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Miracle Cures Or Modern Quackery? Stem Cell Clinics Multiply, with Heartbreaking Results for Some Patients

April 30, 2018

(The Washington Post) – Hidden in that fat were stem cells with the amazing power to heal, the Stem Cell Center of Georgia had told Tyler. The clinic is one of hundreds that have popped up across the country, many offering treatments for conditions from Parkinson’s disease to autism to multiple sclerosis. Federal regulators have not approved any of their treatments, and critics call such clinics modern-day snake-oil salesmen. But on that day in 2016, Tyler trusted the clinic to extract stem cells from her fat and inject them into her eyes, where she was told they could halt or even cure the macular degeneration threatening her sight.

As Alfie Evans Dies, Calls Grow for Better Ways to Support Grieving Parents

April 30, 2018

(The Guardian) – A leading expert in medical ethics has called for new mediation panels to prevent the “entrenched disagreements” that surrounded the treatment of Alfie Evans, the 23-month-old boy who died yesterday, almost a week after his life support was withdrawn. Dominic Wilkinson, professor of medical ethics at the University of Oxford and a neonatal consultant, said that independent mediators could help people such as Alfie’s parents, Thomas Evans and Kate James, who repeatedly clashed with doctors over their child’s treatment for a degenerative brain disease, culminating in a protracted high court battle.

A Public Health Approach to Canada’s Opioid Crisis

April 30, 2018

(The Lancet) – An unprecedented public health crisis is confronting North America: a deadly drug overdose epidemic. Opioids (including prescription opioids and illegal opioids, such as heroin and illicitly manufactured fentanyl) are the main drivers of drug overdose deaths in the USA and Canada. The situation in the USA has been widely publicised in international media outlets. Opioids were responsible for more than 42?000 deaths in 2016 in the USA, a number five times higher than in 1999. The situation in Canada is equally devastating.

Human Brain Cells Can Make Complex Structures in a Dish–Is This a Problem?

April 30, 2018

(Ars Technica) – These studies raise ethical questions whether the subject is an animal or an AI. Last May, a consortium of bioethicists, lawyers, neuroscientists, geneticists, philosophers, and psychiatrists convened at Duke to discuss how this question may apply to relatively new entities: brain “organoids” grown in a lab. These organoids can be either chimaera of human or animal cells or slices of human brain tissue. Will these lab-grown constructs achieve any sort of consciousness deserving of protection?

He Was a Champion of Public Health–But Played a Role in the Horrors of the Tuskegee. Should a College Expunge His Name?

April 30, 2018

(STAT News) – He was surgeon general under President Franklin Roosevelt. He’s been lauded for turning sexually transmitted diseases from a moral failing into a medical concern. During the height of segregation, he acknowledged the need to stem health disparities between black and white America. But Dr. Thomas Parran Jr., whose name graces the main building of the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health, has also been called an architect of the syphilis experiments on black men and women in Tuskegee, Ala.

The Life and Death of Alfie Evans Highlights the Gap Between the US and Europe on Right to Life

April 30, 2018

(Quartz) – A baby boy named Alfie Evans died early this morning at the Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool, England, in the pediatric intensive care unit that had been his home for the last 18 months. The life he lived for close to 24 months was mercilessly short, yet full of meaning. He didn’t know it, but he was at the center of a heart-wrenching debate about who should have final authority over children’s medical care: Parents, or the state?

Brain, Eyes, Testes: Off-Limits for Transplants?

April 30, 2018

(Medical Xpress) – Since the world’s first successful organ transplant in 1954—a kidney—the discipline has advanced to the point where a wounded soldier could have his penis and scrotum replaced in a groundbreaking operation last month. A Frenchman recently became the first person to receive a second face transplant after the first failed, and another made history by regrowing skin lost over 95 percent of his body, thanks to a graft from his twin brother. Transplants are no longer limited to the vital organs: heart, liver, orlungs. Nowadays, people can get a new hand… or even a uterus. But some organs remain off-limits. For now.

Chasing Captain America: Why Superhumans May Not BE That Far Away

April 30, 2018

(Vox) – E. Paul Zehr is a neuroscientist and author of Chasing Captain America, a new book about how advances in biotechnology may lead to the creation of “superhumans,” of the sort depicted in the film Avengers: Infinity War or in comic books like Captain America, in which the hero, Steve Rogers, is given an experimental serum that alters his biology and turns him into a super soldier. While we’re still likely a couple of decades away from this, we’re a lot closer than people think — and there are a ton of things that could go wrong along the way.

Disgraced Surgeon Is Still Publishing on Stem Cell Therapies

April 30, 2018

(Science) – Paolo Macchiarini, an Italian surgeon, has been fired from two institutions and faces the retraction of many of his papers after findings of scientific misconduct and ethical lapses in his research—yet this hasn’t prevented him from publishing again in a peer-reviewed journal. Despite his circumstances, Macchiarini appears as senior author on a paper published last month investigating the viability of artificial esophagi “seeded” with stem cells, work that appears strikingly similar to the plastic trachea transplants that ultimately left most of his patients dead. The journal’s editor says he was unaware of Macchiarini’s history before publishing the study.

Jack Nicklaus’ Secret Stem Cell Therapy: ‘I Didn’t Keep It Private; No One Asked Me About It’

April 30, 2018

(CNN) – On February 22, 2016 in Jupiter, Florida, Jack Nicklaus teed off at his famous fundraiser, The Jake, to benefit children’s health. While he wowed the crowd, as the Golden Bear has been doing for five decades, none of the fans knew that just four days earlier Nicklaus had undergone an experimental stem cell therapy in Munich, Germany.

Autism Prevalence Jumps 16 Percent, CDC Says

April 27, 2018

(Scientific American) -About 1 in 59 children in the United States has autism, according to data released today by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Four times as many boys as girls have the condition, according to the report. The data are based on a 2014 survey of 325,483 children across 11 states. The data were collected by the CDC’s Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network (ADDM). These numbers show an increase of nearly 16 percent from the previous prevalence of 1 in 68 children. That estimate was based on data collected in 2012 and had a gender ratio of 4.5 to 1.

Benzodiazepines: America’s ‘Other Prescription Drug Problem’

April 27, 2018

(NPR) – Lorazepam is a benzodiazepine, a class of medicines known as sedative-hypnotics. They’re used frequently in the U.S. to treat anxiety and insomnia. Other drugs in the same category include Valium and Xanax. The problem with benzos, as they’re also known, is that they’re highly addictive medications, both physically and psychologically. Abruptly stopping them can lead to withdrawal symptoms like the ones Drew hoped to avoid when he kicked alcohol. Moreover, with long-term use, our metabolism adjusts to benzos. We need higher doses to achieve the same effects.

He Was Caught on Video, But Georgia Doctor Kept His Medical License

April 27, 2018

(The Atlantic Journal-Constitution) – A decade before he treated Miller, Tesfaye had been admonished by the medical board in North Carolina, where he was then practicing, for inappropriate behavior with female patients. But the board dealt with those incidents in private, and they were unknown to DeKalb County prosecutors when Miller came forward with her video. The result was a quick trip through the criminal justice system that treated Tesfaye’s conduct as a one-time lapse in judgment and allowed the Ethiopian-born physician to avoid jail time, keep his medical license and restart his career in a new location.

How a Genealogy Website Let to the Alleged Golden State Killer

April 27, 2018

(The Atlantic) – Then DNA and the internet appear to have caught up. Reporting from The Sacramento Bee and Mercury News indicates that police arrested Joseph James DeAngelo based on DNA found at crime scenes that partially matched the DNA of a relative on the open-source genealogy website GEDmatch. Previous searches of law-enforcement DNA databases had turned up no matches. This way of finding people by DNA is new to law enforcement, but it is not new to genealogists, who immediately recognized their methods in the police’s vague descriptions. And the revelation has landed like a bomb. It at once demonstrates the power of genetic genealogy research and exposes the many ethical and privacy issues.

Soccer ‘Headers’ May Do More Brain Harm Than Most Collisions

April 27, 2018

(Reuters) – For soccer players, regularly “heading” the ball may have a bigger effect on everyday cognitive functioning than occasional accidental head impacts, a U.S. study suggests.  Researchers examined more than 300 adult amateur soccer players in New York City and found the ones who headed the ball most often during practice and games had poorer performance on tests of psychomotor speed, attention and memory. Accidental head knocks were not related to cognitive test performance, the team reports in Frontiers in Neurology.

NHS Preparing to Offer ‘Game-Changing’ Cancer Treatment

April 27, 2018

(The Guardian) – The NHS is preparing to fast-track a “game-changing” cancer treatment into hospitals, its chief executive has said, calling for the manufacturers to help by setting an affordable price. Simon Stevens said CAR-T therapy, which has been licensed in the US but not yet in the UK, could be approved for use this year. The treatments, which are hugely expensive, work by genetically engineering the patient’s immune system’s killer T-cells to recognise and destroy cancer cells. In trials, they have had extraordinary success, putting into remission patients who had only months to live.

CRISPR Company Cofounded by Jennifer Doudna Comes Out of Stealth Mode

April 27, 2018

(Genome Web) – Mammoth Biosciences, a biotech startup cofounded by CRISPR researcher Jennifer Doudna, came out of stealth mode today by announcing a plan to develop a CRISPR-enabled platform capable of detecting any biomarker or disease containing DNA or RNA.

Blood Transfusions a ‘Hidden’ Malaria Risk

April 26, 2018

(SciDevNet) – Selali Fiamanya, a co-author of the study and a research fellow at the Worldwide Antimalarial Resistance Network (WWARN), says his team assessed the presence of malaria parasites in 22,508 potential blood donors in 24 studies conducted in nine countries of Sub-Saharan Africa from 2000 to 2017. “The study assessed the presence of malaria parasites in blood bags. Prevalence ranged from 6.5 per cent to 74.1 per cent in different study sites,” Fiamanya says, noting that most of the studies were conducted in Central and West Africa, including more than ten studies from Nigeria.

Antidepressants, Incontinence Drugs Linked to Dementia in Research

April 26, 2018

(UPI) – A new study has linked common antidepressants and incontinence medications to increased risk of dementia — even if the drugs are taken 20 years before diagnosis. Researchers from the United States, Britain and Ireland found anticholinergic drugs, which are often prescribed as antidepressants and for incontinence, may increase risk for dementia, based on analysis of 27 million prescriptions given to 40,770 people over age 65 who were diagnosed with dementia between April 2006 and July 2015.

The Epidemiological Transition Is Now Spreading to the Emerging World

April 26, 2018

(The Economist) – A CHILD BORN in China today can expect to live more than three decades longer than his ancestors 50 years ago, a gain in life expectancy that rich countries typically took twice as long to achieve. The increase reflects a shift in the burden of disease that is increasingly apparent in other developing countries, too. But the speed of the transition brings with it huge challenges for both domestic policymakers and the international organisations that distribute aid and run health programmes. Crudely put, what is known as “the epidemiological transition” is a shift from diseases of the bellies and lungs of babies to those of the arteries of adults.

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