(BBC) – Doctors in Madrid have been testing three people for Ebola after a Spanish nurse became the first person known to have contracted the deadly virus outside West Africa. Some 52 others are being monitored, health officials say. The nurse had treated two Spanish missionaries who died of the disease after being repatriated.
(ABC News) – The American journalist who is being treated for Ebola at a Nebraska hospital is receiving the same experimental treatment as the Liberian patient who was diagnosed with the disease in Texas. “After looking at the data on this drug, collaborating with the CDC and FDA and speaking with the patient and his family, we decided this was currently our best option for treatment,” said Dr. Phil Smith, the medical director of the biocontainment unit at Nebraska Medical Center where Ashoka Mukpo is being treated.
(ABC.net) – A stem cell clinical trial that found patients were no better off than those who got the placebo is at the centre of medical and stock market concerns about a treatment being offered to AFL players, among others.
(People) – For the past 29 years, Brittany Maynard has lived a fearless life – running half marathons, traveling through Southeast Asia for a year and even climbing Mount Kilimanjaro. So, it’s no surprise she is facing her death the same way. On Monday, Maynard will launch an online video campaign with the nonprofit Compassion & Choices, an end-of-life choice advocacy organization, to fight for expanding death-with-dignity laws nationwide. And on Nov. 1, Maynard, who in April was given six months to live, intends to end her own life with medication prescribed to her by her doctor – and she wants to make it clear it is NOT suicide.
(Slate) – As Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s 100-Year Starship Mission, Inspiration Mars Foundation, Planetary Resources, Deep Space Industries, and many other private and public space programs make their grand plans, we need to think carefully about not only the physical risks of space exploration but also legal and ethical risks. For instance, Mars One is still sorting through thousands of applications to be the first residents on Mars—and reality television show stars—with the first batch scheduled to blast off in 2023. But is it even ethical to recruit astronauts for a one-way trip—essentially a suicide mission? Or does that exploit a vulnerable population that has an overdeveloped sense of adventure or other psychological conditions?
(Nanotechnology Now) – Iranian researchers used bioceramic nanostructured materials for the modification of implant alloys and presented biodegradable implants for orthopedics, jaw and face applications. The materials have been produced at laboratorial scale, and they increase the recovery and treatment rate of the broken bones. Many efforts have been made in recent years to produce biodegradable implants for orthopedics, jaw and face applications to eliminate the second surgery for the removal of implants.
(Medical Xpress) – A team of researchers working in South Korea, has developed a technique for delivering a therapeutic gene to fat cells, causing the fat cells to function less efficiently, thereby reducing weight in test mice. In their paper published in Nature Materials, the team describes how they developed their technique, their results and problems they have yet to overcome. As the researchers note, most research into finding a drug that can cause weight reduction in people with obesity issues has centered around appetite reduction.
(MIT News) – Deep within the bone marrow resides a type of cells known as mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs). These immature cells can differentiate into cells that produce bone, cartilage, fat, or muscle — a trait that scientists have tried to exploit for tissue repair. In a new study that should make it easier to develop such stem-cell-based therapies, a team of researchers from MIT and the Singapore-MIT Alliance in Research and Technology (SMART) has identified three physical characteristics of MSCs that can distinguish them from other immature cells found in the bone marrow. Based on this information, they plan to create devices that could rapidly isolate MSCs, making it easier to generate enough stem cells to treat patients.
(The Wall Street Journal) – Several patients with Parkinson’s disease who received brain-tissue transplants from fetuses in the early 1990s have needed little or no medicine to treat the disease ever since—an outcome virtually unheard of in the course of the disease, researchers have found. The results are particularly striking because the treatment is controversial and has been questioned by some researchers in the field. Bolstered by these promising cases, 14 European hospitals, research institutions and companies have launched a new, controversial trial on fetal-cell transplants, known as Transeuro.
JAMA Internal Medicine (Volume 174, No. 10, October 2014) is now available online by subscription only.
- “The Supreme Court Decision in the Hobby Lobby Case: Conscience, Complicity, and Contraception” by R. Alto Charo, JD
- “Human Papillomavirus Testing for Primary Cervical Cancer Screening: Is It Time to Abandon Papanicolaou Testing?” by Sarah Feldman, MD, MPH
- “Randomized Clincial Trials and Observational Studies Are More Often Alike Than Unlike” by Joseph S. Ross, MD, MHS
(Eurekalert) – A 7-year-project to develop a barcoding and tracking system for tissue stem cells has revealed previously unrecognized features of normal blood production: New data from Harvard Stem Cell Institute scientists at Boston Children’s Hospital suggests, surprisingly, that the billions of blood cells that we produce each day are made not by blood stem cells, but rather their less pluripotent descendants, called progenitor cells. The researchers hypothesize that blood comes from stable populations of different long-lived progenitor cells that are responsible for giving rise to specific blood cell types, while blood stem cells likely act as essential reserves.
(IMTJ) – In a recent speech to the Middle East Society for Organ Transplantation in Istanbul, Canadian international human rights lawyer David Matas shed light on one of the hidden aspects of medical tourism. The focus was on transplant tourism from the Middle East into China. Matas concluded, “ There is every reason to conclude that there is substantial transplant tourism from countries in the Middle East to countries where the patients are not nationals and to China in particular. Transplant tourism into China means receiving organs from prisoners of conscience killed for their organs. The efforts in the region to combat this transplant tourism are underdeveloped. There needs to be more of an effort in the Middle East to combat transplant tourism. National professional associations should require compliance with international standards.”
(Baltimore Sun) – While Maryland health officials urged caregivers this week to be alert for possible Ebola virus cases, they were also quick to emphasize there are other — perhaps more contagious — pathogens that they are also monitoring. Public health officials around the world remain on watch for Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, or MERS, while the United States is on guard for enterovirus D68 cases among children. As flu season begins, surveillance for that illness is resuming, and other potentially deadly threats such as avian flu lurk, as well.
(Stuff.co.nz) – A woman is pregnant with New Zealand’s first “made-to-order baby,” chosen for its genetic makeup to save its sibling’s life. The baby was selected from other IVF embryos as a genetic match for its sick older sibling and will donate stem cells at birth. Critics say the process is a slippery slope towards treating children as commodities. The cells will be harvested from the baby’s umbilical cord blood and used as a transplant for the older child, which might save it from life-threatening sickle cell anaemia.
(CBC) – Clinical trials of an experimental Ebola vaccine developed in Canada will start within weeks, confirm officials with the company licensed to commercialize it as well as the World Health Organization. This comes just days after scientists around the world raised concerns safety tests were being needlessly delayed because of intellectual property concerns.? “Treatment of the first patients in clinical trials is imminent at both the [U.S.] Department of Defence and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease,” Brian Wiley, vice-president of business development at NewLink Genetics, stated in an email to CBC News on Friday.
(Washington Post) – While the international community has been accused of dragging its feet on the Ebola crisis, Cuba, a country of just 11 million people that still enjoys a fraught relationship with the United States, has emerged as a crucial provider of medical expertise in the West African nations hit by Ebola. On Thursday, 165 health professionals from the country arrived in Freetown, Sierra Leone, to join the fight against Ebola – the largest medical team of any single foreign nation, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
(UPI) – An attorney for the family of Jahi McMath, the California teen who was declared brain dead in December 2013, says he has new evidence she is alive and will be petitioning to court to have her death declaration reversed. Chris Dolan showed a small group of reporters video purporting to show the Oakland girl responding to her mother’s commands to move her hands and feet.
Building a Superhuman: Stem Cell Advances Are Leading to Dangers and Ethical Problems Few Have Considered
(National Post) – A key problem, as McGill genetic ethicist Bartha Knoppers said this week, is that medical ethics is ill-equipped to contain or thwart the rise of these “luxury” applications of stem cell science, which already loom in the popular imagination. Put together, the trends of stem cell technologies for beauty, strength and resilience point to a new era of human enhancement, not by integration with computers, but by exploitation of the genome’s eternally replicating power. They herald the age of stem cell superheroes, but also monsters and freaks.
(Medical Xpress) – Despite the legalization of same-sex marriage in 19 states and the District of Columbia and an executive order to prohibit federal contractors from discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender employees, LGBT individuals face tremendous hurdles in access to health care and basic human rights. A special report published by The Hastings Center, LGBT Bioethics: Visibility, Disparities, and Dialogue, is a call to action for the bioethics field to help right the wrongs in the ways that law, medicine, and society have treated LGBT people.
(Medical Xpress) – The healthy baby boy was born last month at the University of Gothenburg’s hospital. Both mother and infant are doing well. Weighing 1.775 kilos (3.9 pounds), the baby was born by Caesarean section at 31 weeks after the mother developed pre-eclampsia, a pregnancy condition, according to the medical journal The Lancet. Because of a genetic condition called Rokitansky syndrome, the new mother was born without a womb, although her ovaries were intact.