(The New Yorker) – To achieve today’s desirable veneer of innocence, the industry recommends a practice of constant, self-diagnostic work. This is not new, of course. “We are all chimeras, theorized and fabricated hybrids of machine and organism,” Donna Haraway wrote in “A Cyborg Manifesto,” her classic feminist essay, first published three decades ago. Haraway imagined technology as a pathway to a fluid, radical, and resistant identity for women. But what has mostly happened is the opposite.
(Eurekalert) – Encouraging hospital births are an important component of reducing maternal mortality in low-resource settings. Now, new research shows certain factors, including age and income, determine whether women living in rural Nepal have home births or hospital deliveries. Sheela Maru ,MD, an instructor in Obstetrics and Gynecology at Boston University School of Medicine and a team of researchers at Possible and Nyaya Health Nepal, interviewed 98 women shortly after birth to understand why they delivered their babies at home or in a hospital. The majority of women acknowledged that giving birth in a hospital was safer than giving birth at home.
(STAT News) – The idea is tantalizing: Reengineer a patient’s own immune cells to attack the cancer that’s killing her. Scientists have proven it can be done, curing patients of otherwise terminal blood cancers. But faith in this approach, dubbed CAR-T immunotherapy, has been shaken in recent months.
JAMA (vol. 316, no. 8, 2016) is available online by subscription only.
- “Avoiding the Unintended Consequences of Screening for Social Determinants of Health” by Arvin Garg, Renée Boynton-Jarrett, and Paul H. Dworkin
- “Priorities for Improving Hearing Health Care for Adults: A Report From the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine” by Frank R. Lin, William R. Hazzard, and Dan G. Blazer
The New England Journal of Medicine (vol. 375, no. 7, 2016) is available online by subscription only.
- “Genetic Misdiagnoses and the Potential for Health Disparities” by A.K. Manrai et. al.
- “Mental Health and Substance-Use Reforms — Milestones Reached, Challenges Ahead” by H.A. Huskamp and J.K. Iglehart
JAMA (vol. 316, no. 5, 2016) is available online by subscription only.
- “How Many Have You Done?” by Anna Reisman
- “The Affordable Care Act and the Future of US Health Care” by Howard Bauchner
New Genetics and Society (vol. 35, no. 3, 2016) is available online by subscription only.
- “The Private, the Public and the Hybrid in Umbilical Cord Blood Banking – a global perspective” by Margaret Sleeboom-Faulkener & Hung-Chieh Chang
- “Hybrid Practices in Cord Blood Banking. Rethinking the Commodification of Human Tissues in the Bioeconomy” by Christine Hauskeller and Lorenzo Beltrame
The American Journal of Bioethics (vol. 16, no. 9, 2016) is available online by subscription only.
- “The Importance of Fostering Ownership During Medical Training” by Alex Dubov, Liana Fraenkel, and Elizabeth Seng
- “Four Roles of Ethical Theory in Clinical Ethics Consultation” by Morten Magelssen, Reidar Pedersen, and Reidun Førde
(Scientific American) – Mental illness is a frequent talking point in the wake of mass shootings in our country. Politicians refer to the shortcomings of our mental health system and promise to deliver legislative reforms. Media coverage often suggests that if the shooters had been in treatment, these tragedies might never have occurred. But our national conversation usually ends there. We rarely talk about the realities of identifying dangerous patients and the difficult decisions that mental health providers face in these scenarios.
(Los Angeles Times) – Many people who reprove the notion of abortions based on sex (or if prenatal testing technology were more advanced, sexual orientation, or eye color) make an exception for abortions due to disability. They seem to believe that disabled people will be so unhappy, or make their parents so unhappy, that it would be better if they were not born. Such a distinction points to the inherent ableism within American society. We must do better; we must find a way to fairly and consistently handle the ethical complexities of widely accessible, and ever more precise, prenatal diagnostic technology.
(New Scientist) – The Ebola virus can persist in a man’s semen for much longer than we thought. A man in Guinea who survived Ebola in 2014 is now known to have carried it for at least 531 days. Earlier this year, he transmitted the virus sexually, causing it to spread to at least 10 people, and killing 8 of them. Ebola virus was known to persist in the testes of survivors, but until now the longest it had been detected surviving in this way was 284 days after a man’s recovery. The latest sexual transmission of the virus recorded had been 179 days after recovery.
(Scientific American) – Many of Singapore’s five million people are covering up and staying indoors to avoid mosquito bites as health experts warned that the outbreak of the Zika virus in the tropical city-state would be difficult to contain. One of the world’s leading financial hubs, Singapore is the only Asian country with active transmission of the mosquito-borne virus, which generally causes mild symptoms but can lead to serious birth defects in pregnant women.
(UPI) – Stem cell transplants are a key treatment for blood cancers, but researchers found that for some patients it may age their immune cells by as much as 30 years. Researchers at the University of North Carolina found blood cancer patients treated with an autologous stem cell transplant showed elevated levels of expression of messenger RNA comparable to advanced aging, and at levels higher than with other stem cell transplant therapies, according to a study published in the journal EBioMedicine.
(Science) – The Karolinska University Hospital and the Karolinska Institute (KI) in Stockholm ignored warning signs when they hired surgeon Paolo Macchiarini in 2010, an independent panel concluded this week. The investigation was commissioned by the hospital’s director in the wake of an ongoing misconduct scandal surrounding Macchiarini and the artificial tracheae he implanted in three patients at the hospital. Two of the patients died, and a third has been hospitalized since receiving an implant in 2012. “Macchiarini’s transplant activities have damaged clinical research not only at Karolinska University Hospital, but also in Sweden in general,” the panel noted.
(Eurekalert) – For children with autism and a class of genetic disorders, exposure to diagnostic ultrasound in the first trimester of pregnancy is linked to increased autism severity, according to a study by researchers at UW Medicine, UW Bothell and Seattle Children’s Research Institute. The study published Sept. 1 in Autism Research studied the variability of symptoms among kids with autism, not what causes autism. What they found is that exposure to diagnostic ultrasound in the first trimester is linked to increased autism symptom severity. The greatest link is among kids with certain genetic variations associated with autism; 7 percent of the children in the study had those variations.
(Pacific Standard) – The optimism around modern technology lies in part in the belief that it’s a democratizing force—one that isn’t bound by the petty biases and prejudices that humans have learned over time. But for artificial intelligence, that’s a false hope, according to new research, and the reason is boneheadedly simple: Just as we learn our biases from the world around us, AI will learn its biases from us.
Journal of Law and the Biosciences (vol. 3, no. 2, 2016) is available online by subscription only.
- “Refocusing the Ethical Choices in Womb Transplantation” by Judith Daar and Sigal Klipstein
- “Reproductive Surrogates, Risk, and the Desire For Genetic Parenthood” by Kimberly Mutcherson
- “A Contractarian Approach to the Ethics of Genetic-Selective Abortion” by Thomas Berry
- “Surrogate Parenthood: Between Genetics and Intent” by Doron Dorfman
Genetics in Medicine (vol. 18, no. 8, 2016) is available online by subscription only.
- “Ethics of Children’s Participation in a Saudi Biobank: An Exploratory Survey” by Ghiath Alahmad, Tamer Hifnawy and Kris Dierickx
- “Privacy-Preserving Genomic Testing in the Clinic: A Model Using HIV Treatment” by McLaren et. al.
(New York Times) – With the huge leaps we’ve made in decoding genetics in the past few years, we have more information at our disposal than ever before. We have been seduced by the idea that it fills a void in unanswerable questions, yet without enough knowledge to properly interpret its true ramifications. And so I am waiting. Waiting for our ability for accurate interpretation to catch up to innovation and yes, in the back of my mind, I am waiting for cancer.
(CNN) – But in the new study, published Thursday, Ferguson used data from the clinical trials to assess the impact of using the vaccine in different settings and found that its use in areas with low levels of disease, where people are unlikely to have been previously exposed to dengue, could lead to an increase in people severely affected by the infection due to the complexities of the virus and the way it interacts with our immune system. “Unlike most diseases, the second time you get dengue, it’s much more likely to be severe than the first time you get it,” Ferguson said. When people who have never experienced the infection get immunized, the vaccine may act like a silent infection, gearing them up for a more severe infection should they face the real form of the virus.