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How Breast Cancer Usurps the Powers of Mammary Stem Cells

Bioethics News - Tue, 08/12/2014 - 14:58

(Medical Xpress) – During pregnancy, certain hormones trigger specialized mammary stem cells to create milk-producing cells essential to lactation. Scientists at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine and Moores Cancer Center have found that mammary stem cells associated with the pregnant mammary gland are related to stem cells found in breast cancer.

Stem Cell’s Epigenetic Mask Slips, Revealing the Face of Chromatin Dynamics

Bioethics News - Tue, 08/12/2014 - 14:56

(Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News) – Too few” and “too fleeting”—these complaints are common among scientists who try to observe how genes are switched on and off when stem cells differentiate. These events, epigenetic maskings and unmaskings of DNA’s regulatory regions, take cells from the pluripotent state and to a particular cellular identity, a particular function. But even in a well-defined model of differentiation—hematopoiesis—chromatin state dynamics are elusive. Current techniques require the sampling of millions of cells to reveal the epigenetic states through which cells pass when they leave the pluripotent state and mature into various kinds of blood cells.

Colorado Birth Control Scheme Causes Drop in Teen Pregnancy

Bioethics News - Tue, 08/12/2014 - 14:51

(BBC) – What impact would giving teenagers free birth control have on American society? A ground-breaking programme in Colorado aimed to reveal just that, and has led to a dramatic reduction in the rate of teenage pregnancy and other benefits as a consequence.  But moral opposition to the scheme, and the nature of the project’s funding – a large anonymous donation – leaves it unclear whether it could work across the country. Dianzu Mosqueda Salinas is a young woman working at a family planning centre in the Colorado town of Boulder.

Iran Bans Permanent Contraception to Boost Population Growth

Bioethics News - Tue, 08/12/2014 - 14:50

(The Guardian) – Iran’s parliament has voted to ban permanent forms of contraception, the state news agency IRNA reported, endorsing the supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s call for more babies to be born. The bill, banning vasectomies and similar procedures in women, is parliament’s response to a decree Khamenei issued in May to increase the population to “strengthen national identity” and counter “undesirable aspects of western lifestyles”. Doctors who violate the ban will be punished, the IRNA reported.

Tracing Ebola’s Breakout to an African 2-Year-Old

Bioethics News - Mon, 08/11/2014 - 11:36

(New York Times) – Patient Zero in the Ebola outbreak, researchers suspect, was a 2-year-old boy who died on Dec. 6, just a few days after falling ill in a village in Guéckédou, in southeastern Guinea. Bordering Sierra Leone and Liberia, Guéckédou is at the intersection of three nations, where the disease found an easy entry point to the region. A week later, it killed the boy’s mother, then his 3-year-old sister, then his grandmother. All had fever, vomiting and diarrhea, but no one knew what had sickened them.

Bioengineers: Matrix Stiffness Is an Essential Tool in Stem Cell Differentiation

Bioethics News - Mon, 08/11/2014 - 11:31

(Eurekalert) – Bioengineers at the University of California, San Diego have proven that when it comes to guiding stem cells into a specific cell type, the stiffness of the extracellular matrix used to culture them really does matter. When placed in a dish of a very stiff material, or hydrogel, most stem cells become bone-like cells. By comparison, soft materials tend to steer stem cells into soft tissues such as neurons and fat cells. The research team, led by bioengineering professor Adam Engler, also found that a protein binding the stem cell to the hydrogel is not a factor in the differentiation of the stem cell as previously suggested. The protein layer is merely an adhesive, the team reported Aug. 10 in the advance online edition of the journal Nature Materials.

Hong Kong Man Says He Fathered 12 Surrogate Babies in Thailand

Bioethics News - Mon, 08/11/2014 - 11:28

(South China Morning Post) – A Hong Kong-based man suspected by Thai police of possible involvement in human trafficking now claims to have fathered 12 children through surrogacy, three more than previously thought, reports said yesterday. Following the discovery in a Bangkok condominium of nine surrogate infants and toddlers believed to share the same Japanese biological father, the man – named by Thai media as Mitsutoki Shigeta – reportedly told his lawyer there were three more babies already in Japan.

What It’s Like to Die of Thirst

Bioethics News - Mon, 08/11/2014 - 11:26

(Washington Post) – According to The Post’s Loveday Morris, the militants have surrounded 10,000 to 40,000 members of a religious minority sect, the Yazidi, on a barren mountain, where the refugees are beginning to die of thirst and hunger. The Yazidi, who ISIS considers apostates, fled there when the jihadi forces overwhelmed Kurdish fighters in the nearby town of Sinjar. Children and older people are succumbing in the 100-plus degree heat, Morris reported in this terrible dispatch. There is no place to bury them on the rocky hill. The Iraqi government has tried to drop water to them, with little success.

Scientists Uncover New Information on How Stem Cells in Human Bowel Behave

Bioethics News - Mon, 08/11/2014 - 11:24

(News-Medical) – The study, led by Queen May University of London (QMUL) and published today in the journal Cell Reports, discovered how many stem cells exist within the human bowel and how they behave and evolve over time. It was revealed that within a healthy bowel, stem cells are in constant competition with each other for survival and only a certain number of stem cells can exist within one area at a time (referred to as the ‘stem cell niche’). However, when investigating stem cells in early tumours, the researchers saw increased numbers of stem cells within each area as well as intensified competition for survival, suggesting a link between stem cell activity and bowel cancer development.

Stroke Patients Show Promising Signs of Recovery after Stem Cell Therapy

Bioethics News - Mon, 08/11/2014 - 11:20

(The Guardian) – Stroke patients who took part in a small pilot study of a stem cell therapy have shown tentative signs of recovery six months after receiving the treatment. Doctors said the condition of all five patients had improved after the therapy, but that larger trials were needed to confirm whether the stem cells played any part in their progress. Scans of the patients’ brains found that damage caused by the stroke had reduced over time, but similar improvements are often seen in stroke patients as part of the normal recovery process.

Drug Watchdog Condemns Roche for High Price of Breast Cancer Therapy

Bioethics News - Mon, 08/11/2014 - 11:19

(The Guardian) – The pharmaceuticals giant Roche has been criticised in unprecedented terms by the government’s drugs watchdog for refusing to significantly lower the price of a breast cancer drug whose £90,000-per-patient cost is well over the NHS’s limit. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) says it cannot recommend the drug, Kadcyla, which promises extra months of life for women with advanced breast cancer, because of Roche’s inflexibility. But the company hit back, saying the pricing row showed that the system of cancer drug regulation was “broken”.

FAQ: The Supreme Court’s Contraception Ruling

Bioethics News - Mon, 08/11/2014 - 11:17

(Medscape) – The Supreme Court’s recent decision in the Hobby Lobby caseallows for-profit businesses to assert a religious objection to the contraception coverage requirement mandated under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Wondering how this decision will affect patient care? Here’s our guide to everything you need to know about the clinical implications.

Judge to Decide Who Are the Legal Parents of IVF Twins after One Couple’s Embryos Are Accidentally Implanted into Wrong Mother

Bioethics News - Mon, 08/11/2014 - 11:15

(Daily Mail) – An Italian judge will decide who are the legal parents of IVF twins whose embryo was implanted into the wrong mother, a Rome court heard today. In a case which has gripped the country, two couples are fighting for the custody of the babies born on Sunday, whose fertilised embryos were mixed up in a Rome hospital. The devastating error was only discovered when the woman, who has not been named, was three months pregnant, and she decided to keep the babies.

Opinion: The Murky World of Medical Ethics

Bioethics News - Mon, 08/11/2014 - 11:10

(The Scientist) – With the right drugs given at the right time, we can prevent HIV from being passed from mother to child. Despite this technological breakthrough, established in the mid-1990s, some HIV-positive women are being denied access to this potentially life-saving treatment for their infants. And it’s not due to a lack of money or healthcare coverage; it’s the result of a National Institutes of Health (NIH)-supported clinical study that is withholding such treatments for the sake of having a control group.

Ebola outbreak prompts ethical questions

Sanctity of Life News - Sat, 08/09/2014 - 08:45
The World Health Organisation has declared it an international public health emergency, although it has not suggested general bans on travel or trade. Read more...

The world of Chinese surrogacy

Sanctity of Life News - Sat, 08/09/2014 - 07:13
This New York Times video sketches the burgeoning Chinese surrogacy industry. Read more...

Should governments pay for sex for the disabled?

Sanctity of Life News - Sat, 08/09/2014 - 06:58
Finding prostitutes for disabled clients is sometimes part of a social worker's job, even though both the legality and morality of this practice are disputed. Read more...

Should we eliminate all suffering in the world?

Sanctity of Life News - Sat, 08/09/2014 - 03:24
Many sci-fi novels consider what life would be like without suffering. Philosopher David Pearce believes we can have such a life - and indeed, that we have a moral imperative to pursue it. Read more...