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CRISPR Nanoparticles Repair Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy Gene

Bioethics News - Fri, 10/06/2017 - 09:59

(GEN) – cientists have developed a gold nanoparticle technology for delivering the CRISPR/Cas9 gene-editing system to cells that, when tested in the mdx mouse model of Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD), repaired the faulty DMD gene, leading to improved strength and agility and reduced fibrosis. Professor Niren Murthy, Ph.D., the University of California, Berkeley (UC Berkeley) researcher who led development of the CRISPR-Gold platform, suggested to GEN that human clinical gene-editing trials using the system could feasibly start within the next few years.

Poll: Adult Caregivers Undertrained and Overwhlemed

Bioethics News - Thu, 10/05/2017 - 14:56

(STAT News) – Adults in the United States who are providing long-term care for aging relatives and friends have little training for their stressful roles, but plenty of commitment, according to a poll. The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research survey finds that caregivers don’t just give rides to the doctor and go shopping. Nearly half provide some kind of medical care, from changing bandages (30 percent) to inserting catheters or feeding tubes (6 percent).

Study Questions European Approval Process for Cancer Drugs

Bioethics News - Thu, 10/05/2017 - 14:51

(STAT News) – Only about half of the cancer drugs approved by the European Medicines Agency in the last few years were later shown to help patients live longer or improved their lives, a new study says. Scientists in Britain and Latvia analyzed reports from the European regulator on cancer approvals from 2009 to 2013. Many of the approvals were based only on initial measures that suggested the drug might improve health, like tumor shrinkage.

Experimental Drug That Mutes Defective Genes Raises New Hopes

Bioethics News - Thu, 10/05/2017 - 14:35

(Scientific American) – The RNAi delivery systems remain highly complex—and the most effective technologies are still protected by patents that make it difficult for startups to get into the field. Safety concerns persist with other RNAi drugs in development: Last year, for instance, Alnylam had to scrap revusiran, one of its most advanced drugs. Rather than alleviating it, the drug exacerbated pain in a rare nerve disease called transthyretin amyloidosis. And several patients died in the clinical trial, though it’s still not clear exactly why. Alnylam’s stock plummeted by half on that news.

Gene Therapy Helps Boys with ‘Lorenzo’s Oil’ Disease

Bioethics News - Thu, 10/05/2017 - 14:24

(ABC News) – The fledgling field of gene therapy has scored another win: An experimental treatment seemed to help boys with the inherited nerve disease featured in the movie “Lorenzo’s Oil.” Fifteen of the 17 boys treated in a study had no major disability two years later — remarkable for a disease that often causes swift decline and kills within a decade.

The Letters of an ‘Imbecile,’ the Sham, and Shame, of Eugenics

Bioethics News - Thu, 10/05/2017 - 14:16

(Undark) – We now know that the Holmes opinion was both cruel and false — and is contradicted by a historic marker in Charlottesville, Virginia that has nothing to do with the Civil War, or the soldier-on-horseback monuments that have generated so much controversy recently. This much more obscure marker recalls Buck’s case and declares that she had no “hereditary defects.” Instead, she was the victim of a sham trial that began her trip to the Supreme Court, and provided justification for 60,000 poor or disabled people in 32 states who were sterilized under laws similar to Virginia’s Sterilization Act of 1924, which aimed to prevent people diagnosed with “insanity … idiocy, imbecility, feeble-mindedness or epilepsy” from reproducing.

Oxford Team to Test Universal Flu Vaccine in World First

Bioethics News - Thu, 10/05/2017 - 14:09

(Reuters) – A seasonal flu vaccine that would be the first in the world to fight all types of the virus is to be tested in a two-year clinical trial involving more than 2,000 patients by researchers in Oxford. The so-called universal vaccine was developed by Oxford University’s Jenner Institute and Vaccitech, a spin-out biotech company founded by Jenner scientists.

Parents Lobby States to Expand Newborn Screening Test for Rare Brain Disorder

Bioethics News - Thu, 10/05/2017 - 13:51

(NPR) – ALD is a genetic brain disorder depicted in the 1992 movie Lorenzo’s Oil, which portrayed a couple whose son became debilitated by the disease. The most serious form of the illness typically strikes boys between the ages of 4 and 10. Most are diagnosed too late for treatment to be successful, and they often die before their 10th birthday. The more De Nies learned about ALD, the more she realized how fortunate the family was to have discovered Gregory’s condition so early. Her son’s blood was tested when he was about 10 months old.

Dozens Dead as Plague Outbreak Menaces Madagascar

Bioethics News - Wed, 10/04/2017 - 14:58

(CNN) – An unusually widespread outbreak of the plague is menacing Madagascar. At least 24 people have died and more than 130 have been infected with plague across the country, according to the World Health Organization. Plague is endemic to the country, but “contrary to past outbreaks, this one is affecting larger urban areas and ports, which increases the risk of person-to-person transmission,” WHO spokesman Tarik Jasarevic said.

Clinical Research: Inequality in Medicine

Bioethics News - Wed, 10/04/2017 - 14:55

(Nature) – All drugs pose some risk to everyone who takes them. But women face more danger than men and have a lower likelihood that a therapy will work. Between 2004 and 2013, for instance, women in the United States suffered more than 2 million drug-related adverse events, compared with just 1.3 million for men, according to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). A special report from the US General Accounting Office found that, of the ten drugs removed from the US market between 1997 and 2000, eight were withdrawn because of side effects that occurred only, or mainly, in women.

The United States Is Failing Its Mothers

Bioethics News - Wed, 10/04/2017 - 14:53

(Nature) – Yet between 1990 and 2015, the maternal mortality rate in the United States climbed by 56%, rising from 16.9 deaths per 100,000 births to 26.4, according to a recent study that was published in The Lancet (see ‘Maternal mortality snapshot’). What caused this rise? Many people have theories but no one knows for sure. Over the past two decades, there have been no consistent documentation and analysis. Without quality data, there is no way to understand the causes of this trend.

DNA Testing Firms Are Cashing in Our Genes. Should We Get a Cut?

Bioethics News - Wed, 10/04/2017 - 14:41

(New Scientist) – YOUR DNA determines many aspects of who you are, and an increasing number of companies are claiming they can decode it for you. But they may be getting more out of it than you do. Some tests that reveal genetic trivia sell for as little as $29, although typical prices are between $100 and $200 if you want more detail, with similar costs outside the US. But the companies selling these kits stand to gain a good deal more. Their vast, growing databases of genetic information are hugely valuable to researchers and pharmaceutical companies. Flogging this data, or mining it for drug discovery, could be where the big profits lie. So should these firms be paying you, rather than charging for what might ultimately be little more than a conversation starter?

Hollywood Special Effects Are Helping Surgeons Practice Brain Surgery

Bioethics News - Wed, 10/04/2017 - 14:36

(Quartz) – Brain-surgery training can be very different from the real experience in an operating room. Cadavers are expensive and so neurosurgeons-in-training typically watch videos of the surgeries, then practice on fruits and vegetables. Doctors at Boston Children’s Hospital wanted a more true-to-life experience and turned to Hollywood.

Replacing Faulty Heart Devices Costs Medicare $1.5 Billion in 10 Years

Bioethics News - Wed, 10/04/2017 - 14:24

(New York Times) – Medicare paid at least $1.5 billion over a decade to replace seven types of defective heart devices, a government watchdog says. The devices apparently failed for thousands of patients. A report released on Monday by the inspector general’s office for Health and Human Services said officials needed to do a better job tracking these costly product failures to protect patients from harm. More detailed reporting could lead to earlier recognition of serious problems with medical devices and faster recalls of all types of “poorly performing” ones, the inspector general’s office said.

We’re Nearly Ready to Use CRISPR to Target Far More Diseases

Bioethics News - Wed, 10/04/2017 - 14:07

(New Scientist) – The big challenge is delivering the CRISPR machinery to tissues inside the body. Editing genes with CRISPR requires at least two components: a protein that cuts DNA and a piece of RNA that guides it to the precise DNA site to make the cut. Proteins and RNAs are enormous molecules compared with conventional drugs. It’s hard to get them inside cells, and they don’t usually survive in the bloodstream, either.

Employment Opportunity – Managing Editor for Source on Healthcare Price and Competition

Bioethics News - Tue, 10/03/2017 - 17:31

The Consortium at UC Hastings seeks a Managing Editor to manage and conduct legal research and analysis for the Source on Healthcare Price and Competition. The Source is an independent, nonprofit initiative of the UCSF/UC Hastings Consortium on Law, Science & Health Policy that serves as a multi-disciplinary resource for information and analysis about healthcare price and competition. The Managing Editor will work under the supervision of the Consortium Co-Director at UC Hastings to design and conduct work under the project.


Typical duties and responsibilities consist of, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Collaborate with Executive Editor to develop and execute a project work plan within grant scope;
  • Conduct independent legal research and analysis;
  • Manage day-to-day operations and function of The Source for Healthcare Price and Competition, including content, appearance, and function of the website;
  • Track news, reports, and multidisciplinary scholarship on issues related to healthcare price and competition;
  • Work with web developers to ensure that the website achieves the aims of the grant;
  • Produce scholarly written legal work product, including issue briefs, blog posts, and newsletters for publication on the Source on Healthcare Price and Competition;
  • Supervise research assistants or graduate research fellows as needed to achieve project aims;
  • Present scholarly legal work product at Consortium events, local and national conferences, policy workgroups and/or to other relevant constituencies as needed for effective dissemination;
  • Report regularly to the Consortium Co-Director and Executive Editor to ensure project progress according to plan and on grant schedule;
  • Prepare reports as may be required by grant funder, subject to review by the Consortium Co-Director and Executive Director;
  • Assist with coordination and execution of Source Advisory Board Meetings and other events;
  • Write or assist in writing grant proposals related to project work.




  • JD required;
  • A minimum of three years of relevant legal research, practice, and/or teaching experience preferred;
  • Additional advanced degree or experience related to health care, bioethics, public health, public policy or related fields preferred.



  • Excellent verbal and written communication skills;
  • Excellent legal research and analysis;
  • Experience with grant-funded research projects preferred;
  • Supervisory experience preferred;
  • Experience with website administration and WordPress preferred;
  • Sharp analytical abilities and problem-solving skills;
  • Excellent organizational skills and attention to detail;
  • Ability to work independently and as part of a team.


This is a one-year appointment, which can extend up to three years depending upon performance.

To apply, please send a resume, writing sample, and list of references to Professor Jaime King (kingja@uchastings.edu). Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis until filled.

Faculty Position Opening – Assistant Professor of Law and Director of Medical-Legal Partnership Clinic at The University of Memphis

Bioethics News - Tue, 10/03/2017 - 17:27

The University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law invites applications for a tenure-track Assistant Professor of Law to direct and teach its Medical-Legal Partnership (MLP) Clinic starting in the 2018-19 academic year.  In accordance with the Law School’s commitment to a unitary-track faculty, this position will entail full tenure rights and equal voting privileges on all faculty issues.

Launched in Fall 2015, the MLP Clinic is the academic centerpiece of the Memphis Children’s Health Law Directive (Memphis CHiLD), an innovative alliance of the School of Law, Memphis Area Legal Services, and Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital. The Clinic is designed to address legal and social issues impacting the health of low-income children and families throughout Memphis.

Among his or her principal responsibilities, the successful candidate will supervise MLP Clinic students in providing civil legal services to Le Bonheur patients and their families; teach an interdisciplinary curriculum in an accompanying Clinic seminar; engage in outreach to healthcare professionals; partner with the Law School’s Institute for Health Law & Policy and other community stakeholders; and lead efforts to continue the development of Memphis CHiLD and to evaluate its impact.

Candidates must possess a J.D. or equivalent law degree, a minimum of three (3) years of legal practice experience, active membership in at least one state bar, and the ability to obtain Tennessee bar admission upon appointment. See Supreme Court Rule 7, Section 10.02 (allowing special admission to practice for attorneys employed in law school clinical programs).  Among other qualifications, candidates should also have a strong desire to supervise and work with students; substantial experience or interest in serving lower-income individuals and communities; demonstrated experience or interest in working with healthcare professionals and students; a commitment to building community relationships and programs; and a demonstrated potential for excellence in teaching and scholarly productivity.

Applicants should apply through the University of Memphis Work Forum (workforum.memphis.edu/) and submit a letter of interest, resume, and list of three references to Professor Daniel Kiel, Chair, Faculty Recruitment Committee, at dkiel@memphis.edu.  Please include “MLP Clinic Director Application” in the subject line of the email.

While the School of Law does not treat race, color, religion, national origin, gender, age, disability, or sexual orientation as dispositive in hiring decisions, the School has a strong institutional commitment to hiring persons who will add to its diversity.  The University of Memphis is an EEO/AA employer.


Personal Genetic Testing Is Here. Do We Need It?

Bioethics News - Tue, 10/03/2017 - 15:48

(New York Times) – Experts say many people are using a growing stream of genetic data to help them make better health decisions. But they also warn that some consumers may be led astray by genetic findings that are overblown or irrelevant. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, for example, takes a cautious approach to personal genomics tests, telling consumers on its website to “think before they spit” and that “evidence on the ability of genetic information to change health behavior has been lacking.”

Ethics of Internet Research Trigger Scrutiny

Bioethics News - Tue, 10/03/2017 - 15:46

(Nature) – Common themes among these efforts include rethinking what counts as ‘public’ data, the ethical use of social media and the need to consider a study’s potential harm to wider society, as well as to individuals. Many countries have long-standing ethical checks for research that intervenes in human lives. But those principles, set up for medical and psychological studies, apply to research on human subjects, the definition of which often excludes Internet research, says Metcalf.

What American Taught the Nazis

Bioethics News - Tue, 10/03/2017 - 15:33

(The Atlantic) – Every day brings fresh reminders that liberal and illiberal democracy can entwine uncomfortably, a timely context for James Q. Whitman’s Hitler’s American Model, which examines how the Third Reich found sustenance for its race-based initiatives in American law. Upon docking, the Germans attended a reception organized by the New York City Bar Association. Everyone in the room would have known about the recent events in Nuremberg, yet the quest by leading Nazi jurists to learn from America’s legal and economic systems was warmly welcomed.