(STAT News) – The reporting of clinical trial results to a public database — mandated by a 10-year-old federal law — has improved sharply in the last two years, with universities and other nonprofit research centers leading the way, according to a new STAT analysis of government data. Overall, trial sponsors had disclosed 72 percent of required results to the federal ClinicalTrials.gov database as of September 2017. That compares with 58 percent just two years earlier.
(New York Times) – In what has become an increasingly common business arrangement, owners of nursing homes outsource a wide variety of goods and services to companies in which they have a financial interest or that they control. Nearly three-quarters of nursing homes in the United States — more than 11,000 — have such business dealings, known as related party transactions, according to an analysis of nursing home financial records by Kaiser Health News. Some homes even contract out basic functions like management or rent their own building from a sister corporation, saying it is an efficient way of running their businesses and can help minimize taxes.
(Scientific American) – More worrisome is the utter lack of evidence on the impact of freezing time on safety. We might never know the risk of freezing an embryo for 24 years. Tina Gibson said she wasn’t told by her doctors until she was pregnant how long the embryo had been frozen. The ethical question is how much do professionals say—particularly when there is much we do not know.
(Scientific American) – Infertility treatment is an emotional and financial rollercoaster. For couples trying to conceive (“TTC” in the many on-line support forums), repeated failure of implantation, defined as three or more failed in vitro fertilization (IVF) cycles where no clear cause can be identified, is a frequent, heartbreaking end point when the emotional, physical or financial burden of treatment becomes too high to keep looking for an answer. By some estimates, up to two thirds of patients experience failed cycles. That means there’s a lot of opportunity to improve in a field where every small advance in technology represents a chance to make a family. A new infertility-related artificial intelligence (AI) startup thinks it can do just that—and some of the biggest players in computing are betting big that they are right.
(Wired) – This pig doesn’t necessarily need a robot tugging on its esophagus, but children born with a section of theirs missing, a disorder known as esophageal atresia, may in the near future. What researchers detail today in the journal Science Robotics is how their robot could not only help treat this disorder, but also short bowel syndrome, in which a child loses large portions of the intestines to infection. Implantable robots, then, may help extend organs in the human body—though weirdly not by stretching, like you might assume is going on here.
(Reuters) – A federal judge in Oklahoma has dealt a blow to a Cherokee Nation lawsuit seeking to stop the flow of addictive opioid painkillers in its territory by issuing a preliminary injunction to prevent the case from being heard in tribal court. In a decision late Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Terence Kern ruled the tribal court lacked jurisdiction because the lawsuit involving six wholesale drug distributors and pharmacy operators does not directly concern tribal self-government.
(Washington Post) – The dispute is one of a number of embryo-custody battles that have landed in the courts over the past quarter-century, resolved by different judges in different states with no consistent pattern. Rulings sometimes have awarded the frozen contents to the parent who wanted to use them, while other times determining that they could be discarded. On Tuesday, the Colorado Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in the Rookses’ case. Although several other cases have made their way to states’ high courts, legal experts say the issues here are different.
(South China Morning Post) – James tried to remedy his son’s status, applying for a single-parent adoption that in Singapore would give James sole rights and responsibility to the child and remove the illegitimate label. James and Shawn were also hopeful that this would make it easier for Noel to get Singapore citizenship. The couple stressed that it was not about pushing any agendas for gay issues. After three years, the Family Justice Courts rejected the application a day after Christmas.
(Science) – The tale of Victor Frankenstein and his monstrous creation has become a universal touchstone that encapsulates our visceral fears regarding the promises, perils, and pitfalls of countless diverse areas of science and technology. This annotated volume of Mary Shelley’s original work is an effort to reintroduce the story to new generations of researchers who, like many before them, ought to take its lessons to heart.
Patient’s Botched Transfer Renews Call for Assisted Dying in All Publicly Funded Health-Care Facilities
(The Globe and Mail) – A publicly funded Catholic health-care network in British Columbia apologized last spring to a secular hospital after it mismanaged part of the transfer of a frail man seeking a physician-assisted death, documents show. In his note of apology to Vancouver General Hospital, the director of ethics services for Providence Health Care called the problems that occurred during the patient’s move from one hospital to another, “a foreseeable and preventable issue for which I accept full responsibility.”
The New Bioethics (vol. 23, no. 3, 2017) is available online by subscription only.
- “Evidence of Biased Advertising in the Case of Social Egg Freezing” by Christopher Barbey
- “Ethical Considerations in Microbial Therapeutic Clinical Trials” by Michael H. Woodworth et al.
- “Transplanting the Body: Preliminary Ethical Considerations” by Lantz Fleming Miller
- “Emerging Ethical Issues in Restorative Dentistry” by John W. Nicholson
- “The Moral Inadequacy of Cremation” by Toni C. Saad
- “Where Science and Ethics Meet” by Bethan Lever
Journal of Genetic Counseling (vol. 26, no. 6, 2017) is available online by subscription only.
- “When to Consider Risk-Reducing Mastectomy in BRCA1/BRCA2 Mutation Carriers with Advanced Stage Ovarian Cancer: A Case Study Illustrating the Genetic Counseling Challenges” by Beverley Speight and Marc Tischkowitz
- “Public’s Views toward Return of Secondary Results in Genomic Sequencing: It’s (Almost) All about the Choice” by Kerry A. Ryan et al.
- “Influence of Genetic Counseling Graduate Program Websites on Student Application Decisions” by Kristina M. Ivan
- “A Qualitative Look into Israeli Genetic Experts’ Insights Regarding Culturally Competent Genetic Counseling and Recommendations for Its Enhancement” by Merav Siani and Orit Ben-Zvi Assaraf
- “Utilization of Genetic Counseling after Direct-to-Consumer Genetic Testing: Findings from the Impact of Personal Genomics (PGen) Study” by Diane R Koeller et al.
- “‘They Just Want to Know’ – Genetic Health Professionals’ Beliefs About Why Parents Want to Know their Child’s Carrier Status” by Danya F. Vears, Clare Delany, John Massie, and Lynn Gillam
- “Parental Perspectives on Pharmacological Clinical Trials: a Qualitative Study in Down Syndrome and Fragile X Syndrome” by Victoria Reines et al.
Nature Biotechnology (vol. 35, no. 11, 2017) is available online by subscription only.
- “Humans 2.0”
- “First AAV gene therapy poised for landmark approval” by Eric Smalley
Developing World Bioethics (vol. 17, no. 3, 2017) is available online by subscription only.
- “From Ethical Exceptionalism to Ethical Exceptions: The Rule and Exception Model and the Changing Meaning of Ethics In German Bioregulation” by Kathrin Braun
- “The Italian Way to Stem Cell Research: Rethinking the Role of Catholic Religion in Shaping Italian Stem Cell Research Regulations” by Lorenzo Beltrame
- “Cell Churches and Stem Cell Marketing in South Korea and the United States” by Douglas Sipp
- “Zika, Contraception and the Non-Identity Problem” by Keyur Doolabh
- “Social Responsibility and the State’s Duty to Provide Healthcare: An Islamic Ethico-Legal Perspective” by Aasim I. Padela
JAMA (vol. 318, no. 18, 2017) is available online by subscription only.
- “FDA’s Innovative Plan to Address the Enormous Toll of Smoking” by Kenneth E. Warner and Steven A. Schroeder
- “The Critical Role of Biomedical Research in Pandemic Preparedness” by Hilary D. Marston, Catharine I. Paules, and Anthony S. Fauci
- “Global Budgets for Safety-Net Hospitals” by Joshua M. Sharfstein, Sule Gerovich, and David Chin
- “Death by Gun Violence—A Public Health Crisis” by Howard Bauchner et al.
- “The High Costs of Unnecessary Care” by Aaron E. Carroll
(Wired) – Bursac’s team used pluripotent stem cells derived from human skin cells, which they genetically programmed to express large quantities of a protein called Pax-7. It can reprogram a single stem cell into what’s known as a myogenic progenitor cell—an intermediate cell that, under the right conditions, can eventually become a mature, contracting muscle cell.
(The Atlantic) – Hospitals have been struggling—especially independent public and/or nonprofit hospitals located in smaller cities and rural towns. Last year, for example, the National Rural Health Association, a nonprofit, estimated that 673 rural facilities (with a variety of ownership structures) were at risk of closure, out of over 2,000. And with the new tax legislation, and events like the merger of the drugstore chain CVS and the insurer Aetna, the turmoil looks to get worse. In response, stand-alone nonprofit hospitals have been auctioning off their real estate to investors, selling themselves to for-profit chains or private-equity firms, or, like Berger, folding themselves into regional health systems.
(The Atlantic) – This moment was inevitable. It just wasn’t supposed to happen so soon. Due to the inexorable aging of the country—and equally unstoppable growth in medical spending—it was long obvious that health-care jobs would slowly take up more and more of the economy. But in the last quarter, for the first time in history, health care has surpassed manufacturing and retail, the most significant job engines of the 20th century, to become the largest source of jobs in the U.S.
(Associated Press) – An ongoing shortage of fluids used to deliver medicine and treat dehydrated patients has hospital workers scrambling in the midst of a nasty flu season and supplies from factories in storm-ravaged Puerto Rico have been slow to rebound. Supplies of saline and nutrient solutions were already tight before hurricanes pounded Puerto Rico and cut power to manufacturing plants that make much of the U.S. supply of fluid-filled bags used to deliver sterile solutions to patients.
(Associated Press) – A federal judge on Tuesday likened the nation’s opioid epidemic to the deadly 1918 flu pandemic while noting the drug crisis is “100 percent manmade.” Judge Dan Polster urged participants on all sides of lawsuits against drugmakers and distributors to work toward a common goal of reducing overdose deaths. He said the issue has come to courts because “other branches of government have punted” it. The judge is overseeing more than 180 lawsuits against drug companies brought by local communities across the country, including those in California, Illinois, Kentucky, Ohio and West Virginia. Municipalities include San Joaquin County in California; Portsmouth, Ohio; and Huntington, West Virginia.