(Bloomberg) – Dealmakers have always flipped companies. Lately, they’ve been flipping something else: aging pharmaceuticals. Take Actimmune, developed by Genentech Inc. decades ago. By 2012, sales were fizzling. Then rights to the immune-disorder treatment were acquired by a company backed by private equity. The price climbed, 434 percent in two years, and Actimmune was a hot property. Horizon Pharma Plc snapped it up.
(Vox) – Prescription opioid misuse among pregnant women poses especially difficult issues given the complex medical challenges of addiction treatment and pain management during pregnancy, the possibility of harm to the developing fetus, and the unique legal and ethical sensitivities arising in any potentially coercive intervention involving pregnant women. The prevalence of such disorders among pregnant women appears to have also increased by roughly a factor of four since 1999.
(UPI) – Gene therapy shows promise in treating a genetic skin disease that causes blistering, according to researchers. In the early stage clinical trial, researchers from the Stanford University School of Medicine tested the therapy on four adults with recessive dystrophic epidermolysis bullosa. People with this skin condition aren’t able to produce a protein that binds the upper and lower levels of skin together. At the slightest friction, these layers slide and create blisters. In the worst cases, death occurs in infancy, the researchers said.
(The Guardian) – Stem cells obtained from patients with schizophrenia carry a genetic mutation that alters the ratio of the different type of nerve cells they produce, according to a new study by researchers in Japan. The findings, published today in the journal Translational Psychiatry, suggest that abnormal neural differentiation may contribute to the disease, such that fewer neurons and more non-neuronal cells are generated during the earliest stages of brain development.
Human Reproduction (vol. 31, no. 11, 2016) is available online by subscription only.
- “Disclosure of Donor Conception in the Era of Non-Anonymity: Safeguarding and Promoting the Interests of Donor-Conceived Endividuals?” by Sophie Zadeh
Nature Biotechnology (vol. 34, no. 10, 2016) is available online by subscription only.
- “Synthetic biology firms pivot from biofuels to cheap biologics” by Cormac Sheridan
Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine (vol. 109, no. 10, 2016) is available online by subscription only.
- “The Revised Declaration of Helsinki: Cosmetic Changes Do Not Protect Participants in Poor Countries” by Fernando Hellmann, Marta Verdi, Bruno Schlemper Júnior, and Volnei Garrafa
European Journal of Human Genetics (vol. 24, no. 11, 2016) is available online by subscription only.
- “Return of Individual Genomic Research Results: What Do Consent Forms Tell Participants?” by Stacey Pereira, Jill Oliver Robinson, and Amy L McGuire
- “Consent for Newborn Screening: Parents’ and Health-Care Professionals’ Experiences of Consent in Practice” by Holly Etchegary, Stuart G Nicholls, Laure Tessier, Charlene Simmonds, Beth K Potter, Jamie C Brehaut, Daryl Pullman, Robyn Hayeems, Sari Zelenietz, Monica Lamoureux, Jennifer Milburn, Lesley Turner, Pranesh Chakraborty, and Brenda Wilson
- “Prenatal Testing in Huntington Disease: After the Test, Choices Recommence” by Hanane Bouchghoul, Stéphane-Françoise Clément, Danièle Vauthier, Cécile Cazeneuve, Sandrine Noel, Marc Dommergues, Delphine Héron, Jacky Nizard, Marcela Gargiulo, and Alexandra Durr
- “Legal Approaches Regarding Health-Care Decisions Involving Minors: Implications for Next-Generation Sequencing” by Karine Sénécal, Kristof Thys, Danya F Vears, Kristof Van Assche, Bartha M Knoppers, and Pascal Borry
The Journal of Rural Health (vol. 32, no. 4, 2016) is available online by subscription only.
- “Rural-Urban Differences in Costs of End-of-Life Care for Elderly Cancer Patients in the United States” by Hongmei Wang, Fang Qiu, Eugene Boilesen, Preethy Nayar, Lina Lander, Kate Watkins, and Shinobu Watanabe-Galloway
- “Overcoming Barriers to Sustained Engagement in Mental Health Care: Perspectives of Rural Veterans and Providers” by Ellen P. Fischer, Jean C. McSweeney, Patricia Wright, Ann Cheney, Geoffrey M. Curran, Kathy Henderson, and John C. Fortney
(New Scientist) – The latest warning that medical research is barking up the wrong tree comes from Joseph Garner of Stanford University in California (see “Lab mice are sending us on a wild goose chase“). Garner is interested in why so few new drugs that get into clinical trials actually make it to market, and says that one important contributor is animal models that do not genuinely model human disease. For example, drug research on cognitive conditions relies heavily on animals that have been genetically manipulated into displaying characteristics that are Parkinson’s-like, OCD-like, anxiety-like, autism-like – you name it, there’s probably a mouse, or a primate, for it.
(CNN) – The police first suspected the drug was heroin. However, it turned out to be a drug they’d never seen before — a synthetic opioid called U-47700 — known to some as “pink” or “pinky.” While nearly eight times stronger than morphine, it’s still legal in most states including Michigan. “We knew there was heroin in Michigan, we knew there was carfentanil that could potentially come here, but this is new to us,” White Lake Police Chief Adam Kline told CNN.
(Nature) – As a human-genetics researcher, I analyse the DNA of thousands of anonymous strangers. Earlier this year, I got to experience the other side of a consent form — and was left disappointed. When another research group asked me to donate my own genetic material for their whole-genome sequencing project, I asked in exchange for access to my raw data — to explore, to play with and just to have on file. Not surprisingly, my request was refused: the status quo for biomedical and genetic studies is not to return individual-level data to participants.
(The Telegraph) – Prescribing anti-psychotic medication to violent criminals when they leave prison could prevent around 1,500 serious crimes in Britain each year, a new study suggests. Although medicating prisoners on their release is controversial, the University of Oxford believes that it could dramatically cut the risk of violent offending. Researchers studied 22,275 prisoners who were released from jails in Sweden between 2005 and 2010, some of whom were prescribed drugs.
(Kaiser Health News) – Federal regulators said 12 U.S. hospitals, including well-known medical centers in Los Angeles, Boston and New York, failed to promptly report patient deaths or injuries linked to medical devices. The Food and Drug Administration publicly disclosed the violations in inspection reports this week amid growing scrutiny of its ability to identify device-related dangers and protect patients from harm.
(Reuters) – Although many limitations remain, innovative dispensing efforts in some states, restricted access to surgical abortions in others and greater awareness boosted medication abortions to 43 percent of pregnancy terminations at Planned Parenthood clinics, the nation’s single largest provider, in 2014, up from 35 percent in 2010, according to previously unreported figures from the nonprofit.
(Medical Xpress) – Today, healthcare is portrayed as standing at a crossroads. Precision medicine (also referred to as genomic, personal or individualized medicine) is expected to revolutionize future healthcare. Fundamentally, the promise of precision medicine is that an individual’s genetic information will increasingly be used to prioritize access to health care. This model contrasts with the “one-size-fits-all” approach of today, in which disease treatment and prevention strategies are developed for the average person, with less consideration for the differences between individuals. Advances in genomic and clinical science have created innovative opportunities to further tailor health care to each patient, allowing providers to create optimized care plans at every stage of a disease, shifting the focus from reactive to preventive health care.
(Australia Broadcasting Co) – A stem cell treatment which has successfully restored some movement in quadriplegics’ arms and hands will soon be available in Australia if a US company has its way. The chief medical officer of Asterias Biotherapeutics, Dr Edward Wirth, told delegates attending the NSW Stem Cell Network conference in Sydney his company had seen a recovery in arm and hand function in patients paralysed from the neck down after stem cells were injected into their spinal cords.
(Eurekalert) – From HIV to Malaria to Ebola, health and medical research with human participants in Africa — and the ethical evaluation of that research — has long been conducted by non-African scholars, a circumstance that can present its own ethical challenges. For over a decade, the Fogarty International Center (FIC) at the US National Institutes of Health has funded programs to strengthen capacity among African professionals to provide high quality ethics review of research and conduct their own bioethics research and teaching, leading to significant gains across the continent, according to a study published in BMJ Open.
Science, Technology and Society (Vol. 31, No. 1, 2016) is available online by subscription only.
- “Science Fiction as Critique of Science: Organ Transplantation and the Body” by Brittany Anne Chozinski
- “Do Cyborgs Desire Their Own Subjection? Thinking Anthropology With Cinematic Science Fiction” by Jessica Dickson
JAMA (vol. 316, no. 13, 2016) is available online by subscription only.
- “What Happens When Underperforming Big Ideas in Research Become Entrenched? by Michael J. Joyner, Nigel Paneth, and John P. A. Ioannidis
- “Will Precision Medicine Improve Population Health?” by Muin J. Khoury and Sandro Galea