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Malpractice Case against Duke, Anil Potti Settled

May 4, 2015

(Retraction Watch) – A lawsuit filed in October 2011 against Duke University and Anil Potti, who has retracted 11 papers and corrected a number of others amidst investigation into his work, has been settled, Retraction Watch has learned.

Study Questions Quality of US Health Data

May 1, 2015

(Medical Xpress) – A new study by Johns Hopkins researchers concludes that most U.S. clinical registries that collect data on patient outcomes are substandard and lack critical features necessary to render the information they collect useful for patients, physicians and policy makers. Findings of the study, published ahead of print April 24 in the Journal for Healthcare Quality, reveal poor data monitoring and reporting that researchers say are hurting national efforts to study disease, guide patient choice of optimal treatments, formulate rational health policies and track in a meaningful way how well physicians and hospitals perform.

New Test Can Predict Cancer Up to 13 Years Before Disease Develops

May 1, 2015

(The Telegraph) – A new test which can predict with 100 per cent accuracy whether a person will develop cancer up to 13 years in the future, has been devised by scientists. Harvard and Northwestern University discovered that tiny but significant changes are already happening in the body more than a decade before cancer is diagnosed.

CDC Reports First U.S. Transmission of Plague from Dog to Human

May 1, 2015

(UPI) – A dog infected humans with the pneumonic plague for the first time in the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday. In June 2014, a 2-year-old American pit bull terrier became sick with a fever, jaw rigidity, drooling and neurological problems. The dog was euthanized one day later at a veterinarian’s office in Colorado.

Medicare Releases Detailed Data on Prescription Drug Spending

May 1, 2015

(New York Times) – The data was the most detailed breakdown ever provided by government officials about the prescription claims of Medicare beneficiaries. It included information about 36 million patients, one million prescribers and $103 billion in spending on drugs under the program’s Part D in the year 2013, the most recent year available. The data did not take into account rebates that the drug manufacturers pay to the insurers that operate the Medicare beneficiaries’ drug plans.

Rural Hospitals Struggle to Stay Open, Adapt to Changes

May 1, 2015

(Medical Xpress) – A total of 50 hospitals in the rural U.S. have closed since 2010, and the pace has been accelerating, with more closures in the past two years than in the previous 10 years combined, according to the National Rural Health Association. That could be just the beginning of what some health care analysts fear will be a crisis.

Fighting Ebola with HIV Drugs Gets Big Shot in the Arm

May 1, 2015

(CNN) – A combination of three HIV drugs does a remarkably good job fighting Ebola in the laboratory, according to research presented May 1 at the Canadian Association for HIV Research. If the drugs work in humans — and that’s a big if — it would be a game-changer in the fight against Ebola. HIV drugs are relatively inexpensive and available in West Africa, where more than 10,000 people have died in the ongoing Ebola outbreak.

Stem Cells Pass Safety Test in Vision-Loss Trial

May 1, 2015

(Nature) – A company that has spent more than 20 years trying to develop treatments based on embryonic stem cells is taking encouragement from small, preliminary tests of the cells in people with progressive vision loss. If the technique continues to impress in larger trials designed to assess its effectiveness, it could become the first therapy derived from embryonic stem cells to reach the market. A study of four patients, published in Stem Cell Reports on 30 April shows that injection of retinal cells derived from stem cells is safe for people with macular degeneration.

CRISPR: The Technology Behind Human Embryo Editing

May 1, 2015

(Forbes) – The startling research paper detailing the first-ever attempt to edit the genome of human embryos has aroused a great deal of interest and some alarm, but the nature of the DNA editing technique, known as CRISPR, is not so widely known. Also not so widely known is the technique’s peculiar history, which shows again how discoveries in pure science can lead to amazing technological breakthroughs.

Sofia Vergara’s Ex Fiance: Our Frozen Embryos Have a Right to Live

May 1, 2015

(New York Times) – LAST August, I filed a complaint in Santa Monica, Calif., using pseudonyms, to protect two frozen embryos I created with my former fiancée. I wanted to keep this private, but recently the story broke to the world. It has gotten attention not only because of the people involved — my ex is Sofía Vergara, who stars in the ABC series “Modern Family” — but also because embryonic custody disputes raise important questions about life, religion and parenthood.

Meet Three Surrogates and Hear Their Thoughts on Commercial Surrogacy and Baby Gammy

May 1, 2015

(ABC.net) – The recent case of baby Gammy shed light on the underground world of international commercial surrogacy. Gammy was the Down syndrome baby abandoned to his surrogate mother in Thailand when the Australian couple who’d paid for him didn’t want him anymore. It made people realise just how inhumane the current system can be and prompted calls for paid surrogacy to be legalised in Australia, where at least it can be regulated. In all the recent debate, there’s one group of people from whom we’ve not heard: the children of surrogate mothers.

Why Telemedicine Needs to Redesign the Doctor’s Appointment

April 30, 2015

(Wired) – A new partnership between insurance provider UnitedHealthcare and three leading telemedicine companies will make virtual doctor’s visits a reality for many Americans. The insurer is putting telemedicine on par with a trip to the doctor’s office, effectively saying a video visit is as good as brick-and-mortar check-up. It’s a significant step into the future of healthcare, and it points to an interesting design challenge.

The Science of Telemedicine: A Lifesaver in the Right Place

April 30, 2015

(Wired) – Telemedicine—doctors talking to patients or other doctors via video—may yet find a place as a tool in mainstream health care. Physicians are already finding important uses for it. But it has one critical limitation: contact. “You can’t feel a joint and see whether it’s warm and lax,” says Thomas Nesbitt, a physician and a founder of the telemedicine program at UC Davis. “But we’re less reliant on touch as a diagnostic tool now, thanks to imaging.”

South African Court Grants Man ‘Right to Die’

April 30, 2015

(BBC) – A South African court has granted a terminally ill man the right to die, in a landmark ruling for assisted suicide. The Pretoria High Court ruled that Robin Stransham-Ford, 65, who was diagnosed with terminal prostate cancer in 2013, could allow a doctor to help him end his life. Judge Hans Fabricius said that the doctor treating him could not now be prosecuted or face disciplinary action.

Obama’s BRAIN Initiative Yields First Study Resutls

April 30, 2015

(Reuters) – The mouse walked, the mouse stopped; the mouse ignored a bowl of food, then scampered back and gobbled it up, and it was all controlled by neuroscientists, researchers reported on Thursday. The study, describing a way to manipulate a lab animal’s brain circuitry accurately enough to turn behaviors both on and off, is the first to be published under President Barack Obama’s 2013 BRAIN Initiative, which aims to advance neuroscience and develop therapies for brain disorders.

Study: Babies Born with Drug Withdrawal Symptoms on the Rise

April 30, 2015

(UPI) – A study from Vanderbilt University found an increase in the number of babies showing symptoms of drug withdrawal. The condition is known as Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome and is caused by drug dependency during pregnancy. “The rise in neonatal abstinence syndrome mirrors the rise we have seen in opioid pain reliever use across the nation. Our study finds that communities hardest hit by opioid use and their complications, like overdose death, have the highest rates of the NAS,” said the study’s lead author Dr. Stephen Patrick, assistant professor of Pediatrics and Health Policy at Vanderbilt.

WHO, Health Partners Striving to Treat Quake Survivors in Nepal’s Remote Regions

April 30, 2015

(World Health Organization) – WHO has stepped up efforts to deliver critical medical relief to populations outside of the Kathmandu valley affected by Saturday’s earthquake, with a major focus on reaching injured people and preventing disease outbreaks. Coordinating health sector partners in support of Nepal’s government, WHO is striving to reach remote areas beyond the capital, Kathmandu, where road access has been hampered by damage caused by the 25 April earthquake.

Relaxed DNA May Contribute to Aging

April 30, 2015

(Science) – People with Werner syndrome—a rare disease the symptoms of which mimic premature aging—usually go grey in their 20s, develop cataracts and osteoporosis in their 30s, and die before 60. Now, researchers have for the first time created a key class of versatile stem cells that carry the genetic defect that causes the condition. Their analysis suggests that loosely wrapped DNA underlies the accelerated physical decline of Werner syndrome and promotes aging in the rest of the population.

NIH Reiterates Ban on Editing Human Embryo DNA

April 30, 2015

(Nature) – The US National Institutes of Health (NIH) has reaffirmed its ban on research that involves gene editing of human embryos. In a statement released on 29 April, NIH director Francis Collins spelled out the agency’s long-standing policy against funding such research and the ethical and legal reasons for it.

Most People Eager to Know the Secrets of Their Genetics

April 30, 2015

(Science Daily) – Currently, a lot of the information in our personal genomes is of uncertain clinical significance. As genetic research advances and more can be learned from sequence data, this survey will help researchers and health policy makers to plan accordingly. A survey of nearly 7000 people has revealed that 98 per cent want to be informed if researchers using their genetic data stumble upon indicators of a serious preventable or treatable disease.

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