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Updated: 5 hours 29 min ago

Storm Flooding Engulfs MD Anderson Cancer Center, Canceling Treatments for Days

August 29, 2017

(STAT News) – Tropical Storm Harvey has flooded the roads in and around MD Anderson’s primary Houston hospital, leaving one of the world’s foremost cancer centers unable to see patients for appointments or previously scheduled treatments until Thursday at the earliest. The cancer hospital issued a statement Tuesday saying the main building and several MD Anderson satellites around Houston will remain closed to appointments through Wednesday, as emergency crews work to restore operations and wait for the flood waters to recede.

Number of Births, Population Prevalence of Down Syndrome Estimated in Nine States

August 29, 2017

(Science Daily) – In 2010, there was an estimated total of 1,386 annual births with Down syndrome across the nine states, corresponding to 1 in 824 live births. Live birth prevalence ranged from 1 in 729 in Florida to 1 in 1,256 in Kentucky. The estimated reduction percentage — the proportion of live births reduced as a result of elective termination — was 39 percent overall and ranged from 26 percent in Indiana and Michigan to 52 percent in New Jersey. The researchers estimate that without terminations, an additional 898 individuals with Down syndrome would have been born in the nine states during 2010.

Cancer Patients Lack Access to Fertility Support

August 29, 2017

(Reuters) – Up to half of cancer patients of reproductive age do not receive adequate information about the impact of treatment on their fertility, decreasing their options for family planning and support, a new study suggests. “When we look at studies of regret after cancer treatment one area that is always mentioned is reproductive regrets. Women come back and say they never got the chance to discuss their fertility and now it is gone,” Dr. Donald Dizon, clinical co-director of gynecologic oncology at the Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center, told Reuters Health.

Mapping Out the Causes of Suicide in Teenagers and Children

August 29, 2017

(Philadelphia Inquirer) – “This is who is dying from opiates – people in their 20s and 30s. Think about what that population is,” Nelson said. “It’s parents.” Now Nelson is working with county coroners across the nation to try to corroborate his theory, that trauma from the nation’s opioid epidemic could help explain an extraordinary increase in suicide among American children. Since 2007, the rate of suicide has doubled among children 10 to 14, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Suicide is the second-leading cause of death between the ages of 10 and 24. The suicide rate among older teenage girls hit a 40-year high in 2015, according to newly released data from the National Center for Health Statistics.

Organs on Chips

August 29, 2017

(The Scientist) – From beating hearts to breathing lungs, organs-on-chips are some of hottest new tools for human biology research. Although these devices may bear closer resemblance to computer components than human body parts, scientists have now created working models for a whole range of organs, including the liver, the lung, and even the female reproductive system. Researchers hope to use these devices to model disease and facilitate drug development. “I think for most people, the goal is to replace animal testing and to carry out personalized medicine in a more effective way,” Donald Ingber, the founding director of the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University, tells The Scientist.

Abuse in Nursing Homes Unreported Despite Law, Government Probe Finds

August 28, 2017

(STAT News) – More than 1 in 4 cases of possible sexual and physical abuse against nursing home patients apparently went unreported to police, says a government audit that faults Medicare for failing to enforce a federal law requiring immediate notification. The Health and Human Services inspector general’s office issued an “early alert” Monday on preliminary findings from a large sampling of cases in 33 states. The results were sufficiently alarming that investigators say corrective action is needed now.

Chinese Scientists Say They’re Close to Trials Transplanting Pig Organs into Humans

August 28, 2017

(South China Morning Post) – The first such transplant surgery could be just two years away, according to one researcher from a national xenotransplantation project. Recent experiments conducted in China and elsewhere on animals including monkeys have shown they could live for an extended period of time – sometimes years – after receiving transplants of pig organs. China is meanwhile home to the world’s biggest pig-cloning farms that could supply animals bred specifically for transplants of livers, hearts and other organs to humans.

‘It’s a Slow Death’: The World’s Worst Humanitarian Crisis

August 28, 2017

(New York Times) – After two and a half years of war, little is functioning in Yemen. Repeated bombings have crippled bridges, hospitals and factories. Many doctors and civil servants have gone unpaid for more than a year. Malnutrition and poor sanitation have made the Middle Eastern country vulnerable to diseases that most of the world has confined to the history books. In just three months, cholera has killed nearly 2,000 people and infected more than a half million, one of the world’s largest outbreaks in the past 50 years.

Why Teens Need to Understand Care Plans for Dying Parents

August 28, 2017

(Reuters) – When children lose a parent during adolescence, their mental health as young adults may depend on how comfortable they were with the treatment and support provided at the end of their parents’ lives, a recent study suggests. To understand the lasting psychological impact of the death of a parent during adolescence, researchers surveyed young adults who had lost a parent to cancer six to nine years earlier, when they were 13 to 16 years old.

Five Myths about Gene Editing

August 28, 2017

(Washington Post) – Gene editing made great strides this month when scientists reported success using a technique called CRISPR — Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats — to correct a serious, disease-causing mutation in human embryos. Researchers fixed a mutation that leads to hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a relatively common inherited disease of the heart muscle that affects about 1 in 500 people. The public response was wildly enthusiastic. But any new technology can spur confusion and hyperbole, and this one is no exception. Here are five myths about what CRISPR can and can’t do.

Pregnant Women Deserve Accurate Information about Down Syndrome

August 28, 2017

(Denver Post) – The report showed that since screening tests were introduced in Iceland, nearly 100 percent of pregnant women who receive a positive test for Down syndrome terminate their pregnancies. The pro-life versus pro-choice debate is an important one that continues in the U.S. and across the globe and clearly should continue. But there is another big takeaway from this provocative news piece — in countries where abortion is legal, are the medical professionals adequately educated in terms of what Down syndrome is today, and are they adequately trained in how to give an informed, unbiased diagnosis to a pregnant woman?

Penn Ethicist Proposes New Category for Psychiatric Patients to Justify Instances of Compulsory Treatment

August 28, 2017

(Medical Xpress) – The “involuntary treatment” of unwilling psychiatric patients has long been accepted as necessary in some cases, for the sake of patients and society, though it can raise serious ethical concerns as well as legal barriers. In a Viewpoint essay published online today in JAMA, Dominic Sisti, PhD, an assistant professor of Medical Ethics & Health Policy at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, argues that some of the concerns about treating patients without their consent would be alleviated if the mental health profession recognized an important distinction among these cases.

Why People May Have Pig Organs inside Them One Day

August 28, 2017

(TIME) – The findings have obvious implications for the many people waiting for a transplant. But one of the lead study authors, George Church, a geneticist at Harvard and founder of eGenesis, says the promise of pig organs that are compatible with humans may be even bigger. If pig organs could be engineered to be even healthier and more durable than the average human organ—which Church believes is possible—they could have a profound effect on human health and longevity, he says.

The Drive for Perfect Children Gets a Little Scary

August 25, 2017

(Bloomberg) – If you could directly alter your kids’ genetic profile, what would you want? It’s hard to know how the social debate would turn out after years of back and forth, but I was dismayed to read one recent research paper by psychologists Rachel M. Latham and Sophie von Stumm. The descriptive title of that work, based on survey evidence, is “Mothers want extraversion over conscientiousness or intelligence for their children.” Upon reflection, maybe that isn’t so surprising, because parents presumably want children who are fun to spend time with.

Australians Can Be Denied Life Insurance Based on Genetic Test Results, and There Is Little Protection

August 25, 2017

(The Conversation) – A parliamentary inquiry is currently underway into Australia’s life insurance industry, which has raised several issues including discrimination by insurers against people with mental health problems. In our submission to the inquiry, we argue comparable discrimination is possible based on genetics, with insurers denying applicants life insurance and raising premiums inappropriately based on genetic test results.

Zipline Expands Drone Delivery of Medical Supplies

August 25, 2017

(MIT Technology Review) – Less than a year after launching the world’s first national drone delivery service in Rwanda, Silicon Valley–based Zipline is expanding. Billed as the largest drone delivery service in the world, the new venture is in Tanzania, Rwanda’s neighbor to the east, and involves more than a thousand health facilities covering 10 million people in some of that country’s most remote and hard-to-reach areas. Announced Thursday by the government of Tanzania, the partnership will entail the delivery of a range of medical products by drone from four distribution sites in three distinct areas of the country.

For Pregnancy or Profit: Motive for Undergoing IVF May Alter the Experience

August 25, 2017

(Yale News) – An individual’s reason for undergoing a medical intervention — be it to prevent or treat disease, earn money, or have a child — may result in variations in the bodily experience of the patient, Yale researchers have found. A new study published in the journal Social Science and Medicine compares the physical, emotional, and cognitive experiences of women undergoing in vitro fertilization (IVF) either to become pregnant or to donate their eggs for money. The researchers found that there is a direct correlation between the intensity of a woman’s bodily experience and her reason for harvesting eggs.

Medical Staff Involved in Organ Trafficking Arrested in Egypt

August 25, 2017

(Al Arabiya) – Egyptian authorities announced on Tuesday evening the capture of a gang of medical staff for trafficking human organs in the area of Abu Nomros in Giza, southern Egypt. The authorities arrested 16 people involved in the case, reported Al Arabiya. An official security source confirmed to Al Arabiya that the suspects formed a gang of eight people who go after those those wishing to sell their organs. The gang includes a doctor from a hospital in Abu Al-Nomros and technicians in laboratory analysis who purchase the kidney for 25,000 LE ($1,400) and sell it to wealthy people for $25,000.

Hunting a Killer: Sex, Drugs and the Return of Syphilis

August 24, 2017

(New York Times) – For months, health officials in this socially conservative state capital have been staggered by a fast-spreading outbreak of a disease that, for nearly two decades, was considered all but extinguished. Syphilis, the deadly sexually transmitted infection that can lead to blindness, paralysis and dementia, is returning here and around the country, another consequence of the heroin and methamphetamine epidemics, as users trade sex for drugs.

Insurer’s Mailing to Customers Made HIV Status Visible through Envelope Window

August 24, 2017

(STAT News) – Thousands of people with HIV received mailed letters from Aetna last month that may have disclosed their HIV status on the envelope. The letters, which Aetna said were sent to approximately 12,000 people, were meant to relay a change in pharmacy benefits. Text visible through a small window on the envelopes listed the patients’ names and suggested a change in how they would fill the prescription for their treatment for the virus.

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