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The Prozac in America’s Wastewater Is Making Birds Fat and Shrimp Reckless

July 17, 2015

(Quartz) – A 2014 US Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report found that, between 2009 and 2012, 9% of Americans were using a prescription antidepressant at least once a month. Now, a sizable bunch of birds are too. New research has found that Prozac, one of the most commonly prescribed antidepressants, can “significantly alter the behavior and physiology” of some bird species, The Guardian reports.

Ebola Casts a Shadow over Maternal Health in Sierra Leone

July 17, 2015

(The Guardian) – At the health post in Komrabai Station, a village in central Sierra Leone, a rickety birthing table stands in a dingy, damp room. The walls are covered in grime and blood. There’s barely any equipment or drugs to perform a safe delivery. When Ebola struck the west African country last May, such places became amplifiers of the epidemic and were soon associated with the disease, pushing pregnant women back to traditional and more dangerous birthing practices.

What You Really Need to Know about Egg Freezing

July 17, 2015

(Time) – Egg freezing has been hailed as a game-changer for women, an “insurance policy” to revitalize waning fertility, a breakthrough as revolutionary as the birth control pill. But how well does it really work? In this week’s issue of the magazine, we took a deep dive into the promises and pitfalls of egg-freezing. If you’re reading this, you probably already know all the facts about how egg quality and quantity deteriorate with age, which is why some women consider freezing their eggs until they’re ready to use them.

Toddler Receives 3-D Printed Implant after Head Swells to Three Times Normal Size

July 17, 2015

(ABC News) – A Chinese toddler was reportedly helped when doctors used a 3-D printed titanium implant to reshape her skull after a rare birth defect left her head triple its normal size. Named Hanhan, according to Reuters and Getty Images, the girl underwent surgery to treat congenital hydrocephalus, a condition where fluid builds up around the brain. Doctors worked on Hanhan at the People’s Hospital of Hunan Province, according to Getty.

A Thai Surrogacy Case, with a 6-Month-Old Girl Caught in the Middle

July 17, 2015

(NPR) – “We need two things to leave,” says Lake. “One thing would be [Carmen’s] passport. The second would be paperwork to get through immigration. And that requires special paperwork to let a baby leave the country.” They were close to getting it. The surrogate who gave birth to Carmen signed a consent form that allowed Lake to take her from the hospital and put his name on the birth certificate. But the woman failed to show up at the last meeting at the U.S. Embassy to sign that last bit of paper.

Move to Overturn UK Assisted Suicide Law Fails

July 17, 2015

(The Guardian) – An attempt to overturn the UK law on assisted suicide and voluntary euthanasia by appealing to the European court of human rights has failed. The Strasbourg court has rejected as inadmissable applications by Jane Nicklinson, whose husband Tony suffered from locked-in syndrome, and Paul Lamb, who was paralysed following a car crash.

Tiny Brain Clumps Offer New Clues into the Cause of Autism

July 17, 2015

(MIT Technology Review) – By turning stem cells taken from autistic patients into tiny “organoids” that closely resemble the brains of human embryos, researchers have gleaned potentially valuable insights into what may go wrong during brain development in people with autism. The work, published today, illustrates the value of using three-dimensional brain structures, which re-create natural conditions more accurately than traditional two-dimensional cell cultures, to investigate the physical basis of poorly understood brain disorders.

California, Oregon First to Allow Birth Control Pills without Prescription

July 17, 2015

(PBS) – California and Oregon will be the first states in the nation to allow women to get birth control pills and other hormonal contraceptives directly from their pharmacists — without a doctor’s prescription. As California officials were busy finalizing regulations on a state law passed in 2013, Oregon’s governor Kate Brown signed a similar bill into law last week.

Vision-Restoring Gene Therapy May Also Improve Visual Pathway in the Brain

July 17, 2015

(Medical Daily) – Researchers from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania and The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) examined patients who received gene therapy for LCA, and compared them to an age-matched control group with normal vision. The patients who had received therapy on got the treatment in one eye for safety reasons, therefore providing a side-by-side comparison of unaffected and affected sides of the brain.

First Robust Genetic Links to Depression Emerge

July 16, 2015

(Nature) – Flint has proved himself wrong. In Nature this week, his team reports2 the first two genetic markers reproducibly linked to major depressive disorder, one of the leading causes of disability globally. The findings could guide biologists to new drugs, and could one day be used to aid diagnosis. But many in the field are excited that the markers have been unearthed at all. The results look set to end years of debate over whether sequences for such a complex disorder could be found — and Flint’s study may serve as a framework for future attempts to collect data from tens of thousands of people.

States Make Laws to Protect Patients from Hidden Medical Bills

July 16, 2015

(NPR) – It’s a situation that occurs all too often: Someone goes to the emergency room and doesn’t learn until he gets a hefty bill that one of the doctors who treated him wasn’t in his insurance network. Or a diligent consumer checks before scheduling surgery to make sure that the hospital she plans to use and the doctors who will perform the operation are all in her network. Then she learns later that an assistant surgeon she didn’t know — and who wasn’t in her network — scrubbed in on her operation, and charged her for it.

Ancestry Moves Further into Consumer Genetics

July 16, 2015

(MIT Technology Review) – With the Thursday launch of its AncestryHealth website, Ancestry continues to play Microsoft to 23andMe’s Apple. It may not be as innovative in the burgeoning field of consumer genetics, but it’s an able competitor nonetheless. Ancestry entered the field of consumer DNA analysis in 2012 with the launch of AncestryDNA, a $99 spit test that will analyze your DNA for details about your ethnic makeup and connect you with distant relatives. This was five years after 23andMe began to offer similar DNA-testing kits.

South Korean Scientist at Center of Mammoth Cell Clone Dispute

July 16, 2015

(UPI) – Controversial South Korean stem cell scientist Hwang Woo-suk is at the center of another dispute, this time involving the cloning of mammoths. Hwang, who successfully cloned an Afghan hound in 2005, had sought the help of another South Korean scientist, Park Se-pil of Jeju National University, on a project that involved replicating preserved mammoth cells found in Siberia, Yonhap reported on Wednesday.

Genetic Testing Is Taking Medicine to an All New Extreme

July 16, 2015

(Business Insider) – Preventing disease is a standard goal of medicine. But a new technology takes it farther than we normally do by preventing a potential person with a genetic disease from being born at all, George Annas, a bioethicist and health lawyer at Boston University and author of “Genomic Messages,” tells Business Insider. “It’s an extreme,” Annas says.

The Planned Parenthood Controversy over Aborted Fetus Body Parts, Explained

July 16, 2015

(Vox) – A new sting video from an anti-abortion group shows a Planned Parenthood executive discussing how the organization provides fetal organs and tissues to researchers. But it also opens a debate that split bioethicists decades ago: Is it ethical to use the remains of aborted fetuses for medical research?

Researchers Create Model of Early Human Heart Development from Stem Cells

July 16, 2015

(Medical Xpress) – Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, in collaboration with scientists at the Gladstone Institutes, have developed a template for growing beating cardiac tissue from stem cells, creating a system that could serve as a model for early heart development and a drug-screening tool to make pregnancies safer. In experiments to be published Tuesday, July 14, in the journal Nature Communications, the researchers used biochemical and biophysical cues to prompt stem cells to differentiate and self-organize into micron-scale cardiac tissue, including microchambers.

Divorced Couple’s Embryo Feud Could Affect How Fertility Clinics Do Business

July 16, 2015

(ABC News) – A divorced couple’s battle for control over their frozen embryos could affect how fertility clinics approach freezing embryos, experts said of the precedents the case may set. Mimi Lee and Stephen Findley had their fertilized embryos frozen after Lee was diagnosed with cancer because the treatment would make her infertile, according to the lawsuit obtained by ABC News. That was shortly before they were married. However, five years later, the couple is now divorced and Lee wants to use the embryos to have a child over the objections of her former husband, the lawsuit states.

Lessons Must Be Learned after Psychology Torture Inquiry

July 15, 2015

(Nature) – In 1917, when the field of psychology was young and struggling to gain acceptance in science, the American Psychological Association (APA) needed a friend. Like many at the time, it decided to assist the war effort by working with the US military. The collaboration was largely benign: efforts to assess which recruits were fit to be soldiers led to the first formal study of variation in human intelligence. Later, psychologists studied the effects of war on soldiers returning home, fuelling the case for making the First World War “the war to end all wars”.

Stem Cell Treatments for Mitochondrial Disease May Be Possible

July 15, 2015

(Los Angeles Times) – Doctors have limited options for treating mitochondrial disease, but a team led by a prominent innovator may have taken an important step toward developing new therapies: rewinding diseased cells from patients to create pluripotent stem cells with healthy mitochondrial DNA. Cells like these, which potentially could be reprogrammed to develop into a variety of different cell types, could someday be the basis for individualized transplant therapies that could counteract some of the severe impairments mitochondrial disease inflicts, including cardiac, vision and neurological woes.

Chemists Develop Novel Drug to Fight Malaria

July 15, 2015

(Medical Xpress) – An international team of scientists—led by researchers from the University of Washington and two other institutions—has announced that a new compound to fight malaria is ready for human trials. In a new paper published July 15 in Science Translational Medicine, they show that this compound is the first to cripple a critical protein that the malaria parasite needs to survive at different stages of its complex life cycle, and is suitable for clinical tests in humans.

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