(BBC) – Thai health officials have confirmed two cases of microcephaly, a severe birth defect linked to the Zika virus. It is the first time in South East Asia that the disease has been linked to the condition, which causes abnormally small brains and heads. Several countries in the region have reported Zika cases. The virus is transmitted by the Aedes mosquito which also spreads dengue and chikungunya. The current outbreak of the disease was first detected in Brazil last year. Cases have recently been reported across South East Asia.
(STAT News) – A Kuwaiti law requiring all residents to submit to genetic testing has sparked international outcry — and there are signs it’s also drawing a muted civil opposition from locals fearful of its scope. The controversial law, passed in July 2015, mandates that the country’s 1.2 million citizens and another 2.3 million foreigners living in Kuwait submit DNA samples to a new government database. Legislators defend the mandate as a security measure to help the government keep track of criminals and terrorists. Geneticists and human rights groups outside the country call it a gross invasion of privacy.
(Medscape) – Women who use oral hormonal contraceptives are at increased risk of developing depression, and adolescents seem most vulnerable, results of a large study suggest. “Women should generally be informed about this potential side effect with use of hormonal contraception, so they can react appropriately in case of mood changes or even depression development. Likewise, doctors who prescribe hormonal contraception should be aware of this potential risk,” Øjvind Lidegaard, MD, Department of Gynecology, Rigshospitalet, Copenhagen, and Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Copenhagen, told Medscape Medical News.
(Canadian Broadcasting Co) – Since February almost 30 Albertans have made the decision to end their lives with the help of a physician. Some deciding to conduct the procedures in their homes, others in the hospital. Some suffer from ALS, others rare forms of cancer. No two of these choices are the same. The only constant that exists is the decision. It’s a decision that is being made more than was expected in the province. Alberta Health Service officials are struggling to keep up with the demand for physician-assisted deaths.
(Medscape) – Local injection of mesenchymal stem cells derived from autologous bone marrow shows promise in healing recalcitrant neuropathic diabetic foot ulcers, a novel study from Egypt shows. Presenting the results at the European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD) 2016 Annual Meeting, Ahmed Albehairy, MD, from Mansoura University, Egypt, said: “In patients who received the mesenchymal stem cells, ulcer reduction was found to be significantly higher compared with patients on conventional treatment after both 6 weeks and 12 weeks of follow-up. This is despite the fact that initial ulcer size was larger in the stem-cell–treated group.”
(BBC) – Chile is one of only six nations in the world where a woman can be prosecuted for having an abortion whatever the circumstances. Its first female president, Michelle Bachelet, is trying to change that, against stiff opposition. “I believe that women should have legally the possibility of making their own choices. In this country until now this is criminalised – if you interrupt your pregnancy, you will go to jail. And I believe this is not fair,” Ms Bachelet told me.
(Reuters) – In the shadow of one of China’s top cancer hospitals in Beijing, a catacomb-like network of ramshackle brick buildings has become a home-from-home for hundreds of cancer patients and their families waiting for treatment. The cluster of nine buildings, connected by dark, narrow passageways, offers cheap accommodation for patients unable to afford a coveted hospital room, a reflection of the vast inequalities in China’s overburdened healthcare system.
Drug Overdose Deaths Drive Increase in Number of Organ Donations: One Family’s Story of Hope from Despair
(ABC News) – In recent years, so many people have died as a result of the nation’s opioid epidemic that it has caused the number of organ donations from fatal overdose victims to skyrocket — an unexpected consequence that highlights the nation’s agonizing opioid crisis. n 1994, only 29 donors in the U.S. had died of drug overdoses. Last year, that number climbed to 848, according to the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS), the nonprofit organization that manages the nation’s organ transplant system.
(UPI) – A team of researchers from Northwestern University have developed a 3D-printable ink that produces synthetic bone material, which they hope will ease the lives of children needing implantation surgery in the future. The study, published in Science Translational Medicine, produced a hyperelastic bone-like material that can be easily customized to fit the needs of its host. Currently, bone implantation surgery typically involves harvesting needed bone from elsewhere in the body, which can cause additional complications and pain. Lead researcher Ramille Shah says this places a particular strain on growing children who need repeated surgeries as they age.
(BBC) – Russia is moving towards banning “baby boxes” – the hatches introduced in many countries where desperate mothers can safely abandon an unwanted infant. But there has been sharp criticism of the ban proposed by senator Elena Mizulina and backed by the government. Some warn that a ban will mean more dead babies left in woods or at rubbish dumps. Russia has about 20 of the boxes, where a mother can anonymously leave a baby at a maternity unit. A UN committee has condemned the boxes.
(Reuters) – The Zika virus causing an epidemic in Brazil and spreading through the Americas can infect and alter cells in the human nervous system that are crucial for formation of bones and cartilage in the skull, a study found on Thursday. The research, published in the journal Cell Host & Microbe, may help explain why babies children born with to mother who have had the virus can have smaller-than-average skulls and disproportionate facial features.
(Kasier Health News) – Drugmaker Sarepta Therapeutics won a big victory when its $300,000 muscular dystrophy drug was recently approved, but the company had other reasons to celebrate, too. They were also awarded the drug world’s equivalent of a Willy Wonka golden ticket. The ticket, known as a rare pediatric disease priority review voucher, is part of a program created by Congress in 2007 to encourage the development of drugs for tropical diseases and later expanded to rare pediatric disorders. Any company awarded a voucher can use it for a fast-track government review of one of its future drugs — or it can sell the voucher to another company.
(MIT Technology Review) – Most experts in the medical field will tell you that gene therapy has finally come of age, but the numbers tell a different story. Despite 30 years of research and a bigger pipeline than ever, only a small number of gene therapy trials have completed late-stage testing or are currently in late-stage trials. The concept of gene therapy—replacing or adding a gene to correct a faulty, disease-causing one—was first tested in a clinical trial in 1990. That ushered in a period of enormous hype, with news headlines proclaiming a life-saving approach.