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IVF Treatment: South African Agency Flies Egg Donors to Australia

Bioethics News - Tue, 02/09/2016 - 15:37

(Sydney Morning Herald) – A group of young South African women are due to arrive in Australia this month for an all-expenses paid trip of a lifetime – but there’s a catch. They have to leave their eggs behind. The fertile white women are coming to serve as egg donors for local IVF patients who are desperate for babies.

FDA Moves to Crack Down on Unproven Stem Cell Therapies

Bioethics News - Tue, 02/09/2016 - 15:29

(STAT) – LOS ANGELES — Federal regulators are preparing to crack down on scores of clinics across the United States that offer pricey stem cell therapies for conditions ranging from autism to multiple sclerosis to erectile dysfunction without any scientific evidence that they work. As many as 200 stem cell clinics have cropped up in recent years, peddling injections, facelifts, and treatments for a number of devastating conditions. They have avoided heavy regulation, in part because they use cells extracted from a patient’s own body and because they don’t do much to those cells before reinjecting them.

N.W.T. Not Ready to Implement Assisted Dying Law, Say Health Care Leaders

Bioethics News - Tue, 02/09/2016 - 15:25

(CBC News) – According to Hendricks, there are fundamental questions integral to the unique geographical and cultural aspects of the N.W.T. that still need to be answered. “I have not seen any consideration of what some First Nations and Inuit perspectives might be on this issue, or what it might look like in remote health care settings.” In November, a provincial-territorial expert advisory group published a final report with advice and recommendations for the provinces and territories on the implementation of physician-assisted dying, but Hendricks says those national recommendations don’t reflect the reality of the N.W.T.

California Considers Funding Controversial Research: Editing Genes in Human Embryos

Bioethics News - Tue, 02/09/2016 - 15:19

(STAT) – OAKLAND, Calif. — The California Institute of Regenerative Medicine was created in 2004 to fund stem cell research, after the federal government stopped paying for most experiments with human embryos. Now the state agency is considering underwriting another controversial use of embryos that the federal government won’t support — editing their genes. Officials of the state agency, known as CIRM, discussed guidelines and safeguards for this type of research last week at a meeting of an internal committee that evaluates standards for research funding but made no decision about supporting such work.

Variation in Hospice Visits for Medicare Patients in Last Two Days of Life

Bioethics News - Tue, 02/09/2016 - 15:14

(Medical Xpress) – Medicare patients in hospice care were less likely to be visited by professional staff in the last two days of life if they were black, dying on a Sunday or receiving care in a nursing home, according to an article published online by JAMA Internal Medicine. Hospice programs do not have any mandated minimum number of required visits for the most common level of hospice care referred to as routine home care (RHC). However, a hospice program must deliver the highest possible quality of care for the dying person and support family members in their role as caregivers with the payments they receive from Medicare.

Zika Prompts Urgent Debate about Abortion in Latin America

Bioethics News - Tue, 02/09/2016 - 15:12

(Washington Post) – Across Latin America, calls to loosen some of the most restrictive abortion laws in the world in the face of the Zika virus outbreak are gaining momentum but encountering strong and entrenched opposition. In El Salvador, where abortions are banned under any circumstance, the health minister has argued for a revision of the law because of the dangers the virus poses to fetal development.

Lack of Research Keeps End-of-Life Care in Status Quo

Bioethics News - Mon, 02/08/2016 - 15:46

(Eurekalert) – Randomized controlled trials often are considered the gold standard of research studies that help guide the medical care of patients across the world. However, in hospices, randomized controlled trials are difficult to conduct since patients are so close to the end of their lives, causing a gap in research that could improve the quality of hospice care overall. Now, a University of Missouri School of Medicine researcher has found that only 10 randomized controlled trials have taken place in U.S. hospices since 1985. The researcher said more randomized trials by hospice researchers could lead to improved care for hospice patients.

Standard Method for Deriving Stem Cells May Be Better for Use in Regenerative Medicine

Bioethics News - Mon, 02/08/2016 - 15:31

(Medical Xpress) – Scientists at the UCLA Eli and Edythe Broad Center of Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research have discovered an important naturally occurring process in the developing human embryo that can be lost when embryonic stem cells are derived in the lab.  The discovery provides scientists with critical information regarding the best method for creating stem cells for regenerative medicine purposes, such as cell transplantation or organ regeneration. The discovery also provides insight into how information that is passed from an unfertilized egg to an embryo may impact the quality of the embryo and subsequently, the birth of healthy children.

Sydney University Forced to Reveal Emails in Chinese Organ-Donation Link Scandal

Bioethics News - Mon, 02/08/2016 - 15:26

(Sydney Morning Herald) – The head of China’s organ-transplant program cautioned the University of Sydney that controversy over his appointment to an honorary position could damage reforms to end China’s horrific practice of removing organs from executed prisoners. The university has been forced to release internal emails about its reappointment of Dr Huang Jiefu, then China’s vice-minister of health, as an honorary professor between 2008 and 2014, despite protests from some staff the university shouldn’t be associated with China’s organ-transplant program.

Stem Cell Treatment Result in Diabetes Cure

Bioethics News - Mon, 02/08/2016 - 14:59

(Fort Worth Star Telegram) – Johnson & Johnson, continuing its long quest for a type I diabetes cure, is joining forces with biotech company ViaCyte to speed development of the first stem cell treatment that could fix the life-threatening hormonal disorder. They’ve already begun testing it in a few diabetic patients. If it works as well in patients as it has in animals, it would amount to a cure, ending the need for frequent insulin injections and blood-sugar testing.

Surrogacy & Sherri Shepherd: A Troubling Case

Bioethics News - Mon, 02/08/2016 - 14:51

(Huffington Post) – Shepherd and her then husband, Lamar Sally, signed a surrogacy agreement, also known as gestational carrier agreement, with the company Reproductive Possibilities. A Surrogacy Agreement is a legally binding contract between the surrogate and the intended parents (IP’s) that sets out the legal liabilities and responsibilities for the surrogate and the IP’s during the pregnancy and after the child is born. Typically, fertility clinics will not begin the surrogacy process without confirmation that a Surrogacy Agreement has been duly executed between the IP’s and the surrogate.

IVF Babies at Higher Risk for Blood Cancer

Bioethics News - Mon, 02/08/2016 - 14:42

(U.S. News & World Report) – Children conceived through in vitro fertilization (IVF) might have a slightly increased risk of developing blood cancer, a new study suggests. Children born via IVF had a 67 percent increased risk of leukemia and a more than tripled risk of Hodgkin’s lymphoma compared to children conceived naturally, researchers found in an analysis of more than 1.6 million children in Norway.

A Man Has Admitted Killing a Former Dutch Health Minister

Bioethics News - Mon, 02/08/2016 - 14:38

(U.S. News & World Report) – A man accused of killing a former Dutch health minister admitted the slaying at a court hearing Thursday, claiming it was an “order from God” because she was responsible for the Netherlands’ euthanasia law. The suspect, identified only as Bart van U. because of privacy rules, made the confession during a closed hearing, Rotterdam Court spokesman Pelle Biesmeijer said in a telephone interview.

Cotton Candy Machines May Hold Key for Making Artificial Organs

Bioethics News - Mon, 02/08/2016 - 14:23

(Eurekalert) – Cotton candy machines may hold the key for making life-sized artificial livers, kidneys, bones and other essential organs. For several years, Leon Bellan, assistant professor of mechanical engineering at Vanderbilt University, has been tinkering with cotton candy machines, getting them to spin out networks of tiny threads comparable in size, density and complexity to the patterns formed by capillaries – the tiny, thin-walled vessels that deliver oxygen and nutrients to cells and carry away waste. His goal has been to make fiber networks that can be used as templates to produce the capillary systems required to create full-scale artificial organs.”

Reproducibility: A Tragedy of Errors

Bioethics News - Mon, 02/08/2016 - 14:15

(Nature) – We learned that post-publication peer review is not consistent, smooth or rapid. Many journal editors and staff members seemed unprepared or ill-equipped to investigate, take action or even respond. Too often, the process spiralled through layers of ineffective e-mails among authors, editors and unidentified journal representatives, often without any public statement added to the original article. Some journals that acknowledged mistakes required a substantial fee to publish our letters: we were asked to spend our research dollars on correcting other people’s errors.