(Associated Press) – A Dutch appeals court has cleared a man of any criminal responsibility for helping his 99-year-old mother take her own life – a case that aimed to create precedents for assisting suicide in a country where euthanasia already is legal under certain circumstances.
(ABC News) – As U.S. relations with Cuba thaw, one unexpected byproduct could be the introduction of a Cuban-developed lung cancer vaccine in the U.S. Called Cimavax, an innovative vaccine that was developed to help treat lung cancer patients in Cuba, where lung cancer is one of the leading causes of death. The immunotherapy treatment could be coming to the U.S. thanks in part to the Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, New York, which is working with Cuba’s Center for Molecular Immunology to bring the treatment to the U.S.
(Nanowerk) – In what marks a significant step forward for artificial intelligence, researchers at UC Santa Barbara have demonstrated the functionality of a simple artificial neural circuit (Nature, “Training and operation of an integrated neuromorphic network based on metal-oxide memristors”). For the first time, a circuit of about 100 artificial synapses was proved to perform a simple version of a typical human task: image classification.
(Dallas Morning News) – From contraception to colonoscopies, the Obama administration Monday closed a series of insurance loopholes on coverage of preventive care. The department of Health and Human Services said insurers must cover at least one birth control option under each of 18 methods approved by the FDA — without copays. Also, insurers can’t charge patients for anesthesia services in connection with colonoscopies to screen for cancer risk.
(U.S. News & World Report) – Google Inc. revealed Monday that its self-driving cars have been in 11 minor traffic accidents since it began experimenting with the technology six years ago. The company released the number after The Associated Press reported that Google had notified California of three collisions involving its self-driving cars since September, when reporting all accidents became a legal requirement as part of the permits for the tests on public roads.
(Economic Times) – An antibiotic-resistant strain of typhoid bacterium is spreading globally and posing a public health threat, especially in developing countries, a new study has warned. A landmark genomic study, with contributors from over two-dozen countries, shows the current problem of antibiotic resistant typhoid is driven by a single clade, family of bacteria, called H58 that has now spread globally.
(Bloomberg) – The Nazis timed concentration camp inmates as they struggled in the snow to see how long humans could endure the cold. Not much later, in Macon County, Alabama, black men with syphilis were deprived of penicillin when it became available. The U.S. Public Health Service in collaboration with the Tuskegee Institute wished to keep studying the effect of the disease on their brains and bodies. In the “The Ethics Police? The Struggle to Make Human Research Safe,” Robert L. Klitzman describes how outrageous ethical violations of the past led to the creation of mysterious committees to oversee medical experiments on humans today.
Research Ethics (vol. 10, no. 4, 2014) is available online by subscription only.
- “Does science need bioethicists? Ethics and science collaboration in biomedical research” by Angeliki Kerasidou and Michael Parker
- “Science review in research ethics in committees: Double jeopardy?” by Stephen Humphreys, Hilary Thomas, and Robyn Martin
- “Ethical dilemmas in research in relation to ethical review: An empirical study” by Gunnel Colnerud
Public Health Ethics (vol. 8, no. 1, 2015) is available online by subscription only.
- “Public health: Beyond the role of the state” by Angus Dawson and Marcel Verweij
- “Relational liberty revisited: Membership, solidarity and a public health ethics of place” by Bruce Jennings
- “Paying people to act in their own interests: Incentives versus rationalization in public health” by Jonathan Wolff
- “Luck egalitarianism, social determinants and pubic health initiatives” by Moti Gorin and Harald Schmidt
(New York Times) – Three years ago, Dr. Doudna, a biochemist at the University of California, Berkeley, helped make one of the most monumental discoveries in biology: a relatively easy way to alter any organism’s DNA, just as a computer user can edit a word in a document. The discovery has turned Dr. Doudna (the first syllable rhymes with loud) into a celebrity of sorts, the recipient of numerous accolades and prizes.
(Science Daily) – Scientists have discovered a way to regrow bone tissue using the protein signals produced by stem cells. This technology could help treat victims who have experienced major trauma to a limb, like soldiers wounded in combat or casualties of a natural disaster. The new method improves on older therapies by providing a sustainable source for fresh tissue and reducing the risk of tumor formation that can arise with stem cell transplants.
(Medical Xpress) – Fixed-dose drug combinations (FDCs) which have not received central regulatory approval are sold in substantial numbers in India—despite concerns over the safety and efficacy of these combinations—according to new research led by Queen Mary University of London and published in PLOS Medicine. FDCs include two or more active pharmaceutical ingredients combined in a single dosage form. They are used as effective treatments for many conditions, including Parkinson’s disease, HIV, malaria and tuberculosis.
(Eurekalert) – Cells dying as the result of radiation exposure or chemotherapy can send a warning to nearby stem cells. The chemical signal allows the stem cells to escape the same fate, University of Washington researchers report in the May 11 issue of the journal Nature Communications.
(U.S. News & World Report) – The Obama administration on Monday took an aggressive stance defending access to contraception, saying President Barack Obama’s health care law requires insurance companies to cover every type of birth control approved by the Food and Drug Administration without patients having to shell out a copay or deductible.
(Medscape) – This study has shown that a lower dose of mifepristone (200 mg, as opposed to the approved 600-mg dose) with buccal administration of misoprostol is effective up until 63 days of gestation. When pregnancies at 43-49 days are used as the reference group, the efficacy of the intervention decreases as gestational age increases—but in absolute numbers, the failure rate and need for aspiration remain very low.
(Eurekalert) – Even with the best available treatments, the median survival of patients with metastatic, hormone-refractory prostate cancer is only two to three years. Driven by the need for more effective therapies for these patients, researchers at VCU Massey Cancer Center and the VCU Institute of Molecular Medicine (VIMM) have developed a unique approach that uses microscopic gas bubbles to deliver directly to the cancer a viral gene therapy in combination with an experimental drug that targets a specific gene driving the cancer’s growth.
(Medical Xpress) – The United States has a serious shortage of organs for transplants, resulting in unnecessary deaths every day. However, a fairly simple and ethical change in policy would greatly expand the nation’s organ pool while respecting autonomy, choice, and vulnerability of a deceased’s family or authorized caregiver, according to medical ethicists and an emergency physician at NYU Langone Medical Center.
(Nanotechnology Now) – An international team of scientists, including Professor Monica Craciun from the University of Exeter, have pioneered a new technique to embed transparent, flexible graphene electrodes into fibres commonly associated with the textile industry. The discovery could revolutionise the creation of wearable electronic devices, such as clothing containing computers, phones and MP3 players, which are lightweight, durable and easily transportable.
The Journal of Law, Medicine, & Ethics (vol. 43, no. 1, 2015) is available online by subscription only. Articles include:
- “Free speech and the regulation of reproductive health” by Wendy Parmet
- “Abortion and compelled physician speech” by David Orentlicher
- “Informed decision making and abortion: Crisis pregnancy centers, informed consent, and the First Amendment” by Aziza Ahmed
- “When States regulate emergency contraceptives like abortion, what should guide disclosure?” by Cameron O’Brien Flynn and Robin Fretwell Wilson
Christian Bioethics (vol. 21, no. 1, 2015) is available online by subscription only. Articles include:
- “A new theological framework for Roman Catholic Bioethics: Pope Francis makes a significant change in the moral framework for bioethics” by H. Tristram Engelhardt Jr
- “Pope Francis and Abortion” by Christopher Tollefsen
- “Pope Francis’ potential impact on American bioethics” by John A. Gallagher