(New York Post) – “Designer babies” are discussed as some kind of future proposition, an ethical problem for our grandchildren. But they’re happening now, with barely a peep of protest. According to the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology, more than 160,000 IVF procedures were performed in the US in 2012 and more than 60,000 babies resulted from them. That’s 2,000 more than in 2011.
(CNBC) – This field of research—referred to as regenerative medicine and expected to mature into a $24.7 billion market by 2017, according to at least one estimate—is gaining more attention because of its unique pain alleviation methods. The linchpin of the field is the use of stem cells, which can be applied to a range of therapies for ligaments, tendons and skeletal injuries that affect sports players and non-athletes alike.
(ABC News) – A 79-year old man suffering from incurable throat cancer has become the first Colombian to die by euthanasia with the full backing of the government. Ovidio Gonzalez died Friday in the western city of Pereira after weeks of public feuding with doctors and hospital administrators over a Health Ministry decree mandating that clinics perform the procedure when requested by terminally ill patients.
(ABC News) – Doctors who gave children with cystic fibrosis a replacement copy of a defective gene say it appeared to slow the expected decline of some patients’ lungs, but called the results “modest” and say there must be major improvements before offering the treatment more widely.
(Time) – France’s highest court has granted legal recognition to surrogate children, in a major turnaround that will make their daily lives easier and could lead to greater acceptance of new forms of families. The Cour de cassation ruled Friday that, while surrogacy will remain banned in France, children born abroad through this practice will now be legally tied to their parents and will be granted birth certificates and immediate means to prove their French citizenship.
(Sydney Morning Herald) – Foreign couples planning to go to India for a surrogate baby will have to pay a bond before they can contact a surrogate mother under a new law being prepared by the Indian government. The proposal was prompted by the case of an Australian couple who left a baby boy born to a surrogate mother behind, after taking his twin sister back to Australia in 2012.
(The Guardian) – The World Medical Association has condemned new secrecy laws in Australian detention centres, and called on the prime minister, Tony Abbott, to amend the new laws to allow medical staff to speak out about the healthcare of asylum seekers. On Wednesday, more than 40 doctors, nurses, teachers and humanitarian staff who have worked in Australian immigration detention centres wrote an open letter to the federal government in an unprecedented show of unity against a new offence.
(BBC) – The sperm of all 18-year-olds should be frozen for use in later life because of the risks attached with being an older father, a UK bioethicist has argued. Sperm becomes more prone to errors with age, increasing the risk of autism, schizophrenia and other disorders. Dr Kevin Smith, from Abertay University in Dundee, says sperm-banking on the NHS should “become the norm”.
(Wired) – Past Ebola outbreaks killed as many as 90 percent of the people who got the disease. This most recent one did not—as many as 60 percent of infected people survived. Nobody is sure why. It might have had something to do with the particular strain of the germ; for example few people bled from their eyeballs this time. Or maybe it had to do with the better standard of care many of the infected received. Regardless, thousands of people got sick but didn’t die. By definition their immune systems now make antibodies to the virus, proteins that can fight Ebola and win. Those antibodies are, essentially, the ideal medicine. Or rather they would be, if someone could unpack the biochemical manufacturing process that creates them.
(Washington Post) – Around the U.S., people with serious diseases like Agar’s are falling through the cracks, unable to afford the medication they need even if they have good jobs and good insurance. Patients with HIV, cancer, lupus, leukemia, hepatitis C and other serious conditions are paying huge out-of-pocket sums for necessary medication. These costs are putting heavy mental and financial stress on some of America’s most vulnerable people.
(Medical Xpress) – Researchers at the University of Adelaide have discovered a new method for culturing stem cells which sees the highly therapeutic cells grow faster and stronger. The research, which was published in the prestigious international journal, Stem Cells, is expected to eventually lead to new treatments for transplant patients.
(Sci Dev Net) – Many developing countries still lack the infrastructure to dispense drugs against neglected tropical diseases (NTDs), with up to US$300 million a year needed to address this, according to a report. The progress report on the London Declaration, a 2012 commitment by a coalition of governments, health organisations and businesses to combat NTDs, found that drug delivery remains a crucial problem. It says that companies supply around US$3.8 billion worth of drugs to treat NTDs every year, but more money is needed to get them to affected areas and administer them correctly.
(New York Times) – Every few years, the National Alliance for Caregiving and the AARP Public Policy Institute survey the state of American caregiving; their latest report, published last month, focused in part on caregivers over 75. They constitute 7 percent of those who provide unpaid care to a relative or friend, the survey found — more than three million seniors helping with the so-called activities of daily living (bathing, dressing, using a toilet), instrumental activities of daily living (shopping, transportation, dealing with the health care system) and a rising tide of medical and nursing tasks.
(Medical Xpress) – By growing two types of stem cells in a “3-D culture” and measuring their ability to produce retinal cells, a team lead by St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital researchers has found one cell type to be better at producing retinal cells. The research not only reveals which stem cell type might be better for treating retinal degeneration, but it also demonstrates a standardized method for quantifying the effectiveness of different stem cells for such therapies.
(University of Wisconsin-Madison) – Applying a dramatically improved method for “editing” genes to human stem cells, University of Wisconsin-Madison neuroscientist Su-Chun Zhang has shown a new way to silence genes in stem cells and their progeny at any stage of development. The advance has advantages in speed and efficiency, says Zhang, and is already being used for basic biological studies.
(Vice News) – Pro-life and pro-choice advocates today both criticized a website recently launched by a woman who says that she is seven weeks pregnant and is demanding $1 million from pro-life supporters in exchange for not having an abortion. The website, prolifeantiwoman.com, asks in large print, “How much would you pay to stop an abortion?”
(Medical Xpress) – The American Society of Human Genetics (ASHG) Workgroup on Pediatric Genetic and Genomic Testing has issued a position statement on Points to Consider: Ethical, Legal, and Psychosocial Implications of Genetic Testing in Children and Adolescents. Published today in The American Journal of Human Genetics, the statement aims to guide approaches to genetic testing for children in the research and clinical contexts. It also serves as an update to the Society’s 1995 statement of the same title, which was issued jointly with the American College of Medical Genetics.
(Science Daily) – Healthy people given the serotonin-enhancing antidepressant citalopram were willing to pay almost twice as much to prevent harm to themselves or others than those given placebo drugs in a moral decision-making experiment. In contrast, the dopamine-boosting Parkinson’s drug levodopa made healthy people more selfish, eliminating an altruistic tendency to prefer harming themselves over others.
(Washington Post) – Cuba on Tuesday earned the distinction of becoming the first country to eliminate mother-to-child transmission of the HIV virus, an achievement that global public health officials said they hoped would inspire others to invest in campaigns and policies to try to do the same.
(The Washington Post) – Federal regulators on Thursday approved a new drug that treats the underlying cause of cystic fibrosis and eventually might be used to help nearly half of the 30,000 patients in the United States with the fatal genetic disease. The drug, known as Orkambi, is manufactured by Boston-based Vertex Pharmaceuticals.