(The Telegraph) – On Thursday, the UK will become the first country in the world that allows “3-person IVF” – the creation of a baby with three parents. While this may sound like something out of a science fiction (or even a horror) film, the technique is relatively straightforward: it involves replacing DNA in a woman’s egg with a donor’s DNA, in order to prevent devastating genetic diseases from passing on from mother to child.
(UCLA) – Scientists at the UCLA Eli and Edythe Broad Center of Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research have discovered more than 3,000 previously unknown genes in a poorly understood part of the genome. These genes, found in rare cells in bone marrow and in the thymus, give scientists a new understanding of how the human immune system develops. The findings are published today in the journal Nature Immunology.
(Time) – The unusual story that came before the first successful pediatric heart transplant. It’s been exactly 31 years since Dr. Leonard Bailey transplanted a baboon heart into an infant known as Baby Fae. She lived for 21 days after the transplant, two weeks longer than anyone with a simian heart ever had before. How did an infant end up with a baboon heart?
(Science) – Researchers who hope to use stem cells—the unspecialized cells that produce all of our tissues—to treat diseases face a dilemma. Stem cells from embryos (ES cells) could provide a wealth of new cells but spark ethical objections. Stem cells produced from adult cells (so-called induced pluripotent stem [iPS] cells) avoid the ethical difficulties, but some scientists have questioned whether they are as powerful as ES cells. A new study suggests that the two types of stem cells are equivalent and may help soothe worries about the capabilities of iPS cells.
(Sydney Morning Herald) – The fertility industry has stopped publishing the live birth rate of different IVF clinics, making it more difficult for patients to measure their chances of actually having a baby. The Australian and New Zealand Assisted Reproduction Database [ANZARD], jointly produced by the Fertility Society of Australia and UNSW, omitted the live delivery rate among fertility centres in its annual report released last month, and only included the clinical pregnancy rate, which is typically 10 per cent higher.
(Yahoo! News) – A French appeals court on Saturday partially overturned the acquittal of a French emergency room doctor for the poison deaths of seven terminally ill patients, handing him a suspended two-year sentence. A lower court had acquitted Nicolas Bonnemaison last year in an emotionally-charged trial that gripped a country where euthanasia is illegal. The appeals court in the western city of Angers found Bonnemaison, 54, guilty of deliberately killing one of the seven, an 86-year-old woman.
(Health Canal) – People with lupus, an autoimmune disease, suffer from fatigue, joint pain and swelling and also have a markedly increased risk of developing osteoporosis. Clinical trials have shown that receiving a transplant of mesenchymal stem cells can greatly improve the condition of lupus patients, yet it has not been clear why this treatment strategy works so well. Now, University of Pennsylvania researchers and colleagues have puzzled out a mechanism by which stem cell transplants may help preserve bone in an animal model of lupus.
(New York Times) – The fight over Medicaid funding for Planned Parenthood moved to Texas this week. Three days after Gov. Greg Abbott announced his decision to end Medicaid funding for Planned Parenthood, state health department investigators showed up on Thursday at Planned Parenthood health centers in Houston, Dallas, San Antonio and Brownsville with orders to turn over thousands of pages of documents, including patients’ records and employees’ home addresses and telephone numbers.
(The Telegraph) – A controversial blood test which allows couples to test for thousands of genetic flaws which they could pass on to a baby is now being sold in Britain. Hundreds of prospective parents have already bought the test which tells them if a combination of their genes puts them at risk of having a child with an incurable disease. The compatibility test, which costs £1,800, checks for 4,500 mutations and can flag up more than 600 hereditary diseases, including some that kill within the first years of life. Results come back within 30 days.
(Medscape) – End-of-life care has changed considerably since the IOM last reported on this issue in 1998. To begin with, palliative care is now well established in medicine, nursing, and social work. Yet there is considerable room for improvement. Americans have strong preferences and feelings about the type of care they would like to receive at the end of life. They generally prefer to die at home and with the ability to maintain control over healthcare decisions, according to the recent report. As of now, however, there is minimal or no planning really put in place.
(Medical Xpress) – Public health experts at the University of Liverpool have shown that parents and medics support research without prior consent in the emergency treatment of critically ill children. As children often lack the decision making ability or legal power to provide true informed consent for medical decisions, it often falls on parents or legal guardians to provide informed permission for medical decisions.