(Scientific American) – Society’s embrace of cannabis to treat nausea, pain and other conditions proceeds apace with the drive to legalize the plant for recreational use. Pot’s seemingly innocuous side effects have helped clear a path toward making it a legal cash crop, with all of the marketing glitz brought to other consumer products. But that clean bill of health only goes so far. Marijuana’s potentially detrimental impact on the developing brains of adolescents remains a key focus of research—particularly because of the possibility teenage users could go on to face a higher risk of psychosis.
(New York Times) – A federal judge on Wednesday ordered top United States government officials to allow a pregnant 17-year-old immigrant to get an abortion — the first ruling in a case that could eventually grow to include hundreds of other undocumented minors who seek access to an abortion while in federal custody.
(Retraction Watch) – Journals are raising ethical concerns about the research of a doctor who offers controversial embryonic stem cell treatments. Two journals have issued expressions of concern for three papers by Geeta Shroff, who was the subject of a 2012 CNN investigative documentary. All cite ethical concerns; one mentions the potential link between the procedure the authors describe and a risk of forming teratomas, a type of tumor. Shroff has objected to all three notices.
(Washington Post) – The U.S. abortion rate has fallen dramatically, by 25 percent, in recent years. The procedure continues to be common: One in four women will have an abortion by 45, according to a report published in the American Journal of Public Health on Thursday. Researchers used data from three surveys, two conducted by the federal government and the third by the Guttmacher Institute, to estimate abortion rates. They found that in 2008, there were 19.4 abortions per 1,000 women ages 15 to 44. By 2014, the number had dropped to 14.6 per 1,000.
The Linacre Quarterly (vol. 84, no. 2, 2017) is available online by subscription only.
- “Personhood Status of the Human Zygote, Embryo, Fetus” by John Janez Miklavcic
- “Identifying Organisms” by Stephen Napier
- “Pope John Paul II and the Neurological Standard for the Determination
of Death: A Critical Analysis of His Address to the Transplantation
Society” by Doyen Nguyen
The New England Journal of Medicine (vol. 377, no. 6, 2017) is available online by subscription only.
- “Supporting Women’s Autonomy in Prenatal Testing” by J. Johnston, R.M. Farrell, and E. Parens
- “Health Insurance Coverage and Health — What the Recent Evidence Tells Us” by B.D. Sommers, A.A. Gawande, and K. Baicker
Christian Bioethics (vol. 23, no. 2, 2017) is available online by subscription only.
- “The Scandal of Secular Bioethics: What Happens When the Culture Acts as if there is No God?” by Mark J. Cherry
- “A God’s-Eye Perspective after Onto-Theology: Notes toward a Post-Modern Christian Culture” by Bruce V. Foltz
- “On Liturgical Morality” by David W. Fagerberg
- “Hegel, The Reconceptualization of Science, and the Managerial Elite” by C. Clark Carlton
- “Minding the ‘Unbridgeable Gap’: The Future of Conscientious Objection in a Secular Age” by Alain Julian León and Rico Vitz
- “Moral Pluralism and Christian Bioethics: On H. T. Engelhardt Jr.’s After God” by Luca Savarino
- “The God-shaped Void in the Post-Theistic World: H. Tristram Engelhardt’s Quest in After God” by Gary W. Jenkins
- ” Engelhardt as Sectarian: An Evangelical Protestant Consideration of After God” by James R. Thobaben
Medical Law Review (vol. 25, no. 2, 2017) is available online by subscription only.
- “Medical Tourism, Medical Migration, and Global Justice: Implications for Biosecurity in a Globalized World” by I. Glenn Cohen
- “Public Health Emergencies of International Concern: Global, Regional, and Local Responses to Risk” by Belinda Bennett and Terry Carney
- “Examining National Public Health Law to Realize the Global Health Security Agenda” by Benjamin Mason Meier et al.
- “Infectious Disease Outbreak Response: Mind the Rights Gap” by Sara E. Davies
- “Influenza Virus Research and Eu Export Regulations: Publication, Proliferation, and Pandemic Risks” by Christian Enemark
- “Civil Registration and Vital Statistics, Emergencies, and International Law: Understanding the Intersection” by Claire E. Brolan and Hebe Gouda
(The Atlantic) – In March, eye doctors based primarily at the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute in Miami had published a widely covered report describing three eerily similar cases: Three elderly women with macular degeneration got stem cells derived from their own fat injected into their eyes at a different stem-cell clinic in Florida. The same thing happened: Their retinas became detached, and they went blind. The doctors ended up examining the 77-year-old woman too, which led to the recent case report describing her condition. And there are likely even more cases.
(Kaiser Health News) – A year later, their optimism has turned to uncertainty. Memories of kicking back in a Caribbean hotel during the trial have been overshadowed by the dread of side effects and renewed outbreaks. But they can’t turn to Halford, a Southern Illinois University professor. He died of cancer in June. They also can’t rely on his university, which shares in the vaccine’s patent but says it was unaware of the trial until after it was over. Because the FDA didn’t monitor the research, it can’t provide guidance. Indeed, there is little independent information about what was in the vaccine or even where it was manufactured, since Halford created it himself.
(The Atlantic) – While the Lischners got extremely lucky, researchers are now working on a new treatment that could help men like Lischner who didn’t save a sample before radiation, or even prepubescent boys who develop cancer and have no sperm to save. This experimental technique takes a sample of testicular tissue and turns sperm precursor cells into actual sperm cells. Put back in the testes, these sperm multiply, repairing normal sperm production. This holds the promise of allowing men who lose fertility through cancer treatment to have biological children not just in a lab, but the old-fashioned way.
(CNN) – As firefighters continue to battle blazes across the state of California, public health officials are dealing with another ongoing crisis: one of the largest person-to-person hepatitis A outbreaks in the country since the development of a vaccine, more than two decades ago. An update provided Thursday by the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) raises the case count to 600. 395 people have been hospitalized and 19 have died since November 2016.
(Reuters) – Ukrainian lawmakers voted through a long-delayed overhaul of the health system on Thursday that the state’s Western backers say will raise standards and tackle a culture of bribe-taking in surgeries and hospitals. The European Union and the International Monetary Fund have been pressing for faster reform is a country where lives are more than five years shorter than the European average, according to the World Health Organization.
(STAT News) – The Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday approved a promising new treatment for a particularly deadly form of cancer, bringing hope to desperate patients while rekindling a global conversation about the escalating cost of new therapies. The treatment, made by Gilead Sciences, is made by extracting patients’ white blood cells and re-engineering them to home in on tumors. Called a CAR-T, the one-time treatment has shown unprecedented results for patients with dire diagnoses.
(Kaiser Health News) – Outrage over the high cost of cancer care has focused on skyrocketing drug prices, including the $475,000 price tag for the country’s first gene therapy, Novartis’ Kymriah, a leukemia treatment approved in August. But the total costs of Kymriah and the 21 similar drugs in development — known as CAR T-cell therapies — will be far higher than many have imagined, reaching $1 million or more per patient, according to leading cancer experts. The next CAR T-cell drug could be approved as soon as November.
(The Atlantic) – The rate of death from opioid overdoses in the United States has more than doubled over the past decade. Amid a deluge of reports on the national crisis, it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that in much of the world many people die in preventable pain, without access to morphine for end-of-life care. This is the finding of a global commission published in The Lancet, which includes analysis of the global distribution of narcotics. The above map shows a relative distribution of how much of the need for opioids is met in various places.
(STAT News) – Most doctors have absorbed racist, sexist, and other bigoted verbal remarks from patients under their care, according to a new national survey. And in interviews, physicians say these ugly incidents, while not frequent, can leave lasting scars. African-American doctors told STAT they had been called racial epithets and been asked to relinquish care for white patients by family members — and even colleagues. Asian-American physicians reported being demeaned with longstanding cultural and racist stereotypes, and female doctors being sexually harassed by patients during physical exams.
(Wired) – At the SynDaver factory in Tampa, Florida, mad scientists are bringing bodies to life. Not Frankensteining the dead, but using a library of polymers to craft synthetic cadavers that twitch and bleed like real suffering humans. Hospitals and med schools use the fakes to teach anatomy and train surgeons, and the most lifelike model is the $95,000 SynDaver Patient. This exquisite corpse can be controlled wirelessly so practitioners can rehearse elaborate medical scenarios in which the patient goes into shock and even “dies.”
(STAT News) – Doctors were just guessing a decade ago when they gave Alison Cairnes’s husband a new drug they hoped would shrink his lung tumors. Now she takes it too, but the choice was no guesswork. Sophisticated gene tests suggested it would fight her gastric cancer, and they were right. Cancer patients increasingly are having their care guided by gene tumor boards, a new version of the hospital panels that traditionally decided whether surgery, radiation, or chemotherapy would be best. These experts study the patient’s cancer genes and match treatments to mutations that seem to drive the disease.
(STAT News) – A once-a-month shot to treat opioid addiction was as effective in maintaining short-term abstinence from heroin and similar drugs as a more commonly prescribed daily treatment, according to a Norwegian study released Wednesday. The study is believed to be the first to directly compare Vivitrol — administered as a monthly shot — with a combination drug treatment sold under the brand name Suboxone. In the U.S. and many other countries, Suboxone or methadone have been the standard medical treatment for people with an opioid use disorder.