Bioethics (Vol. 28, No. 8, October 2014) is now available online by subscription only. Articles include:
- “A framework to link international clinical research to the promotion of justice in global health” by Bridget Pratt and Bebe Loff
- ” Stigmatization and denormalization as public health policies: some Kantian thoughts” by Richard Dean
- “Embryos, the principle of proportionality, and the shaky ground of moral respect” by Jonathan Pugh
- “The promise and peril of the pharmacological enhancer modafinil” by Julie Tannenbaum
Erkenntnis (Vol. 79, No. 5 Supplement, June 2014) is now available online by subscription only. Articles include:
- “Financial conflicts of interest and criteria for research credibility” by Kevin C. Elliot
- “Human enhancement: making the debate more productive” by Janet A. Kourany
- “The moral terrain of science” by Heather Douglas
(New York Times) – Some people exposed to the Ebola virus quickly sicken and die. Others become gravely ill but recover, while still others only react mildly or are thought to be resistant to the virus. Now researchers working with mice have found that these laboratory animals, too, can have a range of responses to Ebola, and that in mice, the responses are determined by differences in genes. This is the first time scientists have been able to breed mice that developed Ebola infections resembling those in humans complete with some puzzling features seen in people.
(MIT Technology Review) – The Hong Kong scientist who invented a simple blood test to show pregnant women if their babies have Down syndrome is now testing a similar technology for cancer. Yuk Ming “Dennis” Lo says screening for signs of cancer from a simple blood draw could cost as little as $1,000. The test works by studying DNA released into a person’s bloodstream by dying tumor cells.
(Associated Press) – States have broad authority to quarantine people to prevent the spread of disease, and several are exercising that right to go beyond the safety recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control for containing the deadly Ebola virus. The CDC says mandatory quarantines of those without symptoms are unnecessarily severe and will discourage health workers from going to West Africa to fight the epidemic. It says people at the highest risk of contracting Ebola but who have no symptoms – such as those who came into direct contact with an Ebola patient’s body fluids – should avoid public transportation and public places like shopping centers and movie theaters, even if they have no symptoms. Activities like jogging, in which the person maintains a 3-foot distance from others, are allowed.
(Associated Press) – The head of Africa’s continental body did not get to an Ebola-hit country until last week – months after alarm bells first rang and nearly 5,000 deaths later. Pledges to deploy 2,000 African health workers have remained largely that – promises. No African countries are on the United Nations list of contributors to fight the epidemic. The E-word did not even figure on the agenda of a session on peace and security at the Pan-African Parliament in South Africa last week – more than a month after the U.N. Security Council declared the Ebola outbreak a “threat to international peace and security.”
(BBC) – UN chief Ban Ki-moon has said discrimination against aid workers who return home from the Ebola crisis in West Africa is “unacceptable”. Strict quarantine rules are hampering aid efforts when more health workers are needed in order to deal with the crisis, he told BBC News in Nairobi. International efforts have been insufficient but are now “catching up”, the UN secretary general added.
(BBC) – Rajo Devi is 75. Her daughter and first-born child, Naveen, is five. In India the average woman lives to 68 – Rajo Devi says she was fortunate to become a mother at 70. There is no way to confirm Rajo Devi’s age: births are rarely registered in rural India and many people are often unsure of their own age. The world’s oldest “verified” mother is Maria del Carmen Bousada de Lara, who died in 2009. Naveen was conceived through IVF (in-vitro fertilisation) at a clinic near her village in the northern state of Haryana.
(Health Day) – One major organ still eludes the transplant surgeon, however: the entire human eye. But if one team of U.S. scientists has its way, that dream may become reality, too. “Until recently, eye transplants have been considered science fiction,” said Dr. Vijay Gorantla, an associate professor of surgery in the department of plastic surgery at the University of Pittsburgh. “People said it was crazy, bonkers.”
(The Economist) – Dr Lancaster’s organoid was not the first, however. That honour had fallen, a couple of years earlier and largely unnoticed by the world, to a humbler part of the body, the intestine. Intestinoids were created in James Wells’s laboratory at the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Centre, in Ohio, in 2011. Now, another group of researchers at Dr Wells’s lab have produced a third sort. As they report in Nature, Kyle McCraken and his colleagues have grown simulacra of stomachs.
(New York Times) – Declaring death is not technically hard but it is weird and sad and requires reams of paperwork. It is usually done by an intern, but my intern was busy so I said I would do it. The first time I declared a patient dead was nearly six years earlier. I had been a doctor for a few months when I was summoned overnight with a page that told me that my patient’s heart had stopped. When I got to his room I was out of breath and his nurse smiled at me and told me that there really wasn’t urgency; he wasn’t going anywhere.
The New England Journal of Medicine (Volume 371, No. 15, October 9, 2014) is now available online by subscription only.
- “Ebola Vaccine — an urgent international priority” by Rupa Kanapathipillai
- “Deep-brain stimulation — entering the era of human neural-network modulation” by Michael S. Okun
(Nature) – The World Health Organization (WHO) announced plans on 24 October to produce millions of doses of two experimental Ebola vaccines by the end of 2015. Hundreds of thousands of doses should be available to help affected countries before the end of June, the WHO said at the conclusion of a meeting in Geneva, Switzerland. Vaccine makers, high-level government representatives and regulatory and other bodies gathered to discuss the design and timing of planned clinical trials, as well as issues of supply and funding for mass vaccination programmes.
(CNN) – Brittany Maynard says she hasn’t decided yet when she’ll end her life, but it’s a decision she’s still determined to make. “I still feel good enough and I still have enough joy and I still laugh and smile with my family and friends enough that it doesn’t seem like the right time right now,” Maynard says in a video released to CNN on Wednesday. “But it will come, because I feel myself getting sicker. It’s happening each week.”
(Time) – Two new studies exploring the genetic basis of autism tie mutations in hundreds of genes to the disease. Several teams of researchers collaborated on the studies, both published in the journal Nature, and found that about 60 of the genes are considered “high confidence,” meaning there’s a 90% chance that mutations within those genes contribute to risk for autism. Both studies show through genomic sequencing that many of these mutations are de novo, meaning that parents do not have the gene mutation, but they present spontaneously just before a child is conceived in either the sperm or egg.
(Medscape) – Two separate analyses of that cohort showed that the risk for colorectal and endometrial cancer was no higher in 19,158 women who had undergone at least one cycle of IVF than in 5950 women who had reported fertility problems and had not undergone IVF treatment. In addition, a population-based cohort analysis of 53,872 women in Illinois, New York, and Texas showed no increased risk for any form of cancer after assisted reproductive technology, whether they had IVF or non-IVF treatment. However, the duration of follow-up was not much beyond three years.
(The Atlantic) – In the newest front in the war on drugs, people from all walks of life are battling addictions to pills that are perfectly legal and distributed by medical professionals. Since prescription painkillers became cheap and plentiful in the mid-90s, drug overdose death rates in the U.S. have more than tripled. West Virginia was slammed especially severely, and for the past several years it’s had the highest drug overdose death rate in the nation.
(The Atlantic) – This time, that something is a particularly intractable issue in organ transplantation. The supply and demand imbalance between organs and the people who need them means that wait lists in New York or San Francisco might be twice that of, say, Kansas or Tennessee. The problem was brought to public attention in recent years by Steve Jobs, who used his resources to travel across the country for a liver transplant. For decades, doctors and policymakers have debated how to move organs or change allocation maps in an effort to eliminate these disparities.
Qualitative Health Research (Vol. 24, No. 10, October 2014) is now available online by subscription only. Articles include:
- “A culture of future planning: perceptions of sexual risk among educated young adults” by Ann M. Cheney, et al.
- “Female sex workers and their gatekeepers in China: implications for HIV/STI prevention” by Yan Hong, et al.
(Nature) – Six vials of smallpox virus discovered at the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, Maryland, in June are marked for death by autoclave — yet they linger in a high-security freezer. Chalk it up to bureaucracy: an international agreement requires that the World Health Organization (WHO) witnesses the destruction of the samples, but the agency is overwhelmed by the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. The delay adds another twist to the strange tale of the vials, which sat forgotten for six decades in an unmarked cardboard box. It also mirrors the fierce debate over whether to destroy the two other known stocks of smallpox in the world.