(Washington Post) – Nearly a third of antibiotics prescribed in doctors’ offices, emergency rooms and hospital-based clinics in the United States are not needed, according to the most in-depth study yet to examine the use and misuse of these life-saving drugs. The finding, which has implications for antibiotics’ diminished efficacy, translates to about 47 million unnecessary prescriptions given out each year across the country to children and adults. Most of these are for conditions that don’t respond to antibiotics, such as colds, sore throats, bronchitis, flu and other viral illnesses.
(Associated Press) – Too many preschoolers with ADHD still are being put on drugs right away, before behavior therapy is tried, health officials say. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Tuesday that three in four young kids diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder are put on medicines. New CDC data shows that’s continued, even after research found behavior therapy is as effective and doesn’t give children stomach aches, sleep problems or other drug side effects.
(Science Daily) – The most productive way scientists have devised to nurture colonies of human embryonic stem cells is to do so atop a bed of mouse cells. That may be fine for lab research, but it poses an unacceptable contamination risk for stem cells intended for transplant into human patients. In a new study, Brown University bioengineers have developed a synthetic bed that works about as well as the mouse cells, called fibroblasts, without any possibility of contamination.
(NPR) – The mosquito-borne Zika virus has sparked a debate about abortion in both Latin America and the United States. The virus has been directly linked to a birth defect that results in an abnormally small head and brain damage. In Latin America, where many countries have strict bans on abortion, some citizens and government officials are asking whether such bans should be reconsidered, at least in infected mothers. And in the United States, a decades-old discussion has been reignited: Should the country rethink its stance on funding abortion initiatives abroad, put forth in what’s known as the Helms Amendment?
Exclusive: ‘Unforgivable’ Failings in End-of-Life Care Revealed as 40,000 Dying Patients Subject to Secret ‘Do Not Resuscitate’ Orders Every Year
(The Telegraph) – The official audit of 9,000 dying patients, conducted by the Royal College of Physicians, reveals that one-in-five families were not informed that a “do not resuscitate” order had been put in place – equivalent to the families of 40,000 patients. The same study showed that in 16 per cent of cases, there was no record of a conversation with the dying patient, or explanation for the lack of one, for the decision to put in place a do not resuscitate order.
(Newsweek) – Kuwait is set to become the first country in the world to require all its citizens, visitors and expatriates to provide DNA samples for the government’s database, according to a report. In July 2015, the Kuwaiti government passed the DNA testing law, which is set to go into effect later this year, according to the Kuwait Times. The DNA samples of at least 3.3 million people—gotten from saliva or few drops of blood—will be stored in a lab at the General Department of Criminal Evidence in Dajeej, a suburb about 12 miles south of Kuwait City.
Journal of Medical Ethics (vol. 42, no. 4, 2016) is available online by subscription only.
- “The Ebola Outbreak in Western Africa: Ethical Obligations for Care” by Aminu Yakubu, et al.
- “The Practices of Do-It-Yourself Brain Stimulation: Implications for Ethical Considerations and Regulatory Proposals” by Anna Wexler
- “Research Led by Participants: A New Social Contract for a New Kind of Research” by Effy Vayena, et al.
- “Beyond Antidoping and Harm Minimization: A Stakeholder-Corporate Social Social Responsibility Approach to Drug Control for Sport” by Jason Mazanov
- “Fidelity to the Healing Relationship: A Medical Student’s Challenge to Contemporary Bioethics and Prescription for Medical Practice” by Blake C. Corcoran, et al.
- “Challenging the Principle of Proportionality” by Anna-Karin Margareta Andersson
- “Prisoners as Research Participants: Current Practice and Attitudes in the UK” by Anna Charles, et al.
- “Having a Child Together in Lesbian Families: Combining Gestation and Genetics” by Guido Pennings
The Philosophical Quarterly (vol. 66, no. 263, 2016) is available online by subscription only.
- “Just War and Robots’ Killings” by Thomas W. Simpson and Vincent C. Muller
- “Moral Reasons, Epistemic Reasons and Rationality” by Alex Worsnip
The New England Journal of Medicine (vol. 374, no. 11, 2016) is available online by subscription only.
- “Reducing the Risks of Relief—The CDC Opioid-Prescribing Guideline” by T.R. Frieden and D. Houry
- “Scandal as a Sentinel Event—Recognizing Hidden Cost-Quality Trade-Offs” by M.G. Bloche
- “Beyond the VA Crisis—Becoming a High-Performance Network” by D.J. Shulkin
- “Health Care Tax Inversions—Robbing Both Peter and Paul” by H.J. Warraich and K.A. Schulman
- “The Cadillac Tax—A Crucial Tool for Delivery-System Reform” by J. Furman and M. Fielder
(Newsweek) – Human genetic engineering is coming. Science is about to solve some of the worst problems that can happen to people: cystic fibrosis, sickle cell anemia, Alzheimer’s and the many other devastating results that can come out of the random genetic lottery that is reproduction. But that power means we are also about to set the bar on what it means to be a person and have a productive life. What will the society of the future think needs repairing? If we “fix” blindness will we also “fix” deafness? What about baldness or being short?
Triplets at Center of Surrogate Baby Custody Battle Now Living with Biological Dad and ‘Doing Fine,’ Says Attorney
(People) – The triplets at the center of a custody battle – between the surrogate mom who gave birth to them and their biological father – have left the Los Angeles hospital where they’ve been kept since their birth in February and are now living at their father’s home in Georgia. “They’re doing fine,” Robert Walmsley, the father’s attorney, tells PEOPLE. “My client is finally getting to raise his kids and he’s loving it. He’s a happy guy right now.”
(The Guardian) – On a crowded stretch of Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn, on the seventh floor of a building gentrification forgot, is a place where you can dabble in genetic engineering. Genspace, a kind of co-working lab for scientists, offers a fully equipped research laboratory available for public use for a modest monthly fee. It was the first of its kind to open its doors back in 2010 and signaled the rebirth of the gentleman (or gentlewoman) scientist. Since then, BioCurious, another DIY lab, has opened in Silicon Valley, allowing hobbyist biologists to fiddle with their own DNA and titrate their own blood samples. A number of startups like Bento Lab have popped up to serve the DIY Bio movement, making compact desktop versions of traditional biology lab equipment small enough to set up anywhere at home.
(Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News) – Cellular reprogramming of stem cells derived from one tissue type into a different vastly different tissue typically requires the labor-intensive use of external genes to modify and coax the existing genetic machinery down the desired path. Now, scientists at the Gladstone Institutes have established what they believe is a major breakthrough for stem cell research. The researchers were able to transform skin cells into heart cells and brain cells using only a combination of chemicals.
(Discover Magazine) – Google has a vision for cyborg eyes that goes well beyond the idea of smart contact lenses. The Alphabet-owned company filed a patent on the idea of replacing the human eye’s natural lens with an electronic lens implant. Such a cyborg eye implant could replace normal eyesight functions and correct for eyesight problems. But the concept’s existence also hints at future possibilities for putting the capabilities of a smart contact lens directly inside the eye.
(Nanotechnology Now) – An effective vaccine against the virus that causes genital herpes has evaded researchers for decades. But now, researchers from the University of Illinois at Chicago working with scientists from Germany have shown that zinc-oxide nanoparticles shaped like jacks can prevent the virus from entering cells, and help natural immunity to develop.
(The Guardian) – What we are witnessing is a sustained assault on, and massive disregard for, the provision of healthcare during times of conflict. Under international humanitarian law and principles, health workers must be able to provide medical care to all sick and wounded regardless of political or other affiliation, whether they are a combatant or not. And under no circumstances should they be punished for providing medical care which is in line with medical ethics. The doctor of your enemy is not your enemy.
(The Atlantic) – It was never clear just how common it is for genes to make multiple proteins and how much those differences matter to the daily functioning of the cell. Many researchers have assumed that the proteins made by a given gene probably do not differ greatly in their duties. It’s a reasonable assumption—many small-scale tests of sibling proteins haven’t suggested that they should be wildly different. It is still an assumption, however, and testing it is quite an endeavor. Researchers would have to take a technically tricky inventory of the proteins in a cell and run numerous tests to see what each one does. In a recent paper in Cell, however, researchers at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston and their collaborators reveal the results of just such an effort. They found that in many cases, proteins made by a single gene are no more alike in their behavior than proteins made by completely different genes.
(The Wall Street Journal) – Ms. Robinson and members of her family are now participating in an unusual medical study in which researchers are seeking to identify genetic anomalies that underlie the arrhythmias that cause the heart to stop. By performing so-called molecular autopsies, which involve sequencing the DNA of victims and their immediate relatives, the researchers hope to provide families like Ms. Robinson’s with information about their risk and to guide strategies for preventing further tragedy.