(Reuters) – Planned Parenthood, a U.S. women’s healthcare and abortion provider, has filed a federal lawsuit against the state of Kansas over a plan to strip it of government healthcare funding, court records showed. Planned Parenthood says at least 24 states have cut its clinics of funding since mid-2015, when anti-abortion activists released videos purporting to show group officials negotiating prices for aborted fetal tissue. The footage gave rise to accusations that Planned Parenthood trafficked in body parts, which the group denies.
(Quartz) – Human reproduction is about to undergo a radical shift. Embryo selection, in connection with in-vitro fertilization (IVF), will help our species eliminate many genetic diseases, extend healthy lifespans, and enhance people’s overall well-being. Within 20 years, it will supplant sex as the way large numbers of us conceive of our children. But while the embryo selection revolution will do a lot of good, it will also raise thorny ethical questions about diversity, equality and what it means to be human–questions we are woefully unprepared to address.
(Quartz) – The need for family planning among migrants and refugees is well known (pdf). This population is at a higher risk of unwanted pregnancies and has less knowledge of, and access to, contraception. For women living in refugee camps, unwanted pregnancy adds hardship to an already terrible situation, and yet reproductive issues are hardly addressed as a priority in refugee camps, or conflict areas.
(Medical Xpress) – Use of hospice services does not increase care costs in the last six months of life for long-stay nursing homes residents according to an analysis conducted by researchers from the Indiana University Center for Aging Research and the Regenstrief Institute. Avoidance of costly hospitalization and subsequent post-acute care in the nursing home appears to offset hospice services costs, even when hospice services are provided over a prolonged period of time according to the study of 2,510 long stay nursing home decedents, a third of whom received hospice services. Age, race or gender had no effect on the findings.
(Managed Care Magazine) – Johns Hopkins patient safety experts calculate that more than 250,000 U.S. deaths per year are due to medical errors. Their analysis, based on medical death rate data over an eight-year period, was published May 3 in the BMJ. The figure they reached surpasses the third leading cause of death listed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)—respiratory disease, which kills close to 150,000 people per year.
(New York Times) – Michael was also vomiting, having diarrhea and crying: signs of opiate withdrawal. He was homeless and had lost a lot of weight while living on the streets. In many ways, he was like other patients I had cared for. Except that his hospital room became the jurisdiction of the law enforcement agency. Every time we spoke, a third body impinged upon our patient-doctor relationship. I took an oath to protect patient confidentiality, yet every guard knew the intimate details of Michael’s medical history, including his H.I.V. status. I felt myself whispering to protect whatever shred of dignity remained.
(The Telegraph) – A groundbreaking trial to see if it is possible to regenerate the brains of dead people, has won approval from health watchdogs. A biotech company in the US has been granted ethical permission to recruit 20 patients who have been declared clinically dead from a traumatic brain injury, to test whether parts of their central nervous system can be brought back to life. Scientists will use a combination of therapies, which include injecting the brain with stem cells and a cocktail of peptides, as well as deploying lasers and nerve stimulation techniques which have been shown to bring patients out of comas.
(New York Times) – A pain management specialist, Dr. Nathaniel Katz, was stunned in 2012 when the Food and Drug Administration rejected a recommendation from an expert panel that had urged mandatory training for doctors who prescribed powerful painkillers like OxyContin. That panel had concluded that the training might help stem the epidemic of overdose deaths involving prescription narcotics, or opioids. At first, Dr. Katz, who had been on the panel, thought that drug makers had pressured the F.D.A. to kill the proposal. Then an agency official told him that another group had fought the recommendation: the American Medical Association, the nation’s largest doctors organization.
(The Wall Street Journal) – The United Nations Security Council in a resolution Tuesday condemned attacks on hospitals and health-care workers, a response to a recent string of attacks on health facilities in Syria and Yemen. But leading world powers also faced an unsettling view of their dual role. The Security Council is supposed to enforce world peace, but most of its permanent members—the U.S., U.K., Russia and France—are engaged in active warfare and have been accused of disregarding the Geneva conventions.
(CBC News) – A Manitoba woman plans to apply to the court to get to access physician-assisted death, making her the second person in the province to do so. Court documents, which seek protection for the identity of the woman, say she is from a small Manitoba community and has a grievous medical condition that meets the criteria for an exemption.
(Wired UK) – Eight years ago, Venter’s genome couldn’t even be used to tell you his eye colour. Yet modelling appearance is merely a visual demonstration, not the end goal, of HLi’s big-data genomics. The aim is to predict your future. To explain why some people’s cholesterol accumulates in their arteries to ultimately fatal levels, and others’ does not. To identify which women are likely to develop breast or ovarian cancer in later life. And to understand why some people develop Alzheimer’s and some continue to live a cognitively rich life at 90.
(BBC) – An unmanned robot has been used to stitch together a pig’s bowel, moving science a step closer to automated surgery, say experts. Unlike existing machines, the Star robot is self-controlled – it doesn’t need to be guided by a surgeon’s hands. In tests on pigs, it at least matched trained doctors at mending cut bowel, Science Translational Medicine reports. But it is very early days and it remains to be seen if people would trust such a “hands-off” approach.
(Nature) – In the past decade venture philanthropy has experienced a resurgence, with many foundations focused on new therapies. But the attributes that make this type of funding so effective can also stir up controversy or raise ethical questions. Philanthropic foundations are not accountable to the public, and some critics question whether wealthy benefactors have too much sway in medicine.
(Reuters) – At a hospital in northern Gaza, a young patient is being prepared for hand surgery as one of the doctors leading the operation watches on — from nearly 200 miles away in Beirut. In the Lebanese capital Doctor Ghassan Abu Sitta is guiding colleagues at Gaza’s Al-Awda hospital via an online interactive platform known as Proximie, which allows the medical teams to communicate and work together via tablet computers.
(Nature) – Developmental biologists have grown human embryos in the lab for up to 13 days after fertilization, shattering the previous record of 9 days. The achievement has already enabled scientists to discover new aspects of early human development, including features never before seen in a human embryo. And the technique could help to determine why some pregnancies fail. The work, reported this week in Nature and Nature Cell Biology, also raises the possibility that scientists could soon culture embryos to an even more advanced stage. Doing so would raise ethical, as well as technical, challenges. Many countries and scientific societies ban research on human embryos that are more than 14 days old; in light of this, the authors of the studies ended their experiments before this point.
(UPI) – It may be possible to grow new lungs for patients in need of a transplant using their own cells as a starter kit, according to researchers at Yale University. The researchers devised a mechanical system that mimics the body to allow whole lungs to grow at scale, described in a proof-of-concept study published in the journal BioResearch Open Access.
(The Conversation) – A recent report shows new healthy eggs can be made from stem cells. Stem cells are present in human embryos, as embryonic stem cells, and in most organs including the ovary. Alternatively, an induced form of stem cells can be obtained by treating mature cells with a cocktail of reagents in the laboratory. The procedures required to create new eggs out of stem cells are very complex and still experimental. There are ethical issues, such as the need to destroy a human embryo to obtain embryonic stem cells, and further experiments will be necessary to show there are no genetic or fertility problems with subsequent generations.
(Science) – This week, scientists will gather in Washington, D.C., for an annual meeting devoted to gene therapy—a long-struggling field that has clawed its way back to respectability with a string of promising results in small clinical trials. Now, many believe the powerful new gene-editing technology known as CRISPR will add to gene therapy’s newfound momentum. But is CRISPR really ready for prime time? Science explores the promise—and peril—of the new technology.
(New York Times) – The embryos belonged somewhere, but probably not in this empty fertility clinic in the capital of Nepal. For months, they had sat suspended in a tank of liquid nitrogen at the fertility center at the Grande City Clinic and Hospital, which until recently operated a robust surrogacy business that attracted would-be parents from around the world. But the embryos are now stuck in limbo after Nepal abruptly banned surrogacy in September.
(Medicins Sans Frontiers) – Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, Last Wednesday, airstrikes obliterated Al Quds Hospital in Aleppo. They blew apart at least 50 men, women and children. It killed one of the last remaining paediatricians in the city. A murderous airstrike. There were almost 300 airstrikes in Aleppo over the last 10 days. Civilians, often in crowds, were repeatedly struck. What are individuals in wars today? Expendable commodities, dead or alive.