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When a ‘Good Death’ Was Often Painful: Euthanasia through the Ages

September 27, 2017

(The Conversation) – Today, a primary goal of both movements aimed at care of the dying – palliative care and euthanasia – is to eliminate suffering. These are underpinned by the idea that a good death is a painless death. But it wasn’t always so. The term “euthanasia” is derived from the Greek for good death, but it only began to be used in a modern and familiar way in the late 19th century. For centuries in Western societies, “euthanasia” referred to a pious death blessed by God.

Immunotherapy Has Changed Cancer Medicine. But It’s No Miracle Cure

September 27, 2017

(The Guardian) – The beauty of immunotherapy is that some patients experience an impressive, even a lasting response. For the doctor and patient exhausted by the search for options, the sight of melting tumors can feel almost ecclesiastical. Immunotherapy provides good reason for optimism and even awe, but what it is not is a panacea. Unfortunately, it does not work in the majority of patients. Studies show a response rate of roughly 20%, with a variable survival benefit. Some patients get to live long and productive lives but many don’t. Frustratingly, immunotherapy works well in some cancers and not at all for others and we are still finding ways to distinguish the two.

Why We Must Not Build Automated Weapons of War

September 27, 2017

(TIME) – Over 100 CEOs of artificial intelligence and robotics firms recently signed an open letter warning that their work could be repurposed to build lethal autonomous weapons — “killer robots.” They argued that to build such weapons would be to open a “Pandora’s Box.” This could forever alter war. Over 30 countries have or are developing armed drones, and with each successive generation, drones have more autonomy. Automation has long been used in weapons to help identify targets and maneuver missiles. But to date, humans have remained in control of deciding whether to use lethal force.

The Genomic Revolution Reaches the City Crime Lab

September 27, 2017

(The Atlantic) – Ziegert’s case is already being touted as an example of the power of new DNA technologies to solve crimes. In many ways, it’s the perfect example to take to the media: a young female victim, an infamous murder, a 25-year-old case. It’s unclear exactly how pivotal the DNA evidence was—the district attorney said “a number of factors” contributed to narrowing down the suspects—but there will almost certainly be more cases like this involving DNA. With the cost of sequencing rapidly falling, forensics labs have been looking for new ways to generate leads out of DNA.

A New Edition of The New England Journal of Medicine Is Now Available

September 27, 2017

The New England Journal of Medicine (vol. 376, no. 18, 2017) is available online by subscription only.

Articles include:

  • “Scientific Drought, Golden Eggs, and Global Leadership — Why Trump’s NIH Funding Cuts Would Be a Disaster” by I.T. Katz and A.A. Wright
  • “Resident Duty Hours and Medical Education Policy — Raising the Evidence Bar” by D.A. Asch, K.Y. Bilimoria, and S.V. Desai
  • “The Failure of Solanezumab — How the FDA Saved Taxpayers Billions” by C.A. Sacks, J. Avorn, and A.S. Kesselheim
  • “The Changing Face of Clinical Trials: Academic, Foundation, and Industry Collaboration in Finding New Therapies” by B.W. Ramsey, G.T. Nepom, and S. Lonial

 

New Articles for BMC Medical Ethics Are Now Available

September 27, 2017

BMC Medical Ethics has new articles  available online.

Articles include:

  • “On Classifying the Field of Medical Ethics” by Kristine Bærøe, Jonathan Ives, Martine de Vries, and Jan Schildmann
  • “Core Information Sets for Informed Consent to Surgical Interventions: Baseline Information of Importance to Patients and Clinicians” by Barry G. Main et al.

 

A New Edition of International Journal of Human–Computer Interaction Is Now Available

September 27, 2017

International Journal of Computer-Human Interaction (vol. 33, no. 6, 2017) is available online by subscription only.

Articles include:

  • “Human Robot Engagement and Acceptability in Residential Aged Care” by Rajiv Khosla, Khanh Nguyen, and Mei-Tai Chu

 

A New Edition of Zygon Journal of Religion and Science Is Now Available

September 27, 2017

Zygon Journal of Religion and Science (vol. 52, no. 2, 2017) is available online by subscription only.

Articles include:

  • “Furnishing The Skill Which Can Save The Child: Diphtheria, Germ Theory, and Theodicy” by Kristin Johnson
  • “Holistic Biology: What It Is And Why It Matters” by Fraser Watts and Michael J. Reiss
  • “The Christian’s Dilemma: Organicism or Mechanism?” by Michael Ruse
  • “Epigenetics, Representation, And Society” by Ilya Gadjev

 

A New Edition of International Journal for Quality in Health Care Is Now Available

September 27, 2017

International Journal for Quality in Health Care (Volume 29, No. 2, 2017) is available online by subscription only.

Articles include:

  • “Examining the Nature of Interprofessional Interventions Designed to Promote Patient Safety: A Narrative Review” by Scott Reeves et al.
  • “Assessing Patient Safety Culture in Tunisian Operating Rooms: A Multicenter Study” by Manel Mallouli et al.
  • “Pay-for-Performance Reduces Healthcare Spending and Improves Quality of Care: Analysis of Target and Non-Target Obstetrics and Gynecology Surgeries” by Seung Ju Kim, Kyu-Tae Han, Sun Jung Kim, and  Eun-Cheol Park

 

Searching for a Fairer Way to Distribute Donor Livers

September 26, 2017

(NPR) – Under the current system, the nation is divided into 11 regions, and the sickest patient on the waiting list in each region gets the next compatible liver that becomes available in that region. In some regions, patients have to wait until they’re facing a 93 percent risk of dying within the next three months. In other regions, patients get transplants when their risk is only 13 percent, according to UNOS. One big reason for that is that more organs become available in some places than others. And that’s partly because of the way people die — there are more deaths in ways that leave the victims eligible to be organ donors, such as car accidents and strokes.

An Ethical Dilemma for Doctors: When Is It OK to Prescribe Opioids?

September 26, 2017

(STAT News) – As a bioethicist working on the ethical and policy issues regarding prescription opioids, I am grateful to the National Academy of Medicine for inviting me to serve on this publication’s authorship team, and for taking seriously the ethical component of the prescription opioid crisis. The opioid epidemic is shot through with ethical challenges. There are many discussions we could have, but I will here focus on just one of them: the issue of morally responsible prescribing. Should prescription opioids be used at all? And if so, how?

FDA Cracks Down on Illegal Online Prescription Drugs

September 26, 2017

(UPI) – The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently took action against more than 500 websites that illegally sell unapproved versions of prescription medications. The FDA partnered with international regulatory and law enforcement agencies as part of a global operation to target illegal prescription drugs sold online that are potentially dangerous, unapproved, counterfeit, contaminated or expired, including opioids, injectable epinephrine and antibiotics.

Potential Zika Vaccine Protects against Pregnancy Transmission and Testicular Damage

September 26, 2017

(Medical Xpress) – For the first time, a collaborative team led by The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston has shown that a potential Zika vaccine quickly can protect fetuses against infection as well as protect males against testicular infection and injury. It also prevents a lowered sperm count after one vaccination. The findings are currently available in Nature Communications.

New STD Cases in U.S. Set Record High in 2016: CDC Report

September 26, 2017

(Reuters) – New U.S. cases of three common sexually transmitted diseases – chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis – reached more than 2 million in 2016, a new record, U.S. health officials said, prompting calls for more effective prevention efforts. Most of the new diagnoses were cases of chlamydia, which comprised 1.6 million cases. But there were also nearly a half million (470,000) new gonorrhea cases and nearly 28,000 new cases of syphilis, according to an annual report issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Tuesday.

New Synthetic Molecule Could Trigger Tissue Regeneration

September 26, 2017

(UPI) – A newly discovered DNA-targeting molecule could inspire the first tissue regeneration therapies. The synthetic molecule can cause stem cells to transform into heart muscle cells. The scientists responsible for the new molecule believe their breakthrough could be used to turn stem cells into a variety of cell types — paving the way for tissue regeneration. The scientists responsible for the new molecule believe their breakthrough could be used to turn stem cells into a variety of cell types — paving the way for tissue regeneration.

Your DNA Probably Didn’t Make You Do It

September 26, 2017

(Popular Science) – But tying a single gene to a particular behavior is complicated. MAOA’s criminal connection is controversial—it’s usually discussed carefully, with scientists clarifying that a gene alone is not going to make someone violent or amoral. Social and environmental factors also play a role; not everyone with a particular genetic mutation will commit a crime; and not every criminal has a particular gene mutation. But lawyers, looking for ways to defend clients, can use genetic research to claim that a defendant had a genetic predisposition for certain criminal acts, and shouldn’t be considered as responsible as the rest of the population would be.

After 15 Years in a Vegetative State, Nerve Stimulation Restores Consciousness

September 25, 2017

(Medical Xpress) – A 35-year-old man who had been in a vegetative state for 15 years after a car accident has shown signs of consciousness after neurosurgeons implanted a vagus nerve stimulator into his chest. The findings reported in Current Biology on September 25 show that vagus nerve stimulation (VNS)—a treatment already in use for epilepsy and depression—can help to restore consciousness even after many years in a vegetative state. The outcome challenges the general belief that disorders of consciousness that persist for longer than 12 months are irreversible, the researchers say.

Should States Ban Abortions When Down Syndrome Diagnosed?

September 25, 2017

(ABC News) – Kuhns went to her home in rural central Ohio that day and cried for hours. But Oliver, her 2-year-old son with Down syndrome, ultimately has led “a pretty normal life.” That’s why Kuhns is fighting for an Ohio bill that would ban abortions in cases where a pregnant woman has had a positive test result or prenatal diagnosis indicating Down syndrome. Physicians convicted of performing an abortion under such circumstances could be charged with a fourth-degree felony, stripped of their medical license and held liable for legal damages. The pregnant woman would face no criminal liability. Several other states have considered similar measures, triggering emotional debate over women’s rights, parental love, and the trust between doctor and patient.

Mentioning What Is Hard to Mention in Chatbot for End-of-Life Preparation

September 25, 2017

(Tech Xplore) – Talking about the unthinkable for patients facing death is never easy. End-of-life planning is the phrase often used, softening the concept of death, but the task remains painful for the patient, family and friends. A chatbot has been designed to ease the task. Discussions can lead to less anxiety and help move on to tasks and decisions such as creating a will.

The Idea for Lab-Grown Meat Was Born in a Prisoner-of-War Camp

September 25, 2017

(Quartz) – [William van Eelen] entered medical school in 1948. As Ira van Eelen recounts it, one day during her dad’s first year, he came across a group of researchers in the laboratory using stem cell technology to grow cells in a tank, hoping to create new skin for burn victims. His first-hand experience with starvation sent his mind immediately to one question: Can this be used for food?

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