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Updated: 5 hours 34 min ago

Organ Donation: New Technique Can Preserve Human Livers for a Week

January 31, 2020

(The Guardian) – Human livers from organ donors can now be preserved for a week, researchers have revealed, a dramatic improvement on previous techniques, which could only keep the organs usable for a matter of hours. The technology could boost the number of livers available for transplantation and offer new approaches to treating diseases such as liver cancer.

Artificial Intelligence-Created Medicine to Be Used on Humans for First Time

January 30, 2020

(BBC) – A drug molecule “invented” by artificial intelligence (AI) will be used in human trials in a world first for machine learning in medicine. It was created by British start-up Exscientia and Japanese pharmaceutical firm Sumitomo Dainippon Pharma. The drug will be used to treat patients who have obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Typically, drug development takes about five years to get to trial, but the AI drug took just 12 months.

WHO Declares Global Emergency as China Virus Death Toll Reaches 170

January 30, 2020

(Reuters) – The World Health Organization (WHO) said on Thursday it was declaring the coronavirus outbreak that has killed 170 people in China a global emergency, as cases spread to at least 18 countries.  The vast majority of the more than 7,800 cases detected globally, according to the latest WHO data, have been in China, where the virus originated in an illegal wildlife market in the city of Wuhan. But nearly 100 cases have emerged in other countries, spurring cuts to travel, outbreaks of anti-China sentiment in some places and a surge in demand for protective face masks.

Don’t Expect Facebook’s $550 Million Settlement to Stop It from Scanning Your Face

January 30, 2020

(Vox) – Facebook has agreed to pay a $550 million settlement over its use of facial recognition technology nearly a decade ago. This comes just days after a relatively unknown startup selling facial recognition systems to police departments caught the attention of Congress. It seems, after years of civil liberties advocates worrying, facial recognition technology is more powerful and more prevalent than ever. Neither a mammoth new settlement nor the piecemeal legislation nationwide seem suited to stop the takeover.

The Thinking Behind China’s Quarantines…And (Illegal) Village Blockades

January 29, 2020

(NPR) – More than a dozen cities in the Chinese province of Hubei are under official lockdown. And some cities and villages are taking it upon themselves to seal off their communities — even if their actions aren’t legal. It’s all to prevent the spread of a new strain of coronavirus that has killed over 130 people and sickened more than 5,900 in China. What do these measures consist of? And do scientists think they will help contain this rapidly spreading virus? The strictest quarantine is in Wuhan, a city of 11 million that’s the epicenter of the outbreak.

WHO Lauds Chinese Response to Virus, Says World ‘at Important Juncture’

January 29, 2020

(Reuters) – The World Health Organization (WHO) praised China on Wednesday for its efforts to tackle the coronavirus outbreak, but voiced “grave concern” about person-to-person spread in three other countries which led it to summon its Emergency Committee again.  The panel of 16 independent experts will meet behind closed doors on Thursday for the third time in a week to consider whether the epidemic now constitutes a global emergency. 

New Frontier: Transgender Men Yield Eggs, Babies, Even after Testosterone

January 29, 2020

(Medscape) – Transgender men, who were assigned female sex at birth, show a similar response to ovarian stimulation as cisgender women, even after using testosterone, shows the first formal study of its kind in this patient group.  The transgender patients each had an average of 20 eggs retrieved, and all who transferred embryos eventually achieved a successful pregnancy and delivery, “representing the largest cohort of transgender male patients to be described in the literature thus far,” write Nina Resetkova, MD, and colleagues in their article published in Fertility and Sterility.

How AI Is Battling the Coronavirus Outbreak

January 28, 2020

(Vox) – When a mysterious illness first pops up, it can be difficult for governments and public health officials to gather information quickly and coordinate a response. But new artificial intelligence technology can automatically mine through news reports and online content from around the world, helping experts recognize anomalies that could lead to a potential epidemic or, worse, a pandemic. In other words, our new AI overlords might actually help us survive the next plague.

DNA Sleuths Read the Coronavirus Genome, Tracing Its Origins and Looking for Dangerous Mutations

January 28, 2020

(STAT News) – As infectious disease specialists and epidemiologists race to contain the outbreak of the novel coronavirus centered on Wuhan, China, they’re getting backup that’s been possible only since the explosion in genetic technologies: a deep-dive into the genome of the virus known as 2019-nCoV. Analyses of the viral genome are already providing clues to the origins of the outbreak and even possible ways to treat the infection, a need that is becoming more urgent by the day: Early on Saturday in China, health officials reported 15 new fatalities in a single day, bringing the death toll to 41.

It’s Not Perfect, But It’s Hot: Quick Triage from Dr. Bot

January 27, 2020

(Managed Care Magazine) – P?atients who are worried about symptoms in the middle of the night don’t have to run out to an urgent care facility these days or fuss about landing an appointment to see their family doctor in the morning. Now help is available from the nearby smartphone, tablet, or laptop just by opening a “chatbot” in an app or online, entering the symptoms, and getting some idea of what may be wrong. Some of these increasingly sophisticated health apps are triaging their users and advising some people to go to the emergency department, while telling others to “worry not” and stay home. An opportunity for real-time consultation with a physician is often a feature. 

Psychology Still Skews Western and Affluent. Can It Be Fixed?

January 24, 2020

(Undark) – In many cases, other research suggests, the population being studied does matter —often in subtle and profound ways — and Legare is not the first researcher to voice these concerns. Debates about the diversity of psychology subjects reached a peak around 2010, when a widely read paper charged that an overreliance on research from Western, educated, industrialized, rich, and democratic societies — often shortened to the acronym “WEIRD” — amounted to a crisis for the behavioral sciences. At the time, it seemed possible that the field would undergo major reforms.

CDC Report Second U.S. Case of Novel Virus Spreading in China

January 24, 2020

(STAT News) – A second case of the new infection emerging from China has been discovered in the United States — a woman who returned to Chicago from Wuhan on Jan. 13, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday. Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, cautioned that the country will likely see more cases and even some domestic spread from imported cases to contacts as this quickly expanding outbreak continues

Coronavirus: Chinese Hospitals in Chaos as Lockdown Spreads to Affect 33m People

January 24, 2020

(The Guardian) – Hospitals in the Chinese city of Wuhan have been thrown into chaos and the movement of about 33 million people has been restricted by an unprecedented and indefinite lockdown imposed to halt the spread of the deadly new coronavirus. At least 10 cities in central Hubei province have been shut down in an effort to stop the virus, which by Friday had killed 26 people across China and affected more than 800. The World Health Organisation described the outbreak as an emergency for China, but stopped short of declaring it to be a public health emergency of international concern.

People Can Now Be Identified at a Distance by Their Heartbeat

January 23, 2020

(The Economist) – This system, dubbed Jetson, is able to measure, from up to 200 metres away, the minute vibrations induced in clothing by someone’s heartbeat. Since hearts differ in both shape and contraction pattern, the details of heartbeats differ, too. The effect of this on the fabric of garments produces what Ideal Innovations, a firm involved in the Jetson project, calls a “heartprint”—a pattern reckoned sufficiently distinctive to confirm someone’s identity.

The Torturers Wanted to Stop, But the CIA Kept Going

January 23, 2020

(The Atlantic) – A psychologist who helped the CIA torture people told a chilling story this week at the Guantánamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba, where legal cases are proceeding against five defendants accused of murdering almost 3,000 people on September 11, 2001. James Mitchell, one of the architects and practitioners of waterboarding, still defends the interrogation method, which involves strapping human beings to a gurney, covering their nose and mouth with a rag, and forcing water into their nasal cavity and lungs as they squirm. The technique is intended to break people by subjecting them to the primal terror of drowning.

WHO Declines to Declare China Virus Outbreak a Global Health Emergency

January 23, 2020

(STAT News) – The World Health Organization on Thursday declined to designate the ongoing outbreak of a novel virus in China a global health emergency, saying that, for now, health officials are sufficiently equipped to combat the outbreak there and in other countries and that the agency does not need the additional authorities that come from such a declaration.

The Evidence on Travel Bans for Diseases Like Coronavirus Is Clear: They Don’t Work

January 23, 2020

(Vox) – It would be one thing if there were strong evidence that travel bans work. But the trouble is, they don’t appear to be helpful. At best, travel restrictions, and even airport screenings, delay the spread of disease but don’t impact the number of people who eventually get sick. Instead, they make it harder for international aid and experts to reach communities affected by disease. They are also expensive, resource-intensive, and potentially harmful to the economies of cities and countries involved.

An Ethical Future for Brain Organoids Takes Shape

January 23, 2020

(Quanta) – In the popular imagination, fueled by over-the-top descriptions of organoids as “mini-brains,” these questions often center on whether the tissue might become conscious and experience its unnatural existence as torture. The more immediate, realistic concerns that trouble experts are less sensational but still significant. It also doesn’t help that the study of organoids falls into an odd gap between other areas of research, complicating formal ethical oversight. Still, no one wants to see brain organoids’ potential discarded lightly.

Federal Government Backs Ohio on Down Syndrome Abortion Law

January 22, 2020

(ABC News) – The federal government took Ohio’s side Tuesday in a lawsuit over a state law prohibiting doctors from performing abortions based on a fetal diagnosis of Down syndrome. “Nothing in Ohio’s law creates a substantial obstacle to women obtaining an abortion,” the Justice Department said in a filing, “and nothing in the Constitution or Supreme Court precedent requires States to authorize medical providers to participate in abortions the providers know are based on Down syndrome.”

WHO Postpones Decision on Whether to Declare China Outbreak a Global Public Health Emergency

January 22, 2020

(STAT News) – The World Health Organization on Wednesday delayed a decision on whether to declare the ongoing outbreak of a novel virus that originated in China a global health emergency, with the head of the agency saying experts needed more information first. Following a meeting of a WHO emergency committee, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the WHO’s director-general, said he had asked the committee to continue the discussion Thursday.