(Korea Herald) – On Monday, Moon appointed Park Ky-young to lead the Science, Technology and Innovation Office at the Ministry of Science and ICT, triggering searing criticism from scientists, politicians and civic groups that called her unfit for the post billed as a science policy control tower. Park, a biology professor at Sunchon National University, served as a senior advisor to former President Roh Moo-hyun for some two years until 2006 when she resigned over a shocking revelation that Hwang Woo-suk, the country’s leading stem cell scientist, fabricated his 2004 research paper.
(Toronto Star) – Researchers say genetic testing should be standard practice when diagnosing cerebral palsy after a new study found that genetic variations could be a factor in hemiplegic cerebral palsy, the most common form of the motor disability. Standardizing a genetic workup for children with cerebral palsy, though, would depend on government funding.
(Sacramento Bee) – Cyberattacks are accelerating worldwide and the U.S. health care system is dangerously unprepared to defend itself, or its patients. In the past two months, thousands of computers of the nation’s No. 3 pharmaceutical company, Merck, seized up amid a global cyberattack, cutting into production of medicines. The same rogue digital worm crippled a hospital system north of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. From insulin pumps and defibrillators, and on to expensive CT scanners and MRI machines, medical devices are increasingly connected to networks. Patient medical records are online. When networks go down, physicians say it is like operating in the dark.
(STAT News) – While abuse-deterrent opioids have a role in addressing opioid misuse, we caution that any mandate for using these products in all patients would result in huge expenditures and perhaps nudge aside other less expensive and more effective approaches to prevention and treatment of opioid abuse. And some patient advocates have rightfully noted that legitimate pain patients are being asked to pay for the abuse predilection of a small minority of patients looking to get high.
(Medical Xpress) – Drug overdose deaths continue to climb in the United States, despite efforts to combat the nation’s ongoing opioid addiction crisis, a new federal report states. The drug overdose death rate reached 19.9 cases for every 100,000 people during the late summer of 2016, compared with 16.7 cases per 100,000 the year before, the U.S. National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) stated in its quarterly mortality report.
(New Scientist) – Last week, two people with type 1 diabetes became the first to receive implants containing cells generated from embryonic stem cells to treat their condition. The hope is that when blood sugar levels rise, the implants will release insulin to restore them to normal. About 10 per cent of the 422 million people who have diabetes worldwide have type 1 diabetes, which is caused by the body’s immune system mistakenly attacking cells in the pancreas that make insulin. For more than 15 years, researchers have been trying to find a way to use stem cells to replace these, but there have been several hurdles – not least, how to get the cells to work in the body.
(MIT Technology Review) – As gene sequencing technology gets faster and cheaper, companies are finding more ways to commercialize DNA, from offering disease-specific genetic tests and whole-genome sequencing to portable sequencers that allow you analyze genetic data anywhere. Five standouts made our list of the 50 Smartest Companies.
(New Atlas) – Organ transplantation has undoubtedly been one of the greatest medical innovations of the last century. The development of modern immunosuppressive drugs has significantly reduced the rates of organ rejection, but these drugs often have dramatic side effects for the patient. A team from Yale has now developed an entirely new way of reducing organ transplant rejection by “hiding” the donated organ using targeted nanoparticles.
(Australian Broadcasting Co) – Death is inevitable. The creation of healthcare records about every complaint and ailment we seek treatment for is also a near-certainty. Data about patients is a vital cog in the provision of efficient health services. Our study explores what happens to those healthcare records after you die. We focus on New Zealand’s legal situation and practices, but the issue is truly a global one.
(STAT News) – Early this year, seeking a way to grow human organs for transplant, his group announced it had created pig-human chimeras — fetal pigs with human cells mixed in. His Salk Institute lab has discovered two new kinds of stem cells, including one considered the pinnacle of stem cells because, in addition to being able to create every type of cell in the body, it can also form tissues like the placenta and amniotic sac that embryos need to survive. Last December, they used a technique in mice that may help reverse aging by reprogramming adult cells back to their youth.
(The New Yorker) – The technology to freeze pre-embryos has been around since the early nineteen-eighties. (In 1984, the first baby from a frozen embryo was born.) By current estimates, there are more than six hundred thousand—some say more than a million—frozen pre-embryos in the United States, and one of the many unanticipated questions stirred by developments in reproductive technology is what to do with them. What happens when couples split up? The frozen pre-embryos aren’t children, but they aren’t exactly property, either. Who decides what happens to them?
(New York Times) – I practice both critical and palliative care medicine at a public hospital in Oakland. In June 2016, our state became the fourth in the nation to allow medical aid in dying for patients suffering from terminal illness. Oregon was the pioneer 20 years ago. Washington and Vermont followed suit more recently. (Colorado voters passed a similar law in November.) Now, five months after the law took effect here in California, I was facing my first request for assistance to shorten the life of a patient.
(USA Today) – In one of the latest examples of the growing opioid epidemic, researchers found a seven-fold increase in the proportion of drivers killed while under the influence of prescription opioids since 1995. Researchers at Columbia University examined drug testing results for 36,729 drivers in California, Hawaii, Illinois, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and West Virginia who died within an hour of being in a car crash.
(Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News) – One day after publication of a landmark study detailing the first-in-the-U.S. use of CRISPR (clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats) to repair a germline mutation in human embryos created through in vitro fertilization, 11 genetics-focused professional organizations are calling for researchers to use caution in applying the technology. The 11 organizations have issued a policy statement stopping short of calling for a ban on human germline genome editing.
(Irish Times) – The Catholic Church in Ireland has voiced its total opposition to the use of embryos in research following a breakthrough study by scientists who “edited” human genomes to remove mutations linked to heart failure. Scientists believe such “editing” could also work for other conditions caused by single gene mutations such as cystic fibrosis and some breast cancers. None of the research so far has involved the birth of babies from the modified embryos. However, Bishop Kevin Doran, chair of the Catholic Bishops’ Consultative Group on Bioethics and Life Questions, said – as part of the research – human embryos were “being deliberately generated under laboratory conditions with a higher than average risk of congenital heart disease”.
(Yahoo! News) – U.S. regulators on Friday warned a New York fertility doctor to stop marketing an experimental procedure that uses DNA from three people — a mother, a father and an egg donor — to avoid certain genetic diseases. The doctor, John Zhang, used the technique to help a Jordanian couple have a baby boy last year. According to the Food and Drug Administration, Zhang said his companies wouldn’t use the technology in the U.S. again without permission, yet they continue to promote it.
Journal of Medical Ethics (vol. 43, no. 5, 2017) is available online by subscription only.
- “Withholding Treatment: What, Whom and Why?” by Jonathan Pugh
- “Ethics of a Relaxed Antidoping Rule Accompanied by Harm-Reduction Measures” by Bengt Kayser and Jan Tolleneer
- “Second Thoughts About Who Is First: The Medical Triage of Violent Perpetrators and Their Victims” by Azgad Gold and Rael D Strous
- “Ethics and High-Value Care” by Matthew DeCamp and Jon C Tilburt
- “Autonomy, Age and Sterilisation Requests” by Paddy McQueen
- “Should Healthcare Professionals Sometimes Allow Harm? The Case of Self-Injury” by Patrick J Sullivan
- “The Role of Law in Decisions to Withhold and Withdraw Life-Sustaining Treatment from Adults Who Lack Capacity: A Cross-Sectional Study” by Benjamin P White et al.
- “‘Hey Everybody, Don’t Get Pregnant’: Zika, WHO and an Ethical Framework for Advising” by Katie Byron and Dana Howard
- “Highlights in Bioethics Through 40?years: A Quantitative Analysis of Top-Cited Journal Articles” by Pingyue Jin and Mark Hakkarinen
Res Publica (vol. 23, no. 2, 2017) is available online by subscription only.
- “Neuroethics and Brain Privacy: Setting the Stage” by Jesper Ryberg
- “Privacy, Neuroscience, and Neuro-Surveillance” by Adam D. Moore
- “Brain Privacy and the Case of Cannibal Cop” by Mark Tunick
- “Neuroscience, Mind Reading and Mental Privacy” by Jesper Ryberg
- “Brain Privacy, Intimacy, and Authenticity: Why a Complete Lack of the Former Might Undermine Neither of the Latter!” by Kasper Lippert-Rasmussen