(Associated Press) – The usual handwringing over the heroin problem turned into panic in this small city in May when a supercharged blue-tinted batch from Chicago sent more than 30 overdose victims to the hospital and two to the morgue in a 12-day stretch. Like many places in America, Marion – an hour’s drive north of the capital, Columbus – has gotten used to heroin. Emergency crews in the city of 37,000 have become accustomed to treating an overdose patient about once a day for the past year or so. But they were stunned when the unprecedented onslaught began on May 20.
(CNN) – A second South Korean clinic has been forced to close, with staff, patients and visitors sent into quarantine, as the country attempts to curb the spread of the MERS virus for a third week. Fourteen new cases of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome — one of them a pregnant woman — were confirmed Thursday, bringing the total number of cases to 122.
(Science Daily) – Medical researchers have developed an approach for detecting breast cancer by means of urine samples. The method involves determining the concentration of molecules that regulate cell metabolism and that are often dysregulated in cancer cells. These molecules, referred to as microRNAs, enter into the urine over the blood. By determining the composition of microRNAs in the urine, the scientists succeeded in establishing with 91 percent accuracy whether a test subject was healthy or diseased.
(Nanotechnology Now) – Two years ago, the Immunology of Diabetes Research Group at the Germans Trias Research Institute (at Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona – Campus of International Excellence Sphere) reported a new experimental immunotherapy that prevented the onset of Type 1 Diabetes in mice predisposed to the disease. This work led to more studies with the support of the Spanish Government, Catalan Government and private patrons with a keen interest in it. Thanks to this, the article published today in PLOS ONE describes a new step towards the creation of a vaccine, which in the medium-term could be capable of preventing and even curing the disease in humans.
(Washington Post) – The murder charge against a Georgia woman who ended her pregnancy by taking abortion pills has been dropped, Dougherty County District Attorney Greg Edwards said Wednesday. Kenlissia Jones, 23, gave birth in a car on the way to the hospital after taking the drugs. The child died 30 minutes later, a family member said. She had been jailed and charged with murder in its death.
(The Conversation) – It’s easy, in retrospect, to portray World War II as a major turning point in the history of medical ethics. But it’s a portrayal we should resist because it blinds us to the troubles that persist to this day in matters of informed consent.
(Pan Am Post) – A new ruling by Colombia’s Constitutional Court means that public health institutions, and all the doctors who work in them, will be unable to refuse a patient’s request for assisted suicide — forcing them to carry out the procedure, or transfer the patient to an institution that will. Medical euthanasia has long been a grey area in Colombia, even after decriminalization in 1997. The decision to end the life of a patient asking for the procedure has hitherto rested on the doctor’s personal preference.
(University of York) – Scientists at the University of York have made a significant advance that could make cell-based treatments for arthritis less of a lottery. Researchers in the Departments of Biology and Physics at York, working with colleagues at the Erasmus Medical Centre in Rotterdam, have identified individual stem cells that can regenerate tissue, cartilage and bone.
(AsiaOne) – Patients receiving illegal organ transplants overseas will be facing a maximum of five years in prison and a NT$300,000 (S$13,000) fine if amendments to the Human Organ Transplantation Act pass the Legislative Yuan, which is likely to happen, according to legislators. According to Po-chang Lee, chairman of Taiwan Organ Registry and Sharing Center (TWRSC), Taiwanese patients still participate in organ trading in mainland China, which permits organ trafficking. Lawmakers aim to curb this brutal act by making it a crime at home.
(Yahoo!) – Years of pouring money into its laboratories, wooing scientists home from overseas and urging researchers to publish and patent is starting to give China a competitive edge in biotechnology, a strategic field it sees as ripe for “indigenous innovation.”
(Nature) – But some wonder whether DARPA’s full-speed-ahead model will work as well for biology as it has for the physical sciences and hardware. Living systems are much more complex, they argue, with a multitude of variables that are either unknown or difficult to engineer and control. And because so much of the agency’s biological research is directly applicable to humans, the work is fraught with ethical concerns — not to mention the possibility that even the most benign-sounding developments could be co-opted for war.
(BBC) – A woman in Belgium is the first in the world to give birth to a baby using transplanted ovarian tissue frozen when she was still a child, doctors say. The 27-year-old had an ovary removed at age 13, just before she began invasive treatment for sickle cell anaemia. Her remaining ovary failed following the treatment, meaning she would have been unlikely to conceive without the transplant.
(Boston Globe) – The state is poised for the first time to mandate a minimum level of nurse staffing in hospitals, reigniting a debate over patient safety and health care costs. The Health Policy Commission, the agency that monitors medical costs and related issues, will vote Wednesday on regulations requiring hospitals to staff intensive care units so that each registered nurse is responsible for no more than two patients. If approved, the rules would implement a law passed last year.
Voluntary Euthanasia Advocate Philip Nitschke Helps During Mid-Flight Medical Emergency Despite Suspension
(ABC.net) – Suspended doctor and voluntary euthanasia advocate Philip Nitschke has been called on to help with a medical emergency on a flight from Los Angeles to Sydney. Dr Nitschke was approached by staff on Qantas flight QF12 to help a passenger with cancer whose condition deteriorated in the latter part of the journey. “He felt he was deteriorating. His wife was worried. [They] had a young family. They asked if I would assess him and stay with him for the latter part of the flight,” Dr Nitschke said.
(Deutsche Welle) – Germany inched ever closer to joining its neighbor Belgium in allowing active assisted suicide on Tuesday as two new draft bills were presented to the lower house of parliament, the Bundestag, ahead of a debate on the subject in July. According to German daily “Die Welt,” one version, which was sponsored by at least one member of every party in the Bundestag, is meant to represent a “middle way” between punishing those who provide euthanasia assistance and a complete deregulation of the process.
(UPI) – Spinal cord injury patients who have lost function and feeling to their arms and hands have been shown to regenerate nerve fibers that return the sense of touch through stem cell treatment. Spinal cord injuries often lead to paralysis, sensory loss and chronic pain conditions. Although surgery can restore certain muscle function, there has previously been little treatment available for lost sensory perception.
(New York Times) – A federal appellate court upheld some of the toughest provisions of a Texas abortion law on Tuesday, putting about half of the state’s remaining abortion clinics at risk of permanently shutting their doors and leaving the nation’s second-most populous state with fewer than a dozen clinics across its more than 267,000 square miles. There were 41 when the law was passed.
(Vaccine News Daily) – A team of scientists from Bar-Ilan University (BIU) in Israel recently discovered that human embryonic stem cells are useful for testing drug treatments against varicella-zoster virus (VZV), also known as the chickenpox virus. The red rash that is a sign of chickenpox typically disappears with a week or two, but even though the rash is gone, the infection remains dormant within the body’s nervous system until the virus receives a signal that resurrects it into a shingles infection.
(U.S. News and World Report) – A fairly simple scoring system appears to accurately estimate patients’ risk of dying within a year of hospitalization, a new study finds. Researchers said the tool could be useful in comparing hospitals’ quality of care in a more accurate way. But it’s not clear if it can be used on a personal level, to help manage a patient’s end-of-life care.
(Medical Xpress) – Individual physicians are widely believed to influence the kind of care their patients receive at the end of life, but to date, there is little scientific evidence to support this belief. New research from Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) indicates that the individual physician a patient sees is the strongest known predictor of whether or not he or she will enroll in hospice care, outweighing other known drivers such as geographic location, patient age, race and comorbidities.