(ABC News) – Sierra Leone is set to begin a three-day lockdown tonight at midnight to curb the spread of Ebola, according to Doctors Without Borders. Government authorities have ordered the country’s 6 million people to stay in their homes from Sept. 19 through Sept. 21, while volunteers go door-to-door to screen for Ebola and take infected people in hiding to Ebola facilities, according to Doctors Without Borders, which called the endeavor “coercive.”
(Washington Post) – A team of Guinean health workers, officials and journalists is still missing after the group was attacked on Tuesday by stone-throwing residents in a village near the city of Nzerekore, according to reports. The health workers and officials had been sent to southeastern Guinea to educate people about preventing Ebola and to do disinfection work. A group of young people attacked them, according to the Associated Press. The governor of Nzerekore told the BBC that the group is being held captive.
(Science) – Public health experts in Australia are sounding alarms over a record number of new cases of syphilis and a dramatic rise in viral hepatitis deaths. Experts trace the spike in syphilis and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) to a decrease in condom use, particularly among men who have sex with men (MSM), and they see the hepatitis death toll as the inevitable result of long-term trends in injecting drug use.
(Science) – Sixteen children, all or most under age 2, have died after receiving an injection in a measles immunization campaign in an opposition-held area of northern Syria. Up to 50 more children were sickened. Details are hazy, says a World Health Organization (WHO) spokesperson in Geneva, but at this point the cause looks like a “very bad human error,” in which a strong muscle relaxant was administered instead of the measles vaccine. The tragic deaths threaten to undermine all vaccination efforts across Syria, where childhood immunization rates have dropped precipitously after years of civil war.
(Nature) – US President Barack Obama ordered new steps on 18 September to combat the spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. It is a deadly problem: according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, antibiotic-resistant infections kill at least 23,000 people and sicken 2 million each year. A national strategy released by the White House lays out a series of steps to address the decreasing effectiveness of antibiotics; many are similar to those identified by the World Health Organization in April.
(Medical Xpress) – Researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine have launched a phase 1 human clinical trial to assess the safety and efficacy of a new monoclonal antibody for patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), the most common form of blood cancer in adults. The new antibody targets ROR1, a protein used by embryonic cells during early development and exploited by cancer cells to promote tumor growth and metastasis, the latter responsible for 90 percent of all cancer-related deaths.
“Compassionate Use” and Other Means of Accessing Unproven and Unapproved Treatments Could Impact Long-Term Medical Benefits
(Newswise) – Patients facing death or irreversible disease progression – most of whom have exhausted all approved treatment options — sometimes seek access to unapproved and unproven interventions. This type of access, often referred to as “compassionate use,” is not adequately regulated by federal authorities, subject to corporate pharmaceutical policies that change mid-stream, and could potentially adversely affect clinical care in the future, according to preliminary studies conducted by researchers and bioethicists at NYU Langone Medical Center (NYULMC).
(Herald Sun) – Oxford University Prof Julian Savulescu said AFL footballers should be allowed to take “safe levels’’ of performance enhancing drugs such as steroids, growth hormones and Erythropoietin (EPO) to help endurance and injury recovery. The leading international medical ethics academic said the AFL should pull out of WADA and start its own self-appointed body run by independent sports physicians who devise and monitor their own banned drug list.
(Eurekalert) – From accessible and affordable health care to reproductive technologies, the justice and well-being of our society depend on the ability of people to identify key issues, articulate their values and concerns, deliberate openly and respectfully, and find the most defensible ways forward. But what are the best educational practices to support these societal conversations? The Hastings Center and the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues have teamed up to publish a series of essays to highlight the best practices in teaching bioethics and to identify gaps in our knowledge of how best to inspire and increase moral understanding, analytical thinking in the moral domain, and professional integrity. The first three of these essays, which appear in the current Hastings Center Report, focus on bioethics education for practicing clinicians.
(New York Times) – The country’s system for handling end-of-life care is largely broken and should be overhauled at almost every level, a national panel concluded in a report released on Wednesday. The 21-member nonpartisan committee, appointed by the Institute of Medicine, the independent research arm of the National Academy of Sciences, called for sweeping change. “The bottom line is the health care system is poorly designed to meet the needs of patients near the end of life,” said David M. Walker, a Republican and a former United States comptroller general, who was a chairman of the panel.
Nanocontainers for Nanocargo: Delivering Genes and Proteins for Cellular Imaging, Genetic Medicine and Cancer Therapy
(Phys.org) – By loading any specific protein and nucleic acid into an icosahedral phage T4 capsid-based nanoparticle, the resulting cell delivery vehicle’s ligands can bind to the surface of specific target tissues to deliver the protein/DNA cargo. (Icosahedral viral nanoparticles are evolutionary protein shells assembled in a hierarchical order that results in a stable protein layer and an inner space for accommodating nucleic acids and proteins; a capsid is the protein shell of a virus.) The technique has drug- and gene-delivery applications in human diseases, diagnostic and cellular imaging, and other medical areas.
(Nature) – In this instance, the woman’s vision is unlikely to improve. However, researchers around the world are watching to see whether the cells stop the retina from deteriorating further and whether any side effects develop. Should the woman experience serious consequences, iPS-cell research could be set back years, much as gene therapy was in 1999 when a patient died in a trial that attempted to use a modified gene to correct a type of liver disease. “That wakes me up at night,” Loring admits. If Takahashi’s trial succeeds, however, it could send a powerful signal to other regulatory agencies such as the FDA and the European Medicines Agency.
(A Woman’s Health) – Although Alzheimer’s disease affects both men and women, the condition is gaining attention as a women’s health issue. There is no known physiological link between gender and development of the disease, but statistics show that more women than men are affected. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, almost two-thirds of Americans diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease are women, as are more than 60 percent of caregivers for people with Alzheimer’s.
‘She Turned Her Back on Her Son’: Sherri Shepherd Has Removed Newborn Surrogate Baby from Her Health Insurance, Claims Lamar Sally in New Interview
(Daily Mail) – Sherri Shepherd has removed the newborn baby boy she had via surrogate from her health insurance, claims estranged husband Lamar Sally. The TV writer opens up about the custody battle over Lamar Jr (or as he calls him ‘LJ’) in a new interview with People Magazine. In the chat, Lamar says Sherri, 47, was enthusiastic about having the child until six months into the surrogate’s pregnancy and then everything changed.
Baby Gammy Was Offered to Another Australian Couple; Father David Farnell Asked if Child Could Be ‘Left at Thai Temple’
(Yahoo! Australia) – A former worker at Thailand Surrogacy also claims the Australian biological father, David Farnell, asked if it was possible for the baby to be left outside a Thai temple. Thailand Surrogacy was founded by American Antonio Frattaroli, who runs his organisation from California. When the story of Gammy was exposed, Mr Frattaroli went to ground, but now the ABC can reveal more claims about the dealings between him and Mr Farnell and his partner Wendy. In an exclusive interview with the ABC, a former Thai colleague of Mr Frattaroli alleges that when Mr Farnell was told the twin boy had Down syndrome, he wanted the child aborted.
(Herald Sun) – It’s an emotive topic and one that can be misunderstood. Dr Gavin Sacks, an infertility specialist based in Sydney, shares his experience of working with infertile couples and surrogates and discusses some of the issues that surround the topic. From my perspective as an IVF specialist, surrogacy represents one of the great advances in fertility treatment in recent years. And as an obstetrician, I also see the incredible effort made by women to carry, nurture and give birth to a baby they are prepared to give away to the recipient couple. Thus there are two sides to what actually happens, as well as the many diverse social and legal views.
(NPR) – The difference between the gothic speculations of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and today’s reality is twofold: First, we are beginning to build these creatures — fiction is now real; second, money plays a huge role in it. There is great financial gain in genetic engineering, an industry that Stanford bioengineering professor Drew Endy estimates equals 2 percent of the U.S. economy now, and is growing at a rate of 12 percent a year. The problem, as Lewontin reminds us, is that we often can’t rely on those who pursue invention for profit or for military interests to have the best interests of the public in mind. So, as we create new life forms for all different purposes, who will control them?
(Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News) – We have all heard stories about the single patient who survives a deadly cancer in response to a particular drug, in contrast to other patients receiving the same drug who succumb to the disease. These patients may include heavily pretreated cancer patients for whom other drugs have failed, but then who respond to a therapy not typically used to treat their type of cancer. Now, with novel genomics tools at their disposal, investigators say that by analyzing the drug responses of “n-of-1”, patients who are single outliers in clinical studies, new insights into cancer mechanisms and more effective treatments can be gained.
(Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News) – Scientists at Johns Hopkins say they have identified a highly sensitive means of analyzing tiny amounts of DNA that could increase the ability of forensic scientists to match genetic material in some criminal investigations. It could also prevent the need for a painful, invasive test given to transplant patients at risk of rejecting their donor organs and replace it with a blood test that reveals traces of donor DNA, according to the researchers.
(Medical News Today) – Recently, Medical News Today reported on a breakthrough in xenotransplantation – the science of transplanting functional organs from one species to another. Scientists from the Cardiothoracic Surgery Research Program of the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) demonstrated success in keeping genetically engineered piglet hearts alive in the abdomens of baboons for more than a year. While that is a sentence that might sound absurd, or even nightmarish to some, xenotransplantation is a credible science involving the work of leading scientists and respected organizations like the NHLBI and the Mayo Clinic, as well as large private pharmaceutical firms such as United Therapeutics and Novartis.