Facial-Recognition Software Finds a New Use: Diagnosing Genetic Disorders; Top Scientists Revamp Standards to Foster Integrity in Research; Study Finds Large Data Breaches at U.S. Hospital; How to Understand the Resurgence of Eugenics …
April 13, 2017 Donate to CBHD
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AoF Hollinger Presentation
This presentation, "Biotechnologies and Human Nature: What We Should Not Change in Who We Are," was given at The Center for Bioethics & Human Dignity's 2017 Academy of Fellows Consultation, on February 3, 2017. Dennis Hollinger is President of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and a Distinguished Fellow at the Center.
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Facial-Recognition Software Finds a New Use: Diagnosing Genetic Disorders
(STAT News) — The algorithms in general work on the same principles: measuring the size of facial features and their placement to detect patterns. They’re both trained on databases of photographs doctors take of their patients. The NIH works with partners around the world to collect their photos; FDNA accepts photos uploaded to Face2Gene. But they differ in a key way: Whereas the algorithm the NIH uses can predict if someone has a given genetic disorder, the Face2Gene algorithm spits out not diagnoses, but probabilities. …
Top Scientists Revamp Standards to Foster Integrity in Research
(NPR) — It’s been 25 years since the National Academy of Sciences set its standards for appropriate scientific conduct, and the world of science has changed dramatically in that time. So now the academies of science, engineering and medicine have updated their standards. The report published Tuesday, “Fostering Integrity in Research,” shines a spotlight on how the research enterprise as a whole creates incentives that can be detrimental to good research …
Mighty Morphed Brain Cells Cure Parkinson’s in Mice, But Human Trials Are Still Far Off
(STAT News) — Mice that walk straight and fluidly don’t usually make scientists exult, but these did: The lab rodents all had a mouse version of Parkinson’s disease and only weeks before had barely been able to lurch and shuffle around their cages. Using a trick from stem-cell science, researchers managed to restore the kind of brain cells whose death causes Parkinson’s. And the mice walked almost normally. The same technique turned human brain cells, growing in a lab dish, into the dopamine-producing neurons that are AWOL in Parkinson’s, scientists at Sweden’s Karolinska Institute reported on Monday in Nature Biotechnology …
Addicts Who Can’t Get Opioids Are Overdosing on a Diarrhea Drug
(The Atlantic) — Opioid painkillers have an inconvenient, lesser-known side effect: terrible constipation. Perhaps then it’s no surprise that people addicted to opioids have considered the inverse. If a drug that gets you high causes constipation, could a drug that causes constipation get you high? Yes, and that drug is another opioid called loperamide, better known by its brand name Imodium as an over-the-counter treatment for diarrhea. At extremely high doses—dozens or even hundreds of pills a day—it can produce a high or ease withdrawal symptoms. And in the middle of a national opioid epidemic, overdoses of loperamide are rising, too. …
Study Finds Large Data Breaches at U.S. Hospital
(UPI) — Researchers at Michigan State University have found the personal data of patients may be at risk of data breaches in U.S. hospitals. The study found nearly 1,800 incidences of large data breaches in patient information over a seven-year period from October 2009 to December 2016. Researchers analyzed data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services on data breaches at hospitals and healthcare providers …
Study: Oregon Patients Using Physician-Assisted Suicide Steadily Increase
(The Oregonian) — The number of patients using the nation’s first physician-aided suicide program, Oregon’s Death with Dignity Act, has continued to grow since voters first approved the law nearly two decades ago. A new study shows a 12 percent yearly increase in lethal prescriptions from 1998 to 2013, with an unexplained jump of nearly 30 percent in 2015. The research doesn’t include 2016 numbers, which haven’t been released yet. …
How to Understand the Resurgence of Eugenics
(JSTOR) — At the same time, we are seeing an advance in methods of manipulating human DNA that, though they present many benefits, could also be used to advance eugenic goals. This combination of a dubious political agenda and the tools to implement it could take us in uncharted directions. We can find guidance in two classic works about the dangers of modifying people and labeling them as “superior” or “inferior”—the novel Brave New World (1932) and the film Gattaca (1997). Their publication anniversaries in 2017 are sharp reminders of the costs of embracing any kind of twenty-first-century eugenics …
Machine Learning Predicts the Look of Stem Cells
(Nature) — No two stem cells are identical, even if they are genetic clones. This stunning diversity is revealed today in an enormous publicly available online catalogue of 3D stem cell images. The visuals were produced using deep learning analyses and cell lines altered with the gene-editing tool CRISPR. And soon the portal will allow researchers to predict variations in cell layouts that may foreshadow cancer and other diseases. The Allen Cell Explorer, produced by the Allen Institute for Cell Science in Seattle, Washington, includes a growing library of more than 6,000 pictures of induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS) — key components of which glow thanks to fluorescent markers that highlight specific genes …
Note: News stories and events do not necessarily represent the Center’s views. For additional commentary on many of the issues they raise, please see the CBHD web site at www.cbhd.org. Please visit www.bioethics.com for daily posts on bioethics news and issues.
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