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EU Drug Agency Urges Approval for Dengue Vaccine

October 19, 2018

(ABC News) – Europe’s drug regulator has recommended approving the first vaccine for dengue despite concerns about the vaccine’s wide use and a lawsuit in the Philippines alleging that it was linked to three deaths. The European Medicines Agency said Friday it had adopted a “positive opinion” of French pharmaceutical company Sanofi’s Dengvaxia. The vaccine is the world’s first against dengue, which sickens about 96 million people annually.

Women in the U.S. Can Now Get Safe Abortions by Mail

October 19, 2018

(The Atlantic) – For years, an organization called Women on Web has given women a way to perform their own medication-induced abortions at home. The organization would remotely do online consultations, fill prescriptions, and ship pills that trigger miscarriages to women who live in countries where abortion is illegal. Several studies have shown that the service is safe. For American women who’ve wanted pills, though, there’s been one major problem: Women on Web wouldn’t ship to the United States.

New Genetic Cause of Severe Childhood Epilepsy Identified

October 18, 2018

(UPI) – A new genetic cause of severe and difficult-to-treat childhood epilepsy syndrome has been identified, offering clues to the potential medical treatments for the rare condition, according to researchers. Researchers found spontaneous mutations in one gene, called CACNA1E, disrupt the flow of calcium in brain cells, leading to epileptic overactivity. The findings were published Thursday in the American Journal of Human Genetics.

Feds Crack Down on Stem Cell Clinics That Touted Autism Treatments, Blindness Cures

October 18, 2018

(STAT News) – For the first time, the Federal Trade Commission has cracked down on stem cell clinics for overzealous marketing claims, filing a complaint against two California clinics that promoted their treatments for everything from autism to Parkinson’s despite a lack of evidence. As part of a proposed settlement announced Thursday, the FTC is requiring the clinics — Regenerative Medical Group and Telehealth Medical Group — and their owner, Dr. Bryn Jarald Henderson, to stop making such claims and to inform past and current patients about the settlement.

Mental Health Patients, with Nowhere Else to Go, Are Overwhelming Emergency Departments

October 18, 2018

(STAT News) – Many stay in the emergency department for hours; some even stay there for a few days. The practice, called psychiatric boarding, occurs when an individual with a mental health condition is kept in an emergency department because no appropriate mental health care is available. It’s rampant around the country. Millions of Americans with mental health issues are not getting the care they need. It’s a crisis so profound that it is overwhelming emergency departments and the entire health care system.

Long-Term Safety of Silicon Breast Implants Still Unclear

October 18, 2018

(Reuters) – Women with silicone breast implants may have a higher risk of certain medical problems than women who don’t get implants, but more research is needed to get a complete picture of implant safety over the long term, a new U.S. study suggests. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) banned silicone breast implants in 1992 over concerns about an increased risk of cancer, connective tissue diseases and autoimmune disorders that were disproved by subsequent research.

How Tech Companies Are Pushing Silicon Valley to Put Ethics Before Profit

October 18, 2018

(Vox) – The chorus of tech workers demanding American tech companies put ethics before profit is growing louder. In recent days, employees at Google and Microsoft have been pressuring company executives to drop bids for a $10 billion contract to provide cloud computing services to the Department of Defense. As part of the contract, known as JEDI, engineers would build cloud storage for military data; there are few public details about what else it would entail. But one thing is clear: The project would involve using artificial intelligence to make the US military a lot deadlier.

Queensland Parliament Votes to Legalise Abortion

October 18, 2018

(The Guardian) – Abortion will become legal in Queensland, after the state’s parliament voted to support new legislation and erase a 119-year-old “morality” section of the state’s criminal code. Loud cheers in the legislative assembly chamber at 7.42pm on Wednesday brought to an end a 50-year struggle by women’s groups in a state once notorious for its conservatism.

The Movie ‘Gosnell’ Has a Double Truth: We Ignore Poor Women and Abortion

October 18, 2018

(The Washington Post) – A new film out this past weekend highlights the horrifying 2009 death of Karnamaya Mongar, a 41-year-old refugee from Nepal who died shortly after leaving a Philadelphia abortion clinic called the Women’s Medical Society.

Study to Explore Bioethics of Brain Organoids

October 18, 2018

(News Medical) – Research scientists around the world are now able to investigate the structural, cellular, and developmental intricacies of the human brain using bioengineered stem cell-based models called organoids. But the ethics to help guide researchers and regulators lag behind the technological capability to “grow” brains in a petri dish. That is about to change as a group of bioethicists and scientists chart the unexplored territory of neuroethics, which is quickly emerging from the ability to bioengineer models of the brain.

Organ Harvesting in China and the Many Questions to Be Answered

October 18, 2018

(Forbes) – The event was the third such event organized at the U.K. Parliament. One of the issues on the agenda was the claim that the Chinese government is killing prisoners of conscience (particularly, religious minorities, including Falun Gong, Tibetan Buddhists, Uighur Muslims and unregistered House Church Christians) to supply the organ harvesting industry. While these claims sound unrealistic, the issue has been already subject of investigations and hearings at the U.S. Congress and the European Parliament.

What Makes a Good Life in Late Life? Citizenship and Justice in Aging Societies

October 18, 2018

(Eurekalert) – The United States is an aging society, where one in five people will be 65 or older by 2035. While bioethics scholarship on aging has historically concerned itself with issues at the end of life and the medical care of patients with chronic or progressive conditions, it is time for bioethics to look at the experience of aging itself and to articulate “a concept of good citizenship in an aging society that goes beyond health care relationships,” write Nancy Berlinger and Mildred Z. Solomon in the introduction to What Makes a Good Life in Late Life? Citizenship and Justice in Aging Societies, a new special report from the Hastings Center Report.

Hurricane Michael: Death Toll Continues to Rise Amid Searches

October 17, 2018

(BBC) – Areas of the US devastated by Hurricane Michael last week are continuing to count the storm’s cost as the number of confirmed dead rises. At least 27 deaths have been blamed on the hurricane across four US states – a number expected to increase further. A volunteer organisation has said it is trying to find more than 1,100 people believed to be unaccounted for. The storm destroyed buildings and flattened communities as it tore through the Florida panhandle region.

States Act to Safeguard Young Cancer Patients’ Chances to Have Children

October 17, 2018

(Kaiser Health News) – The question of fertility is often overlooked when young cancer patients are battling a life-threatening illness. And since health insurance doesn’t typically cover fertility preservation care, patients and their families may be deterred by the cost. But a growing number of states now require plans to cover such services when medically necessary treatment jeopardizes fertility.

Gilead’s HIV Prevention Pill Can Greatly Reduce New Infections in Targeted Rollouts

October 17, 2018

(STAT News) – For the first time, a study has confirmed that using the HIV-prevention pill can effectively thwart the virus in uninfected men by a significant amount, a finding that patient activists argue should spur public health officials to more aggressively push for wider access to the medicine. By giving men the PrEP pill on a rapid and targeted basis, the HIV diagnosis rate fell by 25 percent in just one year, from 295 cases in the fall of 2016 to 221 cases the following year, according to the study, which was published in The Lancet HIV journal.

Stephen Hawking Predicted That Genetically Engineered Superhumans Could Destroy Humanity

October 17, 2018

(Newsweek) – Before his death in March of this year, Stephen Hawking warned that genetic engineering could lead to the rise of a superhuman species, with disastrous consequences for the rest of humanity. The stark message is just one of many predictions outlined in the renowned theoretical physicist’s new book, Brief Answers to the Big Questions, which was published today. According to the publishers, Hawking was regularly asked for his thoughts on the “big questions” by scientists, tech entrepreneurs, senior business figures, political leaders and the general public.

These Real-Life Cyborgs Are Changing Their Brains by Enhancing Their Bodies

October 17, 2018

(Quartz) – Researchers have found that new experiences carry on molding our brains, and how they learn, right the way through our lives. “Your brain remains plastic until your death,” says Adrien Peyrache, a neuroscientist at McGill University, who points to a 2011 study of London cab drivers, published in the journal Current Biology.

Stem Cell Transplant Effective as First Line in Aggressive MS

October 17, 2018

(Medscape) – More very encouraging data on the use of autologous stem cell transplant in multiple sclerosis (MS) have been presented. There was no evidence of disease activity post transplant in patients who previously had extremely aggressive disease. The case series of 20 patients was reported at the 34th Congress of the European Committee for Treatment and Research in Multiple Sclerosis (ECTRIMS) 2018 here by Joyutpal Das, MBBS, Royal Hallamshire Hospital Sheffield, United Kingdom.

Fewer Cases of Euthanasia Last Year; Doctors’ Concerns May Be to Blame

October 17, 2018

(Dutch News) – The number of reported cases of euthanasia has fallen for the first time since the practice was formalised in 2002, Trouw reported on Tuesday. There were 4,600 cases of euthanasia in the Netherlands in the first nine months of this year, a drop of 9% on the same period in 2017, Trouw said. Jacob Kohnstamm, chairman of the regional euthanasia monitoring committee, told the paper he is surprised at the reducation. ‘Given the greying of the population, an increase was to have been expected,’ he said.

‘Disease’ vs. ‘Difference’: A Question of Eugenics

October 17, 2018

(The Atlantic) – A new video from Jill Rosenbaum at Retro Report, in association with American Experience, premiering on The Atlantic today, depicts some major bioethics quandaries that have resulted from advances in genetic screening technology. With prenatal and carrier testing now available for hundreds of conditions, it’s more common than ever for prospective parents to undergo screening for a fetus or embryo. But the conditions tested for vary significantly in terms of severity and risk of heredity.

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