(STAT News) – These micro quasi-brains are revolutionizing research on human brain development and diseases from Alzheimer’s to Zika, but the headlong rush to grow the most realistic, most highly developed brain organoids has thrown researchers into uncharted ethical waters. Like virtually all experts in the field, neuroscientist Hongjun Song of the University of Pennsylvania doesn’t “believe an organoid in a dish can think,” he said, “but it’s an issue we need to discuss.”
(Undark Magazine) – This dystopian nightmare might not be that farfetched, some academics warn, given the rise of big data, advances in machine learning, and — most worryingly — the current rise in studies that bear a troubling resemblance to the long-abandoned pseudoscience of physiognomy, which held that the shape of the human head and face revealed character traits. Modern computers are much better at scanning minute details in human physiology, modern advocates of such research say, and thus the inferences they draw are more reliable. Critics, on the other hand, dismiss this as bunkum. There is little evidence linking outward physical characteristics and anything like predictable behavior, they note.
Journal of Academic Ethics (vol. 15, no. 3, 2017) is available online by subscription only.
- “Academic Doping: Institutional Policies Regarding Nonmedical use of Prescription Stimulants in U.S. Higher Education” by Ross Aikins, Xiaoxue Zhang, and Sean Esteban McCabe
The American Journal of Bioethics (vol. 17, no. 8, 2017) is available online by subscription only.
- “Saving or Creating: Which Are We Doing When We Resuscitate Extremely Preterm Infants?” by Travis N. Rieder
Medical Law Review (vol. 25, no. 2, 2017) is available online by subscription only.
- “Does the Law on Compensation for Research-Related Injury in the UK, Australia, and New Zealand Meet Ethical Requirements?” by Joanna M. Manning
- “Seeking Certainty? Judicial Approaches to the (Non-)Treatment of Minimally Conscious Patients” by Richard Huxtable and Giles Birchley
- “Transparency Policies of the European Medicines Agency: Has the Paradigm Shifted?” by Daria Kim
BMC Medical Ethics has new articles available online.
- “Development of a Consensus Operational Definition of Child Assent for Research” by Alan R. Tait and Michael E. Geisser
- “Are Advance Directives Helpful for Good End of Life Decision Making: A Cross Sectional Survey of Health Professionals” by Eimantas Peicius, Aurelija Blazeviciene, and Raimondas Kaminskas
- “Comparative Effectiveness Research: What to Do when Experts Disagree about Risks” by Reidar K. Lie et al.
- “Familiar Ethical Issues Amplified: How Members of Research Ethics Committees Describe Ethical Distinctions Between Disaster and Non-Disaster Research” by Catherine M. Tansey et al.
- “Ethics Review of Studies During Public Health Emergencies – The Experience of the WHO Ethics Review Committee During the Ebola Virus Disease Epidemic” by Emilie Alirol et al.
- “Ethical Issues of Informed Consent in Malaria Research Proposals Submitted to a Research Ethics Committee in Thailand: A Retrospective Document Review” by Pornpimon Adams et al.
NanoEthics (vol. 11, no. 2, 2017) is available online by subscription only.
- “Reflection as a Deliberative and Distributed Practice: Assessing Neuro-Enhancement Technologies via Mutual Learning Exercises (MLEs)” by Hub Zwart et al.
- “Nanoethics, Science Communication, and a Fourth Model for Public Engagement” by Andy Miah
- “Creating Golems: Uses of Golem Stories in the Ethics of Technologies” by Erik Thorstensen
- “More than a Decade On: Mapping Today’s Regulatory and Policy Landscapes Following the Publication of Nanoscience and Nanotechnologies: Opportunities and Uncertainties” by Diana M Bowman
- “Staff’s Views from One Canadian Organ Procurement Organization on Organ Donation and Organ Transplant Technologies: a Content Analysis” by Jennifer Cheung and Gregor Wolbring
(STAT News) – Octodrine did indeed show up in one of the products Cohen analyzed. But the others contained three different stimulants, with unknown or potentially risky side effects. They could speed up heart rate and raise blood pressure. And none, including octodrine, has gone through the process required by the FDA to be included as ingredients in dietary supplements. Cohen called the results “surprising and alarming.” The finding, published on Wednesday in Clinical Toxicology, is the latest example of potentially dangerous pharmaceutical ingredients turning up in products that consumers can easily order online or pick up from retail shelves. In some cases, the risk seems to be part of the appeal.
(The Atlantic) – In August, De Luca and Pelligrini got the green light to try their technique. In September, they collected a square inch of skin from Hassan’s groin—one of the few parts of his body with intact skin. They isolated stem cells, genetically modified them, and created their gene-corrected skin grafts. In October and November, they transplanted these onto Hassan, replacing around 80 percent of his old skin. It worked. In February 2016, Hassan was discharged from the hospital. In March, he was back in school. He needs no ointments. His skin is strong. It doesn’t even itch. “He hasn’t developed a single blister,” says de Luca, who shared the details of Hassan’s story with me. “He’s gaining weight. He’s playing sports. He’s got a normal social life.”
(Nature) – It might take years or even decades until BCI and other neurotechnologies are part of our daily lives. But technological developments mean that we are on a path to a world in which it will be possible to decode people’s mental processes and directly manipulate the brain mechanisms underlying their intentions, emotions and decisions; where individuals could communicate with others simply by thinking; and where powerful computational systems linked directly to people’s brains aid their interactions with the world such that their mental and physical abilities are greatly enhanced. Such advances could revolutionize the treatment of many conditions, from brain injury and paralysis to epilepsy and schizophrenia, and transform human experience for the better. But the technology could also exacerbate social inequalities and offer corporations, hackers, governments or anyone else new ways to exploit and manipulate people. And it could profoundly alter some core human characteristics: private mental life, individual agency and an understanding of individuals as entities bound by their bodies.
(Nature) – Somewhere in Germany’s Ruhr valley, a nine-year-old boy is doing what children do: playing football, joking around with friends and going to school. Two years ago, he was confined to a hospital bed, dying of a rare and cruel genetic skin disease. In a landmark paper online in Nature this week, scientists and clinicians present the details of his astonishing recovery. The boy had junctional epidermolysis bullosa, or JEB. He, like other people with the disease, carried a mutation in a gene that controls the integrity of the skin. Doctors could only try to ease his suffering as some 80% of his skin simply fell away.
(STAT News) – At an NHL hockey game, it’s not uncommon to see some blood. The other day, it turned out to be some of my own. The good news is that it was all in the name of science. The Boston-based consumer genetics company Orig3n had announced that it was planning to set up booths at a Boston Bruins game I was going to attend. Along with other fans, I could get a free DNA test and learn about my own genes. These kinds of tests are increasingly common — and many of them are marketed toward fitness junkies and sports fans like myself. The idea is that you can discover all kinds of things you never knew about your health.
(ABC News) – The city of Delhi, India, is surrounded by a thickening blanket of smog that covers the city, making the sky less visible and the air less breathable. The Indian Medical Association (IMA) declared a public health emergency in the city on Tuesday — the city’s air quality rating is above the highest levels on the index. People have been advised to avoid any outdoors activity and to keep children indoors to avoid the risks of the “severely harmful” air quality.
(GEN) – Stem cells have been a boon to biological research, allowing researchers to visualize and develop potential therapies for diseases where intervention has hit a wall. However, not all stem cell therapies are as simple as adding undifferentiated cells to damaged areas, allowing natural biological processes to take hold. For instance, inner ear stem cells can be converted to auditory neurons that could reverse deafness, but the process can also make those cells divide too quickly, posing a cancer risk—this according to recent findings from a study led by investigators at Rutgers University-New Brunswick.
Bioethics (vol. 31, no. 7, 2017) is available online by subscription only.
- “Wrongness, Responsibility, and Conscientious Refusals in Health Care” by Alida Liberman
- ‘You Are Inferior!’ Revisiting the Expressivist Argument” by Bjørn Hofmann
- A Pragmatic Analysis of Vulnerability in Clinical Research” by David Wendler
- Euthanasia and Cryothanasia” by Francesca Minerva and Anders Sandberg
- Human Organisms Begin to Exist at Fertilization” by Calum Miller and Alexander Pruss
- Tying Oneself to the Mast: One Necessary Cost to Morally Enhancing Oneself Biomedically” by Benedict Rumbold
- First, Do No Harm: Generalized Procreative Non-Maleficence” by Ben Saunders
- Defending the Social Value of Knowledge as a Safeguard for Public Trust” by Felicitas S. Holzer
JAMA Internal Medicine (vol. 177, no. 8, 2017) is available online by subscription only.
- “Cosmetics, Regulations, and the Public Health: Understanding the Safety of Medical and Other Products” by Robert M. Califf, Jonathan McCall, and Daniel B. Mark
Genetics in Medicine (vol. 19, no. 5, 2017) is available online by subscription only.
- “Diagnostic Cytogenetic Testing Following Positive Noninvasive Prenatal Screening Results: A Clinical Practice Resource of the American College of Medical Genetics and Genomics (ACMG)” by Athena M. Cherry et al.
- “Carnitine Palmitoyltransferase 1A P479L and Infant Death: Policy Implications of Emerging Data” by Alison E. Fohner, Nanibaa’ A. Garrison, Melissa A. Austin, and Wylie Burke
- “The Current State of Implementation Science in Genomic Medicine: Opportunities for Improvement” by Megan C. Roberts, Amy E. Kennedy, David A. Chambers, and Muin J. Khoury
- “Conflicts of Interest in Genetic Counseling: Acknowledging and Accepting” by Katie A. Stoll, Amanda Mackison, Megan A. Allyse, and Marsha Michie
Nursing Ethics (vol. 24, no. 3, 2017) is available online by subscription only.
- “Nurse Ethical Awareness: Understanding the Nature of Everyday Practice” by Aimee Milliken and Pamela Grace
- “The Development of Ethical Guidelines for Nurses’ Collegiality Using the Delphi Method” by Mari Kangasniemi et al.
- “From Painful Busyness to Emotional Immunization: Nurses’ Experiences of Ethical Challenges” by Anne Storaker, Dagfinn Nåden, and Berit Sæteren
- “Evaluating Care from a Care Ethical Perspective:: A Pilot Study” by Esther E Kuis and Anne Goossensen
- “Nurses’ and Patients’ Perceptions of Privacy Protection Behaviours and Information Provision” by Kyunghee Kim, Yonghee Han, and Ji-su Kim
JAMA (vol. 318, no. 6, 2017) is available online by subscription only.
- “Can Patients Make Recordings of Medical Encounters? What Does the Law Say?” by Glyn Elwyn, Paul James Barr, and Mary Castaldo
- “Challenges in International Comparison of Health Care Systems” by Irene Papanicolas and Ashish K. Jha
- “Unintended Consequences of Machine Learning in Medicine” by Federico Cabitza, Raffaele Rasoini, and Gian Franco Gensini
- “Health and Spirituality” by Tyler J. VanderWeele, Tracy A. Balboni, and Howard K. Koh
- “Organ Donation After Euthanasia” by Rahul M. Jindal
(Bloomberg) – The high-tech testing lab’s raw material has become liquid gold for the doctors who own Comprehensive Pain Specialists. This testing process, driven by the nation’s epidemic of painkiller addiction, generates profits across the doctor-owned network of 54 clinics, the largest pain-treatment practice in the Southeast. Medicare paid the company at least $11 million for urine and related tests in 2014, when five of its professionals stood among the nation’s top billers.