

Adderall Might Improve Your Test Scores–But So Could a Placebo

July 20, 2017

(New Scientist) – Students who take Adderall to improve their test scores may get a slight benefit, but it’s mainly a placebo effect. The drug Adderall is a combination of the stimulants amphetamine and dextroamphetamine, and is used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). But it’s growing in popularity as a study drug in the US, where around a third of college students are thought to try using prescription stimulants for non-medical reasons. But does it work? Rachel Fargason, a psychiatrist at the University of Alabama, Birmingham, says the idea of stimulants as cognitive enhancers didn’t tally with her experience of patients who were diagnosed incorrectly.

HIV Drug Resistance Could Undermine Progress in AIDS Battle: WHO

July 20, 2017

(Reuters) – Rising levels of resistance to HIV drugs could undermine promising progress against the global AIDS epidemic if effective action is not taken early, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Thursday.  Already in six out of 11 countries surveyed in Africa, Asia and Latin America for a WHO-led report, researchers found that more than 10 percent of HIV patients starting antiretroviral drugs had a strain resistant to the most widely-used medicines.

Soft Artificial Hearts

July 20, 2017

(Quartz) – Swiss researchers have come a step closer to building to a better artificial heart. It’s a squishy prototype that’s 3D-printed from silicone. This soft artificial heart also has a chamber that fills up and deflates, mimicking the muscle contractions of a human heart.

Could Cows Be the Vaccine of the Future?

July 20, 2017

(STAT News) – Famously, the word vaccine comes from the Latin word for cow — a namesake that traces back to the late 1700s. Now cows are once again at the cutting edge of vaccine science. Thanks to a quirk of how cows make antibodies, they are helping researchers understand human immunity. Someday, cows could serve as testing grounds for whether vaccines are well-designed. And it’s possible that cow antibodies could treat everything from autoimmunity to infectious disease.

First Double Hand Transplant Involving a Child Declared a Success

July 20, 2017

(The Guardian) – After almost 11 hours of surgery involving four teams of doctors, Zion Harvey had earned his place in medical history. The eight-year-old had become the first child in the world to receive two new hands in a procedure that seemed to herald a revolution in transplant medicine. Two years on, the sports-mad boy from Baltimore, Maryland, is enjoying the freedom and independence his new hands have given him. In the first medical journal report of Zion’s pioneering treatment, published on Wednesday, the experts involved declare the operation a success and say other children could benefit from the knowledge gained.

AI Could Revolutionize War as Much as Nukes

July 20, 2017

(Wired) – In 1899, the world’s most powerful nations signed a treaty at The Hague that banned military use of aircraft, fearing the emerging technology’s destructive power. Five years later the moratorium was allowed to expire, and before long aircraft were helping to enable the slaughter of World War I. “Some technologies are so powerful as to be irresistible,” says Greg Allen, a fellow at the Center for New American Security, a non-partisan Washington DC think tank. “Militaries around the world have essentially come to the same conclusion with respect to artificial intelligence.”

Chile Moves Towards Legalizing Abortion in Limited Cases

July 20, 2017

(BBC) – Senators in Chile have voted in favour of a proposal which would end the country’s total ban on abortions. The measure would allow abortion in cases of rape, if the mother’s life was at risk or if the foetus would not survive the pregnancy. Currently, women can be prosecuted if they have an abortion. The bill, which has the backing of President Michelle Bachelet, will now go back to the Chamber of Deputies for approval.

At Clinicatrials.gov Untested Stem Cell Clinics Advertise for Free!

July 19, 2017

(Wired) – Advocates of the therapy say that’s just the cost of doing cutting-edge medicine. Except, any proof they have that it is effective comes from data collected on patients who pay thousands of dollars for the treatment. Usually people pay money for medicine after there’s proof it works. In the last few years, some of these stem cell clinicians have begun posting large-scale studies on a government-run website called ClinicalTrials.gov, even though they’re often not up to medical research standards or even in compliance with federal regulations. This allows them to masquerade their pay-to-participate studies as legit science.

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