(Wired UK) – Eight years ago, Venter’s genome couldn’t even be used to tell you his eye colour. Yet modelling appearance is merely a visual demonstration, not the end goal, of HLi’s big-data genomics. The aim is to predict your future. To explain why some people’s cholesterol accumulates in their arteries to ultimately fatal levels, and others’ does not. To identify which women are likely to develop breast or ovarian cancer in later life. And to understand why some people develop Alzheimer’s and some continue to live a cognitively rich life at 90.
(BBC) – An unmanned robot has been used to stitch together a pig’s bowel, moving science a step closer to automated surgery, say experts. Unlike existing machines, the Star robot is self-controlled – it doesn’t need to be guided by a surgeon’s hands. In tests on pigs, it at least matched trained doctors at mending cut bowel, Science Translational Medicine reports. But it is very early days and it remains to be seen if people would trust such a “hands-off” approach.
(Nature) – In the past decade venture philanthropy has experienced a resurgence, with many foundations focused on new therapies. But the attributes that make this type of funding so effective can also stir up controversy or raise ethical questions. Philanthropic foundations are not accountable to the public, and some critics question whether wealthy benefactors have too much sway in medicine.
(Reuters) – At a hospital in northern Gaza, a young patient is being prepared for hand surgery as one of the doctors leading the operation watches on — from nearly 200 miles away in Beirut. In the Lebanese capital Doctor Ghassan Abu Sitta is guiding colleagues at Gaza’s Al-Awda hospital via an online interactive platform known as Proximie, which allows the medical teams to communicate and work together via tablet computers.
(Nature) – Developmental biologists have grown human embryos in the lab for up to 13 days after fertilization, shattering the previous record of 9 days. The achievement has already enabled scientists to discover new aspects of early human development, including features never before seen in a human embryo. And the technique could help to determine why some pregnancies fail. The work, reported this week in Nature and Nature Cell Biology, also raises the possibility that scientists could soon culture embryos to an even more advanced stage. Doing so would raise ethical, as well as technical, challenges. Many countries and scientific societies ban research on human embryos that are more than 14 days old; in light of this, the authors of the studies ended their experiments before this point.
(UPI) – It may be possible to grow new lungs for patients in need of a transplant using their own cells as a starter kit, according to researchers at Yale University. The researchers devised a mechanical system that mimics the body to allow whole lungs to grow at scale, described in a proof-of-concept study published in the journal BioResearch Open Access.
(The Conversation) – A recent report shows new healthy eggs can be made from stem cells. Stem cells are present in human embryos, as embryonic stem cells, and in most organs including the ovary. Alternatively, an induced form of stem cells can be obtained by treating mature cells with a cocktail of reagents in the laboratory. The procedures required to create new eggs out of stem cells are very complex and still experimental. There are ethical issues, such as the need to destroy a human embryo to obtain embryonic stem cells, and further experiments will be necessary to show there are no genetic or fertility problems with subsequent generations.
(Science) – This week, scientists will gather in Washington, D.C., for an annual meeting devoted to gene therapy—a long-struggling field that has clawed its way back to respectability with a string of promising results in small clinical trials. Now, many believe the powerful new gene-editing technology known as CRISPR will add to gene therapy’s newfound momentum. But is CRISPR really ready for prime time? Science explores the promise—and peril—of the new technology.
(New York Times) – The embryos belonged somewhere, but probably not in this empty fertility clinic in the capital of Nepal. For months, they had sat suspended in a tank of liquid nitrogen at the fertility center at the Grande City Clinic and Hospital, which until recently operated a robust surrogacy business that attracted would-be parents from around the world. But the embryos are now stuck in limbo after Nepal abruptly banned surrogacy in September.
(Medicins Sans Frontiers) – Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, Last Wednesday, airstrikes obliterated Al Quds Hospital in Aleppo. They blew apart at least 50 men, women and children. It killed one of the last remaining paediatricians in the city. A murderous airstrike. There were almost 300 airstrikes in Aleppo over the last 10 days. Civilians, often in crowds, were repeatedly struck. What are individuals in wars today? Expendable commodities, dead or alive.
Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy (vol. 19, no. 1, 2016) is available online by subscription only.
- “Solicitude: Balancing Compassion and Empowerment in a Relational Ethics of Hope—An Empirical-Ethical Study in Palliative Care” by Erik Olsman, Dick Willems, and Carlo Leget
- “Reconsidering Kantian Arguments against Organ Selling” by Zumrut Alpinar-Sencan
- “The Ethical Implications and Religious Significance of Organ Transplantation Payment Systems” by Hunter Jackson Smith
- “Moral Implications of Obstetric Technologies for Pregnancy and Motherhood” by Susanne Brauer
- “Child’s Objection to Non-Beneficial Research: Capacity and Distress Based Models” by Marcin Waligora, Joanna Rozynska, and Jan Piasecki
- “Do We Need a Threshold Conception of Competence?” by Govert den Hartogh
- “Towards a Genealogy of Pharmacological Practice” by Ricardo Camargo and Nicolas Ried
- “Two Kinds of Autism: A Comparison of Distinct Understandings of Psychiatric Disease” by Berend Verhoeff
- “Rethinking Risk Assessment for Emerging Technology First-in-Human Trials” by Anna Genske and Sabrina Engle-Glatter
- “Forensic Uses of Research Biobanks: Should Donors Be Informed?” by Vilius Dranseika, Jan Piasecki, and Marcin Waligora
Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics (vol. 37, no. 1, 2016) is available online by subscription only.
- “Human Vulnerability in Medical Contexts” by Steve Matthews and Bernadette Tobin
- “The New Enhancement Technologies and the Place of Vulnerability in Our Lives” by John G. Quilter
- “Dependence and a Kantian Conception of Dignity as a Value” by Philippa Byers
- “Fragility, Uncertainty, and Healthcare” by Wendy A. Rogers and Mary J. Walker
- “Diagnosing True Virtue? Remote Scenarios, Warranted Virtue Attributions, and Virtuous Medical Practice” by Justin Oakley
- “On the Fragility of Medical Virtue in a Neoliberal Context: The Case of Commercial Conflicts of Interest in Reproductive Medicine” by Christopher Mayes, et al.
The New England Journal of Medicine (vol. 374, no. 12, 2016) is available online by subscription only.
- “Have Tobacco 21 Laws Come of Age?” by S.R. Morain, J.P. Winickoff, and M.M. Mello
- “Lead Contamination in Flint—An Abject Failure to Protect Public Health” by D.C. Bellinger
- “Mitochondrial Replacement Techniques—Implications for the Clinical Community” by M.J. Falk, A. Decherney, and J.P. Kahn
- “Community Paramedicine—Addressing Questions as Programs Expand” by L.I. Iezzoni, S.C. Dorner, and T. Ajayi
- “Early versus Late Parenteral Nutrition in Critically Ill Children” by T. Fivez, et al.