Eye-Opening Picture of Fetal Immune System Emerges; Brain Cell Transplants Are Being Tested Once Again for Parkinson's; Gene-Editing Companies Hit Back at Paper That Criticizes CRISPR; Artificial Intelligence Can Now Predict Suicide with Remarkable Accuracy …
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Intersections: A Forum for Christian Life in our MedTech age
Intersections was launched with the purpose of drawing attention to issues and conversations that are happening in our congregations as well as in society at large. Recent posts feature topics discussing childlessness, C.S. Lewis & The Abolition of Man, and responding to death in the Church.  
The Consequences of Sequencing Healthy People
(The Scientist) — Physicians are increasingly using patients’ genomic data to fight cancer or diagnose unexplained symptoms. But in individuals with no discernable signs of illness, it’s uncertain whether knowing their genomic blueprints is beneficial, and whether primary care physicians are up to the challenge of managing these data for their patients. In the first study of its kind to evaluate whole genome sequencing in a randomized fashion, published today (June 26) in the Annals of Internal Medicine, researchers report that although primary care physicians are capable of contending with genomic information, its value for healthy patients remains ambiguous …
STAT Forecast: Opioids Could Kill Nearly 500,000 Americans in the Next Decade
(STAT News) — Opioids could kill nearly half a million people across America over the next decade as the crisis of addiction and overdose accelerates. Deaths from opioids have been rising sharply for years, and drug overdoses already kill more Americans under age 50 than anything else. STAT asked leading public health experts at 10 universities to forecast the arc of the epidemic over the next decade. The consensus: It will get worse before it gets better. There are now nearly 100 deaths a day from opioids, a swath of destruction that runs from tony New England suburbs to the farm country of California, from the beach towns of Florida to the Appalachian foothills …
Research on male animals prevents women from getting best drugs
(New Scientist) — Women are missing out on optimum medical treatment because most pre-clinical drug research is done in male animals, a new study suggests. New drugs must be evaluated in animals before being considered for human trials. Over three-quarters of these studies use only male animals because of concerns that female hormone cycles will affect experiments. It is also widely assumed that what works for males will work for females. However, research by Natasha Karp at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute in Cambridge and her colleagues casts doubt on this assumption …
Bluebird Bio’s Gene Therapy for Blood Disorders Yields Some Impressive Results — But Also Raises Questions
(STAT News) — The field of gene therapy is making significant strides towards the day when a one-time treatment? inserting a healthy gene into patients ? could cure a host of inherited, often fatal diseases. But it’s been a rocky road. And new clinical data presented this morning by Bluebird Bio make clear that success is far from guaranteed. Bluebird is testing a gene therapy for two inherited blood disorders ? and the data managed both to impress and to leave important questions unanswered …
Swiss to Allow Genetic Testing of In-Vitro Embryos from September
(The Local) — The testing of in-vitro embryos for serious hereditary conditions will finally be allowed in Switzerland from September 1st. The date was confirmed by the Swiss government on Wednesday after the Swiss public approved the move in a referendum in June 2016, becoming the last country in Europe to do so. The law on medically assisted reproduction will be changed to allow pre-implantation genetic diagnosis – the testing of embryos during in-vitro fertilization (IVF) before they are implanted in the womb …
Patients Are Experimenting with Ketamine to Treat Depression
(Wired) — Doctors still don’t fully understand how depression works, which makes studying and developing new treatments all the more challenging. “We don’t know how any of these meds work on the brain,” says Mandel. “We know about as much about ketamine as we do about any of the others. We do know that ketamine tends to cause new growth in the brain.” …
New Concerns Raised over Value of Genome-Wide Disease Studies
(Nature) — Compare the genomes of enough people with and without a disease, and genetic variants linked to the malady should pop out. So runs the philosophy behind genome-wide association studies (GWAS), which researchers have used for more than a decade to find genetic ties to diseases such as schizophrenia and rheumatoid arthritis. But a provocative analysis now calls the future of that strategy into question — and raises doubts about whether funders should pour more money into these experiments. GWAS are fast expanding to encompass hundreds of thousands, even millions, of patients (see ‘The genome-wide tide’). But biologists are likely to find that larger studies turn up more and more genetic variants — or ‘hits’ — that have minuscule influences on disease …
Many Cyberattacks in Health Care Never Publicly Disclosed
(Managed Care Magazine) — The federal government says that hospitals and other organizations that process or store patient health care information must report cyber breaches to HHS. But the rules are murky, and some of the worst cyberattacks have not been brought to light, the Wall Street Journal reports. The newspaper focuses on attacks by hackers using ransomware, which keeps the data under lock until the victim organizations pay up. So, technically, no patient medical information is released in such circumstances, which means health care organizations can avoid the embarrassment—as well as the competitive and financial fallout—that making such an attack public knowledge would generate …
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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