(Nursing Times) – Multiple sclerosis (MS) affects nerves in the brain and spinal cord, causing problems with muscle movement, balance and vision. It’s an autoimmune disease, where the body’s immune system attacks its own nerve cells. There is currently no cure, but many different treatments are available to help with symptoms. This study was mainly about relapsing remitting MS, the most common type, where people have distinct attacks of symptoms, which then fade away either partially or completely.
(The Guardian) – Thousands of infertile couples could benefit from a new test that tailors the timing of IVF treatment to a woman’s individual cycle for the first time. The scientists behind the technique believe that IVF frequently fails because the embryo is transferred at the wrong time, missing a crucial fertility window. The scientists behind the technique believe that IVF frequently fails because the embryo is transferred at the wrong time, missing a crucial fertility window.
(Pew Charitable Trusts) – The advocacy group Compassion & Choices says that bills on aid-in-dying have been introduced this year in Alaska, California, Colorado, Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, Massachusetts, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, Oklahoma, Wisconsin, Wyoming and Utah. Court cases have surfaced in New York and California.
(ABC.net) – Our knowledge of human biology – in particular of genetics and neurobiology – is beginning to enable us to directly affect the biological or physiological bases of human motivation, either through drugs, or through genetic selection or engineering, or by using external devices that affect the brain or the learning process. We could use these techniques to overcome the moral and psychological shortcomings that imperil the human species. We are at the early stages of such research, but there are few cogent philosophical or moral objections to the use of specifically biomedical moral enhancement – or moral bioenhancement.
(The Epoch Times) – The Italian Senate has approved a bill that would introduce harsh penalties against individuals who knowingly traffic in human organs. In their discussion of the proposal before the vote, senators focused their outrage on China’s organ transplantation system, which they said has lead to the organized murder of tens of thousands of innocents.
(Physorg) – Light long has been used to treat cancer. But phototherapy is only effective where light easily can reach, limiting its use to cancers of the skin and in areas accessible with an endoscope, such as the gastrointestinal tract. Using a mouse model of cancer, researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have devised a way to apply light-based therapy to deep tissues never before accessible. Instead of shining an outside light, they delivered light directly to tumor cells, along with a photosensitive source of free radicals that can be activated by the light to destroy cancer. And they accomplished this using materials already approved for use in cancer patients.
(Nanotechnology Now) – Hansman’s research team recently discovered that a “nanobody” called Nano-85 was able to bind to intact norovirus-like particles (VLPs) in culture. Nanobodies are very similar to antibodies, which recognize and bind to antigens. “However, nanobodies are much smaller, more stable, easier to produce, and cost-effective than traditional monoclonal antibodies,” says Hansman. Interestingly, Nano-85 was able to recognize the VLPs from a variety of different norovirus strains.
(The Guardian) – Childbirth deaths around the world are down by half in recent years – and by building strong demand from citizens in countries like mine where women are most at risk, I have seen how we can bring the death rates down still further, and rapidly. I live in the rural area of Kabale in south-west Uganda. I am a mother and work in the local radio station, Voice of Kigezi. A year ago, I became one of six volunteer citizen reporters with the White Ribbon Alliance, which is holding our government accountable for its promises to women’s health.
(CBC) – Quebec is slowly but surely moving toward officially recognizing contracts drawn up between surrogate mothers and couples looking to conceive. If it happens, it could mean the dawning of a small revolution in family law in the province. Currently, contracts drawn up between couples and surrogates have no legal value. Nothing prevents either of the parties from changing their minds at any point in the process, without suffering any consequences.
(Genome Web) – Researchers from Harvard University have leveraged the Cas9 protein to activate genes, causing them to activate transcription to express or repress desired genetic traits. By fusing the Cas9 nuclease to a hybrid triple-strength transcription factor, the scientists from the Wyss Institute at Harvard University and Harvard Medical School further were able to manipulate multiple genes to control expression, they reported in a paper published this week in Nature Methods.
Doctors Who Refuse to Provide Services on Moral Grounds Could Face Discipline under New Ontario Policy
(National Post) – Doctors who refuse to prescribe birth control or other medical services because of their personal values could face possible disciplinary actions, Canada’s largest medical regulator says. Moral or religious convictions of a doctor cannot impede a patient’s access to care, the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario said Friday in a 21-3 vote supporting an updated Professional and Human Rights policy.
(ABC News) – West Virginia lawmakers have overridden the governor’s veto on a bill that prohibits abortion after 20 weeks. Democratic Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin vetoed the bill Tuesday, citing constitutionality concerns. The Republican Legislature passed it overwhelmingly this year and the veto was easily overridden. The ban provides some exemptions for women in medical emergencies, but not for rape and incest.
(BioEdge) – The majority of Canada’s palliative care specialists don’t want to participate in assisted suicide, according to a survey recently conducted by the country’s Society of Palliative Care Physicians (CSPCP). The survey – discussed in the latest edition of the Canadian Medical Association Journal – revealed that only 25% of CSPCP members would be open to helping patients end their lives.
(UT Austin) – Scientists have discovered a new way to manipulate how cells function, a finding that might help advance an experimental approach to improving public health: DNA vaccines, which could be more efficient, less expensive and easier to store than traditional vaccines. Their approach, based on research results published this week in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, improves upon an existing laboratory technique, transfection, widely used to study how cells and viruses work.
(Bioscience Technology) – UCLA stem cell researchers have shown that a novel stem cell gene therapy method could lead to a one-time, lasting treatment for sickle cell disease — the nation’s most common inherited blood disorder. Published March 2 in the journal Blood, the study led by Dr. Donald Kohn of the UCLA Eli and Edythe Broad Center for Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research outlines a method that corrects the mutated gene that causes sickle cell disease and shows, for the first time, that the gene correction method leads to the production of normal red blood cells.
(Medical Xpress) – Author and surgeon Atul Gawande, MD, MPH, described how witnessing the untimely and inevitable passing of patients, friends and his father revealed to him the shortcomings of the American medical system’s and society’s approach to dying. “I learned about a lot of things in medical school, but mortality wasn’t one of them,” he said, addressing an overflow crowd March 2 in Berg Hall, at the Li Ka Shing Center for Learning and Knowledge.
(The Guardian) – British patients will be the first in the world to receive a pioneering cell therapy that scientists hope will transform the treatment of lung cancer. The treatment uses stem cells taken from bone marrow that have been genetically modified to find and destroy cancer cells. If successful, the treatment would offer hope to lung cancer patients, who continue to face one of the worst outlooks of all cancer patients. More than 40,000 people are diagnosed with the disease in the UK each year and only 5% of patients survive beyond 10 years.
(Medscape) – In addition to age, ovarian reserve can be tested by multiple laboratory markers. Commonly, estradiol and follicle-stimulating hormone levels are measured at the beginning of the cycle, but early-cycle estradiol alone, inhibin B, and anti-Müllerian hormone (AMH) can also be used. There are dynamic tests that evaluate hormonal changes in response to clomiphene, gonadotropin-releasing hormone agonist, or gonadotropin. Ultrasound evaluation of the antral follicle count, ovarian volume, or Doppler indices can also be used. Finally, the combination of these tests may provide an even better estimate of the size of the follicle pool.
(Washington Post) – Young is among seven patients at UCLA who were infected with a hard-to-treat “superbug” that hospital officials traced to two specialized scopes that they said were contaminated despite being thoroughly cleaned. Two of the patients later died, and scores more were potentially exposed. After the incident became public, the Food and Drug Administration warned that the devices, called duodenoscopes, can be difficult to sanitize and “may facilitate the spread of deadly bacteria.”
(Medical Xpress) – In a new book published this week, Murderous Contagion, the historian of medicine Mary Dobson examines 30 of the biggest killers in the history of humankind, from scourges like the Black Death of the 14th century, to modern epidemics such as HIV/AIDS, and the still-developing Ebola crisis. Rather than simply focusing on the gruesome history of disease itself, however, or the often agonising treatments administered to earlier generations of patients, the study also shows how modern science and the history of medicine have come to depend on each other.