(The Globe and Mail) – The federal government plans to tighten and clarify the regulations dealing with assisted reproduction. Health Canada is outlining a number of proposed changes to the rules that are part of the 2004 Assisted Human Reproduction Act. The act was the subject of a 2010 Supreme Court of Canada ruling, which found some parts fell under provincial jurisdiction, while leaving a number of sections intact.
(CBS News) – At 35 weeks, their children arrived. As it turns out, embryos with DNA from both dads, respectively, were implanted and thrived. So, the twins have Justin’s DNA. Their son has Adam’s. It is believed they are the first gay couple in the world with this surrogacy outcome. “They’re genetically half-siblings. They’re going to look alike. I think it will be good for them,” Justin says.
(Kaiser Health News) – As controversy about the pricing of EpiPens reverberates from Capitol Hill to school districts across the country, one recurring complaint from consumers is that the high cost is magnified because the drug expires quickly, forcing users to regularly bear the cost of replacing the medicine that saves lives in the event of a severe allergic reaction. So what exactly determines its longevity? It turns out storage and distribution can play as important a role in the drug’s shelf life as the chemical compounds.
(The Scientist) – In the mid-1980s, Oliver Smithies, then at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, and Mario Capecchi of the University of Utah independently used homologous recombination—a molecular process to repair broken DNA—to change specific regions of the genome in cultured mouse cells (Nature, 317:230-34, 1985; Cell, 44:419-28, 1986). The technique involved sandwiching an altered copy of a gene between two regions of code identical to those flanking the endogenous gene, which would be swapped out for its engineered counterpart.
(The Guardian) – The simplicity and low cost of tools to edit the genetic code means “garage scientists” – or amateurs with some skill – can now perform their own experiments, posing a potential risk from the release of GM bugs, a new report suggests. In a report published on Friday, the Nuffield Council on Bioethics said that the rise in precision “gene editing” tools had revolutionised biomedical research over the past ten years and could potentially have a dramatic impact on human society.
(BBC) – Thai health officials have confirmed two cases of microcephaly, a severe birth defect linked to the Zika virus. It is the first time in South East Asia that the disease has been linked to the condition, which causes abnormally small brains and heads. Several countries in the region have reported Zika cases. The virus is transmitted by the Aedes mosquito which also spreads dengue and chikungunya. The current outbreak of the disease was first detected in Brazil last year. Cases have recently been reported across South East Asia.
(STAT News) – A Kuwaiti law requiring all residents to submit to genetic testing has sparked international outcry — and there are signs it’s also drawing a muted civil opposition from locals fearful of its scope. The controversial law, passed in July 2015, mandates that the country’s 1.2 million citizens and another 2.3 million foreigners living in Kuwait submit DNA samples to a new government database. Legislators defend the mandate as a security measure to help the government keep track of criminals and terrorists. Geneticists and human rights groups outside the country call it a gross invasion of privacy.
(Medscape) – Women who use oral hormonal contraceptives are at increased risk of developing depression, and adolescents seem most vulnerable, results of a large study suggest. “Women should generally be informed about this potential side effect with use of hormonal contraception, so they can react appropriately in case of mood changes or even depression development. Likewise, doctors who prescribe hormonal contraception should be aware of this potential risk,” Øjvind Lidegaard, MD, Department of Gynecology, Rigshospitalet, Copenhagen, and Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Copenhagen, told Medscape Medical News.
(Canadian Broadcasting Co) – Since February almost 30 Albertans have made the decision to end their lives with the help of a physician. Some deciding to conduct the procedures in their homes, others in the hospital. Some suffer from ALS, others rare forms of cancer. No two of these choices are the same. The only constant that exists is the decision. It’s a decision that is being made more than was expected in the province. Alberta Health Service officials are struggling to keep up with the demand for physician-assisted deaths.
(Medscape) – Local injection of mesenchymal stem cells derived from autologous bone marrow shows promise in healing recalcitrant neuropathic diabetic foot ulcers, a novel study from Egypt shows. Presenting the results at the European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD) 2016 Annual Meeting, Ahmed Albehairy, MD, from Mansoura University, Egypt, said: “In patients who received the mesenchymal stem cells, ulcer reduction was found to be significantly higher compared with patients on conventional treatment after both 6 weeks and 12 weeks of follow-up. This is despite the fact that initial ulcer size was larger in the stem-cell–treated group.”
(BBC) – Chile is one of only six nations in the world where a woman can be prosecuted for having an abortion whatever the circumstances. Its first female president, Michelle Bachelet, is trying to change that, against stiff opposition. “I believe that women should have legally the possibility of making their own choices. In this country until now this is criminalised – if you interrupt your pregnancy, you will go to jail. And I believe this is not fair,” Ms Bachelet told me.
(Reuters) – In the shadow of one of China’s top cancer hospitals in Beijing, a catacomb-like network of ramshackle brick buildings has become a home-from-home for hundreds of cancer patients and their families waiting for treatment. The cluster of nine buildings, connected by dark, narrow passageways, offers cheap accommodation for patients unable to afford a coveted hospital room, a reflection of the vast inequalities in China’s overburdened healthcare system.
Drug Overdose Deaths Drive Increase in Number of Organ Donations: One Family’s Story of Hope from Despair
(ABC News) – In recent years, so many people have died as a result of the nation’s opioid epidemic that it has caused the number of organ donations from fatal overdose victims to skyrocket — an unexpected consequence that highlights the nation’s agonizing opioid crisis. n 1994, only 29 donors in the U.S. had died of drug overdoses. Last year, that number climbed to 848, according to the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS), the nonprofit organization that manages the nation’s organ transplant system.
(UPI) – A team of researchers from Northwestern University have developed a 3D-printable ink that produces synthetic bone material, which they hope will ease the lives of children needing implantation surgery in the future. The study, published in Science Translational Medicine, produced a hyperelastic bone-like material that can be easily customized to fit the needs of its host. Currently, bone implantation surgery typically involves harvesting needed bone from elsewhere in the body, which can cause additional complications and pain. Lead researcher Ramille Shah says this places a particular strain on growing children who need repeated surgeries as they age.
(BBC) – Russia is moving towards banning “baby boxes” – the hatches introduced in many countries where desperate mothers can safely abandon an unwanted infant. But there has been sharp criticism of the ban proposed by senator Elena Mizulina and backed by the government. Some warn that a ban will mean more dead babies left in woods or at rubbish dumps. Russia has about 20 of the boxes, where a mother can anonymously leave a baby at a maternity unit. A UN committee has condemned the boxes.
(Reuters) – The Zika virus causing an epidemic in Brazil and spreading through the Americas can infect and alter cells in the human nervous system that are crucial for formation of bones and cartilage in the skull, a study found on Thursday. The research, published in the journal Cell Host & Microbe, may help explain why babies children born with to mother who have had the virus can have smaller-than-average skulls and disproportionate facial features.
(Kasier Health News) – Drugmaker Sarepta Therapeutics won a big victory when its $300,000 muscular dystrophy drug was recently approved, but the company had other reasons to celebrate, too. They were also awarded the drug world’s equivalent of a Willy Wonka golden ticket. The ticket, known as a rare pediatric disease priority review voucher, is part of a program created by Congress in 2007 to encourage the development of drugs for tropical diseases and later expanded to rare pediatric disorders. Any company awarded a voucher can use it for a fast-track government review of one of its future drugs — or it can sell the voucher to another company.
(MIT Technology Review) – Most experts in the medical field will tell you that gene therapy has finally come of age, but the numbers tell a different story. Despite 30 years of research and a bigger pipeline than ever, only a small number of gene therapy trials have completed late-stage testing or are currently in late-stage trials. The concept of gene therapy—replacing or adding a gene to correct a faulty, disease-causing one—was first tested in a clinical trial in 1990. That ushered in a period of enormous hype, with news headlines proclaiming a life-saving approach.
(NPR) – Researchers trying to understand diseases and find new ways to treat them are running into a serious problem in their labs: One of the most commonly used tools often produces spurious results. More than 100 influential scientists met in California this week and agreed on a strategy to address the troubling issue. The tool in this case is a process — the use of custom-built antibodies. Like the antibodies in your body that help fight off disease, these customized research antibodies are also designed to home in on a specific target, this time to help scientists decipher the invisible workings of a cell.