(Nature) – In the past decade venture philanthropy has experienced a resurgence, with many foundations focused on new therapies. But the attributes that make this type of funding so effective can also stir up controversy or raise ethical questions. Philanthropic foundations are not accountable to the public, and some critics question whether wealthy benefactors have too much sway in medicine.
(Reuters) – At a hospital in northern Gaza, a young patient is being prepared for hand surgery as one of the doctors leading the operation watches on — from nearly 200 miles away in Beirut. In the Lebanese capital Doctor Ghassan Abu Sitta is guiding colleagues at Gaza’s Al-Awda hospital via an online interactive platform known as Proximie, which allows the medical teams to communicate and work together via tablet computers.
(Nature) – Developmental biologists have grown human embryos in the lab for up to 13 days after fertilization, shattering the previous record of 9 days. The achievement has already enabled scientists to discover new aspects of early human development, including features never before seen in a human embryo. And the technique could help to determine why some pregnancies fail. The work, reported this week in Nature and Nature Cell Biology, also raises the possibility that scientists could soon culture embryos to an even more advanced stage. Doing so would raise ethical, as well as technical, challenges. Many countries and scientific societies ban research on human embryos that are more than 14 days old; in light of this, the authors of the studies ended their experiments before this point.
(UPI) – It may be possible to grow new lungs for patients in need of a transplant using their own cells as a starter kit, according to researchers at Yale University. The researchers devised a mechanical system that mimics the body to allow whole lungs to grow at scale, described in a proof-of-concept study published in the journal BioResearch Open Access.
(The Conversation) – A recent report shows new healthy eggs can be made from stem cells. Stem cells are present in human embryos, as embryonic stem cells, and in most organs including the ovary. Alternatively, an induced form of stem cells can be obtained by treating mature cells with a cocktail of reagents in the laboratory. The procedures required to create new eggs out of stem cells are very complex and still experimental. There are ethical issues, such as the need to destroy a human embryo to obtain embryonic stem cells, and further experiments will be necessary to show there are no genetic or fertility problems with subsequent generations.
(Science) – This week, scientists will gather in Washington, D.C., for an annual meeting devoted to gene therapy—a long-struggling field that has clawed its way back to respectability with a string of promising results in small clinical trials. Now, many believe the powerful new gene-editing technology known as CRISPR will add to gene therapy’s newfound momentum. But is CRISPR really ready for prime time? Science explores the promise—and peril—of the new technology.
(New York Times) – The embryos belonged somewhere, but probably not in this empty fertility clinic in the capital of Nepal. For months, they had sat suspended in a tank of liquid nitrogen at the fertility center at the Grande City Clinic and Hospital, which until recently operated a robust surrogacy business that attracted would-be parents from around the world. But the embryos are now stuck in limbo after Nepal abruptly banned surrogacy in September.
(Medicins Sans Frontiers) – Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, Last Wednesday, airstrikes obliterated Al Quds Hospital in Aleppo. They blew apart at least 50 men, women and children. It killed one of the last remaining paediatricians in the city. A murderous airstrike. There were almost 300 airstrikes in Aleppo over the last 10 days. Civilians, often in crowds, were repeatedly struck. What are individuals in wars today? Expendable commodities, dead or alive.
Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy (vol. 19, no. 1, 2016) is available online by subscription only.
- “Solicitude: Balancing Compassion and Empowerment in a Relational Ethics of Hope—An Empirical-Ethical Study in Palliative Care” by Erik Olsman, Dick Willems, and Carlo Leget
- “Reconsidering Kantian Arguments against Organ Selling” by Zumrut Alpinar-Sencan
- “The Ethical Implications and Religious Significance of Organ Transplantation Payment Systems” by Hunter Jackson Smith
- “Moral Implications of Obstetric Technologies for Pregnancy and Motherhood” by Susanne Brauer
- “Child’s Objection to Non-Beneficial Research: Capacity and Distress Based Models” by Marcin Waligora, Joanna Rozynska, and Jan Piasecki
- “Do We Need a Threshold Conception of Competence?” by Govert den Hartogh
- “Towards a Genealogy of Pharmacological Practice” by Ricardo Camargo and Nicolas Ried
- “Two Kinds of Autism: A Comparison of Distinct Understandings of Psychiatric Disease” by Berend Verhoeff
- “Rethinking Risk Assessment for Emerging Technology First-in-Human Trials” by Anna Genske and Sabrina Engle-Glatter
- “Forensic Uses of Research Biobanks: Should Donors Be Informed?” by Vilius Dranseika, Jan Piasecki, and Marcin Waligora
Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics (vol. 37, no. 1, 2016) is available online by subscription only.
- “Human Vulnerability in Medical Contexts” by Steve Matthews and Bernadette Tobin
- “The New Enhancement Technologies and the Place of Vulnerability in Our Lives” by John G. Quilter
- “Dependence and a Kantian Conception of Dignity as a Value” by Philippa Byers
- “Fragility, Uncertainty, and Healthcare” by Wendy A. Rogers and Mary J. Walker
- “Diagnosing True Virtue? Remote Scenarios, Warranted Virtue Attributions, and Virtuous Medical Practice” by Justin Oakley
- “On the Fragility of Medical Virtue in a Neoliberal Context: The Case of Commercial Conflicts of Interest in Reproductive Medicine” by Christopher Mayes, et al.
The New England Journal of Medicine (vol. 374, no. 12, 2016) is available online by subscription only.
- “Have Tobacco 21 Laws Come of Age?” by S.R. Morain, J.P. Winickoff, and M.M. Mello
- “Lead Contamination in Flint—An Abject Failure to Protect Public Health” by D.C. Bellinger
- “Mitochondrial Replacement Techniques—Implications for the Clinical Community” by M.J. Falk, A. Decherney, and J.P. Kahn
- “Community Paramedicine—Addressing Questions as Programs Expand” by L.I. Iezzoni, S.C. Dorner, and T. Ajayi
- “Early versus Late Parenteral Nutrition in Critically Ill Children” by T. Fivez, et al.
(Washington Post) – Nearly a third of antibiotics prescribed in doctors’ offices, emergency rooms and hospital-based clinics in the United States are not needed, according to the most in-depth study yet to examine the use and misuse of these life-saving drugs. The finding, which has implications for antibiotics’ diminished efficacy, translates to about 47 million unnecessary prescriptions given out each year across the country to children and adults. Most of these are for conditions that don’t respond to antibiotics, such as colds, sore throats, bronchitis, flu and other viral illnesses.
(Associated Press) – Too many preschoolers with ADHD still are being put on drugs right away, before behavior therapy is tried, health officials say. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Tuesday that three in four young kids diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder are put on medicines. New CDC data shows that’s continued, even after research found behavior therapy is as effective and doesn’t give children stomach aches, sleep problems or other drug side effects.
(Science Daily) – The most productive way scientists have devised to nurture colonies of human embryonic stem cells is to do so atop a bed of mouse cells. That may be fine for lab research, but it poses an unacceptable contamination risk for stem cells intended for transplant into human patients. In a new study, Brown University bioengineers have developed a synthetic bed that works about as well as the mouse cells, called fibroblasts, without any possibility of contamination.
(NPR) – The mosquito-borne Zika virus has sparked a debate about abortion in both Latin America and the United States. The virus has been directly linked to a birth defect that results in an abnormally small head and brain damage. In Latin America, where many countries have strict bans on abortion, some citizens and government officials are asking whether such bans should be reconsidered, at least in infected mothers. And in the United States, a decades-old discussion has been reignited: Should the country rethink its stance on funding abortion initiatives abroad, put forth in what’s known as the Helms Amendment?
Exclusive: ‘Unforgivable’ Failings in End-of-Life Care Revealed as 40,000 Dying Patients Subject to Secret ‘Do Not Resuscitate’ Orders Every Year
(The Telegraph) – The official audit of 9,000 dying patients, conducted by the Royal College of Physicians, reveals that one-in-five families were not informed that a “do not resuscitate” order had been put in place – equivalent to the families of 40,000 patients. The same study showed that in 16 per cent of cases, there was no record of a conversation with the dying patient, or explanation for the lack of one, for the decision to put in place a do not resuscitate order.
(Newsweek) – Kuwait is set to become the first country in the world to require all its citizens, visitors and expatriates to provide DNA samples for the government’s database, according to a report. In July 2015, the Kuwaiti government passed the DNA testing law, which is set to go into effect later this year, according to the Kuwait Times. The DNA samples of at least 3.3 million people—gotten from saliva or few drops of blood—will be stored in a lab at the General Department of Criminal Evidence in Dajeej, a suburb about 12 miles south of Kuwait City.
Journal of Medical Ethics (vol. 42, no. 4, 2016) is available online by subscription only.
- “The Ebola Outbreak in Western Africa: Ethical Obligations for Care” by Aminu Yakubu, et al.
- “The Practices of Do-It-Yourself Brain Stimulation: Implications for Ethical Considerations and Regulatory Proposals” by Anna Wexler
- “Research Led by Participants: A New Social Contract for a New Kind of Research” by Effy Vayena, et al.
- “Beyond Antidoping and Harm Minimization: A Stakeholder-Corporate Social Social Responsibility Approach to Drug Control for Sport” by Jason Mazanov
- “Fidelity to the Healing Relationship: A Medical Student’s Challenge to Contemporary Bioethics and Prescription for Medical Practice” by Blake C. Corcoran, et al.
- “Challenging the Principle of Proportionality” by Anna-Karin Margareta Andersson
- “Prisoners as Research Participants: Current Practice and Attitudes in the UK” by Anna Charles, et al.
- “Having a Child Together in Lesbian Families: Combining Gestation and Genetics” by Guido Pennings
The Philosophical Quarterly (vol. 66, no. 263, 2016) is available online by subscription only.
- “Just War and Robots’ Killings” by Thomas W. Simpson and Vincent C. Muller
- “Moral Reasons, Epistemic Reasons and Rationality” by Alex Worsnip
The New England Journal of Medicine (vol. 374, no. 11, 2016) is available online by subscription only.
- “Reducing the Risks of Relief—The CDC Opioid-Prescribing Guideline” by T.R. Frieden and D. Houry
- “Scandal as a Sentinel Event—Recognizing Hidden Cost-Quality Trade-Offs” by M.G. Bloche
- “Beyond the VA Crisis—Becoming a High-Performance Network” by D.J. Shulkin
- “Health Care Tax Inversions—Robbing Both Peter and Paul” by H.J. Warraich and K.A. Schulman
- “The Cadillac Tax—A Crucial Tool for Delivery-System Reform” by J. Furman and M. Fielder