(BBC) – Draft laws aimed at boosting the birth rate in Iran reduce women to “baby-making machines”, the rights group Amnesty International warns. One proposal outlaws voluntary sterilisation and promoting birth control, while another makes it harder for women without babies to get jobs. Amnesty says the two laws would set women’s rights in Iran back by decades.
(Medical Xpress) – Their analysis of media coverage showed that most news reports were highly optimistic about the future of stem cell therapies and forecasted unrealistic timelines for clinical use. The study, published in the latest issue of Science Translational Medicine, examined 307 news reports covering translational stem cell research in major daily newspapers in Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom between 2010 and 2013.
(The Atlantic) – As medical technology becomes more advanced, it also becomes more difficult for doctors to discern the line between life and death. PET scans, which have been widely used since the 1990s, are a good example. Rather than solely showing body anatomy like an MRI or CT scan would, a PET scan can actually detect cellular activity in tissues. In a study published last year in The Lancet, 13 out of 41 patients in a persistent vegetative state showed detectable brain activity on PET scans, results that the investigators thought were consistent with “minimal consciousness.”
(People) – A Pennsylvania judge is set to make a final decision Wednesday on whether Sherri Shepherd is the legal mother of a 7-month-old baby born via surrogate last August. “We believe it’s in this child’s best interest to have two legal parents, and those parents are the people who brought about his conception, Lamar Sally and Sherri Shepherd,” Sally’s lawyer, Tiffany Palmer, tells PEOPLE.
(Vox) – This virus turned up in West Africa for the first time ever, and changed people’s lives forever. We have been collecting stories, focusing in particular on those who are living and working at the epicenter of the epidemic in Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia. Check back regularly for new narratives. And if you have a story of your own to tell, contact us.
(Medical Xpress) – Identifying loss of dignity and lack of respectful treatment as preventable harms in health care, researchers at Johns Hopkins have taken on the ambitious task of defining and ensuring respectful care in the high-stakes environment of the intensive care unit (ICU). Their novel, multi-method approach is presented in a dedicated supplement to the journal Narrative Inquiry in Bioethics.
(Time) – The biggest news at Monday’s Apple event was the launch of the much anticipated Apple Watch. But the company also announced a new type of software — ResearchKit — that it says will help medical researchers collect health data directly from patients via their various iDevices. ResearchKit is a software “framework” that hospitals and other health care organizations can use to create diagnostic applications, said Jeff Williams, Apple’s senior VP of operations, at the watch event.
(Scientific American) – Researchers at the Charles Stark Draper Laboratory in Cambridge, Mass., are now testing a tiny polymer matrix that can be loaded with chemical compounds used to treat inner-ear diseases. Whether blended with an existing but limited treatment such as the anesthetic Lidocaine or some as-yet-undiscovered drug, the polymer would be injected into the middle ear and remotely triggered to release its payload into the cochlea, the fluid-filled tubular organ in the inner ear that enables us to hear.
(SciDevNet) – Survivors of human trafficking in South-East Asia require better access to health services, especially related to mental health, a study says. The study, which surveyed more than 1,000 victims of forced labour, found that about half had experienced physical violence or sexual abuse as a result of trafficking. In addition, more than 60 per cent reported symptoms of depression, 40 per cent were diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and five per cent said they had attempted suicide in the previous month, it found.
(Wired) – With a new product called RateRx, Ron Gutman, CEO of the digital health startup HealthTap, aims to take on this lack of transparency. RateRx will let doctors from all over the world rate the effectiveness of certain medications for certain ailments. They’ll also be able to leave comments about those drugs and rate other doctors’ answers. From that data, patients will be able to surface the best answers to make informed choices about the drugs they take.
(CNN) – A Connecticut 17-year-old who was forced to undergo nearly six months of chemotherapy to treat Hodgkin lymphoma is in remission, her attorney said Monday. “Cassandra C.,” as she is identified in court papers, was diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma in September. Medical experts gave her an 85% chance of survival if treated with chemotherapy. Without it, doctors said at the time, she was likely to die within two years.
(Eurekalert) – A new technique for creating artificial DNA that is faster, more accurate and more flexible than existing methods has been developed by scientists at Imperial College London. The new system – called BASIC – is a major advance for the field of synthetic biology, which designs and builds organisms able to make useful products such as medicines, energy, food, materials and chemicals.
(KGOU) – The House overwhelmingly passed legislation Monday designed to prevent embryonic stem cell research in Oklahoma. The measure by state Rep. Dan Fisher would make it a felony crime to perform embryonic stem cell research. “Presently, the embryos are destroyed in the process of trying to extract these stem cells, and therefore that’s what this bill is attempting to prevent,” Fisher said on the House floor.
(Medical Daily) – A possible “functional cure” for HIV has recently been granted FDA approval for further human testing. The method uses genetic modification to cause a specific mutation in the white blood cells of HIV patients which mirrors those found in the naturally immune. It has so far shown to be both receptive and long-lasting. The novel therapy involves taking stem cells from HIV-infected patients and using a gene editing tool to cause them to form into white blood cells with a specific mutation.
(Medical News Today) – Drug development is a costly and lengthy business, not helped by the fact there is a high failure rate in drug testing due to the reliance on animal models. Animal biology is not an ideal substitute for human biology, but until something better comes along, it is all we have. Now, a new study suggests the organ-on-a-chip method may offer a more ideal model.
(Nature) – Mediators appointed to analyse the rifts within Europe’s ambitious €1-billion (US$1.1-billion) Human Brain Project (HBP) have called for far-reaching changes both in its governance and its scientific programmes. Most significantly, the report recommends that systems neuroscience and cognitive neuroscience should be reinstated into the HBP. The mediation committee, led by engineer Wolfgang Marquardt, director of Germany’s national Jülich Research Centre, sent its final report to the HBP board of directors on 9 March, and issued a press release summarizing its findings.
(Medical Xpress) – International researchers together with local scientists have created a theoretical model to help nurses become less susceptible to stress. The International Collaboration on Workforce Resilience, initiated by Curtin University, identifies the psychological factors that influence nurses’ stress and will help develop ways to build resilience in employees who might need assistance.
(Associated Press) – Prescription drugs spending jumped 13 percent last year, the biggest annual increase since 2003, according to the nation’s largest pharmacy benefits manager. Express Scripts Holding Co. said Tuesday that the jump was fueled in part by pricey specialty drugs that accounted for more than 31 cents of every dollar spent on prescriptions even though they represented only 1 percent of all U.S. prescriptions filled.
(Medical Xpress) – A new study reveals an important connection between dozens of genes that may contribute to autism, a major step toward understanding how brain development goes awry in some individuals with the disorder. The research shows that CHD8, a gene that is strongly linked to autism, acts as a master regulator in the developing human brain and controls the expression of many other genes. Many of the genes it targets have also been implicated in the disorder, the researchers found.
(UPI) – The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday said a lower court of appeals should review the University of Notre Dame’s compliance with contraceptive regulation coverage under the Affordable Care Act. Notre Dame will argue that under Obamacare, it is being forced to violate its religious beliefs by facilitating abortion and that an insurer should not be allowed to provide contraceptive coverage through the school’s health plan.