(Yahoo! News) – A UNESCO panel of scientists, philosophers, lawyers and government ministers called Monday for a halt to genetic “editing” of the human germline, warning of the danger of tampering with hereditary traits that could lead to eugenics. UNESCO’s International Bioethics Committee (IBC) said gene therapy could be “a watershed in the history of medicine” and genome editing “is unquestionably one of the most promising undertakings of science for the sake of all humankind.”
(CNN) – Earlier this year, the hospital got a 3-D printer that makes exact replicas of organs that doctors can use to plan surgery, and even do practice operations. The printer uses images from patients’ MRI or CT scan images as a template and lays down layers of rubber or plastic.
(The Wall Street Journal) – A question is dividing the scientific community: Is there a value to public health in spending time and money to replicate long-completed, peer-reviewed studies? Two recent high-profile papers that scrutinize older research have raised questions about the fundamental reliability of scientific findings. One, a reanalysis of data from a study published in 2001 on antidepressant use in children, describes the original analysis as flawed. The new study, published in the journal BMJ, is prompting some scientists to call for the original study to be retracted.
(Huffington Post) – Palliative care focuses on the relief of symptoms, pain, and stress caused by serious illness by managing symptoms, providing clear information to patients and families, and by attending to the patient’s physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual needs. Although palliative care is often mistakenly viewed as end of care, its actually meant to support patients and families throughout the treatment trajectory for cancer and other serious diseases.
(Quartz) – The year’s most prestigious prize in medicine has been bestowed upon Youyou Tu, the lead discoverer of powerful malaria drug artemisinin. In giving her the prize, the Nobel Prize committee has recognized the role ancient knowledge can play in the modern world. But her extraordinary tale, which began during the Vietnam war, also shows traditional medicine’s limitations.
(Sydney Morning Herald) – Commercial surrogacy is banned in Australia and under NSW law prospective parents cannot pay a surrogate, even for arrangements in another country. Nepal previously allowed the practice as long as the surrogate was not Nepalese, but its Supreme Court suspended commercial surrogacy services on August 25. Parents said Nepali immigration officials have since refused to issue exit visas for babies born through surrogacy, even when the process was started long before the ban.
(The Washington Post) – Armed with a new language, the cell whisperer headed into clinical trials with a bunch of “beautiful” petri dishes and the conviction that the properly-signaled cells could be implanted into human subjects. It wasn’t quite so simple: Though the process created working dopamine cells in mice, it just didn’t gel in humans. In fact, it would be eight years before Studer and his team figured out that dopamine neurons are actually an outlier in the land of cells, and would require more work.
(Los Angeles Times) – Caught between conflicting moral arguments, Gov. Jerry Brown, a former Jesuit seminary student, on Monday signed a measure allowing physicians to prescribe lethal doses of drugs to terminally ill patients who want to hasten their deaths. Approving the bill, whose opponents included the Catholic Church, appeared to be a gut-wrenching decision for the 77-year-old governor, who as a young man studied to enter the priesthood.
(Wired) – When life begins is, of course, the central disagreement that fuels the controversy over abortion. Attacks on abortion rights are now more veiled and indirect—like secret videos pointing to Planned Parenthood’s fetal tissue donations, or state legislation that makes operating abortion clinics so onerous they have to shut down. But make no mistake, the ultimate question is, when does a fetus become a person—at fertilization, at birth, or somewhere in between? Here, modern science offers no clarity. If anything, the past century of scientific advances have only made the answer more complicated.
(The Wall Street Journal) – Their situation isn’t unique as the emergence of fertility services and surrogate programs geared toward gay Chinese suggest more couples are heading overseas to start their families. Many go to the U.S. because of its robust gay-rights movement and liberal reproductive policies. Surrogate carriers are legal in some U.S. states and are believed to be more regulated than elsewhere in the world. The laws on parental rights are clear.
(Medical Xpress) – An experimental gene therapy essentially doubled the overall survival of patients with recurrent glioblastoma compared to the current standard of care, a researcher said Oct. 1 at the Cancer Therapy & Research Center (CTRC) at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. Glioblastoma is an aggressive brain cancer that kills two-thirds of patients within five years. A patient’s outlook with recurrence of the disease is considered to be weeks or months.
(U.S.A. Today) – The American Civil Liberties Union is suing a Catholic health system for refusing to provide emergency abortions to women whose incomplete miscarriages put them at high risk of serious complications. In a federal lawsuit filed Thursday, the ACLU said that Michigan-based Trinity Health Corporation, one of the USA’s largest Catholic health systems, refused to provide the standard of care to at least five women who miscarried at one of the company’s hospitals. Trinity operates more 88 hospitals around the country.
(Live Science) – Ten women in the United Kingdom may undergo womb transplants as part of an upcoming study, but the procedure raises some ethical issues, experts say. The study, which is planned for next year, was just granted approval by the Health Research Authority, part of the U.K.’s Department of Health, which oversees research on humans.
(New York Times) – William C. Campbell and Satoshi Omura won for developing a new drug, Avermectin. A derivative of that drug, Ivermectin, has nearly eradicated river blindness and radically reduced the incidence of filariasis, which causes the disfiguring swelling of the lymph system in the legs and lower body known as elephantiasis. They shared the $900,000 award with Youyou Tu, who discovered Artemisinin, a drug that has significantly reduced death rates from malaria.
(Nature) – Twenty-five years ago, the newly created US National Center for Human Genome Research (now the National Human Genome Research Institute; NHGRI), which the three of us have each directed, joined forces with US and international partners to launch the Human Genome Project (HGP). What happened next represents one of the most historically significant scientific endeavours: a 13-year quest to sequence all three billion base pairs of the human genome. Even just a few years ago, discussions surrounding the HGP focused mainly on what insights the project had brought or would bring to our understanding of human disease. Only now is it clear that, as well as dramatically accelerating biomedical research, the HGP initiated a new way of doing science.